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Newbie storytime: How to publish your own ebook

Elsewhere I am experimenting with being a published ebook writer ... and soon to come will be a fully fledged ebook -- that is a digital book that has wing feathers large enough for solo flight .

The business of publishing was so easy that I have to share the DIY.

For those whose imagination is tweaked by my ebook enthusiasm and seeming ready skills: I used Mac PAGES app and the template where withall outlined here.

While it is easy to export any text to epub in PAGES the advantage of using the template is that you can easily control your table of contents/toc listing. Great for chapters and other headings -- sections of the text which can be accessed with a click from the automatically generated contents page.

PAGES also gives you an easy book cover option. Just bash some pretty graphics together.

I've also experimented with the cross platform open sourced SIGIL epub editor but PAGES is much easier to use and is more intuitive and far less cumbersome. There is also Stanza as an option to consider...plus others.

Epub making is easy but contents listing is not so straight forward and not every ebook in cyberspace offers contents page with links to places in the text.

It isn't an essential attribute but a great convenience.

I guess the simplest way to create an epub ebook is to import your file (pdf, doc, word, etc) into Calibre and convert it (while hoping for the best layout). Calibre and epub ebookery go together like ham and eggs.

Calibre is my new love.Awesome tool.

For my everyday generic file sharing I use wikispaces  and since wikispaces offers free accounts you can host your ebook file there so that the reader universe can download your wares. You don't need much in the way of online space to store your efforts as an ebook/epub version of Tolstoy's War and Peace weighs in at only 1.3MB.

Once you have your book you start promoting and distributing it. Create a Facebook page. Spam the relatives.

That kind of thing.

You could also use self publishing sites. Even Amazon will handle your epub book  and there are companies like Lulu  who will cut you a set publishing deal (80:20). How good these contracts are has been a matter of some dispute among self published authors. There are also other platforms , like Scibd who'll house your work in pdf format  for distribution. Again, check the chit chat before you commit your work to an other. 

If you want total control it is simple, do it solo. (Says he now that he has published all of 285.2 KB only yesterday.)

What I need, what we all need I guess, are online editors and proof readers (human beings that is who live somewhere in the clouds) , who'll vet your texts for errors of syntax and spelling...without charging too much of the money you don't have.

Otherwise, you'll have to rely on the fam and friends to red mark your errors while you argue whose style guide you are going to follow.

Since I cannot trust myself one iota, I respect editors so very much that I think they are as essential to human society as a good upbringing and comfortable shoes.

'Tis the noblest profession.

They aren't interfering sods. After decades of writing for publication I can say that Ed -- like father -- always knows best.



A useful although aligned over view

The Seven Secrets of Ebook Publishing Success - BAIPA May 14, 2011
View more presentations from Smashwords, Inc.

Postscript:The good thing about running with a sample exercise is that I get to play around and see how the file performs online and on a range of different ereader devices. So far I'm impressed -- while recognising where I need to tweak. If you read ebooks you know how the file can play up on your preferred reading device and how --since the book was most likely  created primarily for hard copy  reading -- layout isn't as interface friendly as it could be.

What have I learnt in the last 24 hours?
  1. Create a cover that includes everything in the one  file image -- title, author, impact and pizzaz. You want the cover to be one complete graphic where bits don't wander off. 
  2. If you add further images inside the body of the book resize them to fit any mobile device and locate the caption on/in the image so it doesn't float away from its home. Since many devices will only read black and white let that handicap rule your image and graphic selection.
  3. Take care when selecting the size of your headings. On some devices the headers can grow bigger than big. 
  4. Think ebook layout always. Indent isn't an option.
  5. URL links are OK to include. In fact they're a great idea. And don't forget to include adds for yourself and your output.
I just read The Fry Chronicles (by Stephen Fry) which is the first publication to be published simultaneously as a conventionally printed book, an electronically enhanced eBook, a non-enhanced eBook, an audiobook narrated by Fry himself and an iOS application.  But the ebook format in epub wanders a bit and there are a few lessons  to be learnt from it about what not to do.

So here's a tip: unless you read ebooks (and a pdf aint an ebook) you won't know how to create them to your best advantage. They aren't a separate book species  but they need to be formatted and shaped to different effect.


This is my chosen route...






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