How To Publish An E-Book

May 7, 2013

I was recently asked by a couple of people about my e-book publishing process. The actual process of publishing the book is fairly simple, but don’t kid yourself: it’s a ton of work. I’ve learned a lot about it and want to share some of the best practices and tools to help things run more smoothly and efficiently. Tom Corson-Knowles might have the most helpful book on the market when it comes to Kindle publishing in particular. A few of these things I wish I would have learned beforehand.

Here’s some info on how I’ve done it up to this point and how I’ll do it moving forward.

What I’ve done

With my first book Money: God or Gift, my main goal was to be able to give it away free on my site, so I wanted it branded in a well-designed PDF. I took the MS Word manuscript and paid some friends at Baji Design Group (you should check them out) to lay it out in Adobe InDesign.

After the InDesign file was complete I used a few different people on Fiverr to convert it into .mobi (Amazon Kindle – .azw3 is the new Kindle format, but .mobi still works as well), .epub (Barnes & Noble Nook; also the generic e-book format) and an iTunes iBooks (.ibooks) version. Going from InDesign to the other formats proved to be challenging, and I went through a few design folks on Fiverr because the images didn’t transfer well. You get what you pay for, I guess. If you keep looking, though, you can find a seller who will convert the formats successfully.

Remember that you need to purchase a separate ISBN for each format you publish to – not just each book you publish.

For my second book Authority: The Leaders Call to Serve, I followed basically the same process, except I didn’t give it away free as a PDF. I still got the PDF designed nicely though, so I could send it to people who wanted an advance copy to review on their blog, and so I could put a free sample on my site.

What I’ll do next time!

I have a third book coming out later this year and I’ll follow this process next time to save time and money.

1. Make sure manuscript is 100% complete in Microsoft Word.

It is the most reliable for converting into the e-book formats directly. But if it isn’t error free, then when you convert to other formats you have to edit both the InDesign doc and the Word doc (for example), and it’s hard to keep track of these changes. If you’re interested in a branded PDF, I highly recommend making sure your Word doc manuscript is 99.9% final before moving to InDesign. I wasted some time (and money) making changes after the fact and then having version-syncing issues with the Word doc and InDesign file.

2. Send designers the file to be laid out as both a sample and full-length PDF.

This is important for marketing efforts. I think it is worth the investment in the PDF to stay away from the “home-made” look and feel you see with most e-books. But keep in mind that very little custom formatting can be done in .epub and .mobi/.azw3 formats. (For example, font size is nearly irrelevant, except for headers, because users can adjust font size on their screen). If you’re giving your e-book away for free, the PDF can be easily downloaded through your newsletter signup. I use Mailchimp for my newsletter and Digioh to offer secure PDF downloads.

3. Send Word doc and images from designers to sellers on Fiverr to create .iBooks, .epub and .mobi versions.

Then I can upload the files, each with a unique ISBN, to the various sales outlets.

There are other ways you can go, such as enrolling in Kindle Direct Publishing Select (which requires you exclusively publish on Amazon). Even though KDP Select requires exclusivity, it can be a very good route to take. It enables you to give your book away free for 5 days every 90-day enrollment period. Authority received over 4000 downloads during its free period and made it into the Top 100 of all free Kindle books on Amazon.

A simple Google search on how to publish an e-book, and where you should publish it, will provide you with plenty of extended reading.

You can peek at each of these formats on my site: Money is available in all three formats, while Authority is only available on Amazon.

Be sure to not neglect the marketing side of things. It’s one thing to have the book done and published, it’s a completely different thing to market and sell it.

I’m still learning, and I’m hardly the expert, but I hope this gives some help to get you publishing your own e-book. It’s easier and more accessible than ever before to take your content to the world. Good luck.


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