Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Keeping it Professional

Did you know there are kits you can buy to build your own house?  It's true, and some of them can get pretty extravagant.

The problem is if you haven't ever nailed two boards together you probably shouldn't attempt to build your own house (at least not until you've done some serious research).  The same is true for publishing your own book.

In this day and age of Amazon, it's so tempting to simply upload your Word document and start selling.  Unfortunately, though, trying to build an ebook off a Word document is like trying to build a house on a broken and flimsy foundation.  Before you start building, you need to fix the problems and make your foundation as strong and smooth as possible.

And just like building a house requires some knowledge of using a hammer, building an ebook requires some knowledge of html code.

First, you need to transfer your manuscript over to a simple editor.  I downloaded jEdit for this.  This program will only allow you to write your manuscript out in html code, so you'll also need to download calibre to turn all that code into an actual ebook.

For further information on building an ebook, check out this series I found most useful.

Why is all this important?  Because traditionally published books have an advantage over self-published books in that they have a team of professionals who know exactly what they're doing when designing a book. In other words, when readers are shopping around on Amazon, there's a very good chance the traditionally published books will look more professional.  And when someone opens up your ebook and discovers a bunch of formatting errors due to transferring a Word document directly over to Amazon's ebook creator, do you think they're going to stop and say, "oh dear, these whole blocks of gibberish must pain the author severely.  I should go and buy their next book to show my support and make her feel better"?

Um...that's a nice thought, but no.

They'll very likely think twice before spending money on one of your books again.  And THAT'S something to think about.

This is Part One in my continuing series of Self-Publishing--Keeping it Professional.  Stop by next week for Part Two.


  1. This is an excellent post for anyone thinking of self-publishing. Looking forward to the next!

  2. Are you going to do any physical copies at all? I want one to have you sign. That's one of the biggest disadvantage to ebooks.

    But those are good points to making sure the ebook is worth buying. It can be the greatest book ever, but if it isn't legible, people won't be able to read it.

  3. oh yes. this would definitely deter me from reading a book! yikes!

  4. Great info! Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. Excellent post! Love your cover, btw.

    I like that you're taking your time to produce the best possible product you can. I think thats why ebooks and self pubs get such a bad rap bc there are those who just write a book and put it out there.

    Can't wait to read it! (I'll even review it for you if you'd like. I've been guest reviewing on bookalicious)

  6. Jaleh--Yes I am, in fact! The cover Vic made for me is so gorgeous, I couldn't bear to have it relegated to just black and white. And you know, I wish they'd start making autographing possible on ereaders. I don't know why they haven't already. The technology is there.

  7. Great points and definitely important things to think about for people pondering self-publishing!

  8. This is a great point and analogy, there is so much that goes into making a book. I've often wondered how the self-pubbers do it.

  9. I will have to keep this series in mind if I ever self pub.

  10. It's always good to be as professional as possible, especiallly when self-publishing. Great post, Emily. And may I tell you again how excited for you I am. It's excellent that you're empowering yourself by taking this step.


  11. Loved, loved, loved this post. You made the exact arguments as to why I've decided to forgo self-publishing. It's just not a path I want to venture down...yet. (I reserve the right to always change my mind.) I'm now a fan of yours.


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