Jutoh – The Answer To Self-Publishing Prayers

Jutoh: What it is

jutoh Jutoh is a software package that permits the creation of ebooks.  That was difficult!  No, seriously, it is just that.  You can import your writing from various sources or use the (admittedly) basic built-in editor.  When you are ready, you can then export your ebook in various formats.  There’s also a basic cover designer.  Jutoh is programmed and published by Julian Smart of Anthemion Software.  If you want something to provide a “writer’s desktop”, with a wide variety of very useful features, I would recommend that you also take a look at Writer’s Café, from the same source.  This concerns the whole process up to creating the finished product.  It provides tools that can help in the actual writing of your works of fiction.  Combine the two (very simple), and you have everything you need!

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My Own Story

When I first started writing ebooks, the only option that I could find was Open Office’s PDF export.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t like PDFs.  More, I was aware of the Kindle and iBooks, along with other ebook formats.  That’s what I wanted!  I wanted something that came as close to behaving like a real book as possible.  After a lengthy period of searching, my eldest son, Damien, sent me a link to Anthemion Software’s Jutoh.

Now, I’m not going to pretend it was all smooth sailing from that point.  To be honest, I’m not a great one for reading guides to software.  To me, the best software is usually as intuitive to use as possible.  Jutoh appeared to be just that.  Naturally, not having actually read anything about using it, I started colliding with problems, most of which could be sorted in moments by simply reading the User’s Guide.  What I did learn, however, was that Julian Smart, the creator of the software, is superb at providing remarkably patient support, whether it’s just pointing to a part of the User’s Guide, or delving deeper.  I can say in all honesty that I have never experienced such excellent levels of support!

These days, I write away in Open Office, open a new project in Jutoh when ready, and import the Open Office document.  Very little work is required after that.  I have saved configurations that I import at the beginning.  Close the project, reopen it and apply the configurations.  That just leaves designing a cover, or using one already made, adding a few extras, and then I can run the ebook generator for each format I want, including a special format Open Office document for submission (after conversion to a Word document) to Smashwords.com with no problems.  Life simply can’t get any simpler.

Jutoh can be as simple or as complicated as you want, according to what you want of your ebook.  If you opt for complicated, you can rest secure in the knowledge that Mr Smart can help in an emergency.  You will get quick support through joining the Yahoo Group.

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Testimonials for Jutoh

“I just put a new Teen novel up on Kindle – using Jutoh, it came out clean and easy to read, even with my differing fonts.   I started to get good reviews right away; and as you know, that is the life-blood for self-publishing.”

R. W. Jensen, Author of Diary of a Celebrity Horse Trainer

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“I started using Jutoh almost a year ago. Up until then I was going crazy trying to get my first book formatted to meet the Smashwords premium catalog standards, but it seemed no matter how closely I followed Smashwords’ own directions I kept having problems. I was not a happy writer.

Since I’m fairly technically inclined I decided I had no choice but to learn HTML and format the book that way. While I was looking for HTML tutorials somehow I ran across a review for Jutoh from an indie author and so I checked it out. I was blown away and in love from first usage.

Here’s what makes Jutoh such an invaluable tool for me:

  • It runs on every major platform. I like to use GNU/Linux, the fact that it’s supported is great. Occasionally I need to use Windows or Mac, and it’s even better than I can install it legally on all three platforms using my serial number.

  • It uses HTML for formatting, but I don’t have to dig through the code unless I really want to. eBooks really do need to be formatted in HTML, but having use of Jutoh’s WYSIWYG editor makes my life so much easier.

  • Producing a book for nearly any bookstore is painless. Want to upload to Kindle? Push the button for .mobi. Publishing on iTunes or Nook. Piece of cake, that’s the .epub button. Smashwords, my old nemesis? Again, as easy as pushing a single button. (OK, Smashwords has the extra step of opening the file and resaving it as a .doc file, but even my grandma can do that.)

  • The community is active and vibrant, and Julian (the creator) is a champ at service and support. And bug squishing. I’ve yet to run into an issue that the community couldn’t help me through, and I’ve had some strange ones come up. I’m sure there are other communities this helpful, but the fact that most Jutoh users are authors adds something special to it.

I’ve gotten handy enough at formatting that I’ve even been able to take on some clients, and Jutoh hasn’t failed me yet. If you are willing to learn your way around inside Jutoh (and the learning curve is short), I would encourage you to try it. It will let you focus on writing more and formatting less, and that’s what all writers want, isn’t it?”

Adam Tervort http://adamtervort.com

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Of the dozen or so eBook creation apps on the market aimed at the non-HTML crowd, Jutoh is the ONLY one I can recommend without reserve. It’s what Word or Word Perfect would be like if they produced epub and mobi files, and it’s just about as full featured as either. It produces the best looking HTML and CSS out there. More importantly, it’s very easy for amateurs to use. Making a table of contents (TOC) has never been easier. There’s no perfect substitute for coding by hand, but Jutoh comes closer than any app of its kind.

