I began this Kindle Ebook project at 5pm on Friday, August 19th, 2011. My aim was to do a start-to-finish run through the process and see how long it took. My test case was a 54 page long ebook on "Quick, No-Cook Low Carb Recipes". I had previously put together this ebook's format in InDesign back in August 2010. I wanted to move the content out of InDesign and into Word which was in my mind a much more long term solution. I'm fairly sure I'll keep maintaining active copies of Word (or a Word-like equivalent) on my computer. I'm not so sure I'll always have a working copy of InDesign on my computer in the future years.
So the first part of my process was the same as any other ebook creator - the creation of the Word document that has the material of the book. On BellaOnline we train our editors to write 10-20 articles on a given topic and then to compile those articles together in order to form an ebook. That way the book grows organically and has a built in marketing base on those article pages. If you have a website or blog you can do that same thing. The key is to compile a group of interesting, informative pages and then organize them into the ebook format.
What I did during this time period - about 2 hours - was what any content-based ebook creator would be doing. I was cutting and pasting content from another location and into my Word document. In my case I was cutting and pasting from InDesign but for most people they would be cutting and pasting from whatever website they had used to build and develop their content. If instead you wrote a fiction novel in Word itself then this part is already done.
Here are some of the formatting tasks I did as part of this document creation.
- Page Number
The page numbers will be for your print version only. We'll strip them back out again when we make the ebook reader version, since ebooks let you change the font size whenever you want and therefore you have less control over what item shows up on what page. Still, for now, you want Page numbers in the headers or footers
- Title Page / Book Cover
The first page of your book or ebook should be either a basic large-font-size statement of your title (EPUB / MOBI), or a copy of your book cover (PDF). For example, BellaOnline ebooks are PDF files and therefore the first page acts as the "cover" of the ebook. So that first page holds the book cover image. For a print copy of the book, as well as the EPUB / MOBI format, you'd want the first page you see to have the title of the book. So make sure you put one or the other on that very first page. A title page / book cover
- Copyright Page
The second page of your book should have your copyright information. For a book you distribute yourself you don't need an ISBN, but once you get into the various sales systems you'll need two ISBNs - one for your ebook version and one for the print version. They need separate ISBNs. For now, leave the ISBN spot blank, unless you've personally bought one for yourself. I also always put a version number on the copyright page. That way, each time I make an update, I update that copyright page as well. If someone writes me with a comment I can determine which version they're working with to know the status of the document. A copyright page on the second page
- Table of Contents
The table of contents will have page numbers for your print book. It will not have page numbers for your Kindle style ebook because, as mentioned, the user can change font sizes and therefore the number of pages at whim. For those pages it'll have hotlinks. I'll explain how to make those change as we go through the steps. For now, auto generate a table of contents as your third page. Creating an Automatic Table of Contents
- Page Size
Make sure you set your page size to what you want the print copy to end up as. It won't matter at all for the ebook version, but you want this to be correct for the print version. You check this by going into Page Layout - Size.
It took me until about 7pm to get my starting Word document all set. That was two hours to go from completely raw content to having a finished "base level ebook" So at 7pm I first saved my document as a Word document. Then I was able to do File - Save As - PDF in Word and POOF I had a PDF file! Then do a File - Save As to save a Filtered HTML version. That's what we'll use for the ebook creation.
The first stage of my process was complete. I had my base files complete.
You should have a single, well named directory to hold all your files associated with this one ebook. So in my case I can call that directory "QuickNoCook" and have all files in that one directory. It'll be important for you to be able to have all your files together.
You should also have a text file in this directory called something like aaaVersionNotes.txt. The "aaa" at the beginning makes sure it sorts to the top of your directory list and doesn't get lost. Keep track of each version you make, what date you worked on that version, and what the key changes were. It can be easy to get confused along the way. It can be easy if you come back in six month to make a change to forget what is what. By keeping that text file updated with notes, you save yourself a lot of time!
Let me know if there's anything else you need help with on getting your basic eBook ready!
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