It's been a few weeks since I've written anything and I apologize! Summer has gotten the better of me!
Between general summertime fun and an increasing number of formatting and design projects, I haven't had a whole lot of time to write about ebooks. But I can tell you that in the past few weeks it's been confirmed for me in multiple ways that e-publishing may look easy to some, but it can be incredibly tedious and time-consuming. Especially when publishing to e-readers like the Kindle, iPad, Nook, or Sony eReader. It is not as easy as you'd think!
Despite what all the e-publishing sites may say, publishing to e-readers takes some time and know-how. "Free" e-publishing tools certainly don't mean easy e-publishing.
The first thing I've found that helps in getting your book closer to being published for e-readers is being truly interested in the technology and the task. The first "how-to" ebook that I ever read for Kindle formatting was tedious to read through, to say the least. But at some point during the reading, I found myself excited about the process. Now I've read some technical manuals before and unfortunately (or fortunately?), I don't often find myself getting excited over them. This was different because I like what I'm doing!
If you don't tend to like this stuff, then take your time and do your best. The process is going to be one of trial and error to a certain extent, even once you're an expert - at some point it just becomes less error! There are a lot of nuances that those how-to books can help you navigate. Take them seriously!! Some may seem silly (even counter-intuitive) to you, but they can save you a significant amount of time.
Above all, be patient! As mentioned, it is a trial and error process for every book you format for e-readers. There are quite a few steps involved in formatting, then creating the appropriate file, then testing it out on an appropriate application (Kindle for PC, Kindle Previewer, Adobe Digital Editions, etc.). And you'll need to go through these steps each and every time (sometimes dozens of times) until you get your book looking exactly how you want it. Because of all the nuances involved, it is inevitable that even when you think you've formatted everything perfectly, you'll miss something. So just be prepared, and again, be patient!
Good luck with your book! And don't forget to use some of the great resources available out there to find your way in epublishing. You can find some of those here.
Several websites and blogs in the self-publishing arena have recently come out with lists of things that writers should know or do before self-publishing. After reading a few of those and mulling them over with my own experiences thus far, here’s what I’ve got for you –
Remember that just about everybody’s in it for the money! There are so many print-on-demand and self-publishing services out there right now and ALL of them, without exception, want your money. Regardless of what their websites say, they are not all about the glory of the written word or art or anything else.
This leads to the next point –
Do your homework! There are so many choices out there for the ambitious writer/publisher. Take the time to learn about as many of them as you can. Not only will this help you make the best choice, but it will educate you on the industry that you are stepping into. This will be tremendously useful for your future publishing endeavors or in the services that you may choose to offer to others.
Don’t assume that ebook publishing is like book publishing. They have quickly become very different arenas – especially as the e-reader population widens. The rules are different for pricing, design, formatting, marketing, and publishing in general. Don’t assume that because you know one you know the other. NOT TRUE. And since ebooks are still relatively new as a legitimate market, the rules for ebook publishing are changing just about every day. Try to keep up or know people that do.
Make your ebook AWESOME! Just because it’s an ebook doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t look professional. The ease and quickness of creating ebooks has fooled a lot of people into thinking that “good enough” will do. IT WON’T! Ebooks should look just as professional as regular books. This means that your ebook should be properly edited, designed, and formatted . Make it a GREAT read with a STELLARS look! And if you can’t do that, find someone who can. It’s hard enough to sell ebooks out there right now. The competition is growing every day. Make your ebook stand out. There are a lot of people that won’t invest the time or money to do that – but it can make the difference between a book that sells and one that doesn’t!
Study the competition. That means you need to read other self-published ebooks, other ebooks in your genre, and keep up with the list of bestselling ebooks on all the major online sellers. These ebooks can both inspire you and steer you in the right direction – both with what to do and what NOT to do. Learn about the author. Go to their author website, if they have one, and learn from their experience and journey to be published. Use what you see, what you read, and what you learn. Apply it to your book whether it has to do with content, pricing, design, or marketing.
These are the tips I have for self-publishing so far. I hope to add to these tips in the coming days. The bottom line is - be smart! You can never stop learning – especially in an industry that changes each and every day.
Do you have a book ready to go but aren't quite sure how to publish it online? Below are a list of links to online publishing resources. You'll find guidelines, tips, and general how-tos. If it seems like Greek to you, let me know! I'm fairly new to this type of epublishing too, but I can say that I've successfully formatted ebooks for Kindle and now have the software and the knowledge to handle both epub and mobi files, which are the necessary file types for the most common e-readers. One thing I can tell you is that formatting for ebook readers isn't nearly as much fun as formatting for pdf. There's a lot less room for creativity. For example, headers and footers just don't work because of the way that pages convert differently on each reader.
Despite the limitations, you just can't beat the thrill of seeing your book on Amazon's Kindle for the first time. Makes it look like a "real" book even if the design is boring! And I look forward to the time when I can put my design skills to work on the Kindle, the Nook or the Ipad. Technology's bound to make that possible sometime in the not-so-distant future!
The ABCs of e-book format conversion: Easy Calibre tips for the Kindle, Sony and Nook
Amalthia’s e-Book formatting tutorial
Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines
Formatting for Kindle (Blog by Guido Henkel)
Bookbaby.com guidelines for e-book conversion
Barnes & Noble Pubit! ePub Formatting Guide
Creating ePub files with Apple Pages for iBookstore
Getting Started With Google eBooks
Kobo for Authors and Publishers
Smashwords Style Guide