I first thought of self publishing an eBook about a year ago. I had been sending off a few of my Children's Picture books to publishers to no avail. A friend mentioned a self publishing service called Lulu, and it was then I saw the potential of the eBook. Having just got my first smart phone and purchased my first iPad I had just been thrust into the world of iBooks, apps and Kindle books. I thought, well how hard could it be? Little did I know, my journey had just began. I knew nothing then of the difference between fixed layout ePubs (compatible with iBooks) versus free flowing PDF / ePubs (for Kindle).
So I began to research putting together an eBook. Lulu stated they required an ePub or PDF file format so that is what I set out to do. They had some links to how you could do this yourself or you could pay and have them put it together. Being a control freak I chose to do it myself. At first I used the Microsoft Word program to create the PDF file, plugging in my illustrations and adding text around as per instructions. I used a free downloadable program called Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/) to then "magically" convert it to an ePub that I could send to my iBook library an read on my iPad. To my amazement, it worked! But it needed tweaking to get the text to match the pictures. The free flow of the non fixed format made it tricky and meant that some text would dribble onto pages it should not. I compared it to other books in the bookstore and on kindle and it just did not come up to scratch. Being a children's picture book, I wanted the pictures to fill the page. I realized I would have to edit my pictures and embed the text in them to make it look the way I wanted it. However, even this did not work to my satisfaction.
It was at this point I started looking around for other ways to create my eBook. I then stumbled across a fantastic app on my iPad called "Book Creator". This changed how I would approach it altogether. It was perfect from a design point of view and I could also make my books read aloud and eventually interactive. This is an amazing app and I highly recommend it. It is extremely easy to use and makes marvelous interactive eBooks. The website: http://www.redjumper.net/bookcreator/ is filled with helpful hints. Dan, the creator is a great source of information and will help out with any problems you may have along the way. He is often just an email and short time difference away. Dan will also help with handy hints when you are trying to load your book into iBookstore.
The only negative, for me, was its fixed layout format which meant I could only publish to the iBookstore because Amazon and Nook did not accept fixed layout and multimedia eBooks at that time. Things however, may be changing see article by eBook Architects (BTW, these guys work with authors and publishers of all sizes, designing well-formatted, high-quality eBooks for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, and other devices). So although I had to accept my book may not be destined for Amazon in its current make up, I did not mind because my book had become an enhanced interactive experience more like an app than a book. BUT it did mean I would have to have to self publish to the iBookstore!!! You see the aggregators I could use (and here is a list you can use from iTunes) like Lulu and Smashwords, did not, and still do not (I think) deal with multimedia ebooks as they cannot get them into all the stores at once (Amazon, Nook, iBookstore etc).
So another journey began involving applying for ISBN numbers, EIN numbers (for US Tax purposes) numbers, an ABN (Australian Business Number).... etc etc etc All the fun stuff. Stay tuned for more on how to do it....