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

guestpost

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

Guest Post-Yvonne Herbst-How to write a children’s picture ebook, part 2

guestpost

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 second part of her journey to self publication! Learn from her journey and incorporate what you can into yours.

Enjoy!


pigcannotc

In my last post I ended with mentioning Book Creator and how this app got me on the road to finally finishing my digital picture book.

I painted the pictures, per their specifications, in Photoshop. I then emailed it to myself.  Opened and saved it onto my ipad and placed it into my file in the book creator app. The text is also added at that time via Book Creator. There are a variety of fonts, sizes and colors to choose from. You can also record and apply sound effects in the Book Creator app.  This is great if you want to make an interactive book to be published in iBooks.

It was fun to open it along the way in the kindle for ipad app and see how the pages turned. It gave me a better feeling of whether the story was flowing or not.  Once I had my book the way I wanted it I saved it to my dropbox in the epub format and pdf format. I sent several pdf’s of my book to friends who were kind enough to proof read it and make comments about my illustrations. Then I got a tax identification number. You may need one to publish your book depending on where you decide to sell it online!

Book Creator works closely with iBooks so the next step for me was to publish my book to ibooks. You can either self publish to ibooks or you can choose a service to do it for you. There are several available. I looked more closely at Lulu and BookBaby. The advantages offered are that they can publish an ebook to several sites at once and save you the stress of filling out the application for each and every site. They will also format your book to their specifications.

A limitation of Book Creator is that it only churns out fixed epub files. As a picture book creator this is what you would want. Unfortunately Lulu and Bookbaby can’t just wave a magic want and make the file fit to all smart devices big and small. Therefore it’s not possible to take advantage of these services with Book Creator alone.  I found out again that publishing a picture book is not easy and I would have a more complicated road to get my book onto multiple sites.

Next I realized that to publish on iBooks I needed to have an ISBN number. Not all publishing sites require it. Barnes and Nobles and Amazon do not  but iBooks does. To get an ISBN number you can go to this site and pay $125.  I was tight on cash and I wanted a bigger bang for my buck than just the ISBN number. Bookbaby will publish your book to ibooks for $99. If you need an ISBN number they charge an additional $19. The  total cost to me was $118. If I had gone through the site that offered only an ISBN number I would have payed $125 but still needed to publish my book on ibooks myself. Bookbaby offered me a better deal all around. With everything paid for and an ISBN number assigned to my book and I was ready for the next step.

Make absolutely sure that everything is spelled correctly and you are 1000000% happy with your book before you give it the GO! (By the way, the people at bookbaby are friendly folks!)

So that was easy peasy (pretty much). My book was now on it’s way to ibooks and would be published within 3 to 6 weeks.

Next, how the heck do I get it published to Barns and Noble and Amazon?

Guest Post-Yvonne Herbst-How to write a children’s picture ebook, part 1

guestpost

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 first part of her journey to self publication! Learn from her journey and incorporate what you can into yours.

Enjoy!

After many years of toying with the idea of actually illustrating and writing my first children’s picture book I finally realized that now is the perfect time to simply go for it. Why? Because we can all self-publish!

As an Illustrator I always knew that I was going to have a hard time finding a publisher who would not only accept my story, but would also accept me as the books illustrator. There are illustrators who are also the authors of their own books.  It is very difficult to actually accomplish that feat. You need to both write and illustrate at a professional level. Even then that doesn’t guarantee that your illustrations are the best fit for your particular story. Most publishing houses want to choose who will illustrate a chosen manuscript.

 

Along came e-books and suddenly a whole new world of possibilities emerge. Not only can you publish yourself on various e-reader platforms, but you can also send your book to a printer and have it printed yourself. Combine that with the fact that you also have the social networks available to promote your work. You can really get your book out there on your own now.

It’s still a scary process however. You do not have a publisher/editor holding your hand along the way. Is your book good enough?  In my case English is my second language. Although I think I am pretty good at communicating in English, I definitely have a hard time knowing where commas go and stumble over general grammar all the time.

It is also hard to write for children in general. Children’s picture books are especially difficult. You want the pictures to flow with the words. Your written words combined with the pictures should entice the reader to actually want to turn the page and see how the story unfolds. How do you break up a story into single pages with a nice cliffhanger of sorts at the end of each page? Do you write the story for each page first, or do you start illustrating first and then write the story to match? It was a bit of a puzzle to me as a complete novice.

I had many people read the story along the way. Some even wrote it for me at first. Of course, this was before I realized that in order for it to flow with my illustrations I really needed to write it myself. I had to make countless corrections in spelling and grammar. I also had about a large number of pictures that worked at first and did not in the end. I found that a mockup book (dummy) helped me very much! I stapled my sketches together and filled these pages with drawings and placed the text.

Surprisingly the real headache ended up being trying to find out what size and format the book needed to be for each e-reader. That was terribly difficult!  There seemed to be a ton of opinions out there on that matter. Did I really have to learn xthml or pay hundreds of dollars to a company to do this for me? In fact, it was so confusing I almost gave up. I had already done so much work though that I didn’t want to.

What got me started again was my discovery of an ipad app, called Book Creator. It is a very easy to use app that simplifies the creation of an eBook. It saves your work as a fixed .epub file. This is what you’ll need if you are publishing a children’s picture e-book. It also saves your file as a .pdf which can be opened in many e-readers. This format also makes it easy to share your book with friends and family. Book Creator’s files also let me publish to Apple iBooks.

Here is the direct website for Book Creator so you can read up on the application.

So Book Creator got me on the digital path. Little did I know I was just at the beginning of many headaches. Luckily it got me on the path to success!

 

More of “How to write a children’s picture ebook”  next week!


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

Original Post can be found here