Over the past month I’ve been looking at ways for the average person to create and publish an eBook. I looked into publishing with MS Word, but was frustrated with the output options. I tried Scrivener, which appeared to be the holy grail of eBook creating, but was frustrated with the learning curve and setup. I talked with members of my writers group that attended a half day training seminar on Scrivener only to find that many were still struggling to understand the software.
I sat down at my computer and started doing screen shots of the book creation process with Scrivener, but was dismayed to see it got overly complicated rather quickly. When you have 30 to 40 steps and tweaks involved, most people will get stuck somewhere along the way. Not good.
While the basic text and formatting of an eBook can be daunting, the cover creation is even more difficult. Most people who have written about eBook publishing recommend that you hire a professional and spend hundreds of dollars on a basic cover. Most books say that You Should Not Try This At Home. As a long time Photoshop user, I realize how difficult it would be for the average person to create a nice cover with the software.
This last weekend, I tried a whole new tack and used my wife as a test. My goal was to create a product that she could easily edit and publish with. I wanted both the book and the cover process to be quick and painless. Creating an eBook shouldn’t be any more difficult than creating a long document in MS Word. At first I was very frustrated. The instructions and interface got in the way. Too many steps. My wife got stuck numerous times and soon got tired of the whole process. I had to rethink it.
I simplified and took out numerous options that were confusing and very rarely used. What I did was to do an 80/20 evaluation. I took out 80% of the steps and just left the 20% that were truly necessary. Now I was getting somewhere. After another day of tweaking, I had my wife try again. She had her text ready to go in MS Word and had a basic idea of what her title and cover should look like. With under 10 steps each, she had the book formatted and the hi rez cover created in about 30 minutes. With a push of a button, her formatted Kindle book was now ready. She emailed it to her iPad and phone and was immediately able to open them with the installed Kindle apps. The cover looked great and the table of contents, cover page and foreword all formatted correctly and looked very professional.
With the process simplified, she was able to create her finished book quickly and easily. She didn’t have to learn any complicated software, or become a graphic artist. She just picked her design, replaced the text with her own, and clicked publish. The instruction sheet was straightforward and the finished product was viewable in her Kindle without conversion.
The good news is, we’ll be putting this system together in the near future for you to download and use. The cost will be low, and you’ll finally be able to realize your dream of becoming a published author in a simple and straight forward manner.