Have you ever been wondering why it is possible to get a free ebook version from your online book distributor? Or seen people offering to convert your novel manuscript into an ebook for $30 or $50?
While $30 or $50 are almost expensive for just clicking a button to import the (pre-formatted) manuscript, fill in a form with details about the book – such as title, author name, and retail price – click another button to add any required companion files to the project, then clicking one last button to output the ebook in the desired file format. It is mostly an automated process – done in less than 15 minutes.
I wrote a while ago that I had once paid $70 in advance for .mobi and epub, and received both versions after a wait of almost two months! and dozens of emails. I immediately transferred it to our distributor. He refused the epub version as it contained 63 !!! technical errors, and it cost me, even more, to have it done by a professional. Very frustrating!
. Formatting an eBook – Especially Non-Fiction
Book formatting is mostly manual, because every manuscript is different, and the process of formatting a manuscript for ebook publication is primarily a process of minimizing and standardizing formatting.
. List of eBook Formatting Steps for Mobi
Web content manager A. Hamilton once blogged this list:
* “Save As” to create Kindle file copy
* Insert cover image on the first page
* Remove blank pages
* Remove headers
* Remove footers
* Set margins to 1” all around, remove gutter
* Replace section breaks with page breaks
* Set two carriage returns before each pg break and one after each
* Insert page breaks before each chapter heading, if necessary
* Replace double spaces with single space between sentences
* Standardize body text style
* Turn off auto-hyphenate (Tools > Language > Hyphenation)
* Remove any tab or space bar indents, replace w/ ruler indents as needed
* Set line spacing to 1.5, max 6pt spacing after paragraphs
* Standardize chapter headings
* Standardize section headings
* Remove/replace special characters
* Reformat graphics as needed to 300dpi resolution & optimal size (4×6” or smaller)
* Verify images are “in line” with text
* Insert page breaks before and after full-page images
* Modify copyright page to reflect Kindle edition verbiage
* Add correct ISBN to copyright page
* Insert hyperlinked TOC
Time and effort demands in creating ebooks are highly variable. So, you better send a sample chapter and ask if the price quoted for the ebook conversion service includes formatting – and also the creation of any required companion files.
The worst experience I ever had with ebook formatting was last year when I commissioned – my usual professional ebook builder was ill – a manuscript to let it format by a person in South Africa which I had “met” on social media. She promised to deliver within days. .
I paid in advance for .mobi and epub, and received both versions after a wait of almost two months! and dozens of emails. I immediately transferred it to our distributor. He refused the epub version as it contained 63 !!! technical errors – which they offered to fix for just $50. When I reported this to the “formatter”, she emailed me after a couple of days that she charged only for .mobi – and the epub version was only a complementary version… which was certainly not true, according to my order and her invoice. In the end, she wrote me an email and called my inquiries “nasty”. Well, I should have been warier of her work, as in her first attempt she even did not know how to hyperlink the TOC’s. My own fault – cannot blame anyone else!
Ebook formatting is a never-ending topic in writer circles, forums, and blogs since the dawn of self-publishing. And many authors have their fair share of hit-and-miss, and of experiences with so-called “professional” formatters.
Popular DIY programs to format ebooks are:
Vellum (for Mac)
Read also Author Alex Hallatt shares tips on how to produce ebooks using the Mac-only Vellum software, including books with lots of illustrations. Many authors need formatting for their new books only two or three times a year at the most. However, the more they use the software, the more competent they will become.
. The New Kindle Create:
Amazon Kindle recently launched a new free app, called Kindle Create, which provides a simplified conversion process for formatting Kindle e-books from Microsoft Word. When you finish your manuscript and upload it, Kindle Create (Beta) automatically converts the file into a Kindle-compatible file. Then it will help you format it. A rich illustrated conversation instruction will help you. For example, building a TOC manually can be time-consuming. Kindle Create automatically scans your file for chapter headings and builds a table of contents for you. You can download the software for Mac or for PC.
The program is still in Beta, which means it will take a while to perfect it.
Some features are not available yet warns Amazon early users:
Limited support for lists and tables: Kindle Create (Beta version) will allow you to import your document, but you may not be able to edit the lists and tables. Lists and tables are marked as ‘un-editable content’, however, you can still publish the eBook and the list or table will display as depicted in the previewer.
Limited support currently also for modifying images. Kindle Create (beta) will import documents that include images and will place them as block images. Re-sizing, re-positioning, and deletion of images is not supported.
If your document includes hyperlinks (external to the World Wide Web, or internal to other locations in the document), those hyperlinks will be preserved, but can’t be edited in Kindle Create (Beta).
. Editing Lists, Tables or Images is Difficult.
