I got a shock last night from a client. I had bundled 3 of her best-selling novels into one Anthology. It was gorgeous. I did the work many months ago. BUT yesterday a reader emailed her and said one of the chapters in the second book in the bundle was misplaced! If it was misplaced, why on earth is she just hearing about this now… almost 5 months after publication date and after she’s sold untold numbers of copies? Well, that’s another issue entirely.
How could that happen? No clue, so I went back to the source… the original WORD doc. There were all the neatly organized files for all the books. The table of contents linked to each chapter beautifully and the chapters tripped one after another in a nice organized manner.
Then I went to the epub on my iPad (which I use to preview epub files). I opened the book, went to the appropriate chapter with the TOC… it was there. Then I paged through to the next chapter. What the HEY! That’s not the next chapter! How in the world could this happen?
So then I went to the source… the html file. Nope all files in order. This was getting stranger and stranger. How could the html file be correct and the resulting epub file be incorrect?
Getting really frustrated (well it was past my bedtime and my office had been closed for hours) I looked at the epub that I had made on Calibre. Viewed it with the Calibre viewer. Nope, all files were in order, so the html file that I uploaded to Calibre to start the process wasn’t the problem.
Now maybe Sigil, the editor, was the problem, although I haven’t a clue how an editor could misplace an entire chapter. So I viewed the file in Sigil… Chapter 10 came neatly after Chapter 16. I opened the manifest from the menu (handy thing those Sigil menues… all your fonts, images, styles, manifest, etc… are listed so you can easily reach them). Oh look… html40 (which was the identifier for the 2nd book, 10th chapter) was right after html46 (the identifier for the 2nd book, 16th chapter). Could I move those around?
It was too late and I was too tired, so I just uploaded the correct HTML to Calibre, got a correct EPUB, uploaded that to SIGIL, did a ton of necessary editing, looked good, validated it, then opened the validated epub in Adobe Digital Preview…. all files were in order. Converted the epub file to mobi with KindlePreviewer, all files were in order. Then I went to bed.
This morning I was still thinking about that messed up manifest and how I could have easily corrected the mistake. At least my client now has a new epub and mobi file with all her chapters in order… but maybe I could have done this differently.
So I opened the manifest of the old epub in Sigil… where it was wonky… highlighted the ‘html40’ line, moved it to its proper place right after ‘html39’ then looked at the epub again in Sigil… Chapter 10 was still out of place, but I went over to the TOC.ncx (on the left of the screen), cut the ‘html40’ line out of the TOC, pasted it under the ‘html39’ line, cleaned up the blank lines… and re-previewed. Oh looky there!!! The files were all in order. So there was an easy fix after all. Who knew you could just move those lines and individual chapter html files around?
The moral of this story… although I don’t think something so wonky has a moral… but if it did it would be ‘carefully look at the entries in the TOC.ncx and the manifest in Sigil before completely re-converting the file because if you find a mistake there you can easily fix it… don’t be afraid!’ Good to know that you can actually move those TOC.ncx html files around. But remember you have to start with the manifest and move the misplaced line to its correct position… this will re-number the TOC.ncx entries. Then the mistake in the TOC.ncx will be glaringly apparent and you move it where it needs to be.
To get back to the original problem… I still haven’t a clue how the HTML file got corrupted or how the manifest could have lost some of its organization between Calibre, where it was made, and Sigil, where it was edited. If anyone has a clue, let me know PLEASE. Hopefully none of my clients find misplaced chapters. Unfortunately I always check the TOC to see if all the chapters are there, but I don’t normally page through to see if the chapters fall where they should… I’ll do that from now on obviously.