The earliest books, and how they went digital

My first four books were written in 1988-1992.  This was pretty much in the Jurassic era as far as computers were concerned. I loved computers and was born to use them, as I was a fast but extremely inaccurate typist and going through rivers of typewriter correction ribbons wasn’t really economic. Those first four books, namely Working it Out Getting it Right, Making It Last,  (the Rifki Nesher trilogy) and Daniel My Son, the fictionalized account of our fostering experiences, were all written on an Amstrad PCW using Locoscript.  This is something only people over the age of 50 will remember.  That machine had no hard drive at all, only two floppy drives, and used large 5 and a quarter inch floppy disks.  Even if I could find those floppies now, (I think I threw them away; never dreamed they’d ever be needed again!) I doubt anyone today has a machine that could read them.

So, what to do? How to get the print versions (or as Raphael Freeman calls them, the Dead Wood versions) digitalized.  My first thought was scanning them using OCR. (Optical Recognition Software) to turn them into editable format.  Raphael started screaming in horror. “NO NO! No scanning! OCR turns documents into gobbledegook!”  He recommended the old fashioned hard graft way; get someone to sit and transcribe the book by typing it from the hard copy.  I thought: Who on earth would want to do that?

I started by putting out the gig to tender on Facebook.  I’m not public on Facebook, and I “only” have a couple of hundred friends, but even so I was surprised and gratified to see PMs popping up like mushrooms all around of people wanting to take on the job. Obviously I was going to pay, and I’d worked out an economic price that wouldn’t bankrupt me and would be worth it for the person taking on the gig.

However, as it turned out, typing it out wasn’t a popular activity and most of them did resort to scanning and OCR. Raphael Freeman was right. The Word documents were full of mistakes.  The scanner has no inbuilt intelligence and sees what it wants to see, particularly with the letter capital I. That, in the scanner’s “eye” is interchangeable with the small letter l (ell), !, 1, and several other variations of an upright letter.  But despite this, we have managed to get the books digitalised..only waiting for Making it Last now, which had a false start I don’t want to go into.

My later four books, a forensic science/crime thriller trilogy: Dark Tapestry, The Movement, Carers Ltd, and a standalone novel called Against the Wall, about kids at risk,  were another story. Those were written in Word, on a computer. The question was, which computer?  Danged if I could find Dark Tapestry and the Movement. I found Carers Ltd and Against the Wall, thank heavens.  So I was thrown into a tizz trying to trace those first two books.  I approached my publishers, Targum Press, who managed to find Dark Tapestry in their archives after a long search. But the only version of The Movement they found was corrupted. So, I decided to take on the task of typing out The Movement myself. It was 329 print pages.

I now have a better understanding and acceptance of why those people I was paying to transcribe the earlier books, decided to use scanning instead of typing.  What a flipping job!!  It took me two and a half weeks of typing.  I don’t think I did much else during those two and half weeks.  Unfortunately my husband hasn’t been well and has had a spell in hospital during that time, and I would take my laptop along and just sit and type in his room, outside his scanning rooms, wherever.

But it was done and what a sense of achievement! I also did a little bit of editing along the way while I was typing.  Some continuity mistakes weren’t edited out of the print version, and some bits…well..they just could have done with a bit of a re-write, so I re-wrote!

Now they are all up on  my Kindle Store at:

http://tinyurl.com/ppjcldh

 and pretty much all up on my page on Renana too!

So now comes the hard part, marketing them!

They’re just a couple of UK pounds or dollars to download.  Please put up a review, I love to read what you think of them!

*Flutters eyelashes! 🙂

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