Who makes ebooks?

The easiest and cheapest way to get your book in print is to make it into an ebook. Publishing it through the many websites out there is free! As an independent publisher, you will learn to like anything for free. All the companies also offer a free author page that you can use to market yourself and your book.

You simply format your book and upload it to a site that converts it into an ebook and puts it for sale on the internet. Some of the better known websites are Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and IngramSpark. Let’s talk about each one individually.

Amazon.com (not .ca) is proprietary. That means it has its own file format and does not share with other ebook agencies. The only place your ebook is for sale is on Amazon.com. Not that it is a bad thing since Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world. Readers have to use a Kindle to read the Amazon ebook format – called a mobi file. Most new computers have a Kindle reader built right in, and it is a free app for smart phones. Since Amazon.com is an American company, you will need to fill out Internal Revenue Services taxation information. Read the form first and then gather the information it asks for.

Kobo is Canadian and requires no IRS forms. It is the ebook division of Indigo/Chapters and books are sold in Canada on the Kobo website. Kobo ebooks are put out in an epub file. If you are not familiar with ebooks, you can borrow a Kobo from your local library and try it out. Knowing what the reader will see can give you a good perspective on your own book.

Smashwords is an American company that converts your ebook to an epub file and then offers distribution to major online ebook retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple iPad, the iBookstore, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store, and to all major smart phone platforms via app providers such as Aldiko, Page Foundry, Kobo and Word-Player. You will need to fill out the IRS form. Vancouver Island Regional Library can purchase your ebook from Smashwords and it will be in their catalogue.

IngramSpark is the new ebook distributor for LighteningSource POD. They convert your book to an epub file and distribute your titles to every major ebook retailer in the world such as Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, Apple iBooks, and Kobo as well as 70 emerging ebook retailers. They even distribute to Amazon Kindle but only if your book is not already listed there.

Formatting your ebook

Independent publishers are often confused about formatting their manuscript into an ebook. If you have a print copy, you have already gone through the formatting process as discussed in the last blog post. Remember I recommended that you don’t format a print book in Word? Well, the opposite is true for ebooks – they need to be formatted in Word. Do not convert it into a PDF when you are done either. All the ebook companies want either a .doc or .docx file. Every company has detailed instructions on their website on how to format your manuscript into an ebook.

Some important things to remember –

  • Remove all tabs at the beginning of paragraphs and replace them with Indents.
  • Single space between lines and paragraphs
  • Insert a Page Break at the end of each chapter
  • Use the same font for chapter headings as the text

Use an easy to read Serif font like Georgia, Baskerville, Palatino or Garamand. Although it is recommended to use a Sans font on the computer, a Serif font is preferable for reading long publications. The main aim with ebook typography is for the reader not to notice what font you are using. If you use a typeface that annoys readers or that they find even slightly difficult to read, they may not finish the book. Times New Roman is too tight for reading long text so please don’t use it.

Formatting an ebook is not really that complicated. If you don’t know how to use the Indent or Page Break features in your Word program, then ask for help. Or do a Google search and you will find easy to understand directions.

It is important that your ebook looks as good as your print copy. Take your time getting it right and you will be happy with the result. Rush it and you may be embarrassed with the finished product. I recommend that you have a proof copy emailed to you before approving the final copy.






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