Charles Seper – professional eBook formatter and owner eBook Pioneers

Hardware, Software and Brainware

I was browsing the statistics for this site.  It’s amazing what information you can find, though I’m not sure how relevant some of it is.  For example, between the creation of Imagineer-ing, in March 2012, and the end of December, this site had a total of 651 hits.  So far, in January 2013, we’ve had a phenomenal 444 to 29th January!  This is further analysed to give an average of 2 visits per day in 2012 – but that doesn’t mean much as there’s a definite rise towards the end of the year.  Even the January 2013 average of 15 visits per day is deceptive, as the number of visits continues to rise.

The question of what software is of any real use to authors is raised by such online analytical data.  Personally, as an ex-statistician, I confess that I find some of it fascinating.  It doesn’t, however, contribute anything to writing, other than blogging.  Of more interest, perhaps, is the facilities available to authors.

Hardware

I use a desktop PC more than anything else.  I can, though, also use a netbook that is synchronised to the desktop.  The first uses Windows XP and the second uses a cut down Linux.  Apart from these, I could use my iPhone or iPod, though I find those less user friendly.  You could also use a notebook, a tablet or a laptop, if they are available to you.  Outside the realm of computers, there’s also the option of using a typewriter or even handwriting.  Your preference is exactly that – yours!  What should be noted, however, is that your manuscript (MS) must, at some time, be processed for publication.  A handwritten MS will be costly to have worked up into a typed/printed form, unless you’re willing to do it yourself.  Then, there’s the question of formatting.  From what I’ve seen, this varies surprisingly widely.  The one thing that is certain is that you will need your MS to be formatted to suit a publisher’s requirements – even if you self-publish.  You can, of course, write your MS in a word processing package on computer already formatted in the most common way.  That would certainly save some effort.  The matter of formatting is something where software can help.

Software

First and foremost, you’ll need some kind of word processing package.  Of course, many computers come with things like MS Word already installed.  If you don’t have that, then there are some excellent options that are free to download and use.  Probably the biggest, and most reliable, is OpenOffice.  A version of this is called Libre Office, but I confess I’ve found no differences between them.  Other options exist, such as AbiWord, and there are some packages specifically designed for authors, though the latter are not free software.  I, personally, would not recommend using software that produces Adobe PDF files.  I’ve experienced some annoying errors in ebooks that have been converted from PDF.

I use OpenOffice, coupled with the pay-for ebook creation package, Jutoh.  This allows me maximum freedom.  I can write on any device, with the files being shared between all devices, and then Jutoh will help me produce ebooks in a variety of common formats.  That saves me some huge headaches!  Personally, I think Jutoh is worth every penny.  These, together with various desktop eReader programs, mean that I can write, create an ebook in different formats, and check how they will look on eReaders like the Kindle, the Nook and the kobo.

Finally, I use Calibre to organise my collection of ebooks, including updating their metadata  and converting between formats where desired.

Brainware

Sound silly?  Well, perhaps it is, in a way.  What I mean, here, is the core of all writing activity.  It’s a plain fact that none of the above have any relevance if your Brainware isn’t what it needs to be.  It’s the home of creative thought, creating structures, and just plain dreaming.  If you mistreat it, you can be sure that your writing will reflect that.  I don’t say that it has to be perfect!  Some of the great writers were somewhat disturbed, mentally.  They are the “flawed geniuses” who create works of immense power and significance.  As for the majority of us, we need to place ourselves in a situation in which our Brainware can function comfortably, usually where distractions are minimised and you’re physically comfortable.  Whether you need a neat, tidy workspace or chaos, all that matters is that your Brainware will function for you.

~ Steve

Synchronised and happy

Yesterday I finally got around to figuring out how to get the most out of using any platform to do my writing on!  Quite simple really, and I’m kind of embarrassed that it took me so long…

I use Dropbox to transfer files between machines.  For example, my desktop PC, iPhone, iPod and netbook can all share files with each other simply by dropping them into a Dropbox folder.  Depending on file size and connection speed, it isn’t long before I can access such files from any of the machines!  Excellent stuff.  The one problem has been that only the desktop PC is really good at uploading several files at a time.  Well, that was the case.  The netbook doesn’t play well with Flash, so uploading multiple files through the Dropbox web site wasn’t an option.  Yesterday, however, I found and installed the Linux version of Dropbox’s app.

Basically, by creating a folder in Dropbox for anything I want to synchronise the files for, and pointing the relevant software, like Jutoh or OpenOffice, at that folder on each machine, I can make sure that I’m only using the latest version of a file/project.  The one rule that I have to remember is that I shouldn’t have the file/project open on more than one machine at a time!

I now feel as if things are just about where I want them to be.  I can stop worrying about whether I’ve remembered to copy files backwards and forwards!  Whatever I do, wherever I do it, the file/project is (virtually) instantly updated everywhere.

