Friday, June 19, 2009

What to Consider before Writing an E-book

E-book author MaAnna Stephenson shares more about writing e-books today.

As discussed in a previous post, deciding whether to publishing in an e-book format requires consideration of cost and target audience. It also allows for possibilities that print books don’t offer. Taking advantage of this fact requires that you, as the author, think ahead when planning how you want to organize your e-book. You’ll also need to consider the final format of your digital file.

With an e-book, you have the opportunity to do your own layout. Printed books require special software, like InDesign, to lay them out properly. With an e-book, you can either make use of this special software or simply use the advanced features of a word processor like MS Word to do your layout. Doing your own layout saves a good deal of money and you can make updates to your e-book more easily. No matter which way you go with the layout, one feature you should include is a link to your site in the header or footer section of each page.

If you intend to include links to other sites, you may want to put a disclaimer in the e-book’s front matter stating that care has been taken to provide proper links, but sites may move or URLs may change. You can also follow that with a link to your site and invite readers to let you know when they find a broken link. You can include the updated information on your site and then edit it for the next version of your e-book.

You can make links out of the Table of Contents entries. Keep this in mind as you are formatting your chapter and section headers. Proper formatting will save you a lot of time later. You can also make an Index with links to specific words or terms in your e-book. To save time, make notes as you write of which words you’ll want to include in your Index.

Great covers help sell books. Unless you are a graphics artist, it’s likely you will be paying a professional to design your e-book cover. The latest rage is to have your e-book look like a 3D picture of a hard-cover book. There are design companies who specialize in book covers and can also make matching graphics for your blog header and related online marketing needs. If you intend to include graphics on the interior of your e-book, you’ll likely want to maintain a color scheme that is consistent with your cover.

If you choose to do the layout yourself in a word processor, you’ll need to convert the final document into a PDF file. This will require owning either Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat Distiller, or using some other third-party software program that can encode the information into a “Portable Document Format”.

There are several reasons for encoding your file in this manner. Doing so ensures that the layout will be perfectly preserved when read on any computer. Adobe offers a free PDF reader, so anyone can open the file without purchasing special software. Encoding the file also cuts down on piracy. You can even protect the file so that the reader needs a special code, or password to open it. This is not a very popular option among readers because they often forget the code or consider it a hassle just to open a file they purchased.

If you plan to offer your book in both print and digital versions, you’ll want to use a professional layout program, like InDesign, that will look good in either format.


unwriter said...

Thank you for the information. I am considering taking one of my anthologies and making it an ebook.

Pat McDermott said...

Good job explaining the often confusing options involved in e-publishing. Thank you!

MaAnna Stephenson said...

Happy to help folks through the learning phase. There are so many options for publishing now.