I’ve been reading e-books for ages—on my laptop, on my phone, on the new Nook my husband got me for our anniversary. I have long anticipated that someday my own books would be available digitally. A major advantage is the lack of warehousing and shipping costs. An e-book can be accessed almost as easily in Africa as in Atlanta. Since there are no extra publishing costs, the author can set a price that makes the book accessible to the most readers.
I have been putting off the venture, fearing it would be too hard. I’m not in my 30s anymore. Ahem. I’m not in my 50s anymore! What if I mess it up? What if I can’t figure it out? I love technology when it works, but when it doesn’t . . . Well, you don’t want to be around me.
Recently someone approached my husband about how to get 50-100 copies of his book Excellence in Theological Education for a conference. “Is it available as an e-book?” he wanted to know.
Hmm. Well . . . it’s not, but . . . it should be. You’ve been meaning to do this, I told myself. Now stop putting it off and do it.
It turns out that Amazon has a free Kindle book on—what else?—how to publish your own Kindle book. (Separate version for Mac.) The step-by-step instructions are very easy to follow. The process is putzy, but worth it. In an e-book the reader decides the size of the font and the margins. I can make the print large when I find I’ve come off without my reading glasses, or make it smaller so I don’t have to click so often to turn a page. Page numbers become irrelevant and headers interrupt the text with their seemingly random placement. Very irritating.
I opened Steve’s manuscript and took out the headers and footers, page numbers and tabs. Indentations have to be set in the Word formatting palette; Kindle doesn’t recognize tabs and leaves them as un-indented paragraphs.
Even though an e-book doesn’t have a physical existence, it still has a “cover”—the thumbnail that shoppers see on Amazon. And if that thumbnail is going to sell books it needs to be eye-catching, or at least not put potential readers off. So another day this week was spent arranging props on my dining room table (in hopes it would look like a nice desk), arranging lighting, and standing on a stepladder to hold out my camera and take pictures. After editing on the computer and getting input from Steve, I arranged another shoot, feeling like some kind of advertizing exec. You can see here what we came up with.
One of the big advantages of an e-book, especially a non-fiction title like Excellence in Theological Education, is the ability to include links. The table of contents can link directly to the chapters. Steve’s book has lots of subheadings, which we included in the original print table of contents. Those make more links, taking readers directly to the part they most need right now. But an e-book isn’t limited to links within the document. I linked all the websites in his bibliography to the actual sites, and the scripture references to BibleGateway.com. If the Tear fund grant-writing page looks useful to you, you can just click it. If Steve refers to Matthew 28, readers can click on it and read the verses and their context.
At least that is how it is all supposed to work. I had hoped to delay this blog until I could say the book was up and ready, but when I uploaded it (a very quick process compared to all the prep work), large sections came out underlined. So far, I haven’t figured out why.
So . . . don’t go looking for it on Amazon quite yet (even though you might find it since I messed up and hit the wrong button prematurely. . .) But know that it is
And after this, I’ll be an old pro, ready to take on my next publishing challenge.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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