Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture


 When the iPad first appeared and I flipped my first touchscreen page of an eBook, I knew I was holding the future in my hands. The more I poked at the device the more I was convinced it was a time machine that would bring me into the future. At the iPads debut, there was already a lot of content on it and I wanted to participate. I knew it was possible to get a book on this thing, because I was looking at the results in my hands. I just needed to know how the others did it. I wondered how the participating companies did it, and asked myself… "How hard could it be?"

 It took a little time, but with a little trial-and-error to find out what I didn't know. I eventually pieced it together. The e-publishing puzzle was a little time consuming but didn't end up being all that difficult. Now I'll grant you that I have an extensive background in web development, and I'm sure that helped when developing iPad/eBook content in early months of the iPads existence. However, I was still able to show other non-tech people how to do it.

 If I remember correctly the iPad arrived in April 2010? The first one that made its way into my family was on Fathers Day, June 2010. My first eBook "Creating 3D Models from 2D Cartoon Characters" was on sale online in September 2010, then on the iBookstore by Oct 2010.

 Since then it's only gotten easier to get onto any eReader you want. Anyone who has a computer can shove an eBook into the global marketplace. All you have to do is write one…

 I'll prove it to you with this ePub primer.

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 1- Be A Customer First.

 If you're not a customer of the various eBook seller stores I mentioned, I think you should set up a customer account first. If you plan on selling in a store you should understand the experience from the customer side. As an experiment go through a transaction, buy an eBook. It's doesn't need to be an expensive one. Pay attention to all the steps you go through as you purchase someone else's book. 

 (As I finished typing that I realized that might look like an attempt to push my products. So let me add this, don't buy one of my books for this experiment, grab something you've been wanting for awhile.)

 As you browse the store and go through the purchasing steps, pay attention to the details you experience. Ask yourself:

 - Where would my ebook fit inside this store?

- How would I like to present it?


 2- Check out eReaders

 You may already have a preferred eReading tool, but I would recommend playing with eBooks on as many devices as you can find. Visit a Best Buy, they all have demo ebooks on most of the eDevices. One thing to keep in mind, you are used to your device, but everyone doesn't have the same one. The additional insight we're looking for in the exercise is how people with other eReader preferences will experience your product. As you're interacting with an eBook on the various device pay attention to the details. Note the similarities. Note the differences.

- How do they compare?

- What do you like?

- What don't you like?

- Is there way to exploit individual strengths?

- Ask yourself if there is anything you'd want to change and is that change possible?

The main goal of the experiment is really for you to get a handle on the limitations inherent to eBooks (as in EPUB and MOBI eBooks) at the moment. Figure out how you want to present your book within those limitations. If you do this upfront, it will be less frustrating if you prepare yourself in the beginning rather than let high expectations rise only to be deflated in a later step.


 3 - Sign Up Buyer Accounts.

I recommend going to these links and follow the onscreen instruction to become a customer. Each one is a little different. With the exception of Apple they each take 5 to 10 minutes. You basically set up a user name and password, answer some marketing questions, then enter your payment preferences. There are no signup or membership fees.


- Apple


If you have a PC and you want to set up an iTunes/iBookstore account, you'll need to download iTunes  and install it on your PC.

- Amazon


 - Barnes and Mobel


 - Lulu


 - Smashwords



4 - Set Up Publisher Accounts.

 Once you are ready to ePublish set up your Seller accounts. To complete the Publisher Account Setup  process you'll need a TIN# or SS# in the us. Bank Account Information. (If you don't trust posted these links, just go to the respective companies website, and navigate to the sections below to verify their accuracy.) There are no setup fees or membership fees to sell eBooks. (If you want to sell apps on iTunes, there is a $99 yearly fee.)

 All of these are pretty easy to get through just follow the onscreen instructions and you'll be fine.

 Please Note: There is more detail about each of these storefronts in the "WHO DO I PUBLISH AND WHY" section of this ePublishing Primer.


- Apple

 Has a 2 part sign up, you'll need to complete this application first…


 Once you're approved they will send you to this...


...and you will be able to get log in.

 For more information beyond what I've given you go here…


 - Kindle Direct Publishing

 If you already have an Amazon account, you can basically transfer your information to this sub account during the set up.


 For more information beyond what I've given you go here…


 - Barnes and Nobel (Microsoft?) nook store

 It's simple just follow the on screen prompts.


 For more information beyond what I've given you go here…


 - Lulu

 Really easy, just follow the on screen prompts.


 For more information beyond what I've given you go here…


 - Smashwords

 Just follow the on screen prompts.


For more information beyond what I've given you go here…



 Each of the stores have a different feel. Check them out. Make sure you read the agreements so know what you're getting yourself into. 


 (Keep in mind this sections only refers to US copyright law.)

When you make an agreement with an Aggregator or ePublsher to publish your eBook to the web, you may encounter a "Standard Copyright Agreement." As far as I can tell those types of Copyright Agreements leverage a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA. The DMCA was or created to in 1998 to prevent people from stealing non-public-domain content from one website and using it on another. Since then it's been updated several times to keep up with the Internet's expansion.

 Here is a link to a good overview of the DMCA...


 Here is link to the original law…


 Here is a link to the updates to the law if you want to dig deeper…


 I believe ePublishers offer Standard Copyright Agreements because eBooks are digital content being served up on the web. Therefore the material is protected by the DMCA. That sounds reasonable, right? It seems to fit. The publisher has a record of when your eBook was published to the web? Your eBook is up-loaded on the web. It's web content so it should be protected, right? Well maybe.

I began to wonder, "What happens if in the future my chosen ePublisher longer exists?" What happens to my eBooks copyright protection?

Does anyone reading remember the online service called Prodigy? Just checking.

 As I read the DMCA I spotted a red flag. Check out this excerpt…

 "Section 411(a) of the Copyright Act requires claims to copyright to be registered with the Copyright Office before a lawsuit can be initiated by the copyright owner"

 So if I needed to go to court to protect my content I would have to be registered first? That didn't sound right. Then I wondered if any of Aggregators or eStorefronts were registering copyrights on my behalf. As far as I knew there was only one route to register copyrights. You had to submit your work to the US Copyright Office. Were they doing that as part of the service? I knew the registration wasn't free. I wasn't being charged for it by my ePublisher. So I doubted my level of protection. So I looked into copyrighting something myself that would have protection beyond a single site and the web.

