How to Format eBooks (Like a Boss)

I recently ran a workshop on formatting ebooks for the Lewiston Public Library and promised to share an electronic checklist and the presentation slides on my site. So…here they are!

How to Format eBooks (Like a Boss): Slides
How to Format eBooks: Checklist

After the presentation, the librarian showed me her demo version of PressBooks, a service the library is considering subscribing to. It’s a WordPress-based tool for making properly formatted, quite lovely ebooks with a lot less labor than the DIY process I describe above, so if you’re daunted by the more technical process or want some a wider variety of spiffy pre-made styling options, you might find it worthwhile to shell out the $20/book.

Maine authors:

Once you’ve got your book up and published, one way or the other, don’t forget to consider submitting to…

  •  Self-E – This will eventually get you in their module for subscribed Maine libraries with a chance at being added to the national module. Right now, this is pretty much the only workable path for library exposure for indie authors.
  • ReadMaine – This is a work-in-progress, but once enough authors have sent in their info, you’ll have a free listing on a site meant to help Maine readers find and support Maine authors.

What are YOU doing Saturday afternoon?

Now that I’ve finalized my decisions, I can announce that I’m the judge for the Teen section of the 2015 Joy of the Pen, a statewide literary competition. I will be at the Topsham Public Library this Saturday afternoon, handing out prizes. The Teen portion is a new piece of the competition, so all you English teachers and school librarians whom I dearly love, this is for you: Joy of the Pen is an awesome chance for your young writers to stretch their wings a little, so pretty please keep an eye out for the deadlines for next year and encourage your fledgling authors to send in their work!

If you’ve got some spare time this weekend, come on by the TPL to listen to this year’s winners read their work and give them a massive round of applause!

jop2015 reception poster


I am pleased as pie to be ready to introduce you to Phase 1 of my current Brilliantest of Plans: drumroll, please…Here is!

Um, okay. Why?

I am so glad you asked that question! A little less than a year ago, I published Autumn’s Daughter, along with a rambling manifesto of sorts (like I do) about why I chose to start with self-publishing instead of hunting around for an agent and a publisher. In the time since, I’ve made a few more writer connections, done some thinking, and come up with a list of things that I think are essential to keeping your head above the water as a writer in general, and especially as one who is sufficiently lacking in a sense of self-preservation to try publishing alone.

  1. Writer friends who are willing to exchange editing input on manuscripts because you all recognize that human brains are by and large incapable of effectively catching all the typos and plot holes in their own work.
  2. Writer friends who will eat pastries and drink coffee and sit at a table with you, working and filling you with the sort of guilt for not working that translates into getting work done.
  3. Writer friends who have more experience than you and are happy to point out resources and pitfalls to respectively exploit and avoid.

I have some absolutely magnificent long-distant friendships that serve these points and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. If you don’t have those people in your life, however, finding them online can be tough, so this endeavor got started when I was putting together my lesson plans for some writing workshops at the library and thinking about how being physically proximate to one another might be leveraged to help writers build a nice, supportive community for one another.

“Buy Local” is a big thing in Maine, and I imagine in a lot of places right now, and it occurred to me that, beyond just connecting writers to other writers, there are probably a lot of avid Maine readers who would love to give the books of Maine writers a try and a lot of local folks whose services (free-lance editing, cover design, etc.) would help writers produce a better book and a lot of local bookstores who are pushing Maine writers.

ReadMaine is my attempt to create a place for all of those people to connect.

How does it work?

I was completely serious about being in Phase 1. Right now, I’m just trying to build a database of Maine writers. As soon as I have a good number, I’ll start publishing listings, so the very first goal is just a quick and dirty author listings database. If you know any authors who have published something (self-published books and traditionally published short pieces in someone else’s collection count) and who live mostly in Maine, please either let me know who they are or encourage them to submit their info. (It’s all free and I intend to keep it that way–I’m a big fan of the philosophy that we all thrive when we work together to help each other out.)

What makes this site distinctive from some others out there, from what I can see, is that independently published authors are just as welcome as traditionally published. In fact, I would really love to see ReadMaine turn into an incubator of sorts to help Maine indie authors set the bar for what quality self-published work can look like, and if you have any ideas/energy for putting any of these long-terms goals into action, please do let me drag you into a “leadership role.” :)