How to Help Writers Study Their Craft - in spite of...
(Or - as Bill and Ted would say - "A Most Excellent Journey.")
Republishing classics isn't as easy as it sounds. And the howls I get sometimes when modern authors criticize all this editing I do in order to bring quality work to them - can get annoying.
However, much as the old bandage has to come off in order to treat the cut or scrape, so must one endure innocent barbed comments, lightly or brusquely thrown.
The point of this is to create a study-series where an author would only need to download copies of these books and learn from the all-time great writers of history. Like sitting at the feet of the masters...
I covered this earlier, when I released the entire list of books part of the Midwest Journal Writers' Club Selections.
If you want to find all the step-by-step instructions on converting a book into a published work, you may want to stop by my "Just Publish! Ebook Creation for Indie Authors" page - there's a video there which will rush you through it (of course the book is more manageable, and has recently been updated with mostly-unknown new marketing data.)
For our use today, I'm laying this out in the simple sequence just in case you ever get the idea to go and republish 26 classic fiction works on your own.
As much as possible, lay it out on an assembly line. Public domain works vary in quality. Some of the Google Books and Internet Archives stuff can get pretty raw with typos. So get the best content you can. Even then, you'll find they do some pretty odd things with their editing. (Again, see that "Just Publish!" ebook above for what you need and don't need in a book these days.)
1. Do all your text first.
a. Clean up your text. Open it up in Libre(Open)Office and use the Writer2Epub plug-in for epub conversion.
b. Add a Forward (which makes it into a newly copyrightable work) and Resource section at the end (which links to your site page for the Writers' Club.) This can be done by cut-paste and importing/overwriting style sheets. The forward has blanks in it - you'll be finishing this up later, just before publishing. Save is in LibreOffice in native format.
2. Do all your covers next.
Using GIMP, you can then generate covers for each book - again, looking for public domain images which are appropriate and eye-catching. Remember that these thumbnails are very small - so will need to also have large text. Again - get one cover the way you like it (in layers) and then you can adjust the elements to fit as you import the images.
3. Make sure your own landing page is ready to accept data.
You're going to be aggregating links as you publish all these books, so you need to have your site's landing page (like the home page for the Writers' Club) so it can have graphics and links added simply.
4. Now you publish every single work as you go.
a. Fire up Calibre and make sure you've imported all these books you're re-publishing.
b. Open up a Lulu browser tab to start your project, then another tab with Kobo. (This will publish your works to iTunes and Nook as well, eventually. Amazon and Smashwords don't like public domain, but Lulu and Kobo have no problems with new editions floating in.) Those links simply show how I've been at this awhile...
c. For each book, you'll need to finish up the forward, export it to epub format, check that book in Sigil, import into Calibre and check it.
d. Write a smashing description in the metadata on Calibre.
e. Then publish it to Lulu, who will assign it an ISBN for you. Record that in Calibre.
f. Finally, publish it in Kobo, pulling the metadata you've saved.
This last is the longest part, as it's the most time consuming. The rest can be done as you go, which is just a few days' work for as many as you want to create. The covers take less time than reformatting and editing the books. It all gains momentum as you go - which is vital, as you can get distracted from big projects like this pretty easily. But the rewards trickle in as they get accepted by the distributors (Lulu, Kobo, iTunes, B&N.)
Of course, you should probably build up to this by doing a few shorter series. I republished my Online Millionaire Plan series as well as "Winning Your Infinite Freedom" as a time-dated series.
Then you can start being a publisher for real, through finding great authors and publishing their stuff.
That's the overview, with enough links to let you know how to pull it all off.
Back to my grindstone...