(Not quite GQ material so putting this in IMHO.)
If there are any Dopers who have threaded the gauntlet of multi-platform book publishing (i.e., getting a work out on paper, PDF, EPUB, Kindle, Nook etc. simultaneously) I would appreciate some guidance.
I have decades of publication and graphics experience, from blueline board layout to Adobe CC and nearly every tool that went in between. My ability level with the current Adobe tools ranges from journeyman to instructor. My level of publication design and development ability is Seven Sisters/university press. I have published complex works in paper, PDF, HTML and EPUB. I am weak on XML and structured documents.
I have a project that needs to be efficiently published to many platforms - paper, PDF, generic EPUB, Nook and Kindle for a start. Updates and revised editions are likely to be needed. (Perhaps at six months and then annually, no more.) I don’t want to laboriously produce each of these in a separate stream, which is about my current level of mastery.
Beginning with a Word manuscript (I work formatted, not MS-style) representing a traditional book of about 300 printed pages, how do I organize and manage a workflow that will let me generate a new set of editions with effectively zero manual updating of any one and allow moderate massaging from raw update to finished (press- or upload-ready) files? This would seem to be an ideal XML-based project but I cannot seem to grasp how to use XML to create a flexible document that can efficiently be ported to each end platform. (I am NOT looking for one-button publishing; I DO want to be able to export new content to a nearly-finished file in each format without manual updates that might get screwed up in between editions. I am happy to polish and structure each version after that first export.)
I do grasp the gist of all the steps and have at least some experience with the pieces-parts; I just can’t seem to get over the hump to understanding a complete workflow.
Here’s part of the problem: I am running into a situation much like when I took up serious video work about ten years ago. The discussions are split between arcane exchanges between masters of the professional tools, and endless low-grade chatter among those trying to use cheap, free or hacked but inappropriate tools to simulate a professional result. Publishing your own book to EPUB seems to be a rising fad, and the amount of material on how to hack Word and three freeware tools into doing it is titanic.
This book is relatively simple in structure - a few simple tables is the only aspect past flowing organized content. No illustrations. Heavy on the TOC, indexing and note links e-books are good at.
I need some pro or semi-pro level advice on techniques and workflow anchored on Word (2010) and Adobe CC on setting up an efficient and maintainable document production system that will generate professional results without needing either a phenomenally expensive dedicated e-book tool or using crappy hackware. The final narrowing of the gate is that I am VERY fussy about final results and need to be able to tweak, polish and smooth all editions to their best final state - that is, the default way Word or even InDesign dumps a doc to EPUB is not good enough.
This would be better in a dedicated publishing forum, but I haven’t found one in between the Adobe forums (which tend to be too narrow, terse and dismissive) and the “You can publish your own book of cat stories!” amateur sites. Out of teeming millions, there’s gotta be one or two who understand my question and can help me find the next-step solution, or can point me to an appropriate dedicated discussion?