Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kindle for Writers


This is my Kindle. I mean that's not actually my Kindle, or my hand, but that is the model I own (the Kindle, not the human). Yes, the clunky old-school one with the keyboard that I literally never use. Also, what's up with that photo? Why does it show Chapter One when his location bar is halfway across the screen?

Anyway, that's beside the point. I wanted to write about how to use your Kindle for writing. Well, not really writing (that would take forever), but for critiquing. I do it all the time.

In fact, I'm beta reading a friend's manuscript on my Kindle right now. It's a great tool. For one thing, I can finish a MS on my Kindle in about 20% of the time it takes me to actually deep critique an entire MS in Word on my computer. Sure, there are differences to the methods, and advantages to each, but I really like being able to have a friend email me his MS, send it to Amazon for free conversion, and download it to my Kindle as soon as I'm near WiFi. It's super easy.

But, some people might not now how to do it. Here's a quick tutorial:

Go to Amazon.
Sign in.
Hover over "your account."
Click "manage your Kindle."
On the left, click "manage your devices."

You will see all the Kindles you own (my family has three). On the column to the right of your device, you will see your "Send to Kindle email adress." Mine is mattmxxxx_xx@Kindle.com. Now, in order to convert an MS Word .doc (or .docx), you have to attach it to an email, leave the body of the email blank, put "Convert" in the subject line, and send it to that address, except add free to it, like this: mattmxxxx_xx@free.kindle.com. This will convert the file to an .azw file, which is readable on the Kindle, and even lets you change font sizes, unlike crappy PDFs. You will see the formatting get messed up here and there, but I have never had it be so bad as to be unreadable. Once Amazon is done converting the file, they will email it to you, and you can transfer it to your device via USB, but I find it much easier to just download it over WiFi, on what Amazon calls the "Whispernet" for some unknown random reason.

Anyway, once you have your writer friend's MS on your Kindle, you can read it like any e-book, highlight passages you want to give them feedback about, and (if you have the Kindle keyboard) even take notes. But, I almost never take notes. I just highlight and then detail my notes in an email or in the actual MS.

It's really pretty awesome.

Now, of course the difference between a quick beta read and an in-depth critique with 100 plus comments and tracked changes in MS Word is a post for another day, but hopefully someone who reads this post will not have known this free conversion by email was an option.

Oh, and if you want to feel all sad and sappy, you can read this really depressing post, on my personal blog, from this morning.

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