Creating your own ebook

Whether you seek out traditional publishing or choose to self-publishing there is much to learn—this includes creating your own ebook. Keith Stevenson, a partner in ebookedit (with well-known industry editor Nicola O’Shea), author of science-fiction thriller ‘Horizon’ (HarperCollins Voyager), and publisher at coeur de lion publishing sat down with us to explain the ins and outs of creating an ebook for self-publication.

The self-publishing and ebook phenomenon has spurred the development of a whole range of options for authors to turn their manuscript into an ebook, but it’s sometimes difficult to know what the right option is for you.

The simplest way to create an ebook is to format your manuscript in Microsoft Word and submit it for automatic conversion through your chosen platform. Amazon’s popular Kindle Direct Publishing platform allows you to do this (see video), as do other sites like Smashwords. Similarly Kobo has a ‘text editor’ that you can paste your manuscript into and format before conversion.

But if you want to sell your ebook on multiple sites ‒ e.g. Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords etc ‒ this way of creating ebooks means you have to follow each platform’s formatting rules separately to create different, platform-specific versions of your ebook file, which can be a lot of work. The other problem with automatic conversion is that it doesn’t always work, or can create a file that looks strange when you view it on your ereader, meaning you have to resubmit your file and, in some cases, hope for the best.

You also can’t use the ebook file you create on one platform ‒ e.g. Smashwords ‒ and load it onto another platform ‒ e.g. Amazon. And if you use a platform’s proprietary software ‒ e.g. Apple’s iBooks format ‒ to create your ebook file, you’re forbidden from selling it elsewhere.

A way of getting around this is to use a low-cost, web-based ebook creator like Pressbooks, which can also be used to create print-ready book files. The ebook file you create in Pressbooks can be uploaded to any and all platforms that accept epubs ‒ which is pretty much all of them.

If, however, you are not confident using a computer or the internet, it might be best to enlist the help of a professional to create your ebook file. If you decide on this option, it pays to shop around as prices can vary greatly. And be careful of some sites that offer a free ISBN as part of their conversion package. You’ll find that you can’t publish that ebook on any other sites or platforms under the same ISBN because you don’t own it.

Of course the ebook file is only one part of being an independent author. It’s very important to get the right help in developing your manuscript, and in editing and proofreading your final written material. There are a number of places to find a good editor, the important thing is to find an editor who is experienced and has worked on the type of book you’re writing.

Another crucial element is the cover design. An eye-catching and well-designed cover is vital to make your book stand out onscreen amongst the thousands of other titles people can buy. Again there are lots of places you can look for a designer, including Illustrators Australia and sites like 99 designs. When choosing a cover design, look at the covers of mainstream published books in your genre to get a feel for current trends.

There’s a lot to learn, but there are also a lot of resources out there to help you make your book truly special.

If you would like to find out more about Keith Stevenson, Nicola O’Shea or ebookedit visit:


About Kit Carstairs

Kit Carstairs has background in book and magazine publishing, academic research, marketing and broadcasting. She has almost a decade of experience working with a wide variety of content including: fiction (adult and children’s), general non-fiction (craft, gardening, home improvement, general DIY, food titles, natural history, general reference, photography) as well as working with corporate (marketing and sales material, business reviews and papers) and academic content (research publications and thesis). Having worked both as a freelance editor and as an in-house editor and project manager in publishing, Kit has a comprehensive understanding of the importance of content development and the need for authors to be proactive in developing manuscripts that represent their full potential. As well as providing manuscript assessments Kit is also able to offer her editing and proofing services (POA) as well as fast and accurate transcribing services (POA). Contact Kit to discuss these services in more detail. Kit lives and works in the inspirational surroundings of the Blue Mountains, in Australia's New South Wales.


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