I recently spoke with Laurie Hampton and Deborah White-Sanchez, two local writers, to discuss their experience with Pressbooks, a free book formatting resource offered through Mid-Continent Public Library.
How did you learn about Pressbooks?
Laurie: I first learned about Pressbooks through a class listing in the Library’s programming catalog. When I signed up for the course, I was unsure what Pressbooks was, but I understood that it was a potential tool for those wanting to self-publish a book.
Deborah: Dave [Dave Burns, Story Center Publication Manager] mentioned Pressbooks during a class at the Library about printing on the Espresso Book Machine. There was a discussion on formatting for print, and it made sense to use Pressbooks for print-on-demand books.
What was your experience using Pressbooks?
Laurie: The day before this class, I was researching ways to format my recently finished manuscript for KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing]. I remembered that I had signed up for some class called Pressbooks and pulled up the Pressbooks site. I was so impressed with the ease of Pressbooks that I was about to purchase the $99 subscription but wanted to wait until I had taken the class. I was astonished to learn that, through the Library, I would be able to access Pressbooks—unlimited access—for free!
As a WordPress user, I found that using Pressbooks was a smooth transition. Pressbooks uses the same editing format as WordPress. Any time I ran into questions, it was easy to access the information in their user guide and accomplish what I needed.
Deborah: My experience was amazing. Without Pressbooks, I would have never moved my stories from lined paper to book format. The nearest I would have ever gotten was a Word document on my computer. Pressbooks makes it so simple to use that a technical illiterate like myself can understand and use the applications.
Had you tried other book formatting tools/programs previously? If so, how did they compare to Pressbooks?
Laurie: Before trying Pressbooks, I had downloaded a template on Word for formatting my book. I was so frustrated with getting it to work correctly that I was convinced I would need to hire someone to format my book for me. With Pressbooks, I was able to have my book formatted and uploaded to KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing] within two days and at no cost to me—thanks to our library!
If someone was interested in using Pressbooks for their book project, what information would you share with them?
Laurie: I would recommend starting with Pressbooks to format your book. Accessing it through the Library site is easy, and once you have saved your information to Pressbooks, you will not have to add it again. Pressbooks is a clean, easy-to-read website that offers many options for your formatting. There are around 20 different templates to choose from. As usual, I am impressed with the resources available for free at my library!
Deborah: I will tell you what l told a man last Saturday, “Pressbooks will help you write your book.” This gentleman had a notebook full of writings that he was formulating with the aim of writing a book. His notebook was stolen from his backpack. I told him about Pressbooks. I told him that it was a safe way to store his ideas for his upcoming book. I opened up my account and showed him what I was doing, and his demeanor changed from defeat to hope. Scores of writers have no idea how to move from lined notebook paper to book form. Pressbooks will do that for them.
Story Center Publication Manager
I'm always amazed at the amount of resources available to the community from the library. Specifically, The Story Center is an invaluable resource for writers and tellers of stories of all kinds. I really appreciate the thorough approach Dave takes with people that have a story to tell. He's patient, informative, and encouraging of people to get their stories out into the world. Thanks, Dave and thanks to The Story Center!