As I mentioned yesterday, The Journals of Bob Drifter (2nd Edition) is live (and currently that ebook is only 99 cents). What it took to get there is something that frustrated me. All my life, I’ve believed in learning. I think the best way to learn is to teach. My mentor (hi Chip!) told me the obligation of someone who is taught is to “pass on what you’ve learned as freely as it was given.”
Well I paid for what I learned. I paid in time, and a lot of money I didn’t need to spend. So what I’d like to do is save a lot of you a lot of money.
First, the funny part: I thought my design skill would be a great asset to the process. Well, for the paperback, it was. But the ebook was another story. You see, e-readers aren’t design readers, they’re text readers. So if the reason you’re pay anywhere between $200 and $2,000 to publish your book is, “I never designed before,” you needn’t worry.
I’m actually not against people paying the $200 price. What you’re buying isn’t the fancy design, it’s the time you could spend writing. I, on the other hand, don’t have enough capital to pay for something I know how to do myself. If you need to save money, this is one heck of an easy way to do it. You can publish your book for free, saving that money to do things like pay a better cover artist, edit the book again, or invest in tables at conventions.
The basic trick of it is, is to think about your book the same way you would about formatting an essay. I’m still figuring out the best way to get that table of contents working, but I found a way around that too.
First, if you use Pages, just know most people don’t like it. If you want to know how to do this using Word, I can’t tell you. I bought a Mac. It has Pages. It’s what I use. But, if you’re a Mac/Pages guy like me, and you want to publish your book, it’s far easier than I made it.
Design Trick 1: Use page breaks. I use them between chapters, and this is a very common thing. Doing this allows you to edit in previous chapters while guaranteeing the next chapter will still start on a new page. So, when you’re done writing one chapter, don’t hit enter until you get to a new pages. Instead, go to the top menu bar, select Insert > Page Break.
Design Trick 2: Use a heading or create one. I won’t go into how to create one in this blog because I’m trying to keep it short, but it’s not hard. You want to use a heading though because that will make your table of contents clickable. (I also won’t go into my back door to a clickable TOC. I found a thing that works, but I want to find the tool that makes it easy.) You want to do this though. When you type up the chapter’s name, highlight it. On the right side of your window, you should see a “document” panel. If you don’t, click the “Document” icon on the top-right of your menu bar. Once you see it, go to the “Style” tab. At the top of that tab is a dropdown box. Use this to select whatever heading you want. Pages has at least three pre-made headings. If you really want to make your own, just format it however you want, and click the “+” sign in that dropdown box. Name it whatever you want, and then use that item for the rest of your book.
Design Trick 3: Photos. This was the part that really took me a while to figure out. I would “place” my photos, but then use the wrap text feature. Placing photos (going to the top menu bar, selecting “Insert > Choose” is absolutely the right way to do that. Then, click on your photo. Get the size the way you want. Once that’s done, click on the photo again just to make sure it’s selected. That will change the panel to your right to the photo’s options. You’ll have three tabs: “style,” “image,” and “arrange.” Click the “arrange” tab. Ensure that “Move With Text” is selected.
Then, go to the “Text Wrap” dropdown menu and, believe it or not design folks, select “In line with text.” This is frankly counter to everything every designer was ever taught, but if you don’t do this, your photos will look skewed and out of place. If you want to center the image or align it right, click just to the right of the photo. Make sure your cursor is blinking to the left of the image, then click “center” or “right” just as if you were moving text. That will make sure your images stay high quality and where you want them. If you want the image anywhere but the left, center, or right of the frame, I’m afraid I can’t help you there. That said, I’ve never seen anyone want to place their images in those sorts of places. My books have chapter icons and “scene-break” icons. Those are all centered.
Design Trick 4: Export as a Word document. Then upload.
The point is, KDP has made their ebook conversion process so that you don’t actually have to do much more than you would if you were formatting a high-school essay. If you need help, just shoot me an email or PM on Twitter or Facebook, and I’ll be happy to help. Just make sure that you only pay money for design services because you have the extra money or lack the time. (I’d make the time if I were you, paying someone to do this simple a task is just throwing money away). I’m not a master at it yet, and I may have a glitch or two to work out, but the point is I can go to one more convention a year than I previously could because I don’t have to budget $200-$400 for design.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for reading,