Introduction: Self-publishing an IPhone App Ebook
My name is Noble Smith and I'm a published playwright, co-exec producer of the award-winning film Protagonist (Netflix), a published novelist (iTunes audiobook Stolen from Gypsies), and author of the ebook iPhone app Warrior (iTunes App Store).
Getting a book published through the traditional mainstream publishers these days is a nearly impossible task. But now you can circumnavigate the industrial-entertainment-complex and use the iPhone as a distribution platform for your free ebook.*
My novel Warrior (an action/adventure set in Ancient Greece) spent years languishing in the hands of literary agents in New York. I finally took matters into my own hands and self-published it as an iPhone/iPod touch ebook app. In less than a week I had over 2,000 downloads for my free app and was in the top ten along with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Secret Garden and The Bible.
This instructable takes you through the process of creating the assets that an ebook app developer will need to upload your book to the iTunes app site.
Visit www.warriorthenovel.com for more information about my ebook and how to download it.
*(Note: If you want to charge for your ebook you will have to go through the process of becoming your own app developer through Apple; and you will have to find an ebook app reader developer who will license their software to you as a developer. This whole process can be extremely expensive.)
Step 1: Contents
An ebook app developer needs the following assets to turn your digital manuscript into an ebook and upload it to Apple's iTunes as an app.*
1.) THE MANUSCRIPT: A completed and corrected manuscript using TextEdit or MS Word format.
2.) THE COVER: A "dust jacket cover" image for your book (JPEG).
3.) THE APP ICON: A smaller version of your cover image for the app icon (JPEG).
4.) APPLICATION DESCRIPTION: Text for the iTunes App Store describing your book.
5.) ABOUT PAGE: Text for the "About This Book" page in the ebook app.
*I used TouchBooks Reader (http://www.touchbooksreader.com/) and paid them a one time licensing fee of $500 (rates may vary) via PayPal. My experience with TouchBooks Reader and its president Alexandru Brie has been amazing. Brie did not ask me for an endorsement of his product, nor have I received a discount for promoting his product.
Step 2: The Manuscript
A manuscript is not ready to be published in any medium until it has been proofread many times by many eyes. I'm always amazed at the typos that I've missed even though I've read a manuscript hundreds of times. My first work (a play published by Samuel French, Inc.) still has several egregious typos and is now in its twentieth year of being printed with those same typos.
I heard of an author/professor who paid his class twenty-five cents for every typo found in his latest manuscript. On the next round he moved it up to a dollar per typo, and so on until the bounty was ten dollars per typo. I'm sure the end result was a manuscript that had been thoroughly scoured for errata.
The great thing about an ebook app is that it can be updated periodically. (All owners of the app are notified on their iPhone apps page that there has been an update.) This is one of the most wonderful aspects of the ebook/iPhone app platform. But here are some little tips to make your text look more professional for that first-time download.
A lot of people put two spaces after a period. This is wrong. There is only one space after a period. Two spaces really screws up your formatting and looks weird.
Use the longer em dash as opposed to the shorter en dash to differentiate it from a hyphen. Never use two hyphens to make an em dash (like this --). The shortcut for em dash is shift-option-hyphen.
It's probably wise (because of iPhone formatting issues) to take out all drop caps from your text. If you don't know what a drop cap is you probably don't have to worry.
Choose a font that is easy to read on an iPhone. Ask your ebook developer which fonts look best.
Use exclamation points sparingly.
For all of you authors out there who have submitted hardcopy manuscripts to traditional publishers in the required double spaced format, you need to convert your digital version of the manuscript to a single spaced version.
Finally, make sure you insert all of the images in the places you want them to appear in the body of the text so the people doing the ebook layout know exactly where they are supposed to go.
Step 3: The Cover
The book's "dust jacket cover" is the image that will appear on the iTunes store page. It should be the same dimensions of the average printed hardcover (9.2" x 6.1").
Paying for stock photos or images for your book cover is a waste of money. You can design your own cover in a few hours using Photoshop or even the cheaper version Photoshop Elements (which is what I use).
For my cover I found a copyright free image of a statue in Hyde Park and manipulated it with a couple of filters. It took about three hours with the help of my wife (who had never used Photoshop Elements before).
Saturate the image so the colors really pop on the iPhone.
Make sure you save the cover image as the highest res JPEG.
Step 4: The App Icon
You will notice that this image is slightly different from the cover: The warrior has been moved closer to the title above, cutting off the top of the shield, to compress the image for the smaller square space of the app icon.
The rounded-corners-app-icon-button-effect is something that Apple adds after the book has been accepted as an app and is not something you have to worry about doing in Photoshop.
The JPEG should be 512 x 512 pixel size or 57 x 57 pixel size.
Step 5: ITunes Application Description
This is the text that appears on the iTunes page for your ebook app (or on the apps page for the ebook on your iPhone).
It is one of the most important parts of the whole iTunes ebook app experience. You need some killer book copy that reads like the dust jacket text put out by a major publisher.
Go to the bookstore, pick out books by your favorite author, and steal their marketing ideas. Then rewrite your copy over and over again and get your friends to edit the thing without mercy.
This application description is how you're going stand out from the hundreds of other free book apps. Give the iPhone user no other choice but to click the "install" button for your ebook.
I came up with the tag line "The ebook screen might be small, but that doesn't mean the stories can't be big." I think this gives the reader a pretty good notion that they're going to have an epic in the palm of their hand.
Next, describe the book but don't give too much of the plot away. You don't want to be like one of those annoying movie trailers that shows all the good stuff. Pique the reader's interest. Give them a taste. Leave them hungry for more.
Finish off the Application Description with your brief bio. Whatever you do, don't tell people about your pet ferret or mention the fact that you named your firstborn Neo. Keep it professional.
To read my full Application Description go to: iTunes, App Store, Books, Noble Smith.
Step 6: About This Book Page
Don't forget that your ebook can contain embedded hyperlinks (wherever you want them) throughout the text. These links can turn your book into a truly interactive reading experience. In the About This Book page make sure you have a link for your website promoting your book.
I designed the website for my novel Warrior by myself using iWeb. On the pages I have included maps, bonus chapters, a list of character descriptions and a brief history of 5th century BCE Greece (the period when my tale takes place). Check it out and good luck with your own project. Together let's bring the decrepit publishing world to its knees, and administer the final death blow to this archaic and commercialized monstrosity.