Tutorials

Self-Publishing for Absolute Beginners

| By Rebekka

Publishing an ebook is easier than you think. This tutorial explains step by step how to create, produce and distribute an ebook with Ulysses, iTunes Producer, and iBooks.

Note: You can create your ebook with Ulysses on Mac, iPad, or iPhone. For publishing it with iBooks, however, you’ll need a Mac running OS X 10.10 or later. And – this should go without saying – you have to hold the copyright for the content you publish.

1. Sign Up for iTunes Connect

First, let’s overcome the administrative barriers for being able to distribute books via Apple’s iBooks store and set up iTunes Connect for iBooks. You can use your regular Apple ID for this, or create a new one only for this purpose. By any means, there must be a credit card connected to your Apple ID, even if you’re not planning to sell your books. Then you can apply for book distribution. Approval seems to work automatically – I got mine in an instant.

2. Download and Install iTunes Producer

iTunes Producer is required for submitting your ebook to the iBooks store and providing the necessary metadata. It is available only for Mac and requires OS X 10.9 or later. You can download iTunes Producer in the Resources and Help section of iTunes Connect, here. Then install it, and you’re set. 


3. Write Your Book With Ulysses

Now for the fun part! With Ulysses, you can write in a focused environment, customized according to your taste. You can write headings of different levels, emphasize text passages, add footnotes and much more, without having to worry about the formatting at this moment. For organizing your book, you may want to use one sheet for every chapter or scene you write. You can freely move your sheets around to bring them into a new order at any time.

There is no minimum length for an ebook on iBooks. Other than the average printed book, an ebook can be 10 or 1.000 pages long – it only depends on the subject. You should have your reader’s expectations in mind, though, and aim to comply with it. As an example, they’ll anticipate a novel to count more than 50.000 words, or even 80.000 to 100.000. If your prose is much shorter, you should think about labelling it accordingly, e.g. a short story or short novel.

4. Add Images

Images are essential for many non-fiction books (not so much when writing, say, a novel). They can visually support your statements, help explain complex issues or add a certain atmosphere to your writings. Select your images with care, and provide for good quality. The iBooks app will scale your image down to the available page width depending on the current window size, and provide the reader with a full view when double-clicking or double-tapping an image, respectively.
If you can access your images directly via Finder, you can just drag and drop them into a Ulysses sheet to put them where they belong in the order of a text. If an image is stored with Apple’s Photos app, that’s not possible, but you can still copy and paste to put it in place.

If you’re working on iPad or iPhone, use the image tag in Ulysses’ button row to add an image. Then you can either choose one from your library, import it from external sources such as Dropbox, or take a photo with your camera.

For any image added to Ulysses you can optionally provide metadata: double-click (or double-tap) the image tag to edit them. For the purpose of publishing an ebook, the field for the image description (dubbed Desc.) may be of interest, since it will get displayed as caption. The Title will display in iBooks for Mac, when readers move their mouse over an image. The URL field is not relevant for ePub export.

5. Prepare for Publishing: Book Title, Cover, and Description

If you haven’t thought about your book’s title or its cover and description yet, you should do this now. Here is a list of ideas on how to come up with a book title. If you’re a writer of genre fiction, you could also try your luck with book title generators: Here is one for love stories, and one for horror and science fiction. Their random character makes for some mystic fuzziness.

The book cover must be a PNG or JPEG image and at least 1400 pixels wide on the shortest side. Portrait format is not required, but very common, so a size of 1400 x 1873 would be a good choice.

For submission, you’ll also need a book description of at least 50 characters. It could contain a summary, a teaser or an enthusiastic quote – think of it as the back cover text of a printed book. You don’t have to include it into the ePub file of the book, but keep it at hand for copy and paste.

6. Create Your ePub File With Ulysses on Mac..

This is a big moment for Ulysses’ Quick Export feature. Select the sheets that belong to your book, click the export button in the toolbar and select ePub export.

Now you can add author and title as well as drag & drop your cover image. You can also select between different formatting styles for your book – click preview to compare between them.

If you’re set, you should open your ePub file in the iBooks application for a final revision: Click ”Open in...” button, and select iBooks. That way, you can see exactly what potential readers are going to see.

 

For publishing, however, you will have to go back to Ulysses and use Quick Export to save your ePub file to disk.

7. … or on iPad or iPhone

On iOS, it works quite similarly. Tap the export icon to instantly open preview. Set the format switcher at the top to ePub export. Now you can set a formatting style, add a book title, an author, and a cover image. Tap Done to return to preview. The three dots icon top right will let you open your ebook in iBooks for proofreading. For providing the ePub file for further processing, upload it to iCloud Drive or another storage service, or send yourself an email.

8. Submit Your Book with iTunes Producer

You’re almost there! Open iTunes Producer and choose the Book template. Select “Files” and drag in your ePub file. Next, carefully complete the submission form under “Details”. Paste the description you prepared, and add your cover art. If you’re not selling your book (i.e. you’re giving it away for free), an ISBN number is not required. You can also add a separate ePub file as a sample book, but that’s not mandatory – if you don’t, the sample will be created automatically from your original book. Click submit top right – and there you go. Your book should now be processed for submission, and, if everything is fine, get submitted to the iBooks store for review.

9. Your Book on iBooks

According to the rumors, review can take up to a couple of workdays. You can check the status of book in iTunes Connect at any time, and you will get an e-mail alert when it is finally available in the stores.

And then you’re a published author.

Self-Publishing for Absolute Beginners

Learn how to create, produce and distribute an ebook with Ulysses, iTunes Producer, and iBooks