 It turned out to be cheap and easy, so form "Pandora Driver" forward I started copyrighting my eBooks using this site…


 As taxpayers we, the people, own it. Everything on this site is in the public record. There is a lot of information on the site that goes much deeper the observations I'm addressing in this part of the ePrimer.

 There are a few quirks with the site. When I've browsed it using Safari I've run into strange behaviors. So you might want to use Firefox or Internet Explore to navigate. Also depending on where you're at on the site and how long the pages will time out, then sometimes they seem to come back on. It's strange. I'll try to work around.

 Ok now go to this page…


 If you hit "search records" it will take you to this page…


 …It allows you to look up registered copyrights.

- In the Search box type, "Picha, John".

- Then in the Search by List box, select "Name".

- Click the Begin Search button.

 Here is the direct link to the results if it works.


 Notice anything missing from the search results? This where all my copyrighted eBooks should be, right? But where are "2D to 3D" and "FIREBALL"?

 If you're already ePublished, and your protected under a "Standard Copyright Agreement" use the search tool to see if you can find your books. Getting nervous?

 My original suspicion was justified. Any ePublisher or eStorefront that's offering "Standard Copyright Agreements" that doesn’t clearly state, "We are Registering your Copyrights to US Registry of Copyrights” isn't doing it. Yes, you will have some protection under the DMCA, but if you want full protection if you end up in court in an intellectual property rights dispute, copyright your story on your own. It's really easy and only cost $35 per electronic submission.


Ready for the Copyright procedure?

 1- Once you have your story ready, go here.


 2- Select eCO Login.


 It will take you here.


 3- Click "If you are a new user, click here to register."                     

 4- Setup an account. It will ask you for

 - A Username and password

- Email

- Your address

- Phone number

 Once you complete the signup steps you'll end up on a personalized home screen.

 As a part of the registration process you'll need to submit your work via the website. So you should have a version ready to upload before you start. If I remember correctly there were a few acceptable upload formats. I used PDF.

 Once you start the copyright registration process a timer starts. I think you have 30mins to finish, but the process only takes about 10 minutes. Being on the US copyright site may seem very serious and official, but don't be intimidated. It’s really easy to use.

 Lets continue the registration from where we left off.

 5 - While on your account home screen, look for a link called 'Register a New Claim."

 6- Follow the screen prompts through the registration. Most of them are self-expiatory. You'll be asked,

 - Title of work

- Type of work (in the case of an eBook it would Literary)

- If you’re Literary includes artwork

- Who the Author is

- Etc.

 7- after the claim details portion of the registration is complete. The order of the steps get a little weird next. It mentions uploading your work, but then you jump payment screen. It will seem like you missed a step, but once the payment transaction is approved you will upload your PDF as a final step.

 8- Once your registration is complete you should see the Claim pop up in the queue of your account homepage with a status next to it.

 If the Copyright Office processors have any questions they will call you. If everything checks out, you should get a Certificate of Registration in the mail. Mine have come about 3 months after I submit them.


Imagine if you told Jack Kirby and Joe Simon in 1941 that Captain America would star in movie grossing more than a billion dollars in 2012. They would have thought you were nuts.

 Have you ever read a copy of Captain America No.1?


It's cool, but it doesn't feel like a billion dollar idea. Now it is one.

Once your work is out there, it will take on a life of it's own. Pandora Driver Started out as human shield in an experiment. Now we're in talks to develop an iPad game. You never know where your ideas will take you.

If I had to pick a most import lesson out of all the ePrimer steps, it's Step 02: COPYRIGHTING. Your work is an investment, not only in the short term, but also in the long term. Why risk losing it?


- Blurbs

When you're ready to ePublish and begin filling out upload forms related to your book, you will be asked for descriptions. These are typically blocks of text you'll need create that will paired with your eBooks cover. They help you set an expectation of it's contents. Versions of them will be used for the eBookstores and your ISBN registration. They also come in handy when when spreading the word on different websites and forums, or even emails. I have my blurbs ready first so I can cut and paste to save time.

Once my story is done, I write a main description that I'm comfortable with then carve them into blurbs or shorter descriptions as I run into restrictions on web forms. If I had to pick a typical maximum length the eBookstores allow it's around 4000 characters, but it varies.

To give you an idea of length, here is my base description for Skyracos: The Mining Mess...

Have you ever dreamt of visiting alien worlds? Have you ever wished you could zip through space via jet pack? What if you could defy gravity and explore unknown realms freely? Imagine being a space adventurer, paid to meet and greet alien cultures, while representing and protecting all of hunamid-kind. You’d live to tell tales of glory. You’d be the stuff of legends. Sounds like a dream job, right? Well, no job is perfect, and there is a high price to be paid for this fantasy. That’s reality for a Skyraco.

These winged warriors operate millions of miles from their home-world, Centrus, on the frontier of the known. They travel to planets remote and unimagined where they are forced to interpret crises and dispense justice on their terms, or so they think.

In "Skyracos: The Mining Mess" recent recruit, Chip Daniels wants to be a hero, but gets more than he bargained for once incased in his streamlined flight suit. Chip and the rest of Unit 9901 are ordered to investigate a mysterious plague outbreak in an isolated mining colony. What starts out as a game quickly unravels into a life or death crisis. Notions of good and evil spin into nightmare of moral ambiguity, that challenges Chip's definition of heroics...Welcome to a Skyraco's uncomfortable world.

"Skyracos: The Mining Mess" is a retro Sci-Fi adventure tale of streamlined spaceships, flight packs and flying men, wrapped up in an ePulp with the pace of a comic book.


...That was 1452 characters.

Here is my blurb procedure...

1- Write a blurb that sets an expectation, and tantalizes without giving away the story.

2- Go to this link, http://www.lettercount.com/ then cut and paste my description to get an idea of how long it is.

3- Later as I'm uploading and filling out web forms about my book, I cut and paste my pre-made description as needed.

4- If I need to modify it's length, I trim and return to http://www.lettercount.com/ until its the right size.

5- I save all the modified versions on my computer.

- Keywords

Each of the eBookstores will ask you for a list of keywords to use as tags. These words help associate your eBook to other similar eBooks in order to cross sell products. If you've ever been browsing Amazon and see the line, "You may also like these", they are connecting the products partially based the keywords.

