Normally, I try to get the eBook out first. With “This Book Cannot Make Any Money,” however, the print edition had a deadline (Marscon) but the eBook edition didn’t, and so I never even started an eBook edition until after the print version was complete. In fact, as I start the eBook version, the ONLY editable file with the final version of the completed book is the one I built in Scribus to produce the PDF. And Scribus can’t compile ePubs (yet; it’s on their ‘to do’ list, according to some of the things I’ve seen in their forums).
So I’m going to use Sigil to build the eBook with. Now, Sigil is most useful for editing pre-existing ePubs, such as those produced by Scrivener or InDesign. It is CAPABLE of producing ePubs from scratch, however… and that’s what I’m going to have to do here… yet as I’m writing this, I have no idea how to begin.
Fortunately, there are several tutorials out there — available both in written format and in video format — which will certainly help. The problem is, every tutorial I’ve found has had completely different, and frequently incompatible, methods for how to get things done, and yet none of them are telling me everything I need to know.
Even with Sigil, I need to learn a bit of how to code in Cascading Style Sheets to get everything done I want to do. I’ve never worked with CSS before, however, and I started building this eBook not knowing anything about how to code CSS.
A few days later, and I still know ALMOST nothing about coding CSS, and the process I eventually settled on was tedious and occasionally frustrating, but I’ve figured out enough to put that darned eBook together.
Now, it’s taken me a bit longer than I’d hoped to actually put the book together, but it only took me one day of, quite frankly, fumbling around blindly, guided only by mismatched tutorials, to learn what I needed to get started. It’s a bit daunting, but it’s doable, and it doesn’t take THAT long to learn the basics.
So, is it practical for someone, with zero previous experience and zero budget, to learn how to make their own eBook? Well, I’d say “yes,” but then again people have been eating Tide Pods lately, so… yeah. I would say that it is doable for MOST people, however, if they’re willing to spend a day or two mucking about trying to figure things out. You don’t need to learn all there is to know about coding .css, you don’t need to know everything about book design, etc., you just need to know enough to get YOUR book ready.
When the eBook is done, I’ll test it on my Kindle (as well as on other devices and through whatever .mobi reading software is available that I can find) before uploading. I suppose that will be cheating, a bit (if I’m not allowing myself to use things like Microsoft Word for this challenge, I shouldn’t let myself use things like my Kindle, either), but the idea at that stage is to see the eBook across as many devices and platforms as you have access to.
But I’m not at that stage, yet. I’m about half-way through the eBook conversion process… so I guess there’ll be one more blog on this topic, after all. Next week (hopefully), the book will be done, and I’ll discuss setting up and uploading a book to Amazon.