Turning your art into an eBook

Denis Chan sketch book small with textJanette Watson recently published Camino Sketchbook. As the name implies, the book is filled with her Camino drawings. In a tweet she wrote ” “I didn’t realize how hard it was to put images onto Kindle, and none of the how-to books agreed on a formatting method.” Intrigued, I ask Ms. Watson to write a blog explaining her process for getting her art into an eBook.

As a novice writer, it was a steep learning curve putting a book together and publishing it on Kindle for the first time.

A simple book with just text is quite easy and straightforward, but I decided to create an eBook version of my sketchbook. Six weeks later I was still studying various how-to books! Some books required knowledge of HTML and graphic design software. I sifted through my copious notes and came up with the following plan. It seemed to work better than expected for a first attempt using the following free software.

  • OpenOffice for writing text documents.
  • Paint.NET for resizing and formatting images.
  • Picasa for importing images.

Writing

Through trial and error I found it easier to put the correct number of pages for the title, frontispiece (the illustration facing the title page of a book), table of contents, dedication, etc. before starting the first page, and to complete the writing before adding pictures.

Portal de FranciaChanging the Size of Images

In Paint.NET, I opened a picture file, and from the tool bar options, I went to IMAGE, clicked on RESIZE, then in the pop-up window I changed the resolution from 72 or 96 dpi (dots per inch) to 300 dpi. This will apparently help to future-proof the images in Kindle as the technology evolves. The actual size of the image maybe reduced, but readers can zoom in or double-click to get a better view. There was no need to worry about the file size being too large, as it was reduced by the zip compressing later on. I could have just left the images at 72 or 96 dpi and let the Kindle Publishing process compress them–this would make them more likely to be shown as a full page, especially if there were a page break before and after–but I found some of my images were pixellated if I did so. My original pictures were mainly color sketches, I think they came out a little subdued in e-ink black and white, but they were just illustrations and they still showed the essence of my drawings and paintings. I often work in mono color and these images look very similar to some of my ink paintings.

Hyper-linking Chapters

Back in Open Office document. From the tool bar I used FORMAT – STYLES AND FORMATTING. This brings up a small window. In the text, I highlighted the first Chapter Title i.e. Chapter 1, then double clicked on HEADING 1 in the Styles and Formatting List. Then I carried on to Chapter 2 title in the document and repeated clicking on Heading 1 each time, and on through all the chapter titles.

The next step was to click on INSERT – HYPERLINK, then in the new window, click on DOCUMENT – TARGET – HEADINGS, and importantly, I clicked once only the correct chapter on the list. I then clicked on APPLY, in each window shown. This meant I could now navigate from the contents page to any chapter.

Inserting Images into Text

I placed the cursor where I would like the image to go, clicked on INSERT – PICTURE, selected a photo of a sketch from my own pictures file. Then I right-clicked- ANCHOR TO PARAGRAPH, when I still had changes to my document. If I was sure the text was completely finished, I could have used ANCHOR TO PAGE, but I had a bit of trouble with this when I added a sentence or two later and the text shifted but the pictures didn’t. After each image was inserted, I made a page break by clicking on INSERT – MANUAL BREAK, and then in the small pop up window, I selected PAGE BREAK and clicked OK. When I wanted a picture to be alone on the page, I made a page break before and after. To specify position, I right-clicked on the image, and on ALIGNMENT, then I selected either center, left or right, but I found that this can be altered by the Kindle publishing process when it is uploaded, maybe it depends on the type of Kindle. I used Kindle Previewer to give me an idea of how it would look, which was useful. I wasn’t too precious about whether the picture was left or center! When published, I checked on three types of Kindle to see how it all looked. It was OK on an old e-ink Kindle Fourth Generation and on a Kindle Touch, but. of course, it looked the best on Kindle Fire in color.

Saving the Complete Document for Publishing

I copied the finished book and saved it as a file that I labelled as a Master Copy Do Not Touch! in case anything went wrong, I went a bit silly doing this and now my laptop is full of Camino Sketchbooks in various stages.

I saved the one I wanted to publish as an OpenOffice HTML file, then selected all the text and images together and then sent it to a compressed zip folder. This folder was now ready to put onto Kindle Direct Publishing.

Camino SketchbookThe Cover

The book cover is uploaded separately. I made mine from a photo of one of my sketches, which I cropped in the Picasa program. I also used Picasa to put a slightly rounded border around as a white image doesn’t show up very well on the light background of the Amazon website. I used the Paint.NET program to check the size of the file. The resolution should be only 72 dpi as this will be shown on web pages, the dimensions should be 1:6 or a width of 2500 pixels.I also used the Paint.NET program to put the title and my name on the cover, using just two fonts, I used Segoe Script for the title and Constantia for my name.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the challenge of writing and publishing a book for Kindle, and I now have the urge to write more, not necessarily for remuneration, but friends have often encouraged me to publish my illustrated journals, and there are many years worth! Nowadays it easy (ish) to publish books on Kindle at no cost, so where is the harm? I have sold nearly 200 books (not so much as sold really, most of these were when it was free!) in two weeks in numerous countries from Italy to Japan, which is incredible.

Janette WatsonJanette Watson

Janette Watson was born in Lancashire, England, but ran away to sea in her late teens and has lived on boats around Europe ever since. Currently she lives and sails on a Peter Duck Ketch with her husband Paul in Cornwall. She is an artist who sells her paintings through Waterside Gallery, St Mawes, Cornwall. Janette, an avid journal keeper. She just published an eBook on Kindle about her first Camino Frances.

Camino Sketchbook by Janette Watson on Amazon

Janette Watson’s Sketchbook blog

Twitter @JanetteWatson1

email: janettewatsonart@gmail.com

About The Author

Jane V. Blanchard

Adventurer and Author, I was born in Hartford Connecticut and now live in Sarasota, Florida.