Also when people are searching for types of books in the eBookstores your keywords will help connect them to you.

When I work on my keywords, I'm not only thinking about how to describe my book, but how people with a similar interest might search for my type of story. If someone has never heard of Skyracos how would they know to search for them? But if they always wanted a jet pack and search for on that therm they might be interested in Skyracos. so we want to help them connect the ideas for them.

Your keywords help eBookstores pre-qualify customers for you. So when they discover your eBook while on a related path, it's more likely that they will be interested in your eBook.

Here are the keywords I came up with for "Skyracos: The Mining Mess"...

Skyracos, retro, sci fi, science fiction, pulp, epulp, jet pack, rocket pack, diselepunk, decopunk, flash gordon, buck rogers, amazing stories, superhero, spacemen, aliens, flying men, streamline, spaceship, armor, rocketship, outer space, planet, disaster, immortality, prevent aging

As with the descriptions the number of keywords you're allowed to post while uploading your book varies. The lowest I can remember seeing is 6, which was Lulu.

Here is my keyword procedure...

1- Write a list of words that will help connect potential customers to my content.

2- List them by priority with the most relevant terms first.

3- Later as I'm filling out web forms to upload my eBook, I cut and paste my keywords as requested in the processes.

4- If there is a field limit, it will cut off the list. So I check where the line gets chopped in the text box and decide if I want to swap any of the terms that didn't make the list with the ones that did.

Book Category Codes

Another tool eBookstores use to index your books is category codes. As far as I can tell these codes are universal. All you need to do is go to a list and decide which category best fits your ebook.

1- Go to this site...
...You will see a list of the categories.

2- Follow their onscreen prompts and drill down till you have your best applicable number.

The eBooksellers typically ask for a primary and secondary category. Grab your top three codes and save them on your computer. That way you won't have to go looking waste your time, every time you need them.

3- Cut and past your top three category codes into a document on your computer.

Your're ePPUB maker may ask you to cut and past the codes. Some of the eBookstores might too. Others will have a series of steps similar to http://www.bisg.org/. We just want to be aware of our categories. The impotent thing is to have your answers ready before you reach this step in the upload process.

For each of my eBooks I create one text document for it's supporting information. So when I my ePulps Description, Keywords or Category Codes i just go to one place and cut and paste as needed.


The basic point to STEP 03 is to get all your information together before you begin uploading. Write your descriptions, bulbs and keywords first. Save all your versions as you modify them to be repurposed as needed. Working this way you have time to think about what you're doing and don't feel any pressure while staring at a blinking cursor in a blank form field.



When I create an eBook cover my priority is to make strong icon since that is how it will be encountered most by customers. In the various eBookstore the cover icons can be expanded, but the biggest version the reader will ever see is on the first page of the eBook. They will only see that version if they preview or buy the book. So to my way of thinking the icon's impact is paramount. I work at a bigger size but toggle back and forth between scales as I compose the image to measure my progress.

 The cover of your ebook will be used in 4 places.

1- It will be the marketing image for your eBook in an eBookstore.

2- Once your eBook is purchased and downloaded it will serve as the icon for the book in your eReader.

3- It will appear as the first page as the eBook is opened.

4- And you may want to use it for promotional space you will use outside of the eStores, like banners or articles.

 Before we jump into the specs, let me add one thing. I'm only going to be talking about e-artwork. So if you're going to need your cover for a printed book or printed promotion your master will have to be at a much high resolution then what I'll be outlining. Now back to e-stuff.

Each ePublisher has slightly different requirements for your eBook cover in their store, but you will that some of the size range overlap. We'll also have to accommodate an ePUB/MOBI tool that will embed your cover and illustrations into our final ePUB file. I consider this version of the cover as the base cover since it's actually in the book. Also this base cover will be the reduced icon displayed in your eReaders bookshelf.

The ePUB creation tool I use is called Legend Maker. (http://www.zapptek.com/legendmaker/) I'll go into more detail about it in a later step. For now I'll just give you the cover specs it requires.

- The main cover specs.

 COLOR - RGB (even if it's a black and white image, it must be in RBG mode)

DIMENSIONS - 500px wide by 740px tall for a full-length page.

FILE FORMAT - It can be JPG or PNG format.

ADDITIONAL - The saved file must be named either "cover.png" or "cover.jpg" since it will be called by code to embed it.

 I have collected all the current requirements for the all the marketing images (aka icons) necessary for the eBookstores I’ve recommend. You will find a reference list below. Whether you crate the cover yourself or hire an artist you'll need these specs to create your final artwork.


- iBookstore

COLOR - RGB (even if it's a black and white image, it must be in RBG mode)

DIMENSIONS - The maximum recommended size is 2 million pixels per image. Larger images will be compressed resulting in lower image quality and slower performance.

FILE FORMAT - .tif (32-bit uncompressed), .jpg  (quality unconstrained), .png (if background needs to be transparent) they prefer .jpg for smaller file size and better performance.

ADDITIONAL - Covers may not reference pricing, the physical edition, or include any other wording that may not necessarily be true for the digital edition.

Here is an upcoming update to the iBookstore cover requirements.

 "We are changing the minimum size for cover images. Cover images should now be 1400 pixels wide, in the RGB color space, and delivered as JPEG files. The new minimum size for cover images will be a requirement starting this August 2012. Books already available on the iBookstore do not need to be redelivered."


- Kindle Direct Publishing

COLOR - RGB (even if it's a black and white image, it must be in RBG mode)

DIMENSIONS - Minimum of 1000 pixels on the longest side. Ideal height/width ratio of 1.6. They recommend 2500 pixels on the longest side.

FILE FORMAT - .jpeg or .tiff

ADDITIONAL - If you have white cover art, or a very light background they recommend you add a 3 - 4px gray border to define the border of the cover image.


- Lulu

COLOR - RGB (even if it's a black and white image, it must be in RBG mode)

DIMENSIONS - about 612 pixels wide and 792 pixels tall

RESOLUTION - 72 dpi minimum


ADDITIONAL - No pricing information on cover.


- Smashwords


DIMENSIONS - the smash words style guide says "500 wide 800 is generally a good dimension. The image must be at least 600 pixels tall."


