Self-Publishing an iBook-approved ePub from Smashwords


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You may have seen The Listen Lady on Amazon, Kindle, and even in the iBookstore but did you know I self-published it? Not only did I write it, I came up with the title, I wrote the description on the back cover, I provided the cover artwork, and I formatted the entire book right down to the copyright page, the placement of the page numbers, and the fonts. It wasn’t particularly fun and exciting but I did it.
If you’re comparing the cost and timelines of bringing a book to market, the only option is the self-publishing option (unless you’re independently wealthy). It seems that there are a lot of writers out there and I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what exactly I did.
So here are the most commonly asked questions and answers.
  1. How much did it cost? Zero.
  2. What’s the best website to do this? Run, do not walk, directly to Createspace.com and sign up for an account. It is free and has every feature you need. When you’ve finished doing what Createspace tells you to do, your book will be available for purchase on Amazon.com in both paper format and electronic format.
  3. How long does it take them to approve your book and put it up for sale? As long as it takes you to click on “Publish my book.” Perhaps, 100 milliseconds.
  4. How do I get my book on Kindle? Follow all of the steps that Createspace outlines for you and get your book on Amazon. Once that’s done, you just need to check the box to say put it on Kindle.
  5. How do I get my book on iBookstore? Same deal. It’s just a button click to “Send my book to the iBookstore.” BUT, the iBookstore is extremely picky about what they allow and they will reject your book for many unnamed reasons. Here are a few things that I figured out the hard way.
    The Listen Lady

    Photograph I took as one option for the cover page of The Listen Lady

    • Remove all multiple hard line returns. You may have inserted these to ensure there was pretty spacing between sections on a print or pdf version but iBook doesn’t like them. Use a hard page return, or a centre page option if you really must have large blank areas.
    • Reduce all font sizes to less than 18 points.
    • If your ebook includes images, create alt text for each of them. Right click on the image, select the “alt” option, and type something in there. Either describe what the image is or simply type a word like your name or book title.
    • If your ebook includes tables, convert them into plain text and use tabs instead.
    • Consider exchanging all the non-standard margins and page sizes for standard 8 by 11 sizes.
  6. How did you do all the formatting yourself? Download the templates that Createspace provides. The templates will make sure your page numbers are in the right spot, the spacing is right, the table of contents is right. You could, of course, do it all yourself from scratch but chances are you’ll give up in frustration and download the template anyways. The formatting can be tricky so don’t start until you’ve saved up a good portion of patience.
  7. Where did you get artwork for the cover page? Well, if your SO isn’t a fabulously talented artist, then you have a couple of really good options. First, take your own very high-res photograph and use that. Just be sure not include unwilling people or brand names without permission. Go generic with fruit and skies and animals and such. Second, Createspace has a great selection of images in the system that are free for you to use. Even better, all the images are the correct size and shape and resolution so you know it’s going to look great.
  8. How much do you have to sell the book for? It’s really up to you. For the paper version, Createspace will tell you to charge at least $X.X so as to cover their printing costs. So, if they tell you you must charge $3.00, then you can charge $3.00 and make 0 profit. Or,  you can charge $4.00 and make $1 profit. But, when it comes to the digital version, you can sell your book for free if you wish. Or for $4.00 if you wish. It really is up to you.

If you have any other questions, leave a comment below and I’ll answer them here.

Good luck!

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2 responses

  1. Are you sure the book is live on Kindle? I’m only seeing it as a paperback.

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