Normally, the book-building process has two distinctive tasks. First, there’s the writing task where the text is written, reviewed and edited. Once that is finished, the layout effort begins. You may not think there’s much layout necessary for text-only books, but you would be wrong. Margins, fonts, hyphenation, footnotes, bibliographies and many other components are considered to insure the best reading experience possible. And, when images, graphs, charts and other graphical elements are included, things get even more complex.
It gets even more interesting now that ebooks are added to the mix. Even though ePub is a recognized standard for ebooks, each major bookseller is adding their own twist – usually in the form of Digital Rights Management (DRM). And then there’s Amazon with a format all their own. Often an automated process is used to convert the original manuscript to formatted text acceptable to each of the booksellers, but the results of these conversions can range from pretty good to amazingly awful. Manuscripts with more complex formats that include images, footnotes and other elements are the toughest to convert and, for family history publishers, it’s difficult to find an affordable way to construct a well-designed ebook.
Fortunately for Mac users there’s Legend Maker [Mac – $24.99]. With LegendMaker, you write and edit your book using familiar software like Pages, Microsoft Word or Scrivener. The only requirement is that you must be able to save the manuscript in rich text format (RTF) – something just about every word-processing app supports. Once the manuscript is finalized, you will add “tags” to the document to provide the necessary instructions so that LegendMaker can convert the RTF document to a beautifully-formatted ebook. Tags are quite simple. First, there are bookmark tags similar to the one shown here:
bookmark:The Buccaneer Lodge
The bookmark tag tells Legend Maker that this is the beginning of a new chapter or section so it can be added to the book’s table of contents with a link to this location in the text. The text shown after the colon is the text that will appear in the table of contents. In most cases, the very next line in the manuscript will be the actual title of the chapter – formatted as you want it to appear in the body of the book.
Because ebooks are built on HTML, the images are maintained as separate files much like they are in a blog. Your book’s project folder contains both the RTF file for the manuscript and the image files for those images you are including in your book. The Legend Maker manual includes details on size and formats for those image files. To define where an image should appear in your manuscript, you add an image tag similar to this one:
The image file – photo.jpg in this example – must be in the same folder as the manuscript file. This tag will position the image centered on its own line. The limage:photo.jpg will position the image to the left of the screen and wrap text around it. The rimage:photo.jpg will position the image to the right and also wrap text. There are also tags for including audio and video files in your book.
Creating a footnote (endnote actually) is amazingly simple. The citation is typed immediately after its reference, surrounded by double broken brackets.
. . . can be found in Pioneers of Southern Literature.<<Pioneers of Southern Literature. Nashville, Tenn: Pub. House M.E. Church, 1899. Print.>> You will also notice that . . .
Now, at the point where you want the endnotes collected, you include a bookmark:endnotes tag on its own line. Legend Maker will collect the footnotes in your book and place them at this point. Each footnote will end with a ♠ character which is a link returning the reader back to the point in the book where the footnote was referenced.
The Legend Maker user guide provides detailed information on formatting your text, images and other media to create a beautiful book. Take advantage of your word-processor’s style functions to support those guidelines and you will create a custom-crafted book that will look great in any e-reader. Once the manuscript is tagged and all the image/media files are properly formatted and included in your book’s project folder, you’re ready to turn Legend Maker loose to convert the book into ePub and Amazon formats. Legend Maker will walk you through the process, asking for the necessary metadata details so your book will meet bookstore requirements.
Here’s an example of the ePub version of my The Future of Memories book which was formatted and converted using Legend Maker. As you can see, the formatting included in my original manuscript was transformed beautifully into the ePub version.
While the formatting and layout of any book can be a long and tedious process, Legend Maker’s tags are easy to remember and use and the result is a hand-crafted book that reflects your efforts much better than any “meat grinder” process ever will. It’s well worth the effort.