ADDITIONAL - No "questionable" material on the cover.

I not going to get into promotion images in this ePublishing Primer since those sizes can be just about anything you can imagine depending on the case. You'll have to do research for those, so let's jump to illustrations.


If you start digging for internal illustration specs for your eBooks you will soon discover they are all over the place. So to simplify things I'll give you the guidelines I've been using. It's really simple and it's worked so far.

Don't make a box bigger than 500x500 pixels.

COLOR - RGB  (even if it's a black and white image, it must be in RBG mode)

DIMENSIONS - Maximum of 500x500 pixels.


ADDITIONAL - No text in the images.

Like the main cover these images will be embedded into the ePUB and MOBI files when we create them. So you'll only be uploading two files to each of your ePublishers; the ePUB or MOBI file and marketing icon of the cover.

This step is really more of a reference section, but here is a quick procedure to complete it.

1- Create your artwork at the biggest size of the set you intend to make.

2- Save multiple sizes to accommodate the various ePublisher's requirements.

3 - Create any illustrations you feel are necessary.

If you're encountering this thread in the future you might want to hint down the latest versions of the ePublisher’s asset guidelines  to make sure eBook is compatible with your new holo-reader…


 I went into more detail on ISBNs in a previous section so you may notice a little repetition. I’m including the ISBN assignment procedure here to make sure it’s not skipped when you’re going through my ePublishing process steps. This step assumes that you have already purchased your ISBNs from Bowker.

 Here is the procedure.

 1- log into your https://www.myidentifiers.com/ account.

 2- Go to the Manage ISBNs tab.

 3- Assign your new book to one of your unused numbers.

 4- Open your final eBook file on your computer.

 5- Add its new ISBN number to the information on your copyright page and save.

 6- Go back to the Manage ISBNs tab.

 7- Upload a copy of your final eBook.

 8- Upload the appropriate cover icon.

 9- Upload a description of the book from your blurbs and modify the length if necessary.

 10- Log Out.

 Don’t forget once you assign a number to an eBook that connection is permanently connected to the eBook. It’s basically a product identifier. So if you ever make a printed version of the eBook it will need a unique number.


 An ePUB is essentially and xml data packet that houses all the necessary parts of an eBook to present it on an eReader. But you don't need to know anything about XML to make one. In the subsequent step I'm going to talk using an ePUB creation tool called Legend Maker (http://www.zapptek.com/legendmaker/) to build our final ePUB and MOBI files.

 In this step I'm going to show you how I prepare my ePulp’s text for text to ePUB conversion in Legend Maker. If you decide to or prefer to use another ePUB maker, you'll have to check with the documentation to see if this information is relevant. It could be argued that what I'm about to show you is coding, but don't get too nervous. You'll only need to type a few things in a Rich Text Document to make it work. The tool will do all the rest.

 (The Legend Maker manual says you use a word .doc [not .docx] to format your book then convert it using the application, but I've never tried it.)

 Let’s look at the organization of an ePulp. I order my pages as follows…

 1st - Title Page

2nd - Copyright page

3rd - Introduction Page

4th - The story and all the chapters

5th - Author page

Except for the copyright page, the list seems self-explanatory. Incase you're wondering what I included on the non-story pages, I'll show what I did for the "Skyracos: The Mining Mess" ePulp. The examples won't be formatted I'm just showing you the content.


- Title Page


Created by John Picha

Edited by Matthew Davies and Suellen Picha


- Copyright page

 ISBN Number 978-0-9834776-1-7

 Copyright © 2011 John Picha. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission of the author. All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental. (v19)


I've been asked, "What should I put on my copyright page?" a few times. The ISBN is registered to me, but if you want to use the rest of the blurb for yourself, feel free.

If you wondering about the "(v19)" at the end, that's my version number. I view eBooks as software so if I run into any technical problems I want to know what version of the book I'm dealing with. Then if I make any corrections I roll out a new book with a new number.


- Author page

 John Picha was born on St. Patrick's Day 1968 in Joliet, Illinois. He was raised in Frankfort, a suburb of Chicago, but his mind always seemed to be elsewhere. The little Midwesterner was captivated by comic books, cartoons and animation, mythology and all things imagined. He made the world around him more exciting by pretending. A bicycle was a spacecraft, a bush became a dinosaur, and, of course, there was always a bath towel hidden away for a quick change into a super hero.

 If you’d like to learn more about John or to see his other work, you can visit him on the web.




Ok back to the eBook formatting...


- Line Spacing

 Line Spacing is actually defined by the eReader so anything you set will be ignored. Some readers actually ignore all of your settings in favor of user setting. But the iPad, Kindle, nook and Adobe Digital Editions (http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/) will respect your indents and blank lines.


- Page Breaks

 Any place you want a page break in your eBook type "#######" on a line by itself. You can even make blank pages like this if you want.

 If you are planning to support the vBookz on the iPad (http://www.vbookz.com/V1/vBookz_Voice_Readers.html) test it before you do your final publish. In older versions vBookz wouldn’t display or read anything after the first blank page. That may be fixed in the most current version.


- Bookmarks

 All the eReaders I've tested will include a table of contents or bookmark page as a part of the application. In the early ePub-ing you had to make a special bookmark page, but you don't need to anymore. The eReaders now look for bookmark information in each chapter. Then it builds a list of links to jump to pages. All you need to tell the eReader is where to jump and what to call this links. Ready for some more code?

 bookmark:PART 01: Incite

 Ta da. That’s it.

 The "bookmark:" Is the code the eReader looks for to make a chapter index.

The "PART 01: Incite" is what the table of Contents will display as the link. Whatever you write after the “bookmark:” will be the name of your link. The reader will display the bookmarks in the order they appear in the RTF document. As a habit I include a bookmark for every section of the eBook. This way everything is accounted for, including the first page. It avoids problems.

 The first line of text in my RTF document is...


 The table of Content created by my eReader for "Skyracos: The Mining Mess" looks like this…




What are Skyracos?

PART 01: Incite

PART 02:  Following

PART 03: Risk

PART 04: Control

PART 05: Retrieval

PART 06: Containment

PART 07: Transference

PART 08: Escalate

PART 09: The Cure

PART 10: healing

PART 11: Clean-Up

John Picha


Pretty easy, huh?


