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The production of The Tourist Trail

Lately I’ve received a number of questions from fellow writers about the self-publishing process.

While I don’t consider myself an expert, I’m happy to share the ups and downs of my journey. Just keep in mind that the list below is already a few steps too long given recent changes in the industry.

Here is a high-level view of the production process and software used (I used a Mac throughout):

  1. Wrote and edited the book in Microsoft Word
  2. Designed the print version of the book in Adobe InDesign CS5*
  3. Designed the cover of the book in Adobe Illustrator CS5
  4. Exported the book as an ePub file
  5. Exported the cover as a JPG file, sized so it would display well in ereaders
  6. Modified the ePub file using the free software product Sigil
  7. Converted the ePub file to Mobi using Calibre, another free software product**
  8. Uploaded the Mobi file to the Amazon Kindle store

* I always intended to produce both an ebook and print book. This decision drove me to splurge on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator. I used InDesign for the body of the book, but I could have gotten by perfectly well with plain ol’ Microsoft Word — or, better yet, Apple Pages (which now supports ePub export). But I also wanted a nice-looking cover, which is where Illustrator fits in. Illustrator is an excellent tool for manipulating type and images.

My general advice for writers is to avoid the Adobe Creative Suite. These tools are not cheap and the learning curve can be steep. Though I’ve used Adobe software for years, I’m not thrilled with this latest version of the software suite (perhaps a topic for a future post).

If all you intend to produce is an ebook, you should skip Adobe altogether. In fact, you could get by using all free software.

That said,  I’m very intrigued by Pages‘ support for ePub export.

** I exported an ePub file and then converted to Mobi. I did this because I intended to upload the book to the Apple iBookstore, which only supports ePub. When I began working with the Kindle store, it did not support ePub files, but now it does. So you could skip the entire Mobi file creation stage.

PS: If you would like more details about my production journey — and the many potholes along the way — let me know via the contact form. I’m happy to share more.

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