Producing Your Book
Formatting is the hardest technical part of creating a book nowadays — and at Pressbooks, we’ve made it simple to give your book a professional layout, for print and all major ebook retailers.
The Pressbooks book formatting software instantly generates elegant book files suitable for all of the major bookstores; offers dozens of professionally designed layouts; and also features a user-friendly online writing and organizational interface that you can access anywhere inspiration strikes. You can sign up for an account through your local library or at Pressbooks.com and begin building your book for free. It’s free to use Pressbooks if your local library offers it. Otherwise, when finished, export print and ebook versions of your book for only $99.
Here what’s involved in creating your book file using Pressbooks:
- Go to Pressbooks.com or to your local library and create an account.
- Add your book information (title, author, description, copyright, etc.) in the Book Info section. This boosts your book’s discoverability in the various ebookstores’ search mechanisms.
- Add your content by writing directly in the Pressbooks interface, or import your text from Word, Open Office or your blog. You can drag and drop to rearrange chapters, and edit your text using a visual or code editor.
- Choose and apply a look for your book from dozens of free themes.
- Export your book to PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats.
Then download your files and distribute them where you would like.
Want more information on each of these steps? Read on.
Create a Pressbooks account and choose a web address (or URL) for your book. Note that this URL can’t be changed later, but it can be masked if you’d like to forward a domain you own.
Add Your Book Information
Click on Dashboard / Book Info and add in info such as title, subtitle, author, book category, copyright information and description.
Add Content / Import Your Manuscript Into Pressbooks
There are several ways to get your manuscript into the Pressbooks platform.
- Import From Your Blog: Pressbooks lets you go blog to book, importing content from your website or blog. First, export your content from your WordPress blog onto your desktop. Then in Pressbooks, go to Tools / Import and upload that file. Once your content imports, skim through it to see that the text flowed into Pressbooks correctly — you may need to do a quick cleanup.
- Copy-paste From … Just About Anything: One of the safest ways to get your book into Pressbooks is to copy-paste chapter by chapter, from whatever your original source: Word, PDF, Open Office, Pages, or a website. Pressbooks will often clean up “bad” styling when copy-pasting, but you always want to check your exports for strange styling that might need to be fixed. Here’s a quick video on the easiest way to import your text into Pressbooks.
- Import an Existing Manuscript From Word: It’s easy to import your book into Pressbooks from Word or other word processing applications. When you do, remember that ebooks are like websites, and if you have a heavily formatted file to start with … it’s going to cause problems. Invisible code from Word or other software may cause formatting problems on the Web, in ebooks, and in PDF. To Import from Word, go to Tools and click Import. Tell Pressbooks you’re importing a Word file. Pressbooks will do its best to clean the text and strip out bad code, though you’ll need to go through each chapter and apply styles to clean up elements that may not have transmitted perfectly. (Tip: Keep your Word formatting to a mimimum, and use the styles menu in Word to format your manuscript before importing–as opposed to the formatting menu–and your formatting will translate better with less cleanup.)
- Write Directly in Pressbooks: Pressbooks is not only a great writing tool, it also helps structure your text and research. You can organize your text into parts and chapters, make chapters public or private, and choose which chapters to ultimately export.
Add Images to Your Book
Images add another layer of complexity to designing ebooks. But Pressbooks takes care of all the code for you, automatically formatting your images to render appropriately on the various e-readers.
For print, you will need to start with larger images, so they don’t come out pixelated. The most important indicator of this is the pixel dimensions. A general guide is to aim for 300 pixels per inch on the page, so if you want an image at 3 x 4 inches on the page, you would need it to be 900 x 1200 pixels (or larger) in order to get a high-quality printed image.
For ebooks, you’ll want to downsize your images: large ebook files can lead to slower downloads and, in some ebookstores, “delivery fees” that cut into your royalties. Pressbooks can automatically compress your images for ebook output if you click this preference in the Ebook Theme Options.
Currently Pressbooks does not enable audio or video file inclusion inside your ebook formats. But you can always add a screenshot, and link to the video hosted on Youtube or other hosting services. Similarly, you can link to music files on the web.
For more help preparing your images to upload into Pressbooks, read our FAQ on image resolution and sizing.
Choose a Layout and Design
Formatting your manuscript is as simple as applying a “theme.” When you do so, Pressbooks will apply that theme’s “styles” universally to your headings, paragraph formatting and other elements throughout your book, giving you a consistent and elegant design.
To apply a theme, go to your Dashboard and click on Appearance and Themes on the left-side menu. Select one of the dozens of available themes. Click on a theme to preview how it will look when applied to your book. But note that there are differences between what your book will look like in web preview, versus PDF, versus EPUB and MOBI. Your best bet is to select a theme, export your book and take a look at the files to make sure you are happy with that theme.
To further customize certain elements of your theme, you can visit the Appearance / Theme Options page and change settings for chapter numbers, the table of contents, paragraph behavior, page size and a few other things.
Here are the options you can specify:
- Paragraph style (whether indented or line spaced)
- Image compression (Pressbooks can compress your images to reduce the size of your book file and with it, “delivery” fees the bookstores will charge you.)
PDF Options (for print)
- Trim size (corresponds to the trim size you will choose for your book in the print-on-demand stores)
- Paragraph style (as above)
- Table of contents style (Pressbooks can create a one- or two-level TOC.)
- Stylistic options for footnotes
- How to handle hyphens, widows and orphans
- Whether to include crop marks (sometimes required by print or print-on-demand publishers)
- Whether or not to display chapter numbers
- Table of contents style across both ebook and print version
- Whether or not to display your copyright notice (You can add or edit this in Book Info.)
The two most critical options to specify are whether you prefer indented paragraphs or spacing between paragraphs, as well as your trim size under the PDF Options menu if you are going to do a printed book.
All of these options can be easily changed at anytime.
Prepare and Export Your Final Book Files
Pressbooks is free to you if your local library has a subscription. Otherwise, before you publish, you’ll want to upgrade your book to remove Pressbooks’ promotional watermarks. It’s $19.99 to remove these from the ebook files and $99 to remove from both the ebook and the PDF files. Use the Upgrade button on the left-side menu.
Exporting Your Files
Now you can export your publication-ready files for the ebookstores and print-on-demand markets. Click on Export on the left-side menu, then Export Your Book.
Download the PDF (for print), EPUB (for iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc.) and MOBI (for Kindle) files to your desktop. These are the files you will upload into the bookstores and/or to your distributor.