Footnote spoilers?

While I was doing all that work on my footnotes/endnotes for the Nook version of Castle Falcon, it occurred to me that having all the endnotes packed on one page might introduce some spoilers if the reader scanned over them while still reading the first parts of the book.  So I took a quick look:

Footnote spoilers

Okay, it’s a little hard for me to judge since I’m so familiar with the story, but I’m not seeing any serious “spoilers.”

In fact, if I try to look at it through the eyes of someone who’s never read the book, the list of endnotes gives more of an impression of, well, raving incomprehensibility.  The most likely reader reaction might be “just what the heck is this book about, anyway?”

Footnote aggravations

Since the last entry, I found some serious problems with the footnotes in my EPUB version of Castle Falcon.

Unlike the Kindle conversion plugin for Adobe InDesign, InDesign’s built-in “save as EPUB” function has no mechanism for driving my Pratchett-style humorous footnotes to the very end of the book (essentially converting them to endnotes).  The only two choices I have are to have the footnotes right at the end of the paragraph they appear in (blech!) or have them show up at the end of each chapter (blech squared!)

What’s so bad about that?  Well, if you’re doing your job right as a writer (or at least trying to), the end of a good chapter should be a nice punch line that really makes your reader want to find out what happens next:

“Suddenly he turned around, and there was the creature he’d been hunting, right behind him.”

Now, imagine that snappy fadeout with a humorous footnote (from a completely different part of the chapter) tacked right after the last sentence on the page:

“Suddenly he turned around, and there was the creature he’d been hunting, right behind him.”
[12] Everyone else in the family believed that anchovies on pizza were a crime against nature.

On the smooth road of carefully-planned plot development, your reader has just tripped over a nice big cement block.

So if InDesign couldn’t get my notes back to the end of the book where I wanted them, what could?  (No doubt the EPUB wizards out there are smiling indulgently right now, going over the dozens of complex code modifications they’d use to fix this, but keep in mind I’m quite new at all of this.  Besides, I really don’t like working with code.)

The next thing I tried was starting from an original Word manuscript and importing that into the PubIt! converter online.  I spent a lot of time wandering around that particular dead end.  The footnote links in the resulting EPUB were at the end of the book all right, but they didn’t work properly.

In the converted Word file the footnote references in the text linked back to the notes at the end of the book, but they didn’t link in the other direction.  Only the last endnote, number 16, linked back to the original page when I previewed a download using Nook for PC.  In Adobe Digital Editions, it was even weirder.  All the endnotes linked backwards to the same obscure page in the book, and that page didn’t even have a note reference in the first place.

At this point, I was almost ready to chuck the whole thing.  I decided to pull up an EPUB file editor to see what was going on in the (gulp) code, and used a program called Calibre which I’d downloaded a while ago.

I noticed then that Calibre comes with a file converter function.  Well, whaddaya know. One of their recommended input formats is Mobi (Kindle), so just for kicks I used Calibre to convert my already-working Kindle file to create an EPUB file.

Wow!  The EPUB file came out with working endnotes at the end of the file, just like the Kindle version, and they linked back and forth properly.  As a bonus, Calibre had converted the Kindle file’s table of contents too (I never created one for the Word file).  The links on this also worked properly, linking each table of contents entry to the proper chapter beginning.

There are still one or two minor formatting tweaks I’d like to do before I’m ready to publish my Nook version at Barnes and Noble, but there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

Footnote follies

One flaw in the Kindle display system is that it can’t deal properly with footnotes. It can’t shove text up on a page to make room at the bottom like a word processor does. In my InDesign Kindle export plugin, you get three other choices:

Footnotes at the end of a paragraph.
Footnotes at the end of a chapter,
Footnotes at the end of the book.

The good news is that a footnote in Kindle is “clickable,” so that if you click on the footnote callout it takes you to wherever the footnote is. Hit “back” to get back to the story.

I have a load of Terry Pratchett books on my Kindle (he’s one reason I like to use footnotes in fiction). Oddly, they’ve used all three methods of locating footnotes, depending on the book. No consistency in presentation, but that’s hardly new in Kindle versions of existing books (that’s a whole post on its own). The one I found easiest to read, without breaking up the story, was the “end of book option,” so that’s where I’ll put them too.