Tuesday, August 12, 2014

EPUB, MOBI, HTML…what were these things? The Road to Self or Indie Publishing Part 4

Since these blogs are titled, the road to indie publishing, it’s pretty obvious I decided to take the indie plunge. But as you’ll see later, I wasn’t finished with trying the small publisher route.

Baby Steps to Indie Publishing

All the research I had done in 2003 on self-publishing was now out-of-date. I’d learned about print publishing, not e-book publishing which meant I had to go back to square one. I had to learn about e-publishing from the ground up.

To reach that goal, I decided to take a month long class at Author EMS. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in any aspect of self-publishing. Amy Atwell and Kelli Finger have put together an information packed workshop. Plus, their website is a treasure trove of information for writers.

The Lingo

Right off the bat, I discovered a whole new vocabulary. EPUB, MOBI, HTML, ISBN, metadata…what were these things? That was on the publishing side. What about setting up a business? Would it be a sole proprietorship or LLC? I needed to make a lot of decisions about how I was going to do it.  

And here, I thought the hardest part would be a name for my fledging publishing company. And I did come up with a pretty neat one. Saderra Publishing is named after our two dogs, Sadie and Sierra. I was glad to have that hurtle behind me!

On the plus side, I already had plenty of experience with print and digital promotion. My small publisher experiences had taught me to write blurbs, author bio, and design bookmarks and banner ads. On top of all this though, I would need to continue to write because I would need content to publish.

Setting Up A Business

The information Amy and Kelli provided helped me when I set up my publishing company, established accounts with distributors, and purchased ISBNs. It was time consuming, but I had a good idea why I was doing what I did. Per their advice, I looked at my abilities and decided what I could do and what I wanted to subcontract. For example, I knew I wanted professional cover art and already had someone lined up to do that for me. And I had a content editor and a copyeditor ready to go. The biggest stumbling block in the publishing process for me was formatting.

Sure, it doesn’t cost much to pay someone else to format your book, but what about updates? if I couldn’t do it myself, I’d have to pay someone every time I wanted to update an e-book. I decided that if I was going to publish my work digitally, I wanted to know how to format it.

Although I’ve used computers since the Ice Age, I’m a Mac person. From the get go, Mac people did not have to learn much to use their computers. My first Mac came with a tape that I popped into the tape recorder and it walked me through the set up and basic instructions on how to use the MacIntosh. Meanwhile, my friends who had bought PCs were going to college computer classes to learn how to turn their computers on.

Like most people who use computers, I know squat about HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Sure, I’d heard about it. Had a vague idea it was used to make computers do what they did, but I didn’t really know how it worked.

Now, it seemed I’d have to learn it because EPUBS are written in HTML, the language of the web. I really got sidetracked on this one issue and spent hours, days, weeks and money researching how to format an EPUB. I’d finally decided I’d have to find a college class and learn HTML. 

Storyist Software
Then, quite by accident, I discovered I had a software program called Storyist that converts text to EPUB and MOBI. By the way, EPUB is a popular format used by most of the e-book distributors–Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobi–while MOBI is the format Amazon decided to use for the Kindle readers. (PDF formatting is still available, too.) So you can see why I was so excited to discover I owned software that would handle this part of the publishing process for me.  

Breath a huge sigh of relief here.

Of course, learning how to create a clean manuscript in Storyist that would be pass validation by the an open software program called epubcheck proved to be yet another long learning curve.

And yes, your EPUB and MOBI formats needs to be run through a software program that will validate it which basically means all your files are in the right order. If your EPUB passes muster with this program, you shouldn’t have any problems getting it accepted by the various book distributors.

The journey will continue…

Visit me at www.gingerhanson.com

To learn about Amy and Kelli’s workshops, visit them at Author E.M.S.

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