Hi WFG! I'm starting to do research on ebook publishing for Rema and it's making my head spin. I had no idea there were so many formats and options. I recently read a blog post about "self-publishing secrets" and one of them was to hire a professional editor to help polish the book before publishing it.
I released my first web serial as ebooks. It's really not as scary as it seems.
Firstly, yes, get it professionally edited. Producing a professional-looking ebook is important, and getting the spelling and grammar right is the first step in that. (I'm in the process of getting mine re-edited and re-issued - I really regret not spending the time/money to get it right the first time.)
Also, get a good cover. There's plenty of advice around about what makes a good book cover - and people will judge your book by it, so don't underestimate its value. A good place to start is to take a look at popular books in the genre your book will fit into, and see what covers appeal to you. Make sure it looks good as a thumbnail, too, as that's what readers will see in a search (and hopefully click on). You can spend as much or as little as you want on covers, anywhere from $100 to $1,000 (or free if you choose to do it yourself).
Once you've got your text all correct and good to go, and a cover to put on the front, the last thing you need to do is format it into an ebook. This is probably the easiest bit. If you're selling through distributors like Smashwords or Amazon, they'll do all the heavy lifting with coverting it into the various formats - all you need to do is supply them a Word doc.
Check out the Smashwords Style Guide - that'll give you everything you need to know about setting up your Word doc for publication, including the legal statements (copyright) and front and back matter. Here it is: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52
I'm in the process of setting up an editing/ebook formatting service. Give me a shout if you have any questions or need a hand with anything.
That reminds me: I need to go re-release my ebooks. Lessons learned!
Wow what great advice, Kess! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. You make me feel not quite so scared of it all.
Needless to say, my agent won't send it out again without a professional edit, which is why I'm doing the ebooks to put the money towards that. But I keep reading you need one anyway so the book is worth buying (I agree). I can only do what I can with my limited skill. I'll have to ask around to see if some of my more grammar-conscious friends feel like doing some homework.
I'll be doing the cover myself, although I wonder how the images will look on kindle since the book is illustrated hmmm
Well, these are all things I need to look into I guess! Thanks again so much. You've given me a lot of food for thought!
Do you have a kindle or similar?
It's pretty easy to make an ebook from a blog site like Wordpress (or just something like word) if you'd like to test how images etc work on a kindle, if you have one.
Amy - are you inserting images into the epub or not? THat's one unique aspect of your serial that I'm not sure folks have considered. I had started to look at using Calibre or another tool to manually code my epub. Then I gave up on the images (because I would have to finish drawing a lot more first) and decided to just go with all text. At the time, inserting images alongside text could be done but it required more professional helpby a graphic designer. Not sure if that's changed since then or if you're comfortable with InDesign or other tools... so wanted to flag that.
Formatting an all-text isn't bad -- most of the distribution platforms are keyed up to take a Word document although you would have to read the style guides first to make sure what their converters won't accept. I uploaded to Smashwords after using their style guide. The file that managed to passed through I then changed slightly and put up on Amazon.
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Regarding what blogs say -- there is a cottage industry of new "service providers" who try to tell you that you need multiple kinds of edits. The reality is if you follow their advice for copy edit, line edit, and developmental edit you're thousands of dollars into the hole. The word on the street is that most never recoup that cost .
However, it's good to do the minor editing and you can/should have other eyes check your work. I think you can find other writers who'll do the copy-edit for less than a guilded editor but how good they are don't know. (I've seen a few recommendations floating around from Craig who finished his serial on Jukepop recently. You might have to poke him on twitter if he's not checking the forums.)
I wouldn't recommend doing a developmental edit until you have more of that second book underfoot. I feel like that you'll probably be able to see some of the structural problems in Book 1 with a little more distance/time. You'll also have the new text to help inform what could be cut out of book 1. (If you don't need to build with it in Book 2, you can hack it out )
You're welcome, Amy.
For illustrations within the book, the Smashwords guide I linked to has a bunch of info (Step 13 covers it).
For Kindle specifically, here's the KDP help info: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A1B6GKJ79HC7AN
I'm pretty sure there's a Kindle app / emulator that you can get for your PC to test out how it looks, too.
(Note: illustrations and covers are treated differently in most ebook formats.)
AGreyWorld - I think we have a kindle fire hiding somewhere but I haven't looked at it yet. The last kindle we had was destroyed soon after our son was born. But I didn't know about the blog viewing. I'll find a way to check it out.
SgL - Definitely keeping it illustrated if I can! Thanks for all the advice and realities of ebooks. One thing is for sure, I need to comb through the book one more time before I even publish anything. I'm really looking forward to writing book 2, but I feel almost the opposite problem, like I can't move on to book 2 until book 1 is good and ready. Right now I'm working on the first section where it's been unanimously noted that it drags more than the rest of the book. I've been working on this book for so many years, but I have to remember that I'm only working on it part time so it's a long road. Sometimes I think I'm too hard on myself in terms of expectations!
Kess - Thanks again! Keeping all this info handy for the future.
Thanks for all the helpful advice guys!