Formatting an e-book for publication

I think I may have mentioned my plan to turn this blog, or at least those parts of it that explain how to go about actually getting published, into an e-book. The manuscript has now been edited by my pal Anne Devereux And so I spent a good chunk of time this week learning all about formatting.

I chose to use the Smashwords Style Guide because Smashwords claim that their e-books can be uploaded onto virtually any e-book reader. I’m assuming that if I conform to their style guide, whatever I do should translate properly,  whatever e-book device I end up on. 

The Style Guide was  helpful but also annoying because it meant that I had to strip out all the indents, italics, bold, etc. from the version I’d slaved over for months, and then put them all back in again.

I have a Windows Vista system which made it difficult sometimes to find the menus that the Style Guide used to illustrate the steps. All that said, once I figured it out, it was almost fun. (Almost. I’m not a complete masochist.)

The best part, I think, was learning how to bookmark and hyperlink chapter headings so that you could click on them and get to chapters. (Remember, in e-books, page numbers are meaningless because formatting can change pages completely depending on what device someone uses to read your e-book.)

My daughter, Jade, is now working on a cover. (I wanted something with an old typewriter on it; because I’m a visual artist, I tried to sketch one myself but it was too finicky. She’s much better at fine details than I am.)

Once that’s done, I just have to figure out where I want to upload it, and how I want to handle sales. I could go with Smashwords but then Smashwords gets named as publisher and I’d rather keep that title, so I have to do a little research before I decide. I’ll  probably get my own ISBN either way because they are free in Canada.

I’m curious as to how the various companies that load books onto e-readers pay royalties. I don’t like giving electronic access to my bank account to anyone. I’d also like to know how they handle HST, which is 5% on books in Canada at the time of purchase.

If you’ve created an e-book in Canada, perhaps you can comment on the HST issue. Is it collected and paid by Nook, or Kobo, or Kindle? Or is remitted to the author for reimbursement to CRA? Let me know, and if you have thoughts on what the price should be, I’m open to persuasion.

I’ll post up the cover once it’s done and keep you posted but I think it’s maybe two weeks away from being an e-book. Quite remarkable, really, when you realize it took 18 months or so to get The Beggar’s Opera on the shelves!

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