GhostOfFifthStreet_CVR1I got it done. Finally. Yes, my 48 page comic “The Ghost of Fifth Street” is, at last, available as a digital book through both Amazon and Apple. This is the first time I’ve done such a thing and it took a while but it won’t be the last. I have a few other things I want to publish that shouldn’t take as long to do as a forty eight page comic book so I’ll get those out soon. First on the list is repackaging my webcomic in digital comic form. But that’s for later.
After finishing the actual comic book it still took some doing to get it ready for digital publication. I had the thing all set up in InDesign and ready to go as a PDF but it turns out Apple and Amazon have their own programs to format books in for their sites. Nothing is universal.
I started out with Amazon and found they have a program called Kindle Comic Creator that I would have to use to submit my comic to them. I downloaded the software and fired it up. I don’t know how many of you try out new software on a regular basis but it’s rare these days that software comes with any kind of manual or instructions. Luckily I have lots and lots of experience in image editing and layout software so it wasn’t too bad for me but I wonder what it is like for someone without my experience. The first question I had to ask myself when starting up the software was, “What the heck is this?”. I imagine a lot of people don’t know how to answer that question. Took me a minute.

I quickly figured out that I could open up my finished PDF of the comic in the software and it would translate all the pages into pages in the Kindle Comic Creator software. But to what end? It took me another little while to suss out that this software was all about detecting the comic book panels so that it could zoom in on a single panel to make reading easier on a smaller device. It would auto-detect most of the panels in such a way as I didn’t even know it was doing it. When I realized it was doing it I also realized I had to hand-set some of the pages where I had a single large image with captions floating on it. The software saw that as one panel and wouldn’t zoom in. I also had to break some panel designations in half because the panel stretched across the width of the page and therefor the software wouldn’t zoom either. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to get those panels in the proper order after I did that but I got it done.

When everything was ready to go I realized I hadn’t given it a final read yet. When I did I found some mistakes and then had to figure out how to replace the old pages with the new ones. Not hard but this all took time. Then I realized I wanted someone else to read it before it went out. I had a friend kind enough to read it out for me and she corrected a bunch of things. I read it one more time and found one last typo. Proofreading is a real pain. I decided to start over with Kindle Comic Creator rather than add and subtract all the corrected pages. I think I set up the panels in this book at least three times. That’s because I erased them once or twice in my learning phase. I can only imagine how frustrated a person not used to such software would be.

After I had all that done it was just a matter of signing up for an Amazon Author account but that wasn’t too hard. You just have to have all the tax and bank stuff you need ready to go. Filling out that info in this day and age always makes me a bit nervous but what are you going to do? I uploaded my finished file to Amazon and was ready to go.

Apple was trickier. First off there is no software specifically for comics with Apple so I would have to use iBook Author to upload my book. I’ve complained before about how much I don’t like iBooks Author and this didn’t change my mind. My first problem was that it can’t read PDFs. This was my finished format that most programs can handle. It said it needed a digital publication format (.epub) so I looked into that. The good news was InDesign, the book layout program I was using, could output in that format. The bad news was the comic turned out crazy when I did.

The quick version is the lettering is in Illustrator, the artwork is in Photoshop, and InDesign puts them together and outputs them to a specific format. Except that this time when the format was .epub it split the lettering from the art. It doubled the amount of pages and the lettering was on the left and the art on the right. Not good. After messing around with it for a while I thought I was going to have to rebuild the whole comic in iBook Author. I did not want to do that. The solution I hit on was to match up the art in Illustrator and then bring just that file into InDesign. It was doing what I was already doing but in a clumsier way. I hate doing things in a clumsy way but I had no choice.

Despite the clumsiness of both iBooks Author and the way I had to get my files ready things went pretty smoothly after I figure it out. I had to fill out all the same info I needed for Amazon and I was just as nervous doing it but it got done. A day later and they were both for sale and ready to go. You’ll find the links to get the books on iTunes and Amazon over on the top right. Check them out.