Before You Digitally Publish
Do your target readers prefer print or digital?
Is your book highly illustrated? Does it require color?
Do you know how to reach your readers online?
How E-Publishing Services Work
The first and most important thing to understand about the leading e-publishing services is that they are not publishers. They are distributors or retailers.
Free or low-cost distribution
At-will and nonexclusive
Little technical expertise required
Two Key Categories of E-Publishing Services
Converting and Formatting Your Work
Each service asks you to upload a completed book file that is appropriately formatted.
Here are the most commonly used formats for e-books:
→ EPUB (.epub): This is considered a global standard format for e-books and works seamlessly on most devices. While you cannot directly create an EPUB file from a Word document, you can save your Word document as a TXT (.txt) file, then convert and format it using special software (see list on the following page). There are also plug-ins you can buy for Microsoft Word that enable you to convert Word docs to EPUB files.
→ Mobipocket (.mobi or .prc):Amazon Kindle uses a modified Mobipocket format for its e-books. You can create Mobipocket files by using the free Mobipocket Creator (mobipocket.com), which allows you to import Word and PDF files.
→ iBooks (.ibooks): This is a new proprietary format introduced by Apple in January. You can create an e-book in the .ibooks format by using Apple’s free iBooks Author software. The advantage of this software is that it allows you to easily create multimedia e-books optimized for tablets. However, there are two major drawbacks. The first is that, as of press time, Apple has restricted the sale of any e-book created specifically through the iBooks Author tool to Apple’s iBookstore. You may not sell your iBooks anywhere else. The second is that iBooks can be read only on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
→ PDF (.pdf): PDFs are still one of the most common formats for selling and distributing e-books, because they can retain the exact formatting, layout, color and illustration of a print edition. However, PDFs can be difficult to convert to standard e-book formats, and do not display well on grayscale reading devices.
Fortunately, many e-publishing services accept a Word document and automatically convert it to the appropriate format, but you still must go through an “unformatting” process for best results. All major services offer step-by-step guidelines for formatting your Word documents before you upload them for conversion.
Note that there is a difference between formatting and converting your book files. Conversion refers to an automated process of changing files from one format into another, without editing or styling. It’s often easy to convert files, but the resulting file may look unprofessional—or even appear unreadable—if not formatted appropriately.
Useful tools for formatting and converting e-books include:
→ calibre (calibre-ebook.com): Free software that converts e-book files from more than two dozen different file types.
→ Sigil (code.google.com/p/sigil): Free editing and formattingsoftware for e-books in the EPUB format; you can start with plain text files saved from Word.
→ Scrivener (literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php): Paid software that supports editing, formatting and converting for a variety of e-book formats; it can act as a replacement or companion for Word.
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of converting and formatting your own e-book files—especially if your e-book has special layout requirements, heavy illustrations or multimedia components—then you may want to use an e-publishing service that does this for you. But if your book is mostly straight text—say, a novel—you should be able to handle the conversion and formatting process without much difficulty if you’re starting with a Word document or TXT file.
Designing an E-Book Cover
There are a number of special considerations for e-book covers, not least of which is how little control you have over how the cover displays. People may see your cover in black and white, grayscale, color, high resolution, low resolution, thumbnail size or full size. It needs to be readable at all sizes and look good on low-quality or mobile device screens.
Maximizing Your Sales
With print books, your success is typically driven by the quality of your book, your visibility or reach to your readership, and your cover. With digital books, the same factors are in play, plus the following:
→ Price: If you check the e-book bestseller lists, you’ll see that independent novelists charge very little for their work, usually between $.99 and $2.99.
Looking Toward the Future
How To Publish An eBook On Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform is called NOOK Press. Through the NOOK Press website, you can upload your ebook and submit it for sale on the Barnes & Noble website. [.]
Start by signing up for a Nook Press account.