Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Write Brain Report: DeAnna Knippling’s Ebook Formatting 101 by Cathy Dilts

I was convinced that the hardcopy novel was the only way to read a book. Sure, the younger generation seems to prefer electronic gadgets, but they would outgrow this awkward phase. Older people like my father, who is totally addicted to his e-reader, were anomalies.

Then my husband won a Kindle in a drawing late last year. Well, since we got the darn thing for free, I decided I had to at least give it a try. I succumbed to the e-reader phenomenon as I discovered the ease of purchasing books and the convenience of toting around an entire library in a device smaller than a single trade paperback. I am hooked.

The next dearly held belief to fall by the wayside was that I would never, ever want to self-publish, and especially not an e-book. Gradually, I have seen that this can be a viable option, if writers go into the experience with eyes wide open and with delusions doused in a cold spray of realistic expectations. The kicker for me was watching multi-published authors successfully launch their backlists via e-publishing.

Enter DeAnna Knippling, owner of Wonderland Press.

DeAnna presented a fast-paced Write Brain on formatting your novel for e-publication. In “Ebook Formatting 101”, she suggested using three main routes to reach the market: Smashwords, Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing), and Barnes & Nobel (Pubit).

Each of the big three e-publishers have different ebook types. If you want to reach the largest audience, you will need to format your submission files slightly differently depending on the e-publisher, using two different .doc files.

And that is what the February Write Brain was all about.

“You have to make the book look like a book,” DeAnna told the audience.

I had imagined that one simply uploaded a Word document to the e-publisher. No, it is not that simple. You have to create a document in a specific format.

She gave advice for how to fix certain formatting issues that the e-publisher’s conversion software does not like. “If you want to save time, learn how to use your ‘find and replace’ function efficiently.” If your formatting is not compatible with the requirements of the e-publisher, sad things will happen to your manuscript.

During the second half of the Write Brain, DeAnna discussed covers, which are critical for selling your e-book. The cover entices your customer into reading your sample, and if all goes well, the sample convinces them to purchase your book.

“Figure out your genre and sub-genre, and see what those covers look like.” The point is, you want your cover to scream “this is the type of story you like to read.” Using examples, DeAnna demonstrated that the audience could tell a memoir from a YA from a fantasy.  She proceeded to describe the process for designing an e-book cover, including the legal aspects of selecting an image.

My head is still spinning. Not to worry – DeAnna generously provided a link to her blog series, so you can peruse the instructions at your leisure.

I entered the world of e-readers kicking and screaming. After attending DeAnna’s Write Brain workshop, I have a better understanding of the behind-the-scenes processes involved in publishing electronically. Formatting your story correctly is the first step to turning your manuscript into an e-book.

DeAnna’s Wonderland Press includes ebook formatting services for reasonable fees.

About the Writer: Cathy Dilts is the assistant editor for the PPW blog Writing from the Peak. She writes cozy murder mystery and inspirational fiction, and has recently begun writing short stories because they’re easier to fit into her busy schedule. Cathy’s publication experience is similar to fishing – getting lots of nibbles on the line, but no bites yet.

In her spare time, she enjoys raised bed gardening, which her husband claims look the perfect size for burying bodies, while reminding her that you can’t get rid of the bones.