How Writers Can Turn Their Archives into eBooks

Carl Zimmer in The Atlantic:

BrainCuttings We writers always have lots of pieces in the can — stories killed for no good reason, pieces we wrote for the hell of it over a crazed weekend. In my case, I realized I had the makings of a short book about the brain. I write a column about neuroscience for Discover, and earlier this year I also wrote a piece for Playboy on some wild-eyed notions of how you'll be able to upload your brain into a computer in the not-too-distant future. Fortunately, both Discover and Playboy carry on the noble tradition of returning the rights to articles to their authors, rather than treating them as work for hire. I could bring together some of these pieces as an eBook and see if it would become something that people might actually want to buy.

The first thing I did was consult with Charles Nix, my friend and personal book design god. I cobbled together a Word file and sent it to him to show him what I had in mind. It took him a couple hours to transform it into a bare-bones eBook. If I wanted, I could have uploaded it to Kindle right then and there. But I knew that the manuscript was far from ready. I updated the older pieces with new science about the brain, cleaned up clumsy language, and sliced out repetitions.

As I learned about eBooks, I decided that they were not something I could handle completely on my own. I was not willing to abandon the most important things that go into publishing books, such as good design. Yes, we now live in an age where you can upload a Microsoft Word file directly to an eBook seller. But then you're the author of a Microsoft Word file. Who wants to be that?

More here.