- Images

 To add an image to your eBook you need two things.

 1- A .PNG image no bigger that 500x500px (as specified in the previous step)

2- A simple line of code in your RTF document to call the image when the ePUB is created.

 Here is an image placement code example from Pandora Driver: The Origin...


 The "image:" is the line that tells the ePUB maker to grab an image and embed it here. The "mask.png" is the name of the image stored in the same directory as the final RTF document.

 Now that we have all the preliminary stuff out of the way let's jump into the procedure. Ready?


 1- Create a new eBook assets folder on your computer.

2- Give it a name and version number that will correspond with the version of the eBook. For example my Skyracos eBook folder is named this SR_MM_v_19

3- Move or copy all of your ePublish-ready artwork into it. (Do not make any sub-directories.)

 4- Open the final version of your eBook.

5- Cut and paste the final text into a Rich Text Editor.

6- Save the RTF version of the final in the assets folder.

7- Select all the text in the RTF file and change the font to Times New Roman.

8- Select all the text and change the font size to 18pt.

 Think of 18pt as the default size for the reader. It equals 100%. Any other font sizes you introduce in your eBook will be relative to that. So 36pt would be 200% 9pt would 50%, etc.

 9- Select the title text on the first page of you RTF document and increase it's size to 36pt and make it bold.

10- Scroll through the text and select all chapters headings and make them 18pt and bold.

11- Go back to the beginning of the RTF

12- As you scroll back through put page breaks "#######" at the top if the copyright page, at the top of the introduction page, on top of each chapter page, and at the top of the author page.

13- Save.

14- Now go back to the top of the RTF file.

15- Add your bookmark code. The first thing at the top should be "bookmark:Title"

16- Go to the copyright page and add "bookmark: Copyright".

 As you go through you chapter pages most likely your bookmark code will be right under your page break code (#######). For example the top of my introduction page looks like this…


bookmark:What are Skyracos?

The top of my first chapter looks like this...


bookmark:PART 01: Incite

16- Go through your chapters and add your bookmark code. Remember what ever you name the bookmark the Table of Contents will display it.

17- Add a bookmark at the top of your Author Page.

18- Now go through and add any images you may want to include in the interior.

The "cover.png" doesn't need to be included in any of the body text. The ePUB maker knows to grab the cover by name (cover.png) automatically.

19- Save. You're done.


There are more options you can explore in the eBook code, and if you're curious you can dig into them on your own. But keep in the mind the more you add the more debugging you'll have to do. So I say let's keep it simple. Just like I promised.

 If you'd like to go further dig into the asset guides for the individual ePublishers to see what options they offer. With the individual ePublishers you will find different code options for some pretty cool stuff unique to each eReader. That's another benefit to dealing with the ePublishers directly. We can make customized code choices compatible with individual publishers to extend our eBook’s potential.

More Good stuff, John. I've found blurb/product description to be of vital importance, and probably the hardest part of the whole book to write.

When I set about to create what I call my "promo pack," I start with shortest first. I do a Tag line of less than 10 words. Then I do a pitch of less than 25 words. Then I do a short product description of two short paragraphs and then a long description of around three paragraphs. I have also started either gathering or making up two to three quotes for each story.

Once I have that file made then it is a lot easier and quicker to upload the book.

I've also been discovering a whole different set of tips and rules for Amazon, who is by far my biggest retailer.

Anyway, thanks for putting all this down!

John Picha said:



 ePUB = Electronic Publication

MOBI = Mobipocket eBook file

 An eBook is basically an XML package that you can hard code from the ground up for delivery to the ePublishers. You 'can' do that, but you don't have to. You don't need to know any XML to create an eBook. You can just use an ePUB making application to make your life easier. The one I use is called Legend Maker (http://www.zapptek.com/legendmaker/) it currently costs $22.99 and it's one of the easiest applications you will ever use. If you've done all your pre-work with the ISBNS, covers, category codes, and RFT master, it will only take you about 10 minutes to make a ePUB and MOBI file even if you've never done it before. As far as I can tell Legend Maker is only for the Mac. I know there are ePUB makers for the PC but I haven't played with any of them.

Amazon, Lulu and Smashwords each have web tools to allow you to upload text in various formats, which they will convert into an eBook for you. If you go that route you'll have to go through the individual formatting guidelines provided by the ePublishers. Sometimes you will get unexpected results. So you'll have to do a little trial and error to get a feel for each of the ePublishers converts. You can go that route if you want to, but you don't need to. Using legend maker is a lot easier.

With Legend Maker, you can make ePUB (the eBook standard format for most readers including iPods and nooks) and MOBI (the Kindle Standard) files ready to upload. It makes all the code for you. You can preview your final eBooks locally and make adjustments as necessary.

Later when you upload the final ePUB, the ePublisher site doesn't convert it, it just verifies your uploading a good ePUB or MOBI file and indexes it for the store.

Ready to see how easy it is to make your ePUB and MOBI files?

Here is the procedure...

1- Once you have Legend Maker (http://www.zapptek.com/legendmaker/) downloaded and installed. Launch it.

2- Click "Select Manuscript" and open the assets folder we created in STEP 06.

3- Select the RTF file we prepped in the last step.

4- A window will pop up with 7 text fields for you to fill in.

The eBookstores will collect this information from the final ePUB file and display next to your eBook cover icon in their store.

5 - Type the title of your book.

6 - Enter the Publisher. (If you are using an Aggregator to distribute your books to the larger stores, you'll have to enter their name here.)

7 - Type the Author's name.

8 - Enter your Copyright information.

9 - Enter the Publication date

10 - Cut and paste your ISBN.

11 - Enter the Genre. (Use the category code we located in step 03.)

12 - Select the formats you want Legend Maker to spit out.

13 - Click "Make a Legend"

Legend Maker does the rest. It will create a new ePUB and MOBI file and place them inside your assets folder. These files are fully functional. If you have any of the eReader emulators installed on your computer, they can open the new files. You can also open them in Adobe Digital Editions. You can also move it to your iPad, Kindle or nook to test it if you'd like.

Speaking of testing, let's submit our ePUB file to an industry standard code checker. Were going to use a web application called EPUB Validator.

1 - Go to http://validator.idpf.org/

2 - Follow the screen prompts.

