A Leanpub Podcast Interview with Iris Classon, Author of Loose Candy: Pick and Mix Power Tips for .NET Developers and IT Professionals

Iris Classon is the author of the Leanpub book Loose Candy: Pick and Mix Power Tips for .NET Developers and IT Professionals. In this interview, Leanpub co-founder Len Epp talks with Iris about her career, her interests, her book, and at the end about Iris’s experiences as an author with both conventional publishing and self-publishing.

This interview was recorded on April 4, 2017.

The full audio for the interview is here. You can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or add the following podcast URL directly: http://leanpub.com/podcast.xml.

This interview has been edited for conciseness and clarity.

Len: Hi, I’m Len Epp from Leanpub, and in this Leanpub podcast, I’ll be interviewing Iris Classon. Iris is a software developer, author, trainer, and speaker, as well as Microsoft MVP and creator of Pluralsight courses, amongst the many other things that she does.

Iris is the author of the Leanpub book Loose Candy: Pick and Mix Power Tips for .NET Developers and IT Professionals. Her book offers a number of really helpful tips and tricks, in bite-sized portions, for anybody who really works in the IT field.

In this interview, we’re going to talk about Iris’s interesting career path, her professional interests, her book, and at the end, we’ll talk a little bit about her experience self-publishing with Leanpub.

So thank you, Iris, for being on the Leanpub Podcast.

Iris: Thank you for having me.

Len: I always like to start these interviews by asking people for their origin story. I know yours is particularly interesting. You’ve had a unique career path, and you actually moved around quite a bit as a kid, I think I saw in an interview you did, on YouTube?

Iris: That’s correct, I’ve been moving around a lot. But I think I’m staying put in Gothenburg for a little while.

Len: I’ve moved around a little bit myself, and I find that an interesting thing to learn about someone.

Iris: I’ve learned to tell this story a bit more now, because I get the question a lot, “Where are you from?” It’s really hard to reply to that question — do you tell them what’s on your passport? Or do you tell them where you were born? Or where you are living? Or, I don’t know, how you feel like?

Well, I was born in Romania. And then when I was five, my we moved to Norway. My family — my mom, dad, me, and my older sister. Then when I was 16, I moved to France. I was going to be there for a year — but I was way too immature to be travelling on my own, so I came back with my tail between my legs.

When I was 18 and felt more grown up, I moved to Denmark. I was there for a year and a half. And then I moved back home for half a year, and then afterwards set my eyes on Australia.

I was in Australia for four or five years or something, and met a Swedish guy. He was moving back to Sweden, because it too expensive to study in Australia, and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll tag along.” So I tagged along.

We broke up, but I stayed in Sweden for a few years. I was going to move to the US, but couldn’t get a visa. And I was going to move to China, and then realized I didn’t want to do that. And then randomly I ended up in UK for one year before I just realized that Gothenburg is the best place I’ve ever lived. I just wanted to go home. So that’s where I am now.

Len: I lived in the UK for 9 years myself. Where were you when you were there?

Iris: I was in this little place — people seem to know where this is, and it fascinates me, because it’s tiny. It’s called Peterborough, it’s about one hour on the train outside of London. I think it’s one of the roughest cities or towns you can live in — I think their criminality is the highest in all of the UK. I mean, even compared to Manchester that’s, wow, well done. So it was a rough place to live. I should have looked up where I was going to end up. But I picked the UK based on the job.

Len: That’s actually funny. I know where Peterborough is, because my brother lives in a Canadian town named Peterborough. It’s funny you say that about roughness, as well. A friend of mine, who’s a brain surgeon, chose to live in Newcastle for some time because of all the head injuries that happen around there, because it’s also a rough British town. So that’s just a curious coincidence.

Iris: I guess that’s a good way to find —

Len: It was a career choice. You go where the action is, I guess.

Currently, you’re obviously a programmer and speaker. But you began your career as a dietitian studying nutrition science, I believe?

