Writing and publishing ebook advice needed
August 15, 2011 7:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm writing a technical book - and intending to self publish, mostly electronically. OSX - Best of class software? For writing? For publishing? Other deeper writing and self publishing questions inside!

Ok, so, I have a technical book out; I'm on my way to writing a second - but I want to self publish. I think there are two parts- Writing and publishing

First are writing tools:
I'm using Scrivener. Is this the best tool for me? Is there a better one? Let's say price is not an object.
I'm embarrassed to say I liked the layout in Pages (and word) for things like headings and the like. So, style sheets? Also, TOC and auto indexing? Is there a way to do it?

Actual Publishing
Anyone laid out an ebook with lots of illustrations/sidebars (or are there better tools for this?) I'm aiming hard at the iBooks and Kindle - what do I need to know/do prior to publishing?

Any/all advice wanted.
posted by filmgeek to Work & Money (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
LaTeX does gorgeous formatting, automatic tables of contents, and indexing (if you include indexing metadata). Depending on your past experience, it may take some getting used to writing with markup instead of a WYSIWYG type system, but the bigger your project gets the nicer it is to let the system worry about formatting and TOCs so you can concentrate on just writing instead of futzing around with margins. MacTeX is a handy all-in-one package.

There's also Docbook XML.
posted by usonian at 9:00 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

This seems to be a good "Self-publishing eBooks 101" round-up. (More for 'fiction' than 'tech', but some of the info must be common to both.)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:31 PM on August 15, 2011

Kindle is blindingly easy: you can upload HTML, or a Word or RTF file, or epub, or a few other formats. Don't use a PDF as Kindle, like a web browser, reflows text and thus is not page-oriented. There's a preview function so you can check what looks OK.

Images should be JPEG. I have some illos made in Illustrator and they don't show up right.

Kindle doesn't do tables and frames. I think you're going to have to incorporate sidebars into the text.
posted by zompist at 10:19 PM on August 15, 2011

2nding LaTeX. It's a bear to get started, but everything looks so pretty. The way it deals with chapters and tables of contents is just lovely.

In other news I'm rather addicted to italics this morning.
posted by Folk at 7:08 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

To emphasize:

LaTeX makes TOC, indexes and the like *amazing*. That said, getting LaTeX onto OSX also seems to be nightmarish (suggestions?). Perhaps pay someone to make you some good LaTeX styles if you go that route. I happen to be of the 'plain text until the last second' school (Markdown, Restructured Text, LaTeX), but realize that's not for everyone.

If price is really no object, then consider having it professionally typeset (and proofed) at the end, and do the work in whatever you want until then.
posted by gregglind at 11:50 AM on August 16, 2011

gregglind - thanks for the memory bump, what I actually meant to link to in my original post was TeXShop, which provides a front-end to the aforementioned MacTex. Both have native OS X installers, so there's no need to muck around with compiling from source, fink or Darwin ports.

I only barely grok how to customize LaTeX styles, but the out-of-the-box ones are so nice that I don't usually feel the need to.
posted by usonian at 7:56 AM on August 17, 2011

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