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Ankeet Maini
Ankeet Maini

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How I wrote and self-published my ebook!

I recently wrote my first e-book Building JavaScript A+ Promises in 10 steps and self-published it on both Gumroad and Amazon.

If you asked me a month back that would I ever write a book?, I would have answered with a resounding NO. As I thought writing and publishing a book would be so much work and you'd need editors/reviewers and publishing houses to back it!

JavaScript Promises have always been a fun topic for me and I'd always try and experiment with its gotchas and different ways you can use it to accomplish my use-cases. I also found out that though most people are comfortable in using it well but when it comes to understanding how it's working underneath it wasn't always clear.

I initially planned on writing a blog on how to create Promises from scratch and what's A+ spec about. I had a fair bit of understanding; how they work internally but when I actually started implementing it, it was truly a humbling process :)

I was unaware of so many edge-cases and then I started documenting the entire journey of fixing and building and repeat.

I also did a tiny bit of market research where I wanted to see if building these Promises from scratch was covered but I only found books talking about the usage/patterns and a handful of blogs which taught to create Promises but not from the point of view of A+ spec. I wanted to write an in-depth guide on how they are done with a clean and simplistic implementation that'll stick in the reader's mind for days to come.

This is how the book came to be!

How did I write?

I wrote the book using plain markdown in a single file. I used top-level headings to demarcate chapters as it made sense to me at the time.

It was super easy to use mark-down as I was used to writing a lot of it and there's very less syntax to know. Backticks for code snippets, # for headings and - for lists. That's all there's to it.

How did I get the book ready for publishing?

I initially concentrated on finishing the manuscript and proof-reading it for flows and making sure I was covering all concepts in a clear and chronological way.

Once I was satisfied with the content I turned to my google-fu skills to see what all formats do I need to support. So there're three primary formats that you should take care of:

  • pdf
  • epub
  • mobi (for Kindles)

I used pandoc to create the books from markdown with a little bit of customization.

pdf

Using plain pandoc wasn't giving me what I wanted. So I used the amazing Eisvogel template to get a nice looking pdf book.

Please read the setup instructions which are written in detail in the above Github link.

To make it work, I needed to add a bit of metadata at the top of my source manuscript markdown file. Note the triple dots at the end, they are intended.

---
titlepage: true
titlepage-rule-height: 0
titlepage-background: "cover.png"
toc-own-page: true
listings-disable-line-numbers: true
...

This created table-of-contents into a separate page and added a cover pic which I self-designed on Canva

There was one more issue; since my entire manuscript was just in one big markdown file and the individual chapters were demarcated by a top-level heading. Pandoc was generating the pdf file where the chapters didn't start from a new page, they seemed to be rendered in continuous with the previous content.

To fix this I had to add this line before each top level heading \newpage

Top-level heading means the following

\newpage
# This is a top level heading

The command to generate the final pdf

pandoc index.md -o "Building A+ Promises.pdf" --from markdown --template eisvogel --listings --pdf-engine=/Library/TeX/texbin/pdflatex --toc --toc-depth 2 -N

epub

This is needed for ebook readers, I used my Mac's Books.app to test.

The procedure is almost same but a different way of configuration. The metadata is removed from the top of the file and added separately in a yaml file. I also removed the \newpage tags as it was only for the pdf template.

The command to build epub file that I used

pandoc index.md -o "Building A+ Promises.epub" --from gfm --listings  --toc --toc-depth 2 -N  --metadata-file metadata.txt --css syles.css --epub-cover-image=cover.png

You can pass a stylesheet to this to style some components. I used the following css file

code {
  font-family: monospace;
  background-color: rgb(247, 247, 247);
}

pre {
  font-family: monospace;
  padding: 16px;
  font-size: 80%;
  border-radius: 3px;
  background-color: rgb(247, 247, 247);
}

I only wanted to add a slight highlight to the code snippets which the plain pandoc was not adding.

The metadata.txt looked like this

title:
- type: main
  text: Building JavaScript A+ Promises in 10 steps!
creator:
- role: author
  text: Ankeet Maini
identifier:
date: 2020-08-29

mobi

This was the easiest to do. I logged into Amazon's Kindle Self Publishing portal. I uploaded the above generated epub and it converted it to a compatible mobi file.

That's all for this one, if you've read my book reviews would be amazing :)

Please post it on Amazon listing or send me direct feedback and I'll be happy to hear.

Thanks!


Originally published at https://ankeetmaini.dev/how-I-wrote-and-published-my-ebook

Top comments (2)

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miguelcoba profile image
Miguel CobΓ‘

Great article. I had the same issues with Markdown as doesn't support advanced features. Then I found AsciiDoc and I got in love with it. You can check it. It is opensource too. asciidoctor.org

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sagarpreetchadha profile image
Sagarpreet Chadha

Amazing!!!

Classic DEV Post from 2020:

js visualized

πŸš€βš™οΈ JavaScript Visualized: the JavaScript Engine

As JavaScript devs, we usually don't have to deal with compilers ourselves. However, it's definitely good to know the basics of the JavaScript engine and see how it handles our human-friendly JS code, and turns it into something machines understand! πŸ₯³

Happy coding!