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How to eBook (picture book edition, part I)

May 30, 2013

DDM2.lores.jkt

Step 1: Make eBook.

Step 2: ????

Step 3: Profit!

When I announced my first self-published eBook, via eMail, I got a few, “looks great,” “can’t wait to see it” type of replies. But I got a lot more, “how do I do that?” “How did you get it on Amazon?” sort of responses from the published and unpublished author/illustrators on my eMail list.

I told them to watch my blog. I said I would put up a “recipe” one day, that anyone can follow.

Well, today is that day!

Over the next few posts, I will take you from concept to publishing. Whether you are a seasoned pro looking to get more of your work out there—or just getting started—what will follow will be a step by step guide to producing and publishing eBooks.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

The first thing you will need is an idea. No story. No glory. I will use work from my most recent eBook, Duck Duck Moose on a Plane, as my examples. You can search for other posts on my Blog to see samples of the finished work, or download it HERE.

STEP I. The Manuscript:

ms

ms2

Notice two things about my “script” (click above images to enlarge):

1) It is exactly 32 pages. Including title page and copyright information, traditional picture books are 32 pages. (This has to do with the printing process; pages are printed four to a sheet, two sided, then cut and assembled. You don’t need to understand why—but be aware that it is so. Go look at an actual printed picture book and count pages, if you are confused).

Even though I am making my book digitally, and the traditional printing methods don’t apply, I am thinking ahead. If an eBook takes off and a traditional publisher wants to pick it up and publish it the old fashioned way, it would be a drag if they couldn’t do it because it was 38 pages long.

2) My manuscript is a mess. All good writing is good editing. Don’t be afraid to edit, edit, edit. The above is the actual script I had on my drawing table as I made final art. I am constantly making changes as a book emerges. You should too.

STEP II. The Dummy:

b

c

Above are a few spreads from my working dummy (click to enlarge).

Plan everything out. Again, notice that I am still thinking about the traditional printing process. Left pages are always even numbered, right pages are odd. Page 1 (the title page, not pictured) must be on the right. This will effect you later when you get to layouts.

Notice that in my compositions I am mindful of the gutter (the fold in the middle). Even though this will view on a Kindle or iPad or whatever, as a spread, in the event the book gets printed traditionally, down the road, I don’t want to have to redo anything. (I will admit one thing: On the pages above (10/11), Duck is handing Moose a plane ticket across the gutter. I wouldn’t do that with a traditional book—I’m super old school that way—but what the hell, this is an eBook, after all; may as well take advantage of the form. Rules are made to be broken.

•   •   •

That’s it for today. The next post will be about making and preparing illustrations.
Stay tuned …

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