Under “Beta Limitations,” it states that you may not be able to edit lists or tables for example – you need to go back to Microsoft Word and start the whole Kindle formatting again. Upload a Word .docx or .doc file. Open your file in the previewer on all devices to see if they format well enough for you in the previewer, before you go ahead with your file in Kindle Create.
Same with images: you can’t reposition, or delete them. Preview these right away or go back to Word and get them right before proceeding with Kindle Create. Hyperlinks cannot be edited too. Test them in the previewer after loading in Kindle Create to make sure that you’re happy with the links before you do anything else in Kindle Create. These are just a few, read more technical tips on Chris Mullen’s blog post.
. Previewing is Important!
Kindle Create Has its Own Previewer. Or you can download the Kindle Previewer 3.0 that shows books with enhanced typesetting.
Please, give your input to help with beta testing and to improve the program, visit the Kindle Create page, use the Feedback link, complete the survey or email KDP.
If you’re looking for a simplified conversion process, and if your ebook formatting is not too complex, this tool may be worth exploring. If you visit the Kindle Create page, click the link called, “So how does it work?” You will find some important information.
BTW: Another, relatively new offer is KDP Paperbacks, that might retire CreateSpace soon. Check out this article by John Doppler.
. Even Better: FREE Formatting
Another route for authors is to use the conversion services offered by certain distribution platforms, for example, the FREE service at Draft2Digital. They are one of the most author-centred and customer-friendly distributors I have ever encountered: they answer emails and calls promptly, manuscripts are formatted in hours, corrections are made immediately – and they deliver .mobi and epub.
They do not work with Amazon, even they deliver you a free .mobi version, so you can upload it yourself – which has its benefits: it makes it easier to create your Amazon author page and your sales page. Or if you decide to switch in and out of KDP Select and their associated perks, you don’t need to go through the distributor, which may be a pain or not work at all.
Draft2Digital distributes your book for free to Apple, Kobo, as well as to Barnes&Noble (good for non-US authors) and many other online retailers. You receive immediately the direct link to your e-book’s sales page – something that is not common or even possible at other aggregators.
… how you want to learn book promotion. And there is a lot to learn: Publishing evolves constantly and the success of your book(s) is very much depending on you, no matter if you self-publish or if you go with one of the big publishers.
Choices in publishing, essentials of book / e-book layout and design, your platform and brand, optimizing social media, use of non-traditional ways of book marketing, book distribution, online retailers, learning about marketing on a shoestring… it’s over-whelming. But not if you get help from someone who has studied e-publishing and marketing for many years – and practices it all.
… or plan ahead for a publishing and book marketing seminar on a 5-day Caribbean Cruise on board of the Carnival Breeze, a brand new cruise liner, taking off in Miami, FL, on November 3, 2013. Make your travel plans soon, bookings for this offer start at the end of this month!
Hello, I’m Doris-Maria Heilmann with 111 Publishing. We are not only publishers of traditional and eBooks, we extensively market our authors books. We also host informative seminars for authors on the “art” of promotion.
During the last years, publishing books has totally changed. Nowadays we writers need to build our own platforms, identify our own demographics, and find our own market share – even if we are with a traditional publishing house! The profession has changed and we need to adapt in order to succeed.
Our unique “Seminar-At-Sea” will help authors to:
Strategically establish a writing career
Create our own brand
Identify our target readers
Find out how to reach these readers
Market and publicize our books on a budget
Find free book publishing funding sources
Soon I will be announcing all the details of this spectacular opportunity. But for now…mark November 3, 2013 on your calendars!! Connect with your peers and learn invaluable information to enhance your writing career…all while having the time of your life on an exotic Caribbean Cruise!!
If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are almost 600 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
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And don’t forget to spread the word on other social networking sites of your choice for other writers who might also enjoy this blog and find it useful. Thanks, Doris
A stunning book cover is one of the best marketing tools for any writer!
It is absolutely crucial, especially if you are self-publishing, to have an excellent book cover that grabs attention – from a 1-inch-size image.
Your cover image and title are your attention tools. If they attract a reader, this reader will have a look at your book’s content (“Look Inside”) and check out the book reviews to make a purchasing decision.
Top Ten Book Cover Tips:
In the Western world, people read left to right, top to bottom. Position your elements in appropriate levels of importance.
Use light (but never, ever white) on dark for dramatic effects (novels, spiritual, etc.) and dark on light for easy readability (self-help, how-to, business). There are always exceptions to the rule when you want your book to stand out with a certain color or theme.
When setting up your cover layout, allow another 0.25inch from the trim guides. This will ensure enough space around the cover’s edge and provide a more professional look.
Give your finished cover the thumbnail test. Make sure it will look crisp and polished when reduced way down for display on online bookstores like Amazon or Barnes&Noble.
