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Making of An eBook

The Making of an eBook Part 11: My eBook Is Published


I have some exciting news to share: my eBook is published. The Kindle edition of Cradle Book: Stories and Fables, which, as I reported, was uploaded on Thursday, appeared in the Kindle store on Friday. I downloaded a copy myself (and made my Aunt, who owns a Kindle do the same), and I must say it looks mighty fine. And it’s only seven bucks!

So, what I plan to do in the next few posts in this series is tell you a bit about what I’m doing to help market the Kindle edition of my book. While I do have a traditional publisher behind me for both the print and eBook editions, they haven’t done too many eBooks, and, as is always the case in the brave new world of publishing, the more marketing work I do in my book’s behalf, the better it will sell. So, later this week I’ll tell you all about my marketing plans, plus I’ll talk to my editor and see how things look from his end, and maybe get a peek behind the scenes of the Kindle DTP.

But, for today, let’s just let the good news sink in. More soon.

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The Making of an eBook Part 10: Uploaded!

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My editor at BOA, Peter Conners, has just uploaded the eBook version of Cradle Book to the Kindle DTP. I just wanted to take a sec and share with you the automated message he got back from Amazon. This is the standard thing they send when you upload content for sale in the Kindle store:

Publishing Cradle Book: Stories & Fables. Your book is currently under review by the Kindle Operations team as we are trying to improve the Kindle customer experience. The Kindle Store requires approximately 48 hours for English and 2-3 business days for other languages to make your content available for purchase. This will not affect any titles you are currently selling in the store, but uploading updates to existing titles will take longer to process

And here’s what Peter told me about the process of uploading a book to the DTP: “Once the files are sent to me in zip files, uploading them to Kindle takes, literally, 10 minutes. Most of those 10 minutes is spent entering book info (book description, price, etc.) and uploading a cover image. It is a very easy process. But, again, that’s just the final stage of a lengthy process. I can safely say that uploading the files to Kindle is the easiest part.”

The Making of an eBook: Part 9.5: Almost There

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My publisher just told me today that they’re almost ready to upload Cradle Book to the Kindle Store. BOA has decided to do it in advance of the print edition, which will be ready around May 1–that’s another advantage of eBook publishing: no waiting for the printer to print the book. The eBook could be available as soon as next week!

Cradle Book for Kindle is in the final proofing stages, and once that’s done, up it goes.

So, in the next week or so, I’m going to post a bit about what my editor, Peter Conners, has to do to get the book live. He and I are also going to look at what it takes to upload it to stores other than Amazon’s, so look out for that. Then I’ll show you what happens once your book is in the Kindle store, and I’ll see if I can get behind the scenes in the Amazon Digital Text Platform.

Also coming soon in this series, how to publish your eBook to iPad.

The Making of an eBook Part 9: A Near-Pub Update

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My book is due out in May, which means my publisher should be sending its order off to the printer–that is, for the print edition. I checked in with my editor, Peter Conners of BOA Editions, today to see how the eBook was coming. He says it’s almost done, though there are a couple more stages to go.

Here’s what Peter said: “We checked in with Bill Jones this week and he is getting to work on it today and over the weekend. I’m anticipating it’ll be ready for proofing next week. We plan on making it available simultaneously with the print version. We’ll proof Bill’s version, give him edits, proof it again to make sure those were integrated and didn’t create any new problems.”

This worry about creating new problems is inherent to the eBook-making process. An eBook isn’t just a document, it’s a bunch of code, a little bit alive, as it were, and changes can have ramifications.

But, as I’ve explained before, BOA decided to go with its in-house designer, Bill Jones, to do the eBook. I had an early draft a month or so ago, and now it’s really go time. I’ll let you know next week how the finished book looks.

And we’ll talk a bit about what I’ve learned about marketing. Until then, I wish you happy iPad hopes and digital dreams.

The Making of an eBook Part 8: Another eBook-Making Guide


Hi again. I want this series to include as much info as I can find on how to make and market an eBook, so here’s a quick post about another guide to eBook-making that’s just come out. I haven’t read it, but I want you to know it’s out there.

It’s called How to Make, Market and Sell eBooks–All for FREE by Jason Matthews, a novelist who’s published his own eBooks according to the methods he outlines in this book. It’s available on Kindle for $4.95.

I’ll be back later today with another post in this series, hopefully.

The Making of an eBook Part 7: Help When You Need It

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We’re back. Sorry for the absence of this series for a couple of weeks. Basically, aside from being a blogger, I’m also on the board of the National Book Critics Circle, and we just had our annual awards ceremony, so that was keeping me busy.

But I have been thinking about how an eBook gets made, too, not least because I’m working on two related efforts for the fine folks at MediaBistro: a one-day intensive class on how to make and market an eBook, and a series of features.

After looking into the process over these months, I’ve concluded that most of us—I’m certainly in this group—who want to make an eBook are going to need somebody’s help to do it. Unless you’re an expert in XML and HTML, in which eBooks are coded, you ain’t going to be able to do it yourself. Which is fine—it seems to me it’s not that expensive to have it done for you. So I thought I’d devote today’s post to rounding up a few of the ways to get help formatting an eBook.

