Software Wars, or Why Updates Aren’t So Simple

 So, I thought updating my ebook and paperback files would be relatively simple.

Ha!

It started with a good plan. I would update an older series I hadn’t done much with, actually collect them as most people didn’t even know about all of them, and give them fresh covers for today’s market. No major overhauls, no big deal.

Ha!

Covers

The cover updates were actually quite fun. I knew I wanted to keep the primary art, so there wasn’t too much to do. And I made a cool little series logo to number the stories.

(“I made” in this case means “I put together and modified some pieces of clip art” but just go with it, I’m proud of it.)

Anyway, the cover updates went well, so hurray.

Rōmaji

The text update I wanted to make was the romanization of the Japanese in the stories. Without getting too technical, there are several systems for converting Japanese into Latin characters, so that for example the two syllables おう might be rendered oo, ou, ō, or oh. American readers tend to interpret these different renderings in different ways, so a reader not already familiar with Japanese might imagine a very different pronunciation.

I had originally used an older Hepburn system, writing warlord as daimyou, but the Revised Hepburn system has become the dominant system, rendering the same word daimyō. I’m personally not as keen on this because it’s sometimes harder to reverse engineer to the original Japanese word (ō can equally represent おう or おお) but I recognize that it’s good to give readers what they expect.

So I sat down to update the Japanese to (mostly) Revised Hepburn. I thought this would be a straightforward process. I’m going to greatly shorten the telling and just say that while I did not do any find/replace for vowels or vowel combos, only for a complete word like onmyouji to onmyōji, somehow Word got overexcited and made some additional changes anyway.

Suddenly my characters were in dangerōs trōble.

But not all /ou/ combos were updated, resulting in sentences like “you will have a rōgh time,” and I just could not find any sort of system for the extra changes. And while I could have gone back and started over, that would mean manual changes for every Japanese word anyway, so I went ahead and did manual checks for the whole manuscript.

Printing

So revision took a lot longer than it was supposed to, but at last it was done. On to the printing! This is easy stuff!

Well, no. Because the PDF software I’ve used for years saw the new vowels with macrons and promptly panicked.

While MS Word was handling the new characters just fine, DoPDF could not render them without doing ridiculous kerning and making all kinds of layout issues. The result was illegible.

I checked the DoPDF support forums but could not find a thread for a similar issue. I tried to register to start a new thread, and was instantly perma-banned. At registration. For “spamming.”

How could I spam before I even completed registering an account?

I found a support email address and wrote for help, but that was two days ago. So.

I then exported the paperback PDFs directly from Word, which KDP accepts but which Ingram dislikes. So paperbacks at Amazon have been updated, but paperbacks everywhere else have not, until I can get new PDF software.

New Books

But finally the ebooks everywhere are fully updated and the Amazon paperbacks are fully updated. Paperbacks at other retailers will be updated as soon as I have new PDF software (suggestions welcome).

Patreon supporters will get the fancy collected boxed set ebook this month—all supporters, regardless of tier, because that’s how we’re getting back into the swing here.

I’d really appreciate your reviews on these poor stories I’ve definitely neglected for years. And I’d really, really appreciate any tips if you should find any remaining typo from where MS Word brōght the enthusiasm.

My plan is to make these into audiobooks too, but first I need to recover from these simple updates!