This is for the all the great people who attended our ‘Making e-Book’ panel at Bloody Words. Near the end of the panel I promised to post some handy links for those wishing to e-pub their novels. So here we go.
For the cover: I don’t vouch for any of these websites or own stock in them, but I’ve heard good things. First, those that provide royalty free photos that are good for cover art:
For paid photos there is also iStock Photo, which has images from $12 to $25 that are great for covers. For much higher end images you can try Getty Images. This is much more expensive, but they have some great artwork.
With an image and Photoshop or Powerpoint you can create your own cover, but it’s worth every penny to hire a professional cover artist unless you’re graphically talented. I didn’t fail grade nine art, but the teacher used to shake his head and not speak when he looked at my art, and it wasn’t because he was awed by my genius. For my short stories I did my own covers. For my ebooks I hired a different graphic artist for each of the novels. Now that 1000 Souls is a series of five, I’ve commissioned a talented artist to work up a theme that will carry through all five covers. So Apocalypse Revolution will soon have a new cover, and I’m glad because the vampire-target cover just never really worked for me. Live and learn.
Now that you’ve got the cover, you need to get your meticulously proof-read and edited manuscript ready for publication. Here’s the link for the Smashwords Style Guide, which you should use to massage your MS Word document into shape and cut all extraneous code. Do this first whether you’re publishing on Kindle or Smashwords.
You can load up your cleaned and pressed MS Word Document, but I used Mobi Creator first for my Kindle version, a free software that puts the MS Word into a Kindle friendly .prc file. Sorry Mac users, it’s PC only. I had to partition my hard drive and run Windows XP on one side.
This turned out to be handy for Calibre, a free software (yes, PC only) that makes ePub format files. You really only need an ePub format if you want to load it up on any non-Kindle e-reader. This is a handy way to give beta copies to critics and friends to read before you publish. When you do publish, Smashwords takes your clean MS Word doc and converts it to ePub and every other e-reading version you can think of, so you don’t need Calibre at that stage unless you want to sell your novel from your website with no third party involved. I don’t recommend this unless your famous.
Don’t be intimidated by all this. If you can read instructions and aren’t afraid to make mistakes you can e-publish. Remember that everything can be fixed because it’s not brain surgery.
For those of you who are more advanced, you’ll want to go with Kindle Gen. Amazon is promising forward compatibility if you use it for your eBook.
So there you have it. One week of evenings and a very little bit of study and you can publish your eBook. Just remember what all three panelists said: make sure someone other than your mother has read it first, and listen to your editors.
Happy publishing. Send questions. The adventure is just beginning.