Publishing companies and self-publishing authors no longer deal in just one or two markets when it comes to distributing their books. In addition to print and audio books, they should also distribute on the ebook market or risk losing customers.
Although there are standards for ebook formats, not all readers and mobile devices use the same ones. If you want to reach as many people as possible, you need to offer your book in as many formats as you can.
This brief guide will point you in the direction of a few useful tools that should help you get started publishing your book for the web, the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, the iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android smartphones, and more.
EPUB and MobiPocket ebook creator. The EPUB format is based on open specifications and can be used by anyone. Numerous devices support the EPUB format, including Android devices, Barnes & Noble Nook, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Sony Reader, and many others.
eCub allows you to easily create simple EPUB books using your text or XHTML files. It also allows you to create simple covers and even convert the content to audio files. eCub also supports MobiPocket ebook creation, which you can use on many mobile platforms, desktop PCs, and the Amazon Kindle. eCub does not have WYSIWYG formatting or syntax highlighting, making it impractical for any type of advanced ebook creation. For simply-formatted novels, however, it is an easy tool to use. eCub is free of charge and available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris.
If you are using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service from Amazon, the preferred format is HTML. Most basic HTML tags work, and you can format your book with any HTML editor. In most cases, however, WYSIWYG editors will add unnecessary tags that may make your book appear malformed on the Kindle.
For HTML editing, I prefer Amaya, the WYSIWYG editor produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Amaya is free and open source and available for Windows, Linux and Unix-like OSes, including Mac OS X. For details about how to properly format Kindle books, see this brief guide.
Tablets, PCs, and any web-connected devices. Treesaver is a remarkably attractive and user-friendly HTML5 ebook/magazine script that makes it easy to share your written works on your own website. This is a great idea if you plan to have your own domain and web presence, such as the hosting accounts offered by many hosting companies.
Unlike other web-based ebook tools, this one does not require Flash, Java, or any other plugin. It works in almost all browsers and scales seamlessly to any device size. That means iPhone readers can view it just as well as people with large-screen desktops. It also supports page turning using arrow keys, mouse scrolling, finger swiping (on touch screens), and good old-fashioned mouse clicking. Furthermore, because it is web-based, Treesaver books can integrate images, videos, links, and more, traditionally not found in online ebooks.
In addition to ebook formats and standard web formats, many devices can read PDF ebooks. If you want something you can actually distribute or sell for online downloading, PDF is definitely an option you should consider. Many word processors such as OpenOffice.org / LibreOffice have built-in PDF export features. There are also online PDF converters such as Neevia Document Converter, which is free with certain limitations.
The important thing to remember is to not get too complex in your design so that it will work on most devices. Excluding children’s books and graphic novels, most readers expect plain, easy-to-read text more than any type of fancy formatting. They are interested in your story, not your graphic design skills.
It is easy to open up your book to a larger audience without having to buy expensive software to do it. The above-mentioned tools are only a few of the many that are available for ebook creation. Choose the ones that work best for you, and enjoy sharing your written works to your new ebook audience.
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