We are offering some basic tips on how to publish yourself, for those interested in tackling this job on their own. Here are two things to know:
1. It's easier to do than you think.
2. It's harder to do right than you think.
Sounds like conflicting advice? Well, I just want you to know that if you're not in the mood to do a lot of little corrections and adjustments, not detail-oriented, not artistic, then it may appear to be a daunting task.
But it can be done.
We will post additional tips in the blog rather than here, but want to give you a head start with this page, which you can easily refer back to for the basics. Plenty of sites offer little ebooks (many free) that show you how to do it step-by-step. It's not our intention to duplicate that information. We'll summarize what we've found to be true based on our own experience.
You can actually do everything with free software. You don't need to go out and buy the latest and greatest. However, since we already owned a copy of Word, that is our most often used word processing software.
If you don't have that, a good alternative is LibreOffice. It's free and comes with all the capability of Microsoft Office, without the expense.
Mobipocket Creator is available on Windows and does a good job of formatting to html for upload to Amazon (for the Kindle), and for creating an epub formatted book for Barnes & Noble (and other publishers).
Another good one, though a bit harder to use (though the tutorials make it a step-by-step process), is Calibre, and it's available on the big 3 platforms: Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Cover art is a topic where most professionals say to do it right - hire someone. Well, if you're producing a book that you intend only for family, where you expect to print 10-15 books, then it's silly, to me, to spend $200 and up for a cover, when you can produce a nice-looking one yourself for free.
Look for design tips on the Internet - there are plenty of helpful hints and tutorials out there. There are several free programs that help you accomplish this task, including the one we use the most, GIMP. This has capabilities similar to Adobe Photoshop, without the expense. It is multi-platform. Others include Inkscape (also multi-platform), and Paint.NET (limited to Windows).
For ebooks, you are only producing a front cover. And if you want to use an even more basic tool, if you're working with an Amazon Kindle upload, they have a basic cover creator that allows you to create a cover in about 5 minutes. Seriously! I tried it once to see how it would work. It even allows you to upload your own picture, so if you aren't artistically inclined, you can still produce a simple cover without any software!
This covers the bare necessities of DIY publishing an ebook.
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