This summer I launched a book after applying to YC S12 and getting my startup vetted by some SV founders.
Since then, I’ve been approached by some in the HN community on how I went about the publishing and designing my eBook. So here are some of the lessons I learned the hard way:
1. If you had to write in Microsoft Word, save in .doc [not .docx]
While LaTeX has previously been my favourite to write in, Microsoft Office’s been installed on all the machines I use (school, work, home). And since creativity strikes me at odd times, I wanted to be able to move my files back and forth and edit them with ease. Opening up .docx files in older versions of Office stripped apart footnote formatting and had other quirks. TextEdit, NotePad, and Notes on iPhone held out till I had to get to formatting with illustrations and typesetting. My first manuscript was actually an HTML page as I had planned to release it as a website. I may go this route on my next book.
2. Publish to PDF using third-party tools:
While I use Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, Office 2007 at home, and Office 2010 at school, they have all produced files with some artifacts or the other.
I used two online tools that produced smaller file sizes, but still didn’t flatten my PNGs. SVGs were a mess though they worked great on my blog. So I had to render the images to JPEG on lowest compression. FreePDFconvert turned out to be the winner in file conversion. But on the next run, I may leave my manuscripts in HTML and use PrinceXML.
3. Format your page size to the 6x9 octava format
Most books like the Zappos: Delivering Happiness, and Malcolm Gladwell’s have had several editions (with varying typographic styles, covers A/B tested against the market). They all have been published in one size - making the export easy when I go hardbound.