In a bookstore the viewer will first look at the front cover; then flips to the back cover to read further. Draw him in with a catchy back header and short description of your book (blurb).
Visit local library and research as many book cover designs as possible. Identify what works, and what doesn’t work for you. You can learn just as much from badly designed books as from beautifully designed books.
Don’t center all the text on your cover or title page–this looks unpolished and unprofessional. Left aligning produce much cleaner lines.
Don’t use more than two different fonts on your cover – this includes counting bold, italic, underline etc. variations as different fonts – better less. This confuses the eye and sends a negative message to the viewer.
You can create a bar at the top to put in any important info about your book – awards won, important testimonials, etc.
Put your title “above the fold” – somewhere in the top half or third of your cover.
The iLicense Agreement Books Author’s End User (EULA) stipulates that e-books created with the application cannot be sold anywhere but on the Apple iBookstore.
More specifically, if you want to give your creation away free you can do that wherever you like and if you want to make money off it, you can sell it only from the iBookstore and Apple gets a 30% cut.
According to intellectual property lawyer Dan Booth, this will give Apple an exclusive “distributorship” of texts for sale:
“The most dangerous clause for authors is the distribution clause, which gives Apple the right to refuse to distribute anything created with the software. Since sales and distribution go hand in hand, Apple could use that clause to prevent any sale, for any reason. This would apparently allow Apple to lock up with contract rights what it could never get through copyright, total control over all sales.”
“Have you ever noticed that a person who becomes successful tends to continue to be successful, and on the other hand, a person who is a failure, tends to continue to fail? It is because of goals. Some of us have them, some don’t.” Earl Nightingale in “Strangest Secret”
Publishing a book is like opening a business. What is an entrepreneur supposed to do in order to start his business, become a successful owner and sell lots of … well, beautiful handbags or lamps for sample or get lots of orders to design gardens or build houses? She or he would have to set up a business plan and do plenty of research in their particular industry. The same research you will have to do:
Industry Overview – the big picture of publishing
Competition – their platform, marketing of their books, sales
Suppliers – retailers, aggregators, their conditions, prices, reputation
PR & Marketing – budget, free PR, social media, contacts
Business – contracts, calculations, accounting, legal
Markets – audio books, newspaper articles, foreign rights
Writing an ebook or a book for that matter, is not a Get -Rich-Quick exercise – even if some publications try to make you to believe this (“Write & Publish in 7 days”, “How I became Millionaire in three months”…). It takes at least several months until you have a following in social media or until search engines notice your webpage or blog and until you receive responses (and customers). This is the reason why it is so very important for you to start your marketing before you even start writing your book. Yes, that is right, pre-publishing promotion begins long before the book is ready and it is the key to your books success.
Unless you are solely writing for creative expression, as a hobby and not for sale or god-forbid, to make a living – your book has to pay its own way, contributing to greater opportunities and profits. If you’re not prepared to professionally self-publish, professionally promote and professionally market your book, then don’t go the self-publishing route!
Professional means hiring professionals: editors, graphic designers, book layout professionals and marketing staff – unless you are good in designing and marketing – but never do your own editing!
If you’re waiting until the book is finished to start marketing, you are already behind the curve. Finding, reaching and building your audience will take a lot of time. Don’t wait until you are sitting with a warehouse or garage full of books. Build the audience first and then deliver the product.
With self-publishing your success will double: Writing a great book & market it professionally.
The Wall Street Journal writes: “After being slow to adapt to digital technology, publishers don’t want to come late to what could be the most significant transformation of books and reading behavior since Gutenberg.
Random House is publishing a digital version of Katherine Boo’s hotly anticipated nonfiction book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” about residents of a Bombay slum, that includes video of the central characters that was shot over three years.
The first Harry Potter e-books are set to arrive this year on Pottermore, a Web site where fans can learn spells, read additional material by J.K Rowling and visit a virtual Hogwarts.
An enhanced e-book includes more than eight hours of recordings of the first lady’s candid conversations with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., plus photos and archival videos.
‘Careless Love,’ Peter Guralnick’s biography of The King, will be rereleased this summer with extras like videos, music clips and interviews.
In a move that could shape the market for enhanced e-books in dramatic ways, Apple announced Thursday that it will partner with publishers and educators to create interactive digital textbooks. As a sample title, Apple released a free version of “Life on Earth,” a multi-media biology book by E.O. Wilson, which includes interactive features such as animation of DNA, videos of ants and invasive trees, and quizzes.”
This would be a huge step forward for Apple to compete with Amazon and Barnes & Noble and would tremendously benefit independent authors who want to submit directly to Apple and not be forced to go through various Aggregators in order to have their ebooks submitted to the iPad.