Iris: That’s correct. Not to offend anybody, but can I call personal training a job? I just didn’t make much money off of it. I used to be a personal trainer, a fitness model. And I didn’t want to leave Australia, and my working visa was running out. So instead of picking fruit for three months to extend my visa for a year, I started studying nutrition, which I later changed to clinical nutrition and became a dietitian instead. So it wasn’t really well planned. I hate to say that, but I just kind of went with the flow.

Len: Even if it was a little bit random, what drew you into that world?

Iris: I was quite obsessed with fitness and working out. It was just one of those places — the gym, or whenever I did sports, that I always felt strong. So even if I had a really shitty day, I could go to the gym, I could bench and I would feel awesome. And it’s just something that became my escapism.

For me, it was natural to be in that world. So when I was considering ways of staying in Australia — and I didn’t want to get married, I don’t mind the Aussie guys, but I was a bit young — so nutrition just seemed like a natural thing to do. And to be honest, I sort of thought I already knew all of it — and it was just for a paper, so school was going to be so easy.

Len: I think you said in an interview online that you found the way you were instructed is not really keeping up with changes in the discipline — that the course you took was being taught kind of by rote, and not really keeping up with the latest science.

Iris: I said that?

Len: Yes, I saw that on an interview.

Iris: Dammit, I should really double check my stories! Well, that is in part true. When it comes to clinical nutrition, it does lag behind science a little bit. Clinical nutrition will always lag a little bit behind the science, because it has to be well-tested, and then they have to create all the rules, and then they have to implement it, and so on.

And when it comes to nutritional recommendations — be they clinical, or just for the everyday person — it still goes in iterations. So, every few years they will be updated. It’s not like they’re going to update it because something new came up, unless it’s something very, very, very important. So it does lag.

Another part of it which is frustrating — when you work as a dietitian, you might have all the knowledge in your head, but every person you meet is going to think that they know your job better than you. So you’ll also have to fight there, and people generally lag behind science.

Len: It’s interesting that you say people think they know your job better than you, and yet they’re going to you for consultation in the first place. I mean, are they looking for a confirmation of what they already believe?

Iris: Yes, I think so. For some of them it’s like — when you work as a dietitian, you work at the hospital or you work with sick people. And a lot of the time you’re a part of a team — you’ve got doctors, surgeons, and nurses — and everybody takes a turn talking to the patient.

So maybe the patient didn’t even want to talk to you, and you just come in there — and most people don’t know what a dietitian does. So they just assume, “Oh, she’s going to tell me, or he’s going to tell me how to be healthy.” It has nothing to do with that, really. It’s just adjusting the diet for your particular situation and the nearest future. And it’s not so much about necessarily losing weight for aesthetic reasons — just health.

Len: It’s got to be difficult to change the way you live in order to be healthier. And I imagine that’s a big part of the job too — finding a way to motivate people.

Iris: A lot of the time, some diets which actually help — for example, somebody who has a kidney failure, there is an option for — this is not a recommendation, by the way, you should discuss it with a dietitian if you’re interested, and a doctor — but some people want to delay doing dialysis, and therefore they will go on a low protein diet. But it’s very, very tough to go on a low protein diet. So that’s why the dietitian, together with the rest of team, will evaluate how your situation is, and based on that, make recommendations. The option will be presented if it’s a possibility for you, but it might be that it’s just not going to be worth the trouble.

Len: And you eventually made a big change to programming. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about why you decided to make that change?

Iris: I was sort of bored to death working as a dietitian. I just hadn’t thought it out completely. Working in public healthcare doesn’t really align well with my personality. I’m a social introvert. Which means, I like to socialize and talk to people, but then I am going to need extended periods of time where nobody can talk to me, and I need to be alone.

