I’ve just spent the day trying to figure out why my latest novel, The Twiller, hadn’t been uploaded to the Apple iBook Store through Smashwords, even though I had uploaded it over a month ago. Mark Coker was kind enough to email me back and let me know that the ePub file (which Smashwords’ “Meatgrinder” automatically generates from a Microsoft Word .DOC file that I upload) wasn’t passing the dreaded “epubcheck” utility. And Apple doesn’t accept e-books that don’t pass epubcheck.

After a good amount of research and frustration, I thought I’d share my findings (and simple solution!) here in the hopes that another author might stumble across this and save some time.

The errors that epubcheck was returning were:

ERROR: the-twiller.epub/tmp_03d606bf0366e819944069e10952257f _Mh81jI.fixed.tidied.xfixed_split_000.html(12): bad value for attribute “name”

ERROR: the-twiller.epub/tmp_03d606bf0366e819944069e10952257f _Mh81jI.fixed.tidied.xfixed_split_000.html(33): bad value for attribute “name”

(These were repeated several times, for each chapter or section in my e-book.) By opening the ePub file in Sigil, I was able to figure out that line 12 of each section was the “Author” attribute, and line 33 was an attribute called “Matter No.” The simple fix involves opening your Word document and clicking on File ——> Properties. Somehow, the “Author” name was set as “( )”, which epubcheck didn’t like. So make sure at least your title and author name are filled in, and they should probably be only letters (no weird symbols).

The second attribute, “Matter No.” appeared under the “Custom” tab of Word’s Properties window. For some reason, Word had added a whole bunch of custom fields into the document, including “Matter No.”, which I don’t think epubcheck liked due to the period. Maybe I had opened some legal document that had all those weird legal fields added, and Word saved them (I told you being a lawyer was frustrating!). Anyway, I removed all of these custom fields by highlighting them and clicking “delete.”

Since I didn’t have this problem with my first two e-books, and I recently “upgraded” (yes, I use the term loosely) from Word 2004 for Mac to Word 2008 for Mac, I figure that might be the culprit. In any event, fortunately, the solution is simple — just tidy up the “Title,” “Author,” and any custom fields your document has under Word’s “Properties…” dialog in the “File” menu.

I just uploaded the new version to Smashwords, and it passed epubcheck, so it will hopefully show up in the Apple iBook Store soon!

UPDATE: That did the trick! The Twiller is now available in the Apple iBook Store. 🙂

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© 2010 David Derrico