Producing my first eBook

In December last year I was given a challenge. My supervisor had a textbook that she wanted to self published in time for the start of classes in January. The content was written. It had been through various iterations of proofing and was ready for publication – however, it was not ready for self publishing. The textbook was designed to be an eBook, with each chapter containing links to many examples (100s of pages of examples); however, the version of the book was produced as if it were a print book, with each chapter a separate PDF file and no live links between chapters. Many of the examples had been removed from the eBook and placed on an external server, making the reader require Internet access to use them.

In looking at how best to self publish, our first choice was deciding which ecosystem to publish in. For a variety of reasons which I won't go into here (at least not yet), we chose the Kobo ecosystem. One the biggest reasons was because of our tight timelines. With Kobo, we did not require any US banking or tax account information and the turn-around time to publish was fast (48-72 hours).

Once the ecosystem was chosen, creating the eBook involved:

  1. Getting an ISBN. In Canada, this is free for Canadian authors and only requires signing up at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/ciss-ssci/index-e.html. This takes less than a day, as the system is online and automated.
  2. Signing up for an account at Kobo Writing Life – this requires banking information.
  3. Converting the PDF and MS Word content into an HTML site.
  4. Packaging the HTML site into an ePub.
  5. Designing a cover for the eBook.
  6. Having the ePub reviewed/edited and approved.
  7. Loading it into Kobo Writing Life, selecting the price for the eBook in each region and pressing the publish button.

As far as software goes, I used Dreamweaver to create the initial HTML site, since I already own Dreamweaver as I use it for most of my other website development work. In addition, I used Sigil (a free product) to package the HTML into an ePub document.

To see my handwork, check out "Introduction to Research: Demystifying the Research Process" in the Kobo eBookstore. You can download a free sample by clicking the SAVE PREVIEW button. The sample can be read using the free Kobo reader application.

I've chosen to call the services I provided on this eBook "Producing" rather than publishing. One of the services a publisher usually provides is marketing – and that is a service I am not providing. I have created a little website to explaining how to download the book, but I am not providing any major marketing services. For me, the fun is in taking something that was written in MS Word and turning it into an eBook with live hyperlinks.

In working through this process, I was surprised at just how easy it is to self publish. I'm encouraged by it, and now have a bunch of different ideas for my own eBooks. The bigger challenge is in the writing of the content!

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