How to do an E-Book

This is not the ultimate guide to do an e-book. I am pretty sure that there are more than just one method. And although I am now able to create e-books for e-book-readers I still prefer those lovely old-fashioned books which have been printed and which you can take in our hands, feel the paper, smell the paper and which or better who will develop their own character during the years.

Can you make an E-book?

To tell you the whole story from the scratch. In July a friend asked me if I am able to do an e-book. Sure, I can do an e-book. By that moment I was thinking of good old pdf-file. Those files we all have in hundreds on our sites to provide information to our friends, fans or customers. Same procedure, than for sending a book to the printing office. You just have to use another preset, lower resolution etc. Nothing complicated.

I really thought that the new customer just wanted a pdf-e-book. Ok, I placed my quota, which was accepted happily. I got the script as an openoffice-file. I got some pictures and the email-address of the customer.

Then I started to work as I work most times: opened InDesign, a wonderful layout-program, developed a simple, easy to handle layout, choose some details of the customers pictures for brightening up some special parts of the book. It was easy to choose a font, for headlines I found one, which seemed to represent parts of the pictures my customer had chosen for the book.

I did two more drafts, just a few pages of the book and then allow the customers to chose which one they prefer. And as I thought they liked the one I thought they would like.

It went all well so far. We met in person, lovely lovely contact. Then my customer came up with the idea to create an ebook for the Kindle-reader and a lot of learning swapped over my way.

Why is a pdf-e-book different from a Kindle-e-book?

Sure a pdf-file can be used as an e-book-file too. Nothing wrong with that.

If you want to sell your e-book via your own website, stick with the pdf.

Kindle-reader is a technical device, which has been developed by the well known trading company Amazon. I am not going to talk about the growing family of the Kindle devices. I have never touched a Kindle with my own hands so far.

I have read a lot of articles, blogs, instructions about how to do an e-book for Kindle, have learned about the Pros and Cons of Kindle-e-books, about different e-book-formats and a lot more. Right in the middle of the process I felt so overwhelmed, it really was a bit too much. But you know that I like such kind of challenge.

Now I know that a Kindle-e-book is nothing complicated, it likes it simple.

Pictures only when it is necessary, so better stay away from them.

Colors: beside the new Kindle-Fire the Kindle-Family is a family, who likes gray-scales, but not to many gray-scales. So Pictures or much color in your book will be interpreted in a way nobody really likes. Better hands off!

You can easily set up a Kindle-e-book via word-file, but if you are working via Apple Macintosh, your word-file might not be accepted.

I have downloaded a program called “Calibre”. It converts word.doc or .html files to different e-book formats. If you produce for Amazon-Kindle use the mobi format.

Word or html?

I played a little around. Layouted the book via Word, learned how to set text-anchors for the list of content. Then I converted the word-file via Calibre to .mobi … I was not impressed by the result. Studied a little more, saved the word-file to html. Had a look at my word-html-file via Dreamweaver and got a personal crisis. There had been so much useless stuff in that html-file, which just made the file bigger as necessary.

So back to the beginning again.

How to solve this problem?

Meanwhile I got the idea that simple html makeup would be the best.

What did I need? The commands <p></p> for paragraph, <h1></h1> for chapter numbers <h2></h2> for chapter titles and a little more stuff for setting up anchors and links.

An anchor is nothing different than a link. The anchor links a certain word or paragraph to another part in the same book, a link refers to something, which is outside the book, usually something which can be found on the internet.

So with the help of Dreamweaver I worked myself through the book, was able to define the ratio basic font to headline 1 or headline 2. It was very satisfying for me.

Finally I created a plain and clean html-document, which was converted via Calibre to a proper mobi-document, which could be uploaded to the Kindle-bookstore.

We need a cover

All books need a cover, so do e-books too. After reading the Kindle-guidelines for e-book-covers it was not very complicated. The customer was very pleased with the result of the cover.

On October 18 … it was the birthday of my dad … we created a Kindle-account for the e-book, loaded it up, and published it.

It is now available at Amazon … unfortunately for my English-speaking friends, it is only available in German.Glueckshaube_cover

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