But having a job where you constantly have to be talking, and caring for people, was very mentally exhausting for me. And I didn’t find it so very challenging intellectually, as well. I wanted to have a job where I constantly have to learn, with a lot of pressure to learn, learn, learn. And you can certainly do that in the world of clinical nutrition. But you’re still going to have the same patients. You’re still going to talk with people that are at the very basic level, with a very basic understanding of what their needs are.

So you might have all the information in your head, but you’re just not going to get much use of it, unless you’re doing research or having a very different type of job. So, I was bored in several ways, and sort of hitting the wall.

I made a long list of possible jobs I could do, if I was going to change my career. And my — at the time — husband, he wrote down all the IT jobs. We were crossing things off the list, because I tried to match them as well as I could with the things I wanted to do in life, and what I was really good at, based on what my friends said. And in the end, it was “programmer” that was left on the list.

Len: And you started out running, from what I gather? You got quite a few accomplishments within a year of beginning, and you were self-taught as well.

Iris: Yes, it was fast-paced. I did go to school. I went to something called vocational training, which is very common in Sweden, particularly when you do career changes later in life. It’s hands-on learning; you learn some theory, but the larger part of the education is placement at different companies, where you actually have to do things. So that’s what I did.

But I found it a little bit slow paced. So I asked for the keys to the school. And I was the first one in, in the morning, and I was the last one to leave. I’d be there basically almost 24/7, and I finished off all my classes within the first half year. And then I asked if I could sit with the second year students, and then finished off those classes as well. So I was done pretty fast. And then I got a job.

Len: And as I understand it, you had a strategy of self-evaluation about learning how to learn while you did this?

Iris: Yes, that was a very important part for me. I want to optimize absolutely everything. And I think that was probably my first attempt of some sort of optimization or automation.

I wanted to figure out how I best could learn. So I would make sure that I put all my energy in all the right places. I did feel a bit old starting. It was like, “Shit, I’m 27 — can I do a career change?” I just said my age, darn it. It doesn’t matter.

But I felt old, and I know because a lot of people — basically, they grew up with their computer, and they’ve been programming since they were kids, I’ve heard all the stories — and then I come, and I am basically like a grandmother starting to learn programming. So I knew I had to make sure that every second and every attempt I put into learning this, had to be well used.

Len: And you managed to become rather well known. For what it’s worth, I found an article from Business Insider citing you as one of the 100 most influential tech women on Twitter, from a couple of years ago. And for anyone listening who’s an author or a budding author, building a platform like that is a really important part of the job. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you managed to build your presence on Twitter and through blogging?

Iris: Well, hmm.

Len: I know it’s a vague, general question. But when people approach it, that’s how they approach it, right? They’re like, “How do I become like that?”

Iris: I wish I could say something really smart now. People go, “Oh yeah, I’m totally going to do that.” But I just started blogging as a dietitian, and then when I started programming, I started blogging about it.

I even have my first, “Hello World” on my blog. I was like, “This is day one at school.” And that’s how the blog started. I think people appreciated that I was very frank about things. I didn’t care so much what people thought. If it was stupid, or I didn’t know enough, or I knew the wrong things. I would just share. Basically, the blog became my notebook. Just a very public one.

But how it was spread around, and how the following on Twitter started and all that — I have no idea. I think it’s because I was really eccentric at the time, and I was very excited about it — programming, and this community I was introduced to, with a lot of really cool people. So I was talking a lot with people, and I was very visible as well, because I had my hair in crazy colors. And I have no idea what I was thinking with my clothes.

I certainly attracted a lot of attention. It wasn’t something I had planned for. And in retrospect, I probably wouldn’t do that again, because that affected me greatly later on, when I got really burned out and ended up in hospital.

So I can’t give any good advice, and I’m not sure if I would recommend somebody to — you’ve got to know what you’re doing if you’re putting yourself out there. And there’s a lot of pressure when you’re in the public eye. Some people can handle it, some people can’t. And I’m probably one of those people who is a little bit sensitive to certain things. So for me, it just didn’t work out too well.

