Creating My First eBook – A Journey (part 1.5)

On Friday I will be posting a piece about how I converted The Star Coin Prophecy into an ebook, but before that I have a little rant for you. Why? Because during the course of researching the process, I found out I didn’t need to make an ebook at all! Confused? I am.

Too Techie for My Own Good?

Forgive me if I seem naive, but I made an assumption that I needed to create versions of my book in whatever end formats were needed. Maybe it’s because I have enough technical knowledge to know what the formats are and how to at least approach making them, but this seemed the obvious route to me.

So, having downloaded Sigil, I edited my book into epub format, with integrated cover image, table of contents, meta data and so on. I then downloaded Calibre to do a .mobi conversion for Kindle. (More on all this on Friday)

But, when I then went onto Smashwords and Amazon to look at how the next step in the process works, I found both sites want uploads in Word format so their software can then convert it to the format I’ve already created.

Am I wrong, or is this a little bit madness? The Kindle FAQ even states that its converter handles .mobi files very well – it certainly should, since that IS the Kindle format, more or less.

I get the feeling that these sites are expecting indie authors/publishers not to know what they are doing, much less trusting them to do a good job with the technology. Personally I find this kind of insulting, and baffling, and it leads me onto my next thought…

Who is the Publisher and who is the Distributor?

If you were an author taking your manuscript to a printer, you wouldn’t provide them with the content in book format, granted. But, if you were a publisher approaching a distributor, they’d want a pallet of books ready to sell, not a copy of the manuscript.

I was under the impression that by SELF-publishing I was setting myself up as a publisher and approaching these sites as distributors, but they are taking a hand in the publishing process, taking over more at the print stage of the chain than traditional distribution. So are they perhaps more accurately, publishers? And if that is the case, is it really self-publishing? Can we even apply traditional roles to the electronic publishing system?

I have quite strongly negative opinions about the state of self-publishing in general. Maybe it’s just that I see the fact that anyone can upload a word doc and a picture file and call it a book as summing up everything that I distrust about the self-publishing system.

I’d love to know what other people think about this. Am I just over complicating things and making it harder for the tech challenged? Or do we as indie publishers deserve a little more credit?

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