This is a site that will test to see if your ePUB file is error free. If your ePUB files passes here it will pass Apple too.

Basically up upload your ePUB file and it will tell you if there are any errors. If it's ok a big green check mark will appear in a few seconds.

If your eBook passes here, it will work everywhere else that supports ePUB.

If for some reason it doesn’t work try this debugging procedure.

1- Check to see if there is Legend Maker update available for download.

2- If so download and install it.

3- Use new version to make new ePUB and MOBI files.

Legend Maker does a good job monitoring changes in the ePUB code standards and updates their application accordingly. So far every update has been free to download.

If your eBook still doesn't pass double check your bookmarks and page breaks in your original RTF file. Also make sure the images are in RGB mode. One time we tried to slip a gray scale image passed to see what would happen… it didn't work.


The main advantage to working this with an ePUB-making tool is really just efficiency.  If you rely on the actually sites to do your conversion you can run into more complex problems. I know problem solving can be fun, but can also get irritating.

When you are testing your eBook in a controlled environment, you have fewer variables to contend with. If you can get your ePUB or MOBI file working locally on the eReader devices or emulators, before you upload it. It’s a safe bet that they will work on the eBookstores. Also using an ePUB making tool, that is on top of the ePUB code updates, saves you a lot of time in research. You can focus on the fun parts of the process, and let the applications wrangle the code.

When working the way I’ve outlined, I’ve never been stopped from uploading a book directly to the iBooks, Kindle, nook or Lulu stores.

Again, many thanks for this. It's great stuff.


We're in the homestretch on now. But before we cross the eBook upload finish line, let me introduce 2 more preparatory ideas before jumping into the procedures. Let's look at your eBooks ‘Preview’ and ‘Pricing.’


Each of the eBookstores will offer a free preview of your eBook available for download. Each of the ePublishers handle previews a little differently. iBooks and Lulu will allow you to upload a separate file for a preview. It can be any the length you want.

To make a separate preview file...

1 - Make a duplicate of your master story RTF file.

2 - Find the point in the story where you want the preview to stop.

3 - Delete everything after that point.

4 - Then follow the procedure in STEP 07: CREATING EPUB AND MOBI FILES. But use your preview file instead of the complete eBook.

Kindles provide potential buyers with a specified sample of your eBook to be downloaded for free. It's taken from the MOBI file you've already uploaded so you won't need to make any new files. Kindles also offer another previewing option.

 Kindle owners who have purchased your eBook can share it with other kindle owners for 14 days. (Which is pretty much enough time to read a typical book). You can opt in or opt-out of this option during the upload process.

 Nooks also allow a specified preview length of your book for free. So you won't need to do anything differently. Currently nooks also have another unique preview option. If you're on a nook and in a Barnes and Noble store you can read a nook eBook for free, but only while you're in the store.

 For my previews I offer about 1/4 of the story for free in the ePulp and on my websites. I think that's enough content for potential customers to get a feel for what's going on and decide if they want to continue with it or not. If they want to keep going they need to buy it.


For most of this ePrimer I tried to deal in concrete facts, but as we move into pricing we’re going to weave into a realm of subjectivity.

If you've done any research on eBooks or have shopped for them you will see there is a lot of conjecture on pricing. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into pricing consumer products. It delves into behavioral psychology and economics. It's so complex that a science is built around it. For a taste of if you can read this article on Wikipedia if you're curious…


This is an area gets very complicated very quickly but I’m going to try and keep it as simple as I can. Many people have asked me "How much should I charge for my product? (Any product)" My answer is typically…

"If you can identify the overlap between 'The perceived value of your product?' and 'What shoppers willing to pay for that value?' and 'cover your per-unit production cost,' you will have your answer."

I know that sounds like a riddle more than an answer, but it's accurate.

Here are the main things I considered when assessing that overlap for my eBooks...

- How much of a per-eBook return would you be satisfied with, based on your effort to create it?

- If you take the time to make something, you don't want to feel ripped off. What royalty price can I live with?

- What do similar products in the same market space cost?

Your eBook doesn’t have to sell for the same price as the others in the same space; you just need to be aware that the other prices in the same space will effect the perception of your eBooks value. For example, if all the eBooks next to yours are 4.99 and yours is 499.00 that can send different types of signals to different types of buyers. A buyer like Donald Trump may only consider the 499.00 book. Others may think the price is crazy. Conversely, if all the books are 19.99 and yours is .99 that sends a different set of messages. Have you ever looked for DVDs at a Best buy? Typically DVDs are between $19 and $24 dollars (in Illinois). They also have a bin of DVDs for $4. What does that tell you about the value of what’s in the bin? No one wants it.

Think of your own shopping experiences as you're thinking about pricing signals. If you think about it, you are actually your best guide in solving this puzzle. I'm assuming you wrote a book that you're interested in. So if you think about it, you're really looking for customers like you. More than likely you’re your own demographic so start there. What would pay for someone else's product that's just like yours?

- How does your to-be-published title compare in size of you previously published titles?

If you just made a book that's got 400 pages selling for 1.99 and a new book that's 50 pages selling for 7.99 shoppers may see a problem with that math.

- Remember that there are a couple of significant external obstacles to consider while solving your pricing puzzle.

Unfortunately everyone is used to getting stuff for free on the web. And we are currently in a Depression or Recession depending on which economic indicators you look at.

- You can always change the price later.

Going to each of the ePublishers directly you can actually use the stores as test labs to help find the best price for your book. Do experiments. You can change prices any time. You can keep switching the price to see what amount helps you meet your publishing objectives.

Remember, there is no absolutely right price or right answer to this “base price puzzle.” Do a little trail and error testing and see what you're the most comfortable with. Just figure out your initial price before your upload so you can keep the procedure quick and easy.

With my eBooks I sell everything for $2.99. Then on anticipated shopping holidays, like Labor Day I’ve reduced the price to $1.99 for the month the holiday.


Ok back to uploading.

Now we should have all of our assets ready and all of our preliminary work done, and uploading will be snap. You're going to be uploading 2 or 3 files to each publisher:

- Your cover

- Your eBook

- Your eBook preview (if needed)

You will also be cutting and pasting your keywords and blurbs into the forms so have those files ready. The uploading procedure should only take 5 or 10 minutes per store. Once uploaded your eBooks should be live within 24 hours. Also if you are follow the method outlined in this ePrimer will be able to remove your eBook from any of the eBookstores at any time you want with no penalty.