Len: It’s interesting you talk about the concept of a social introvert — I haven’t heard that term before, but it resonates with me as well. One of the things that people say about building a presence on, say, Twitter or blogging, is that you need to be at it all the time, and there’s no let up. In particular, in the Twitter world, every single person thinks that they’re interacting with you. And so I can imagine there’s quite a bit of pressure to be always on.

Iris: Yeah, there is. But I think I’ve got, I guess, a core, or base now, a core of followers. I hate the term “followers.” [They’re] people I hang out online with. Without sounding pathetic, there’s a core of people that I’ve talked to since I started programming. And they’re there even if I go offline for several months, or even half a year. They’re still there. I know these people, and some I meet after talking to them online for several years.

And that’s actually the only people I care about, because I don’t want to have a fan club of some sort. I mean, I appreciate the attention, and I guess it’s sort of cool if I inspire people. But I mostly care about surrounding myself with people that inspire me, and people that make me feel safe, and make me feel good about myself in the community and the job I’m doing. That’s what matters to me.

Len: One thing I noticed, just preparing for this interview, is that a lot of what you do is helping people. Tips and tricks and things like that. Things you’ve found that help you, and then you share them. Is that correct?

Iris: Yes, I like helping people. I like sharing knowledge. And when I learn something, I get really excited about it, and I just have to tell everybody. It’s like, “Oh, look at this cool thing.”

But that’s not really the reason why I wrote that book. This was my first time at self-publishing, and I was terrified — it’s like, “What if I write something that is just a horrible idea, and really sucks?”

I had a lot of fantastic ideas for books. But I [thought] I should probably write the first book, self-publishing. I should probably write it as a bit more easy going, more personal, and not basically sit down and write a language reference book. So that’s how I chose that particular book to be my first self-publishing project — so case it went to shit, it just wouldn’t go with my best idea for a book.

Len: Your first book was published with O’Reilly, where you co-authored it, and I actually wanted to ask you about that. What was that experience like?

Iris: Interesting. Yes. Oh man. I didn’t read the contract. I don’t know what they said in the contract that I can say and cannot say, in regards to saying bad things. No, it was fine. It was alright. But it took almost a year or something, and started off being about Windows 8 apps, and then 8.1 came out, and lots in the book had to be rewritten. It was back and forth with the editor. And the process is tedious.

I like that they pay attention to details, but it can get really slow. And with some types of technology, such Windows Store apps, which was what me and Matt were writing about. The changes were happening so fast. And I do feel like, by the time the book came out, it was already old. So yeah, an interesting process. A bit tedious. But oh crap, I can’t say too much positive, I’m sorry. It has nothing to do with O’Reilly in particular. I just find the process way too slow. So I just can’t imagine myself going with a publisher that is that slow ever again.

Len: That’s interesting. One of the inspirations for the creation of Leanpub in the first place was the experience my co-founder Peter had with a tech publisher, that was, in some ways, similar. And I’ve interviewed a number of authors who’ve expressed the same frustration.

It often gets articulated as: “The team of people I worked with were fantastic. They were great professionals. But there’s something structural about publishing convention, inherited or incumbent publishing convention that’s not compatible with publishing longer works about quickly evolving technology.”

Iris: Yes, I think it can be like that. But I also say that — for example, Pluralsight, they also do publishing, and that is s tedious process. You have to edit your videos, and you send them in. You have to get them approved. It’s a lot of back and forth and so on. But they still manage to get the videos out pretty fast, making sure that whatever is recorded is still something that is valid information by the time it comes out. So I think Pluralsight, for me would be an example of how the process can be managed well.

And they struggled, it wasn’t easy. In particularly when they started acquiring a lot of companies, and they were growing really fast — they were lacking the human resources. But even with all that, they still managed to pull through really well. So I think publishing companies probably could learn from them, and similar stories.