One of the advantages that Amazon and Barnes&Noble have over Apple, is their own self-publishing program. Even though Apple does have a little known process to publish your own books – it involves a validated ePub file, ISBN identifiers from the Library of Congress and a willingness to run the daunting work of Apple’s contracts, paperwork, and use iTunes Connect. This entire process is very time consuming and many users are even unaware of its existence.
Instead of dealing directly with Apple, self-published authors have been using official Aggregator’s such as; Ingram, INscribe Digital, LibreDigital or Lulu or Bookwire in Europe. Publishing Aggregator’s are proving to be a popular option for people to self-publish with because they help you along the entire process and normally submit to many other bookstores. But they have their downsites: Most of them appear officially as the publisher and get a nice junk out of your royalties. Be aware: Even if these aggregators offer free upfront service to download to Apple, it will cut into your earnings, once your book is successful as they cut your royalties from Apple.
Who benefits from Apples new program?
If Apple does start their own self-pub service in the next few weeks many authors and publishers will adapt it because of Apples famous “ease of use” philosophy. Small and medium size publishing companies and organizations right now publish rich media titles or kids books and sell them as apps. In the future they have the option to publish ebooks with their same Apple developer account while making the process more streamlined.
How Apple iBooks needs to compete with Amazon: Better author tools
Erica Sadun wrote a great article about the deficiencies of Apples current publisher program:
Apple’s iBooks program currently allows authors to self-publish ebooks. Authors create their own business built around iTunes Connect, just as they do for self-published apps.So where does Apple have room to improve?iBooks tools are frustrating. You can publish on Amazon with little more than an account, a doc file and a smile. For iBooks, you need validated ePub files, ISBN identifiers from the Library of Congress and a willingness to run the gauntlet of contracts, paperwork, and the hell that is iTunes Connect.
It’s not that iTunes Connect is so unusuable from a web page perspective, it’s that its servers are often so loaded that each request may take several minutes to complete for each region. You can lose an entire day of work just moving through paperwork details.
Amazon makes it so simple and intuitive to list books that when you have to move over to iTunes, the difference hits you right in the face. If Apple is to make its mark in iBooks, it has to simplify publishing for independents.
There’s been a rush in the last year to get as many ebooks out as possible and the quality shows. Surveys show readers’s attitudes towards this. The overwhelming point respondents demanded in the survey was quality, even above cost of the ebooks.
When a market first develops, the early adopters are willing to forgive things because they’re the techies and they know this is new, but as the market broadens the people who usually read print books are not going to accept this.
The public will punish those ebook publishers buy simply not buying their titles. I’ve seen articles about people returning ebooks because of the errors in formatting, and you see blog comments and reviews on books that mention these mistakes. I’ve heard authors talk about a particular “publisher” (how he calls himself, also he is none) they were using due to very low cost, but the errors made them rethink it. The market will dictate the readers’ demands for error-free reading.
A white paper is highlighting common formatting errors that frequently pop up for publishers when transferring their titles to digital. The focus of the report was a solution list for five common problems in e-book formatting. The problems were:
Headers with Hyphens
Strange Characters Inserted into e-Books
Chapter titles, Headers, and Sub-Headers Separated on Different e-Book Pages
Unsightly Indentation, and Random Blank Pages in the e-Book
Overall e-Book Aesthetics
For example, the report states that the problem of sloppy indentation and blank pages are often caused when converting EPUBs from Microsoft Word. Many users of Word use “Tab” to indent paragraphs and “Enter” to insert line breaks, rather than using Word’s formatting styles. The solution: if hand-coding an e-book, one should apply styles to the document (in Word or InDesign) before converting the file to EPUB.
The report also outlined the various contributing factors that lead to errors, which would persist as long as e-books “remain second class citizens in the production workflow,” meaning that print workflow still dictates e-book workflow at the traditional publishing houses. Creating a single XML file at the outset of production would address many of the e-book errors currently plaguing publishers.
111Publishing was named after a series of guidebooks, who's titles are all starting with "111 Tips" and is a sequel of a book and magazine publishing company, founded in the 1980's in Europe. At that time the focus was on technical manuals, guide books and magazines in the aviation and travel sector, and expanded now into a wide variety of non-fiction books, travel guides and short stories. Our publishing company is located in Nova Scotia, Canada. We are committed to publish & market books and to help authors on their way to success.
“Nobody ever made money writing a book – only by selling it”. Are you one of those writers, hiding behind your laptop, terrified at the thought of “marketing”, because your skill is writing – not marketing? Authors need BOOK PROMOTION, but don’t want to appear like a “used car salesman”. Even if you are signed up with an international publishing house: You have to do your own book marketing and run a viable social media presence! We can help: Individual training and customized marketing consultations for your book and your author platform. Register for the online consultations and start your road to success!