Even if you decide later that you want to outsource the tedious aspects of self-publishing, it’s good to understand it first.
The ebook formatting tools are still fairly nebulous and it’s difficult to figure out which one to use if you’re a newbie writer, like me. I researched 3 tools:Scrivener, Calibre and Pressbooks by looking at their interface and determining how easy or difficult they were to use.
Pressbooks was the clear winner for me for several reasons. First, it is built in Wordpress so it’s easy to use. If you’re like me, with your mind being easily distracted, you need a tool that won’t interfere with your mental focus. Scrivener is probably a great tool, but my brain couldn’t make sense of the interface. I didn’t want to spend my valuable time learning a complex tool.
Pressbooks is initially free to use, so you can see if you like it before paying. If you choose to output the files for the free version, your document will contain the Pressbooks watermark. I rarely pay for programs, but this one was completely worth it. Once you pay the $99, you get your files without the watermark. If you want to get 25% off, use the code STELLABELLE.
Pressbooks exports all the files you need: .mobi for Amazon, .epub forSmashwords, iBooks, B&N and .pdf files for Createspace. I just completed my formatting, uploading and proofing for my paperback copy on the Createspace website and the files worked perfectly. I am really happy with Pressbooks! Pressbooks also supports foreign languages, so that means you could get your book translated, then have it formatted in Pressbooks. They have also just added a cover generator. This application is in a constant state of evolution, and think it’s the most intuitive ebook formatting program currently available.
The other website that saved me from a thousand headaches ishttp://bookow.com/resources.php
Createspace makes it really difficult to figure out what the dimensions of a book cover file should be for a paperback. Bookow has a tool that creates a template for you to use for your cover. You put in the dimensions of the book, for example, 5.5 x 8.5 plus the physical number of pages in your book and it spits out a correct template. It also can create a digital file for your ISBN so you can download it, then add it to your back cover.
I used the free, open-source image editor called Gimp to design my book cover. My book illustrator friend, Lin Watchorn uses Gimp and she convinced me to use it also. I really like it because it’s free and it does just about everything Photoshop can.
Here’s the Createspace book cover file I made using these tools:
Honestly, I would much rather use InDesign, Photoshop and other pro tools, but I don’t have the money right now. So, this method of cobbling together all the free and cheap tools might be useful to you, if you’re short of cash but still want to create an ebook.
Do you have questions about newbie writer self-publishing? Email me: leahstellaATgmail.com or join my newsletter to get this stuff to your inbox.