In the last post, I assigned a book for homework: Joshua Tallent’s Kindle Formatting. It’s a very useful guide that you can get for cheap on your Kindle or as a POD book, and it tells you all about how to format an eBook for publication on the Kindle, and how to get help doing it. So, if you don’t want to try it yourself, one place you might look for help is at the Website of Joshua Tallent’s company, eBook Architects. Tallent is a full service eBook solution guy with a lot of experience. Tallent is also one of the more well-known people doing this kind of work, so he might be busy.

So, you might also get in touch with Bill Jones, the designer who worked on my eBook for BOA Editions (which, by the way, is mostly done and should be released concurrently with the print edition). Jones is also very knowledgable and does this kind of work on a freelance basis.

Finally, if you wanna go a little cheaper, you can look into Smashwords. Many experienced Smashwords authors are also listed as freelancers for the site, and they’ll charge a reasonable hourly rate to set your eBook up for posting to Smashwords—meaning they’ll clear out all the bad code your work processor has put in there and make sure the eBook looks as good as it can before it goes up on Smashwords. Most likely, they can help direct you to the resources you’d need to post to other eBook stores as well.

Ok, I’ll be back with more on the making of an eBook next week. Happy weekend.

The Making of an eBook Part 6: A Homework Assignment


Instead of my usual installment about where my upcoming collection of stories, Cradle Book, is on its way to becoming an eBook, I’m going to give us both a homework assignment: read this book: Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide to Formatting Books for the Amazon Kindle by Joshua Tallent. As we reported earlier, Tallent is the CEO of eBook Architects and someone who’s been at this for a while.

BOA’s desinger Bill Jones said earlier that “there are no clear instructions about how to do anything.” Turns out there are a few books about how to format eBooks available on Kindle. Most of them are self-published, and this one’s got a good reputation.

I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on how an eBook is built–I’m learning about it as I go in this series, which is why the posts are sometimes out of order and why something I could have used earlier–like this book–comes along now. But I’m going to flip (or click) through it this weekend and I’ll get back to you next week about what I learn. Onward and awkward!

The Making of an eBook Part 5: A Bit More on Coding

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Once again I missed my usual Friday posting day. Let me just catch you up on what’s going on with the book and the eBook.

Galleys have gone out–the pub date, for both eBook and print edition, is June 1. And Bill Jones, the book’s designer and eBook coder, has finished a draft of the eBook, which they’re looking over now.

I’m hoping to show you some samples of the various kinds of code inside an eBook, but while I’m figuring out the best way to present that so it’s not too boring, I thought I’d give you a silly little example of the kind of HTML-ish code inside an eBook at work.

In the meantime, I submit the following for your approval. An eBook starts as the author’s text. To become a functional eBook, you add a version of HTML to tell the program that’s looking at the book what to do with it.

So, if you type this:

You get this (and the links would actually take you to pages in the eBook):

Craig’s Tiny eBook

Craig’s Awesome First Chapter

This just gives you an idea of what a table of contents might look like. More soon.

The Making of an eBook Part 4: Coding 090

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Friday got too busy and I didn’t manage to post my weekly installment, so you’ll get more than one this week. For today, I want to begin taking a look at how one actually codes an eBook, with the help of Bill Jones, the book designer and eBook builder for my publisher, BOA Editions.

To start off, I’ll just show you Bill’s outline for the process he’ll go through to turn my collection, Cradle Book, into an eBook.

* Receive the Word file from BOA. Go through this file to see if any styling has been applied and also remove things like double spaces, blank lines, and that sort of thing.
* Format the book in InDesign using styles for all formatting (use pdf for proofing with BOA and the final pdf goes to the printer)
* Export to Dreamweaver
* In DW create the linked table of contents, css style sheets, add the page breaks and other Kindle codes working entirely within a single folder for all files
* Zip that directory and send that file to BOA (you can also email this to your Kindle to read it)
* For Kindle, BOA goes to the Amazon DTP and signs into their account and submits the zip file through their Dashboard with additional publication information (Title, Author, Price, etc.) This will place the publication on the Kindle store
* For ePub and Kindle open the zip file in Calibre and convert to ePub and/or Mobi.

Ok, so in the next few posts, we’ll take a look at some of that coding behind my book, as well as at Calibre and some other options for turning all your stuff into the right kind of files. Bill Jones points out that, in his experience “there are no clear instructions about how to do anything,” so an eBook coder must be intrepid. More soon.

The Making of An eBook: Part 3

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Quite frankly, I did’t get much done this week. All the iPad business kept me from thinking too much about the fate of my own book when it comes to digital. But I want to check in nonetheless, and let you know a few of the things I’m thinking about for upcoming weeks.

First, I should tell you that paper galleys of Cradle Book have just come in, so the most visible part of the pre-pub cycle is about to begin. Copies will go out to reviewers, and hopefully there will be a few reviews. I’ll also be planning a little book tour. While all this is going on, I’ve got to finish my eBook homework and make sure my eBook is good and ready for the book’s June 1 pub date.

So next week I’ll press on and look into some other ways one can create an eBook. One ancilary question I do want to look into is how to create eBooks of liniated poetry, which is most of what BOA, my publisher, specializes in (though my book is old-fashioned prose). My editor told me he didn’t know of a way to do liniated poetry such that the integrity of the line breaks was maintained in the digital version, but I know that, for instance, Yale University Press has published eBooks of its recent Younger Poetry Prize winners on Kinle, and Penguin has lots of its poetry up there too, and you can resize the text and still keep the line breaks. So I’m going to make some calls…