entering another new world

Cover of "Sometimes I Get"

Sometimes I Get… was originally published by Echo City Capers as a paperback. I was approached to turn it into a hardback book. Their first ever.

The actual book was submitted as a high-resolution PDF. I just needed to rework the cover, add copyright information, a letter, and reorder it. It was a simple task. Or so I thought. There were many hurdles to overcome. Hardback books, I discovered, are a whole different animal. My inability to spell and type. Well, those I knew.

Finally. it is done. Or so I hope. On to the next phase. Again, uncharted territory. A children’s e-book.

Cover of "Soul Harvest"

I’ve been doing ebooks for a while now. I think it was five years ago when I did my first one for Rachel Thompson’s “Soul Harvest“. Thomspon, who is a self-published author, uses Ingram Spark to publish her books. She sends me the information, and I format it in my design software, send her proof, and make corrections. Then I email her a print file, a .epub file, and a cover jpg and she does the rest. IS submits the files to Amazon. The epub is built directly from my graphics software and exported. In fact, I have another book for her ready to be converted.

As I do when something new hits my desk I go into full research mode. I take along my BFF’s Trial and Error. They have never let me down. The first thing I discovered was that Amazon has a children’s book creator. You make a pdf of the print book, upload it, wave your magic wand … or in this case magic mouse … and out pops a mobi file. I downloaded it, opened it, and started. It wasn’t quite as intuitive as I thought. Why wasn’t my type popping up? So we—T&E and I—hit YouTube.

In reality, it took several videos that were not what I wanted until I found the proverbial needle in a haystack. A lovely man from the UK named Stephen Peel. Yep, he’s bookmarked. There was a lot of advice in all those videos. Make a fixed layout with facing pages. Basically, make it look like an open book. Otherwise, the text and photos might get separated. That wouldn’t be good. If it was a true picture book, you can add some text directly in the creator and it will pop up and become bigger when the child taps it. If it’s a comic you can order the panels so that they enlarge so you can read them. Cool stuff.

My biggest sticking point was to get the pages to line up correctly. I hit “save for publishing” and a few minutes later a .mobi file appeared on my desktop. Perfect. Mobi is the Amazon ebook unique software. I heard there was another one, .azw, but it didn’t give me that choice.

"sometimes I Get..." featured spread on a Kindle
"sometimes I Get..." coveron a Kindle

I plugged my Kindle into my computer, downloaded the Android file plug-in, and uploaded the file. It worked. I was feeling very successful. So much so that I dashed off an email to the Echo City team and publisher Angel Ackerman.

email text

When I looked up how to transfer the file I saw that there was an “email to your Kindle”‘ function. Apparently, every Kindle has an email address. Who knew? I decided that before I sent it to my niece to try on her 9-year-old’s Kindle, I would send a test email to myself. I was in for quite a shock when the emails started to appear. The most important one said that Amazon will no longer be supporting its own software. WTF? Like the Beta/VHS wars of the 80s, Amazon has joined the rest of the world in making .epubs. I’m sure it’s not for artistic reasons. It’s that Amazon is missing out on some sales. However, I was still able to install the software thru email and it worked. But I didn’t send it to my niece.

Now the problem is how to make the .epub. As I see it, I could take the file I made, import all the pages, and save it as a .epub. I’d have to make spreads, and anchor everything. I’m thinking that will be a PIA.

Another option would be to convert the pdf I started with into a .epub using an online converter tool. The problem as I see it is two-fold. First, how long do they keep your book on their servers, and can people hack it and sell it as their own. The other problem is how do I make it a fixed layout so that it always appears in spreads—the book has to have the picture and text side by side I’d have no control.

Kindle splash screen

The final option would be to convert the Kindle .mobi file into a .epub file. Again I would need a converter. Or would I? Maybe I should check if Kindle Create still exists. If it does, perhaps I can import the mobi file, and resave it as an .epub. I does and I downloaded it and the second screen I see is this one.

There is hope. I’m going to need to do more research to see how it works. I already know that I cannot open the .mobi file. This will take time. I might be able to skip the Kid Create and just use the “comics” version of this one. I have a bunch of tutorials to watch after my final grading is done. That will happen before the next children’s book.

Regardless of what happens, these files will need to be tested on a variety of devices and operating systems. It’s imperative that nothing becomes out of order. That would be a disaster.

Published by gfhendricks

Designer, educator, seeker of hidden typography

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