Len: I actually wanted to ask you, how did you get into making Pluralsight video courses? We’ve had a couple of other Leanpub authors that I’ve interviewed who are also on Pluralsight. [They are Don Jones and Engin Arslan — eds.]

Iris: I started off watching Pluralsight videos in school, because I wanted to fill in the gaps I felt I still had when class ended. And I tweeted out to one author that I’d been watching his video — and somehow this was being spread around, this crazy girl running on the treadmill watching Pluralsight videos. And then Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, he wanted to get in contact with me, because there was a lot of talk about this girl on the treadmill, which was me. I was prepping for my first marathon.

They turned out to be at the conference in a nearby city, and I was invited to come there and do an interview regading me watching Pluralsight’s videos.

That’s how I came in contact with Pluralsight, and I started having Pluralsight user groups, which I would organize. And after a few years doing that, they asked me, “Why don’t you audition for us?” And I was like, “Me? Oh shit. Can I really do this?” And yeah, I was terrified. I did a little video, but it turned out good. And they opened the doors, they let me in. Yay.

Len: Fantastic.

Iris: So that’s how. I don’t think everybody does it the same way.

Len: That’s a great story.

With your book, really interestingly, you used our “Bring Your Own Book” feature. You actually made the book completely on your own, not using Leanpub’s book creation tools.

Iris: Yes.

Len: I found something online where you talked about the formatting challenge. And I wanted to ask you a little bit about that. What was your process for creating your book files?

Iris: Do you want feedback on Leanpub, or do you -

Len: You can certainly give us feedback, that would be fantastic.

Iris: It was horrible, and —

Len: Okay.

Iris: No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I’m just messing with you.

Len: Okay.

Iris: The formatting was an issue. I had tried different ways, writing the book. And believe it or not, I actually ended up using Word. I started there, and I was thinking, there’s got to be something better.” And I tried a lot of things, like Scrivener and so on, but I ended up writing the book in Word. That import didn’t turn out so good on Leanpub. It didn’t manage the formatting exactly as I wanted it, and that’s why I chose to bring my own book.

I spent a lot of time with the formatting. Because I wanted to have the damn syntax highlighting for all my code. I mean, if it’s an ebook, it’s got to have color. And it even had to look good if you go black and white or you use ink and so on. So that’s why I brought my own pain and book.

Len: So it was particularly syntax highlighting that was the most important formatting issue for you?

Iris: Yes. Definitely. I just didn’t want to have surprises, such as — “Oh yeah, we’re just going to indent every first line in every paragraph. Because we just like indenting things.” That makes sense with code snippets. I don’t know if you guys do that, probably not? But that was one of the formatting issues I had when I was using other tools. And then you had to figure out how to turn that off and all the pain involved with that.

Len: Since we’re talking shop, did you try writing in plain text using Markdown?

Iris: Why do that, when you can get a beautiful markup from Word, when you export?

Len: Understood.

Iris: I didn’t use Markdown. Markdown doesn’t have all the features I want. I considered it, but then I decided that Word would just be easier for me, because I actually know how to use it. I use Word pretty well. I actually even know how to align photos and make sure they’re not too much compressed, and stuff like that. It’s really advanced, and I might add it on my resume.

Len: Yeah, there’s an art to using Word.

Iris: Yes.

Len: It’s a very deep product. The formatting that you can take advantage of with Leanpub, importing from Word, is very restricted. As you noticed, we don’t support everything that Word supports when you’re doing a Word import into Leanpub. If you do write in what we call “Leanpub-Flavored Markdown,” or Markua, things get a lot more advanced.

But if you know Word, then Word is the place you should stay I think. I mean, we’ve got one author named Nick Russo who’s got a text that I think is a million words long, that he did in Word.

Iris: Oh shit.

Len: He’s a very technical author, and I think that was where he landed, because that was the best place for him. So you’re not the only one.

Iris: That’s good to know.