If you haven’t thought of using a service like Dropbox, I strongly recommend that you do so!  One thing to remember though.  Dropbox is not designed to be an online backup service!  It provides file sharing and synchronisation.  If you want backups, you need to do that some other way!  Your Dropbox synchronised filesa are stored online, but they are also stored locally on any machine with the desktop app installed (PC, Mac, laptop, netbook, etc.) so if Dropbox ever vanishes, you will still have your files available to you, but proper backing up is very much a desirable habit!

So, what happens next? An insight into writing.

I thought it might be of some interest, to at least a few people, if I gave some insight into just how I write.

I don’t write according to rules, for one thing.  Now and again, an idea pops into my head.  If I can, I’ll jot it down somewhere.  It may be a general idea, or it might be an actual section of writing.  Not all of these bear fruit, and some do so only after some years!  The most significant thing in how I write is that I never know where a story will take me!  I find story plans just don’t work for me, personally.  I’m more like a reader, or maybe an explorer: I like to be led by the writing, into new places and situations, often without warning.  Don’t get me wrong!  I usually have a general idea of what I want to achieve with a story, what it’s generally meant to be.  I just don’t sit down and map everything out in advance.  I guess I just like surprises LOL!

I use Jutoh as my writing tool.  At first, I used WordPress, creating a post for each chapter.  This proved too limiting, especially in terms of formatting.  I don’t mind writing in HTML but having to switch from the visual editor to the HTML text editor every time I needed to insert a wide “time lapse” spacing between paragraphs was a pain.  Also, the formatting didn’t port well from WordPress to other tools.  Jutoh provides a far better environment to work in, and it is possible to use styles that can be amended easily, causing everything using those styles to be altered with minimum effort.  Also, it allows me to use shortcut methods when writing, so that words with special characters can be typed in plain letters and they will automatically be changed to the correct characters.

In addition to Jutoh, I use OpenOffice.  This freeware package provides a platform for creating manuscripts ready for submission to Smashwords, for publication.  At one time, I tried using it to master the manuscripts but, while it may look right, some things just don’t reproduce correctly when being converted.  Plus, of course, it doesn’t produce the range of ebook formats that Jutoh does!

Another task I hate is proofreading!  Unfortunately, it’s also something that can’t be ignored.  I have learnt to proofread each chapter as I go, now.  Trying to proofread a whole novel would just drive me mad,  Unfortunately, I can’t afford to pay anybody else to do the proofreading for me!  The thing I have to keep in mind is the fact that one thing I detest in books I buy, is the sheer number of typographical errors!  I’m determined to prevent the problem with my own works, to the best of my ability.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’d love to hear from anybody who finds any of the above interesting!

Reading on a netbook….

I finally found an eBook reader that does everything I want it to on my netbook! FBReader is a completely free eBook reader that will handle all the formats that I need it to.  It runs very nicely under the cut-down version of Linux that’s installed on my netbook.  It allows the “paper” to be changed to any colour that suits you (I like sepia!) and even permits screen rotation.  The control keys are fully configurable, so that you can, for example, set up keys to move through the book in pages or scroll a line at a time.  The only problem I have is passing a “command line argument” from Jutoh, so I can’t (yet) launch the current book automatically.

The FBReader web site includes a very useful list of eBook sources, if you want to increase the size of your library!

FBReader is available for Android devices, Windows, Linux and a host of other systems, though some are older versions of the software.

Arriving Via Unexpected Means

Some months back, I was kindly given an old Acer Aspire One netbook, running Linpus Linux.  It was my intention to use it for writing when away from my desktop PC.  OK, so it had OpenOffice Write on it, but it was an old version and caused a few problems.  No problem, just update it?  You’d think so, but the previous owner had done as Acer instructed and protected it with a system wide admin password, and had forgotten what the password was!  Every attempt to install new or updated software just met with that password and failed.

Yesterday, I was reading the Jutoh book on my iPhone.  It referred to installing Jutoh on Linux.  When I got home, I investigated further and discovered in Jutoh’s FAQ that a whole section was devoted to installing on this very netbook and OS!  Still with very limited hope, I followed the instructions and, with just a few modifications for differences in folder names, Jutoh actually installed!

A bit more investigating, and I also learnt how to install fonts that weren’t available on the netbook, and I now have a fully functional mobile solution for writing.  I cannot thank Julian Smart of Anthemion Software Ltd (creator of Jutoh) enough!  Not only has his advice on this been immensely useful, he has been enormously patient with my many questions about using Jutoh, most of which have been a consequence of not reading the book/FAQ before asking!

I can now master my writing in Jutoh and know that there won’t be any problems with porting files over from machine to machine.  It’s a fantastic advance!

Oh, by the way, I should point out that I use Dropbox to move files between machines/devices.  It’s a superb method to share files with my PC, netbook, iPhone and iPod Touch, and also with other people!