Technological and Critical Divisions over House Divided

The Critical Divide

A judge in the 3rd annual Writers’ Digest self-published ebook contest didn’t much like House Divided. She wrote, “What could be an interesting family drama is somewhat overshadowed by the bureaucratic side of Leonard’s job running a counterterrorism task force––the Israel/Palestine conflict is overexplained through these characters.”

I can see the basis for that comment, although bureaucratic is not the word I would have chosen. The story does center around the task force’s efforts to uncover the terrorist’s organization in order to stop them from striking a second and third time. If a reader finds “police procedural” story lines boring, then House Divided is not for him/her. In terms of overexplaining the Israel/Palestinian conflict, given that most Americans have no idea of the origins of the conflict and its present status being relevant to explain the motivation of the characters, I thought inserting factual information worthy of being part of the story. I tried to avoid being preachy or professorial.

The Writers’ Digest judge also writes, “Courtney in particular comes off the page as more of a rebellious child than a young woman caught up in an optimistic activist wave.” The boycott Israel movement in general and its college level group in particular cannot be described by anyone who has seen them in action as “an optimistic activist wave.” Their sole purpose is to support terrorists whose goal is the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state, including driving all six million Jews now living in Israel into the Mediterranean. The methods they use to win over naïve and rebellious college students are lies, intimidation, and deception.

Technological Issues Facing Self-Publishing Authors

After a recent writers conference I contacted one of the organizers and asked him to recommend one of his novels. As I began reading it using the Kindle app on my Ipad, I was put off by the lack of break between scenes. When I emailed him about this, his wife and editor wrote back that she’d look into it, but I didn’t hear anything further until surprise––I discovered the same flaw in the .mobi (Kindle version) of House Divided.

A judge in the 3rd annual Writers’ Digest Self-Published e-book contest, wrote in her feedback, “The story is also hard to follow, as scenes flow into one another without clear demarcation where they end and begin.”

To convert a Word document into the .mobi format for the Kindle, all an author has to do is submit it to Kindle/Amazon. Of course, it is imperative that one checks the results, which I did. As I re-reviewed the Kindle version after learning House Divided was infected with the lack of breaks, I discovered the breaks in my original text disappeard disappeared despite my leaving a single blank line between scenes.

 

This is one example of what self-published writers have to deal with. It may seem that we should know how to format our manuscripts to leave blank lines between scenes, but keep in mind what is necessary for the Kindle may not be correct when coverting to other digital formats––i.e., for the Nook, Kobo, etc––and is certainly wrong for the print version.

I’m going to fix the Kindle version of House Divided so the breaks appear where they belong, but I can’t promise other such problems will not arise in future versions of self-published books written by myself and others. Formatting these documents for their different editions is time-consuming, requires arcane knowledge, and is not a skill which most of us have developed over the years. I see no solution, but only ask readers to notify writers when you see such problems letting them know in a non-accusatory tone what the problem is and where it exists.

 

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