Here are the procedures...


I put amazon first this time because there is an exclusivity option you may want to consider. It's called Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select). It's basically a program where you can only sell your eBook on Amazon, and you get a bonus. For the exclusivity, Amazon offers you a portion of sales from all the eBooks in the program on top of your standard royalty. Now this is a great strategy for Amazon and you might be interested in it. The 'plus' is, you will get a bigger monthly auto-deposited royalty check. The 'minus' is, your book can only be in that store for the specified amount of time. I haven't participated in this program, but I'm willing to try a limited test at some point in the future. Here is more info on their program if you’re curious…


To upload your eBook to amazon…

1- Log in to your KDP account with your browser.


2 - Add a new title.

3 - Follow the onscreen prompts.

4- In the first section you will be asked for your eBook’s details.

- Title

- Is it a part of a series?

- Edition Number

- Description

- Contributors

 4- Verify Your Publishing Rights

5- Target your book to Customers with your

- Categories

- Keywords

6- Upload your cover

7- Upload your MOBI File

Once you've upload your eBook you will be able to preview it through a Kindle emulator embedded in the web browser. If you don't see any obvious flaws keep going.

8- Verify your publishing territories.

If you've created a unique book following this ePub Primer, select “Worldwide Rights.”

9 - Choose your royalty percentage and pricing.

10- If you want to allow Kindle Lending, click it.

11 - Click the "Save and Publish" Button and your done.

Your Book will be live in about 24 hours.



1- Make sure you have an Internet connection then launch the “iTunes Producer “Application.

2- Click "Create New Package"

The upload tool is divided down into 3 sections, Book, Assets, and Delivery. You won't need to fill out everything, and if you miss any of the mandatory fields the application will let you know.

3 - While in Book you all be asked for…


- Description

- Book Title

- Publication Date

- Categories

- Contributors

- Target Audience

- Related Products

- Rights and Pricing

The pricing is based on tiers to compensate for international monetary differences. So if you select tier 3 US pricing, you'll get the equivalent pricing in the UK.

4- In the Assets Section you will be asked for…

- eBook ePub file

- Preview ePub file

- Cover Art

5- In delivery, the application makes a package of all the components and reviews the parts. If it's approved the package is uploaded to the iBookstore.

The application also stores a copy of the Package on your computer. If you need to make changes to your eBook in the future, you will open this package for to update it.



The Barnes and Nobel Pubit upload page is really one screen. To upload your eBook...

1- Got to pubit! (http://www.pubit.com/) and login

2- Follow the screen prompts.

3- In the first section you fill out all the "Product Listing" Information.

- Title

- List price

- Publication Date

- Publisher

4- Then you can add up to a maximum of 5 contributors. You can choose the following contributor categories.

- Author

- Compiler

- Editor

- Illustrator

- Photographer

- Translator

5 - Upload your eBook

6- Select the appropriate ePUB file from your computer.

7- Once your ebook is uploaded you can preview it through a nook emulator that works through the browser.

If you've followed this ePrimer's Table of Contents instructions. The TOC won't show up in the browser (Safari) version of the nook emulator, but it will work on the device and the computer version of the emulator. So don't worry if you don't see it.

5 - Their next category is called "Help Readers Find Your" eBook. It asks for


- Is it a part of a series?

- Available in Print?

- Is the work Public Domain?

- Age Group?

- Language?

- Where do you have the rights to make you nook book available for marketing, distribution and sale?

- Do you want DRM protection?

Digital Rights Management  (DMR) is essentially a lock put on the file binding it to an individual account. It usually cost you more per download. I don't select it but if you want to feel free.

6 - The next heading is called "Tell As More About Your eBook. This is where your pre- completed Blurbs, Keywords and categories come in handy. They ask for…

- Subject Category

You will actually navigate through the Barnes and Nobel Category Tree to select your choices, but you will find that they mirror the headings, we find on the web in an earlier phase.

- Keywords

There is a 100 character limit on the text field.

- Description

There is a 5000 character limit on the text field.

- About the Author

There is a 2500 character limit on the text field.

7 - Then it offers you a chance to post editorial reviews. You can post up to 5 reviews. Most likely you will have to abridge them since the charter limit on this filed is 500.

You finish your upload by confirming that you have the rights to the material you intend to sell. Your book should be live in about 24 hours.



 The Lulu eBook upload wizard is broken into 7 parts.

 1- To begin your Lulu upload go to http://www.lulu.com/

2- Log in to your account.

3- Navigate to the "My Lulu" tab.

4- Select “New project/eBook.”

5- The “Start” part will ask you for…

- Title

- Author

- Where to sell


- It looks like Lulu offers ISBN if you want one, but beware of the lessons in the Get ISBN section of this ePrimer. (I’ll have to correct that in the ISBN section of the ePrimer.)

6- The Files Section will ask you for an ePub file.

Once you upload it, Lulu verifies that it's a good ePUB file. At this point you can download it here to see what your customer will get or to verify it still looks ok in an ePub reader on your computer.

7- The “Marketing Images” section allows you to make or upload your cover.

8- The “Description” section asks for...

- Category

- Keywords

- Description

- Language

- License

- Edition

9- Lulu also has a DRM section. If you want it, it will cost you .25 per download.

10- Next, select your Price.

 11- The last part is the “Review” section.

This page lets you go back and change any of the information before posting it. This section also has an "Availability" section, which grants different levels of access for your book. The choices are…

-  Private (only available to you)

- Direct Access (only available by private web address)

- General Access (available through search and browse).

12- The next page notifies you that you've successfully published your eBook. On that page you will see a section named, "Upload a Preview." Click “Choose File” to upload the preview version of your book.

13- Once you're done and you return to your "Project List," you'll be able to see the status of you eBook.

That's it. You're live. Congratulations!


If you realize there is a mistake in your eBook but you've already ePublished it, don't panic. If you want to make changes to the price, or keywords or descriptions, it will only take a couple minutes. Or if you want to change to your Kindle eBook but not your iBook, nook or Lulu eBooks, it's easy. That's the beauty of ePublishing and working with the eBookstores directly. You can just jump in and make changes anytime you want and the updates are quick. If you went with the aggregators you'll see that the home site updates daily quickly but you might have a wait as the changes to trudge through a second level of approval before the edited eBook propagates.

