This post brought to you by the letter L.

I’ve self-published a book before (Take the Wheel: A Woman’s Guide to Buying a Car Her Own Damn Self), and I work in publishing, so I feel pretty confident about publishing Lightning in a Throttle: Three Early Electric Vehicle Victories this summer. I’ve got lots of friends and colleagues in the biz who can help me out, and the paper has already been edited, so it’s nearly ready to go right now.

But what if I did more? What if I used this book as an opportunity to learn new skills? What if I, a wordsmith of many years, tackled design, which I have no business doing at all?

My friends and colleagues are likely weeping at reading that. Self-published authors with outsize opinions of their design abilities are the bane of their existence. But how hard can it be to pick up InDesign when you haven’t used it since 2006? How difficult can it be to create a cover in Photoshop using a vintage image from a presentation you did and a font you downloaded? It’s an awesome font!

Um, it’s hard. All those things are hard. Even with an awesome font.

But not impossible, thanks to Lynda.com and the Multnomah County Library! So Lynda.com is a site where you can learn a whole bunch of business stuff; it’s owned by LinkedIn, which I do not use. Multnomah County Library is a magical network of books both print and virtual in Portland, Oregon; it is owned by the people, of which I am one! Just as I learned of the existence and usefulness of Lynda.com, my friend and fellow library user Carly told me that I could log in to the learning site using my library card and the classes would be free. Holy. Shit. Yes. 

This is where I am learning the very basics of InDesign CC, which I downloaded on Saturday. By the end of the afternoon, I had placed my text and made some headers using my awesome font. I have not yet tackled images in reflowable ebooks. It seems daunting. But I’m pretty sure Lynda is going to teach me how to make it happen in the next series I’ve saved to my playlist, InDesign CC 2015: EPUB Fundamentals. I took a short refresher course in ebook publishing basics yesterday afternoon on a whim. For free. I’ve also got Creating Ebooks for the Kindle waiting for me. I’m going to own this shit. Sort of. In all likelihood.

If I truly mess up my manuscript in the design process, I do have friends and colleagues I can pay to bail me out and fix my fuck-ups. Whether or not you have this kind of professional safety net, it’s worth checking to see if the library card languishing in a desk drawer might be able to help you improve your ebook’s design, inside and out. Though if you’re a writer, your library card is probably not languishing. It might be in rough shape from overuse, but not languishing. Languishing. Languish. Languish. Now it sounds weird.

Anyway. To recap: Lynda + Library = Love + Learning. Happy publishing!

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