Do you like to read? Love books? Have always secretly dreamed of writing your own book one day?
Excellent. You are in the right place.
You and I have a lot in common. Learning how to read was one of the most joyous experiences of my childhood. I was hooked as soon as I discovered that books could give you everything: Friends, adventures, wisdom, entertainment, an escape from reality.
As many passionate readers, I would sometimes sit there after just having finished a book, staring dreamily into the distance and picturing my future: Sitting by an open window on my old wooden desk, coffee cup sitting forgotten next to me, writing furiously. "One day", I would whisper to myself, "I will be an author...".
20 years later
Did I ever do anything to make this dream a reality? Nope. It was a lovely fantasy, to be dug out when sitting around a camp fire with friends, talking about unfulfilled dreams and lofty life goals, that we all knew we would never put into action.
But what if we did? What if I did?
On the eve of New Year's Eve 2014, I sat down and wrote myself a list of everything I wanted to achieve in the new year. My number one item was to write - and publish - a book.
I had absolutely no idea how to do it. I have no writer's friends, no experience in publishing, no job that has even remotely anything to do with books.
And yet, I found a way to publish an ebook in 2015 that is available on Amazon, and I'm going to show you exactly how you can do it, too!
My (not so-) secret weapon is Blurb, a self-publishing and marketing platform. It is free, versatile, and gives you not only the tools to create print-or ebooks, but also the opportunity to sell your book through their website, in addition to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more than 39,000 online retailers.
Are you ready to get started? Let's go!
1. Download software.
I chose BookWright, a free software that includes several templates, unique ISBN for your book, and a huge variety of fonts, layouts, text- and photo-containers you can place wherever you want, and a bunch of other stuff that I haven't figured out yet. Does it all sound overwhelming? It sure did for me.
So I decided to keep it as simple as possible. After downloading BookWright, I came across the Novel Starter Template Guide. When you scroll down, you will see several different templates you can choose from.
2. Important your files as Rich Text Format.
I don't have any fancy book writing software, so I simply wrote my book in word document. To important your word document to BookWright, you have to save it in Rich Text Format. To do that, you select "save as", and then "Rich Text Format".
The next bit is going to be a bit technical (aka boring), it's only interesting to you if you want to use it. Feel free to skip to #4!
3. What the heck are "reflowable text containers"?
By far the biggest challenge for me was figuring out how to actually use BookWright. I'm sure that's due to my ignorance and not the software's fault, and I did figure it out in the end.
The beginning is easy:
Start new book? Yes, please!
The first few steps are easy, honest. You click on "Start a New Book", select the format, and then save it under the title you want. Now you have a blank slate, ready to get filled with your words:
The first thing you do is save every chapter individually as a .rtf (Rich Text Format) file.
Then you add them all to BookWright.
Now all you have to do is choose as layout (you simple drag and drop), and then drag your first chapter onto the page.
More than likely, you will encounter a yellow triangle at this point, which will become the bane of your book-making experience:
By clicking on it, you will learn what's wrong. It warns you if the font is not eBook-compatible (that's easy to change, there are 50 fonts that are eBook-compatible), and the most common one:
Flowable text not displayed within book.
For the life of me I could not figure out what they want from me, and got really frustrated.
Until I stumbled across the solution accidentally:
When you hover the cursor of the mouse anywhere within the text box, a grey frame will appear around it. In the bottom right corner, you will find a square with a T in it. By hovering over it, this message appears:
Click this icon and then into another container to flow text.
Left-click on it.
Then go to the next page and left-click on the grey frame there.
The next page of your chapter appears! Once I figured that out, the rest was easy.
4. Upload your book
Finally, we are getting to the fun part: getting it ready to be printed!
Once you have it uploaded, Blurb offers spell check (you can skip it if you want), and the chance to go over it again. When you are happy, you upload!
5. Sell your book
This part is fun. And unreal. Also frightening.
I won't go into too much detail about the selling and distributing part, because it's surprisingly straightforward.
If you decide to sell through Blurb, click here.
If you want to sell through Amazon or other online retailers, click here.
If you want to publish an eBook with Kindle Direct Publishing, click here.
And just like that, you are a published author.
Now go and make your dream come true!
Miriam is a dog-loving eternal optimist, known for laughing loud and often (frequently at inappropriate times), overusing parentheses, and not taking herself too seriously. She likes to keep it real on her blog Farm Girl, (over-) shares her yoga journey on Instagram, and floods Pinterest with too many pictures of her animals.