Let's get into the procedures.

If you need to make an edit to the body of the eBook…

1- Go to your master RTF.

2- Make your updates.

3- Change the version number.

4- If you need a modified preview file, don't forget to make a new one.

5- Save.

6- Revisit STEP 07: CREATING EPUB AND MOBI FILES to make your new ePub(s)

The rest of the updates will take place in the individual ePublishers and will take you about 5 minutes for each. Here are the procedures for the individual eBookstores…


1- log in to (https://kdp.amazon.com/mn/signin?ie=UTF8&ld=AZEbooksMakeM)

2- Select the eBook your want to modify from your title list dashboard.

3- Modify your descriptive text or upload a new MOBI file.

4- Save and Publish.

Back in your dashboard you should notice that the Status of your eBook has switched to Draft. Don't worry the original one is still for sale. The switch will be invisible to the customer. This is true for all the eBookstores I’m addressing.

Amazon usually updates incredible fast. I've seen some updates appear within minutes.


1- Launch iTunes Producer

2- Select “Open Package.”

3- Find the package you want to update. The book's file name is the ISBN number.

4- Make your edits.

5- Don't forget to update your preview if you made a new one.

5- Deliver the Package.

If you've changed the cover or the description it will require an approval request. It doesn't take that long but it's an extra step. However changes to the eBook itself seem instantaneous. They other nice thing about iBooks is the updated eBook will propagate to the original buyers, if they want it, just like the Apps in the Appstore.


1- Got to pubit! (http://www.pubit.com/) and login

2- From the "My Titles" dashboard, select the “Actions” pull down then select “Edit.”

3- Modify your descriptive text or upload a new ePUB file.

4- Click "Save and Post Changes"

If you want to edit your reviews you may have a little difficulty. Barnes and Nobel kind of takes ownership of the reviews and the other content you post and may edits them on you. For example if the word Amazon is mentioned in what you type, it will mysteriously disappear. So you may feel an editorial hand at work when you're trying to edit your stuff.

You should see your edits in about 24 hours.


1 - Log into your lulu account. (http://www.lulu.com/)

2 - Click the "My Lulu" tab.

3 - Select the eBook you want to modify in the "My Recent Projects" dashboard

4 - Select "Revise."

Basically Lulu runs your through all the same upload steps we discussed in STEP 08, but it goes quicker this time.

5- Don't forget to upload your new preview if you made one.

You will see your edits within 24 hours.


The real lesson here is if you make a mistake there is no crisis. It's not the end of the world and no money is lost. With eBooks we get to enjoy same speed and flexibility of software.


Royalties are your share of your eBook’s profits and the return on your creative investment. This STEP is really a way to verify that you are in fact ready to receive your royalties. It will also give you win idea of what to expect from our preferred ePublishers.

- Apple

Apple makes royalty payments by Electronic Funds Transfer. To receive a royalty payment from Apple your eBook needs to meet or exceed the payment threshold of $150 USDs. Royalty payments are made within 45 days of calendar month end. If for some reason you have less than $150 in royalties coming to you at the end of a calendar year, I don't think the balance carries over to the next year. It appears that whatever is in your account is paid out by the years end.

In order to get paid all your documentation must be finished. You may have completed it during your initial account setup, but it wasn't mandatory. So let’s check.

To edit or check your banking information...

1- Log into your iTunes Connect account (https://itunesconnect.apple.com/)

2- Once on the main screen click on "Contracts, Tax, and Banking"

3- Scroll to the "Contracts In Effect" section then "Bank Info"

4- Click "Edit."

If your bank account information is there, you should be set. If it's not you need to fill it in.

When Apple issues a payment, you will be notified via email.

- Amazon

Amazon pays out royalties by electronic deposit to your bank account. To receive a royalty payment from Amazon the balance of your account will be paid sixty days after the end of a month in which the balance accrued at least $10/£10/€10 for Electronic funds transfer.

You may have entered your payment information during your KDP account set up. If you're not sure if you did, you can check.

1- log in to your KDP account (https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin)

2- At your "Bookshelf" dashboard page go to the top and select "(Your Name)'s Account"

You will see all your account information. Near the bottom of the page you will see a section named "Royalty Payments." As long as you bank info is in there, you should be ok. If it's blank you'll need to enter an account.

I use the electronic account option, but I think there is a way to get a check sent if you prefer one.

When Amazon issues a payment, you will be notified via email.


- Nook

Barnes and Nobel pays out royalties by electronic deposit to your bank account. Barnes and Nobel royalty payments are made 60 days after the close of the calendar month in which the sale occurs and once the payment is at $10 or greater.

You should have entered your payment information during your Barnes and Nobel account set up. If I remember correctly it was mandatory. If you're not sure if you did you can check.

1- Log into your nook account (http://www.pubit.com/)

2- Select the "My Account" tab.

3- Go to the "Payment Information" form to check or enter you bank account information.

As long as you bank info is in there, you'll get paid. If it's blank you'll need to enter an account.

When Barnes and Nobel issues a payment, you will be notified via email.


- Lulu

Lulu pays out royalties by Check or PayPal. To receive a royalty payment from Lulu your eBook will need to meet a Minimum Creator Revenue Earning of $5.00 If I remember correctly it takes 2 months to get your first payment, then as long as you keep making over $5.00 in royalties a month you will receive a regular monthly royalty payment.

You don't need to enter any of your payment information to setup a Lulu account and sell books, but if you want to get paid you'll need to enter your Remittance Contact Information. Let me repeat that, if you don't enter your payment information. You won't get paid.

1- Log in your Lulu account (http://www.lulu.com/)

2- Navigate to the "My Lulu" tab.

3- Under "My Revenue" click "Change Remittance Settings"

The "Remittance Contact Information" page will open and it will display a summary of your contact information. If you've never entered any payment information, you'll need to or else you won't get paid.

4- Click on "Edit".

6- Fill in the form.

7- Save your edits.

When Lulu issues a payment, you will be notified via email. PayPal will too.


Once you get into the monthly payment cycle it will feel like you’re getting a regular paycheck. It may not be gigantic, but it will be as consistent as your sales. 


Stay in touch


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