Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Creating Paper Books and eBooks

I'm composing Delux using Scrivener. When I released Draft 5 for review, I wanted to create paper and electronic versions of the book from Scrivener. How did I do that?

Paper Version

For the paper version, I used Lulu.com as my print-on-demand provider. I haven't vetted Lulu as a publisher for the final version of my book, but for drafts to send to readers, Lulu is fine.

Lulu accepts many formats, but PDF is the preferred format. Scrivener is great for composing, but not so good for formatting, especially to custom page sizes.

I used Microsoft Word to format Delux, so I took these steps:
  1. Output a .doc file from Scrivener.
  2. Open the .doc file with Word.
  3. Download a Word template from Lulu for the appropriate book size (5.5" x 8.5" in my case)
  4. Copy the entire book text from the first Word window (hint: use <ctl>-A or <command-A> to select all), then paste it into the blank Lulu template file.
  5. Spell check the document one final time, adjust the text and create a PDF version of the book interior (more on this step below).
  6. Upload the PDF book interior to Lulu. Some online discussions say that the PDF that's standard with Apple products doesn't look good on paper because it's designed to look good on a screen. These discussions suggest using an Adobe product like Acrobat to create a PDF book interior. I found the PDF output from my Mac perfectly acceptable when printed.

Step 5 is a bit tedious. Here are some specific pointers for Step 5:
  • The Lulu template has a lot of nice features like even- and odd-page pagination and spacing. For some reason, though, the template has extra vertical space between paragraphs. You may want to make the spacing the same as it is between lines. You'll also need to adjust block quotes and other non-standard formatting.
  • Footnotes are tricky. If you want footnotes to appear as endnotes at the end of each chapter instead of at the end of the book, you have to create section breaks at the end of each chapter containing a footnote in order for the footnote counter to reset to one and for Word to know where the chapter endnotes go. After you insert section breaks, make sure the pagination continues appropriately across section boundaries in the Headers and Footers.
  • I didn't add a Table of Contents. Follow Word directions for section breaks if you want a Table of Contents in your book. Same comment about pagination as above.
  • When you output to PDF, you have to specify (on a Mac, anyway) the paper size. In the Print dialog box, click on Layout and select Paper Handling. Click the Scale to fit Paper Size box and indicate paper size exactly the same as your book's template size. In my cases, I set a custom page size for a 5.5" x 8.5" book. If the paper size is, say, 8.5" x 11", the PDF may look okay, but Lulu won't know which part of the 8.5" x 11" page to use.
  • Thinking I might get a better PDF rendition if I used Lulu's PDF converter, I first tried uploading the .doc Word file I created after editing instead of the PDF file. For some reason, many (but not all) my editing changes reverted to the formatting in the Lulu template when I had Lulu convert my uploaded .doc file to PDF. Then I uploaded the PDF file and got strange error messages. It turned out that Lulu was attempting to process the .doc file I'd uploaded previously with the PDF file. The lesson is that, if you upload a new book interior file to Lulu, delete the previous files Lulu has stored (press the red delete "X").

After the book interior is done, you'll have to create a cover. If you're in a hurry, you can use Lulu's cover templates to create something in a few minutes. You'll have a chance to practice writing your back page book blurb.

After you finish the book interior and cover, you can make your book available for sale. I usually do this later after I buy a copy from Lulu for inspection. As an author, you pay Lulu at cost for copies. My book cost about $8 per copy delivered.

Leave yourself a few hours to create the print version. Lulu's process is straightforward, but time consuming. For instance, if you modify the interior, you have to go through the cover creation process again, too, even if you don't modify anything.

eBook Versions

eBooks come in two basic flavors, the epub format and the Kindle format. You can make PDF versions, too, but the popular online distributors don't use PDF. I've written about online formats in this post.

Here Scrivener is great! The Exporting eBooks video tutorial shows you how to create ePub and Kindle versions.

A bald-face plug: buy Scrivener 2.x  and support this blog.

For the Kindle version, you need to download files from Amazon. In the download files, Amazon has a lot of instructions on how to use these files. Ignore Amazon's instructions. When you compile your book, Scrivener will ask you for the folder that contains these downloaded files and figure out the rest.

Scrivener may not provide all the options you might want for formatting your eBook, but the alternatives can be expensive. Like hiring a consultant. I recommend trying Scrivener first, especially for drafts of your work. I suspect that Scrivener will improve its formatting options in time.

The next step is reading your eBooks. I'll save that for the next post.