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Guest Post-Yvonne Herbst-How to Write a Children’s E-Book, Part 3

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The road to publication had broadened for many writers and illustrators with the advent of e-books. But the process can be confusing to many. Where to start? What to do? How do you do it?

Well we feel the best way to learn is through the experiences of others. So join us as Writer/Illustrator Yvonne Herbst walks us through the third part of her journey to self publication! Learn from her journey and incorporate what you can into yours.

How to Write a Children’s E-book-Part 1
How to Write a Children’s E-book-Part 2

Enjoy!

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In part 2 of  describing my journey to publish my first children’s picture book  I submitted my book to Bookbaby to be published by them to iBooks. I did this largely because it was cheaper. It cost $125 for the required ISBN number for iBooks or I could get my book submitted and an ISBN number assigned by Bookbaby for $118.  Now I am waiting for it to be accepted by iBooks.

In the meantime I wanted to also get my book on Barns and Noble and Amazon. I found a lot of info on how others have done so but most of them were speaking about chapter books not picture books.

Julie Olson (found via Will Terry) described on her blog how she published to Amazon. She was successful and I really appreciate the time she took to describer her process. Unfortunately I do not have the programs that she used to publish to Amazon. She used programs like Adobe InDesign and Adobe Acrobat. Financially,  I needed to figure out how to do it on my own without spending a lot of money on additional programs.

I already have an .epub file and a .pdf file generated by the BookCreator app. (See part 1 and part 2 of my journey.) So I thought,  I’ll just fill out the applications on BN and Amazon and upload my .epub file and see what happens in the preview.

I did and my book did not read at all. Something was obviously not compatible with the kindle and the nook.

Next I opened a Microsoft Word document and added my pictures to create a .doc file. I did this  because Barnes and Nobles  said they accept and convert those. Well, that was a no go too in the preview.

On this site I found a program called Calibre. It is really nifty and converts ebook files into all sorts of readable formats including from a .doc into an .epub. I took my .doc and converted it into an .epub and uploaded it to BN and again, it was a no go. The file still did not read in the nook preview and the same happened on Amazon. I honestly was at a loss!

Then I came across a kindle ebook. It is called: Formatting Comics for Kindle and Nook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Images and Ebooks (Formatting Ebooks)

Hallelujah ! It comes with XHTML templates!! Because I realized no matter what you need to “futz” around with XTHML or it is a no go for your children’s picture book.

First I formatted my pictures to this size for the Nook, 768×1024 pixels. Luckily I did not have to adjust too much! Then I added the text into the layers of my images. (In Book Creator this is done separate within the app.  So I had to add this step.)

Next you open the template given for the BN Nook. On a MAC you have to edit the code in Text Edit.

I had to fix some things to be able to use my version of Text Edit. It was very frustrating. I had to figure out why, now that I had a template, I could still not edit it! Have I mentioned that I am NOT computer smart?
After a couple of angry and tearful outbursts, I found out that the files in the template were set to open in Safari only. So I right clicked on each file and set them to open in Text Edit. Finally, I was set to go!

Make totally sure you name your images the way the book tells you to or they won’t read. Just go slow and edit step by step, following the given instructions.

In the end you can go to the EPUB Validator and see if your .epub file has errors in it before you download your .epub to publishing sites. Very handy!
As it turned out, after all my work and using the template, my .epub file DID still have some errors. I seriously had lost 80% of my hair by then.
And guess what?  I actually found a MISTAKE in the template for BN Nook! It is in the toc.ncx file.

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I fixed the mistake and my new .epub file for Nook was verified and it was successfully uploaded to BN.

Next, I started to work on my file for the Amazon  Kindle.

I should have used the template for Amazon Kindle first because that one was a piece of cake after working with the template for Nook. In the book they suggest you change the picture format to 525×649 pixels. But I used the same image size as suggested for Nook, 768×1024 and they read just fine. (all 72 dpi by the way. You don’t  need the images any larger and you don’t want your files to get too big.)

I know I got a bit long winded here with my 3 part account, but I wanted to show that this process was hard and frustrating for someone who had no idea  how to go about it. Many people on the internet make it sound so easy and it totally isn’t! Publishing a children’s picture book is much more difficult than publishing a text book and you honestly cannot find a simple way because there isn’t one.

So to sum it up, use the ebook I found! The templates saved my sanity in the end. Don’t give up when it get’s hard. If I can do it without any computer knowledge, you can too! Best of luck!

Find my book “Pigs Cannot Drive a Tractor!” on Amazon for Kindle (or the kindle app for ipad) and also on Barns and Noble, for NOOK readers!

How to Write a Children’s E-book-Part 1
How to Write a Children’s E-book-Part 2

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