This past month Double Dragon Publishing generously allowed me to correct an italics formatting problem that came up in The Martian Marauders. I’d noticed that on the Kindle format, as well as on the paperback version, some paragraphs that are entirely italicized (for instance, a paragraph of a character’s thoughts) rendered as normal (not italicized) text. On the EPUB and PDF versions of the book, though, the same paragraphs come out properly italicized. When I read the paperback edition, the problem didn’t really slow me down or confuse me–but I did want those italicized paragraphs showing properly, as they do convey information about who is thinking what. I know the new frontier of e-publishing is always going to keep throwing new problems at us, but even if perfection is impossible, I want the quality of the final product to be as high as possible.
I finally discovered that an italicized paragraph mark in the Word file was the problem. (You can see the final paragraph mark by clicking the ¶ show/hide icon.) Somehow that final italic paragraph mark told the Kindle and paperback format files to render the entire paragraph as normal text! So the solution was simply to search and replace all paragraph marks (^p) in italic format with ^p NOT italic. After I ran the above changes on Jack Commer’s manuscript, the italicized paragraphs came out perfectly in Kindle and paperback, so I asked publisher Deron Douglas if I could send him a corrected MS. of The Martian Marauders that would fix the italics problem along with a few annoying typos I and others had found. My wife and I reread the book again before sending the corrected copy and I was chagrined to discover even more errors, most of which were pretty minor but still rankled me. (If the villain’s name is Sam Hergs, the possessive is not Herg’s!)