In Step 1 I came up with the idea to publish Judith Moffett's award-nominated story Tiny Tango as a Kindle ebook; and by the end of Step 2, we had the final design for the ebook's cover.
But even before we had begun work on the book cover, Judy and I had already copy edited the story itself, multiple times in fact. Judy provided me with a Word file of the "Tiny Tango" story, we each did a copy edit, comparing notes and edits until we were both satisfied.
Not having created an ebook from scratch prior to this, I relied on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) "Simplified Formatting Guide" on the KDP website.
After reviewing KDP's suggestions for what to include in the book, I then asked Judy to draft a dedication page as part of the front matter, and, for the back of the book, an author bio page as well as a page that would introduce readers to "Tiny Tango," its genesis and how it is part of a larger trilogy of novels. I in turn wrote the copyright page. And, as we are wont to do, all pages went through a series of tweaks and copy edits.
When I entered this additional content into the "Tiny Tango" Word doc, I took advantage of the hyperlink capability of a digital ebook: I entered links to Jenn Reese's Tiger Bright Studios and my More Red Ink blog on the copyright page; I entered links to Amazon for all three volumes of the Holy Ground Trilogy, of which "Tiny Tango" is just a small part, in addition to a few other appropriate links; and on Judy's bio page I linked to her website.
I know there are a variety of tools available for creating and formatting files for ebooks -- I have one author friend who uses Scrivener exclusively. But I'm an MS Word guy all the way. Here are a few noteworthy points for aspiring ebook publishers who use Word:
- Use margin indents, rather than tabs or spaces, to set off each new paragraph.
- Use page breaks to separate parts of the book (e.g. title page, copyright page, dedication page, preface, etc.) as well as to separate chapters within the story itself.
- Use bold formatting and/or italics formatting when needed, as the conversion process will pick up these formats.
- Insert images into the document using the Insert → Picture option from the menu; do not use cut&paste to insert images.
Since "Tiny Tango" was just a single story, I didn't need an "active" (i.e. hyperlinked) contents page, nor did I need to set up "Go To" functionality (Kindle users will understand this).
The one question that I had, though (at least as far as I knew at that point!), concerned the relationship between the book cover and the ebook: Did I need to insert the book cover into the MS Word file manually? Or, did the KDP conversion process do this for me? The KDP site has a number of instructional resources and FAQs, but I wasn't able to find my answer. So, based on what information I did have at the time, I assumed that I had to manually insert the cover image into the MS Word file. This, of course, turned out to be an incorrect assumption, which I figured out later, after the fact.
So, I inserted the "Tiny Tango" cover image as page one of the MS Word file; and then I inserted the full black and white illustration by Janet Aulisio on page 3, the page after the title page.
Speaking of image files, a couple other pointers: Amazon charges for digital transfer services, so you need to have your ebook file as small as possible. This means using the best image format, which is JPG, ensuring that the image size is no larger than absolutely necessary, and using image file compression as well. KDP also has dimension requirements for the ebook cover, but I wasn't worried because I knew Jenn Reese had our backs. She provided a cover image of 2250 x 3000 pixels, along with a smaller (600 x 800 pixels), thumbnail-size graphic.
At this point I was ready to save my completed MS Word file in the format that Amazon required: a "Web Page, Filtered" htm file. So far so good.