Then there’s one thing — I don’t know if it’s a secret and I’m the last person to know this — but to really force my syntax highlighting, which became my obsession for months, I dreamt about syntax highlighting. I breathed syntax highlighting. The trick to make it work in most readers, or at least some of them, is to have it inline. Which just gives me — I don’t know? Chills down my spine, like chills. But inline, I had to have inline styling in the markup, and then make everything very, very important. And in that way, you can override most of the reader’s own settings. And that’s good to know if you’re a fanatic about things like I am.

Len: I should ask, have you written about this on your blog? I know you’ve mentioned it on your blog. For anyone listening, I think there are probably people who would love to know what you learned throughout that process.

Iris: I’ve taken a lot of notes, and I was thinking — I will write about this. But I think I just need to take a break first, and make sure I don’t — when I stop crying, seeing my notes or the formatting, that’s when I’ll write a blog post about it. But right now, I just have this deep, deep, deep hate for anything that has to do with syntax highlighting and ebooks.

Len: Fair enough. I guess one of the last questions I’d like to ask is — why did you decide to write the book in the first place?

Iris: I just wanted to write a book. I had a lot of ideas. And I was like, “Well, I should just get started. I’m just going to start writing a book,” because I just hate just thinking about things and not doing them. I’m very much a doer. I just wanted to write a book, and there wasn’t really more to it. It wasn’t the fame, and it certainly wasn’t the money. I mean this is not a new Bible, or the new Harry Potter, or — I don’t know? 50 Shades of Syntax Highlighting, maybe? That would actually be a better title.

Len: That would be a good title.

Iris: I should change that, yeah.

Len: It’s an experience a lot of authors that I talk to have. You’ve got to really want to do what you’re doing. Even authors who do make a lot of money, the return on the hours that they put in is not necessarily equivalent to what they would make if they were just doing their consulting or their regular job.

Iris: Yeah, that’s true.

Len: But there’s usually just something that draws them into it.

Was there a particular reason that you chose to — I mean, I know you’re going to be publishing the book on Amazon, and you’re going to be making a hard copy as well — was there a reason you chose to publish on Leanpub in particular?

Iris: Yes. So, I read a lot of books. I think I probably read about a book a week. And Leanpub’s always been my favorite place to buy books, because I know how much work goes into writing a book. And I love to pay for a book, its actual value, what it’s worth, which is a whole lot more then they usually are being sold for. But I also know that, for example, Amazon, and other places where you can publish your books — they take a large chunk, a big cut. And therefore paying more there — you don’t even have the option to pay more.

So I really like that with Leanpub. And also that different formats are usually available, and there’s no hassle getting a hold of the actual different formats of the book. Some places say you can also download it as a PDF, and then you buy it, and then you can’t. So it’s just easy to use. I can pay authors for writing that stuff.

I don’t know, maybe Amazon won’t to hear this, but — Amazon, I don’t know if I’m going to do that, because apparently they do not have a trade deal of some sort with Sweden, because there’s no way I’m going to get 70% royalties. There’s a lot of weird rules around getting 70% royalties, like you can’t sell the book for over $10, or something?

Len: Yes, that’s right. It’s a really interesting issue for technical book authors. The way Amazon works, I think it’s if you sell for less than $2.99 or more than $9.99 — subject to change and qualification and all that — then you earn 30% royalties. [Editor’s note: It’s actually 35% minus data transfer charges, which still sucks.] If you sell within that band, you get 70% royalties. This does have regional changes and restrictions and all kinds of chaos.

Iris: Yeah, and shitloads more rules. I mean, they also have size. So if you have photos, I added photos, then the size becomes a problem. They also have a restriction on that. And then it’s also just the basics. It’s not for all the countries, and Sweden is one of the many countries not included. I mean, I could follow all their rules, but I’m still only going to get 30%.

