Beginner’s Guide To Publishing Your Own Ebook

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If you are reading this then you probably already have a manuscript or a book idea ready. What you want to know is what else you have to commit to before you can become an ebook author. Self-publishing is easier now than it has ever been before, making the hardest part about being an established author, figuring out what topic to write about.

Ebook Publishing

You may want to write an ebook about mastering Windows 8, understanding photography, for sketching or design ideas, or cater the content for a particular group of people e.g. books for web designers, developers, or for photographers. The topic aside, writing and publishing an ebook run along a few important matters that you can’t escape from.

We’ll look into those matters briefly in this post, from cover design to which format to publish your book in. If you have published an ebook before and have more tips to add, please accept our thanks in advance and share them in the comments section below.

1. Front Matter

Title Page: In print publishing this title page contains the title of the book, the author’s name, the place and year of publication, the publisher, and sometimes illustrations.

Copyright Page: This page contains information about your copyright notice, edition of the book (if there is more than one version), the ISBN, and illustrator’s name (if necessary). At times the title page and copyright page are combined into a single page.

Introduction: The introduction lets the author give an overview of the topic the book is about. In print publishing, this section can be broken down into several other sections, each with their own purpose:

  • A dedication page records the author’s wish to dedicate the book (sometimes in a few lines, sometimes in a poem or prose) that was written to loved ones.
  • A preface page – written by the author – explains how the idea for the book was perceived.
  • The foreword, is a written introduction usually done by someone who is not the author but who is related to the author, topic or book version.
  • The acknowledgements is where the author expresses his thanks and gratitude to informers, editors, publishers, friends and family for helping them start or finish writing the book – in novels this is sometimes placed at the end of the book.

For ebooks, there isn’t a need to provide all of the above, just the pages that you want for your book or which you find suitable.

Table Of Contents: This page is where you list all your chapters and the relevant page number. Consider it the floor map for your book. The good thing with ebooks is that you can hyperlink the chapters so that when users tap or click on the chapter link, they are taken straight to the corresponding page.

Table Of Contents
(Image Source: Content Strategy)

2. Back matter (End Matter)

Things are not as clearcut when it comes to the back matter. If you are writing a work of fiction then you might put your Epilogue (it’s like an extra chapter which tie up loose ends) here. For any other book, generally, an Afterword (it’s like an extended Conclusion section) will do.

All ebooks should contain a Bibliography or Reference section where all other books or contents that were cited or used for reference in the writing of the book are recorded. The details provided – author, title, publisher, year of publication, web url etc – should be able to lead readers to the listed reference, one way or another.

3. Body Matters

This is the part where most authors don’t generally have a problem with – if they do, then they shouldn’t be publishing a book in the first place. The plan is to start… with a plan. Or a topic, or issue or a general plot.

Breaking down content: Since writing a book is important both to the author and to the reader, it is essential to separate your book into sections – we usually know this as Chapters. It is also easier for readers to keep track of how far they have gone in the book.

Images: In many ebooks, images and illustrations are also as important as the written content. Ensure you use high-quality images when creating your ebook. While it doesn’t make much of a difference when viewed on screen, if a reader decides to print your ebook, high-quality images will make sure the book come out in tip-top shape. Be sure to clear copyright issues related to images and permission to use before the book is out.

Writing deadline: Some authors can churn out a book per year, others take a decade just to get the characters right. Unless you work with a publisher, there really isn’t a deadline to adhere to.

4. Editing And Proofreading

This exercise needs a separate section because so many authors ignore its importance once too often. While an author can sit and churn out paragraph after paragraph and page after page, in the process they miss out on spelling errors, missing hyphens, inconsistency in writing, inconsistency in formatting, broken hyperlinks, wrongly captioned images, etc.

Errors like these will disrupt the reading process, and many readers who have read edited work from print publishers will have low tolerance to these mistakes. More importantly, these mistakes will turn up with ebook reviews that these readers provide, and will affect the views of potential readers who may or may not give your book a chance.

There are varying degrees of editing, some light, others substantive, but the trick is to find an editor who respects your work, rather than one who always has to have the final say. If you are lucky, you might find an editor who can give you constructive criticism that will help you further improve your book.

At the very least, have a friend read through your book for you – anyone can proofread.

5. Cover Design & Title

The biggest problem a budding author has if he/she takes the self-publishing route is that there isn’t a dedicated marketing team with all the right connections to help publicize the book. Discoverability being a issue that plagues new authors, you need all the help you can get to get your book out there.

Provided you have a budget for it, there are many freelance cover designers who can churn out a really striking and attractive cover design. There are many factors that go into determining the right cover design for your book, for example, a lot of work go into illustrating colorful and amazing-looking book covers for children, even those catered for the iPad.

If you prefer to do the cover design yourself, there are plenty of tips and advice available all over the Internet on how you can go about designing your own ebook cover. Also available are tools, tutorials and Photoshop actions to help you speed up cover design.

Ebook Cover
(Image Source: Hol Art Books)

Also as important is the title of your book. Unless you are a popular author, most readers looking for a new book to accompany them on their flight won’t give your name a second look. However, with a good cover and a catchy title with the right keywords, you might just get lucky.

6. eBook Format

Print publishing turn raw manuscripts – handwritten or typed – into an actual printed book, and that’s it. When it comes to ebooks, however, the final format your ebook is in will determine how accessible your book is.

The safest route is to export it to a PDF format. Most web browsers can open a PDF file without third-party apps and you can publish your ebook on multiple platforms. However, the PDF format keeps the text static and you need to do a lot of zooming to get the best reading view (based on the screen size you are on).

PDF vs EPUB
(Image Source: Covert PDF To Epub)

An alternative is the EPUB format which lets you reflow the text to suit your device’s screen size. You can produce an ebook in EPUB format if you know XHTML but if you don’t, there are plenty of software that can convert content from various formats like PDF, MOBI, LIT, LRF, DOC, HTML into EPUB.

Converter

This means that you can use Microsoft Word or Open Office to create your work then convert it to EPUB when it is finished. Alternatively you can work on free software like Sigil which lets you write your book in EPUB format, even if you don’t know XHTML. This gives you more control over your content and makes your last-minute changes easier to manage.

7. Getting Your Book Out There

The online publishing landscape is changing every day. It is easier now more than ever to make your book more accessible to readers out there. You can try with an online publisher like Amazon.com or with any of these 10 online services to sell digital wares. Note that they take a cut from the sales of your book for featuring your ebook in their online store.

Alternatively, you can create a website that is dedicated to your book, like what these book authors have done for their book. If the costs spent to create your ebook is not too great, you can also consider giving your book away for free, or as a way to generate more traffic to your blog. Once you have established yourself as an established author, you can start pricing your subsequent books.

Author:

Nels Dzyre is a tech enthusiast from the age of dial-ups, an Android follower since we had Cupcake, and a gamer.

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