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.