Len: That’s crazy. For technical book authors, it’s particularly that they punish you for charging more than $9.99 for your book. It’s interesting as a high level kind of theory about pricing and valuation that a book where, if you read it, you can then bill yourself out at a higher rate, if you’re a consultant for example — it’s a book that has, I guess, literal financial value for your life.

And that is very different from something that you read — I guess, to put it in the vulgar sense — for entertainment. And so often technical book authors have works that are worth more than $9.99.

But Amazon just has this “one size fits all” policy around that. I mean, certainly my belief is that technical books are usually worth more than $9.99, in a very straightforward way, to the people who read them. And so, Amazon is in that way, just straightforwardly, a bad place to publish a technical book. There’s lots of value that you get from publishing on Amazon as well, but it’s not really going to be from the amount of money that you make per book sale.

Iris: Yes, and there are also a few hoops to jump through whenever you want to update your book. I was worried about how that was going to be, because I want to keep my books up to date, and the process of involving a lot of other people, that means more steps, and that makes you slower. It’s like building a pipeline, where every single step is manual, and you have to wait for people to finish things. I want to be able to fully automate it. But you actually can do that with Leanpub, and that’s pretty cool.

Len: That’s really interesting — so you’re saying that the process with Amazon — they say it’s easy in their marketing — but from what I have always understood, it’s a bit clunky. But there’s a manual process involved?

Iris: I’m not sure how much time they spend doing this, but they will review, making sure that the formatting is somewhat okay, and follows the rules. And how strict they are, I think, is basically going to depend on the mood of the day. There are a lot of rules. There’s a big book, and you can read about it with all the different recommendations.

Most of them are pretty good. They are design guidelines, but a lot of them don’t apply to non-fiction books, in reality. So if you get a little bit unlucky, and they go like, “Yeah, no you can’t do that.” Then you have to go and fix things. And then you send it back in. And I just didn’t want to end up in a back and forth situation again, when I know how I want my — did I mention syntax highlighting is important to me?

Len: Mmm hmm. Thanks for that, I actually wasn’t aware of that fact. I’d been led to believe by someone who had a relatively significant position in Amazon that it didn’t work like that. So that’s really fascinating.

Iris: I have not published with Amazon, so this is based on discussions on forums. So I might be — I mean, maybe I’m just completely making this up, because I really liked Leanpub.

Len: It resonates with other things I’ve heard. I’ll have to look into it a little bit more.

Len: My last question is, if there were a magic feature we could build for you, or if there was something you found missing in your experience using Leanpub so far — what would that be?

Iris: I’ll give you one guess.

Len: Word syntax highlighting.

Iris: No, actually that would be pretty cool. No, that’s not it. It’s actually — I would like to have my books on your guy’s app, but I can’t.

Len: Yeah, that’s right. Our app — you need to use Leanpub’s book creation process, writing in plain text, or using our limited Word feature to produce books. If you use Leanpub’s workflow, then your book can get in our app. But if you don’t, it can’t. And that’s a restriction I don’t think we plan on changing any time soon, so I’m sorry, that’s one we can’t do for you very quickly. There’s all kinds of support reasons behind that. We want to make sure that the experience people have on our app is consistent, and so the best way to do that is to make sure that all the files are LPUB files. But thanks for the suggestion, I think you’re one of the first people to express disappointment at that.

Iris: Ah well, not everybody has a half gigabyte of markup export from Word. The book is not that large actually, but it was originally really big, until I managed to figure out how to remove all the extra stuff that Word will output.

Len: I can imagine, that must have been quite a challenge you got into. That’s some deep Word there.

Iris: Yes.

Len: If and when you do decide to write something about it, please let us know and we’ll link to it and all that kind of thing, because I’m sure there are people out there who would love to learn the lessons you learned the hard way, in an easier way.

I want to say, thanks very much for being on the Leanpub Podcast, and for being a Leanpub author, and for taking the time to do this interview.

Iris: Thank you for having me.

Len: Thanks.

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