What You May Be Asked
- Where to publish
- How to format
- Digital rights management – DRM
There are many outlets to purchase e-books. The major players are
KDP is also an e-publisher. It provides conversion as well as a store.
Conversion and Distributors
The most popular third-party e-book conversion and distributor provides many services for e-book publishers. There’s no up-front cost, but a percentage of sales. Smashwords distributes to major e-book sellers and to library services, except — Kindle and Google Play. The advantage for many writers is Smashwords handles the formatting for the various companies.
Lulu is a well-known print-on-demand company, which has expanded into e-publishing. They have a downloadable guide.
Bookbaby offers a full self-publishing package, which includes print, e-pub, and print on demand. Bookbaby charges an up-front fee, but advertises that they don’t take a percentage of sales. In addition to a free e-publishing guide, Bookbaby also offers other free publications of interest to writers.
I recommend downloading the free guides from Smashwords, Lulu, and Bookbaby.
As e-publishing gains more popularity, companies that specialize in e-book conversions are now available. These organizations do only the conversion process and rarely have any distribution component. Here are a few to look at:
A PDF is easy for most computer users now. It is not always the best option for an e-reader. The format is fixed and loses some of the features of an e-reader. I provide PDF option for my books because they are easy for readers to print.
EPUB is used by more e-retailers than the others.
MOBI is the foundation format for Kindle AZW format. MOBI formats can be sold on websites and published to KDP with fewer problems than the other formats may have.
Another issue with file types is what is acceptable and easy to upload to the various companies. The Word DOC is the easiest . . . not DOCX. While it will upload, Microsoft has a habit of including extra code that creates glitches.
Although companies like KDP will accept a PDF file, that file type can be full of problems.
What to Look for During Editing
An e-book, in most cases, will not and cannot look like print. An e-book is one long page. What appear to be pages on the e-reader are really how the device renders the information, which is based on the preferences of the reader.
Sidebars and Pull Quotes
As an editor you probably won’t see pull quotes, but you may see sidebars. If your client plans to have the additional material in a sidebar, it will need to be handled differently than with print. These additional items may be added as graphic text boxes as explained below. Recommendations are
- if the material is integral to the manuscript, then include it.
- if it’s supplemental, put it in an appendix.
Paragraphs and Line Spacing
There is a general rules for paragraph indentation and line spacing.
- Fiction indents the paragraphs with no line spacing between paragraphs.
- Non-fiction – no indentation, except maybe the first paragraph of a chapter, and has a line space between paragraphs.
Don’t use tabs or spaces for the indent. Use Format Paragraph tools to set the indentation information.
Charts, Graphs, Tables, Photos
These require special handling. While these components may not be hard to include, your client needs to know the pitfalls.
One problem that comes up is landscape layout. It doesn’t work in e-books because of screen rotation.
All graphics need to be created in a graphics program. Some writers don’t have these programs or know how to use them.
There are different graphic file types. The correct type is important to the flowable nature of e-books.
Your client will need to check with the company being used for the following information.
- Dimensions – Maximum and minimum height and width.
- Quality or resolution – Generally 72 ppi
- File size – Each e-book distributer has specifications for the image file size.
- Color – Consider older e-readers may render all photos in greyscale. Check for clarity.
Tables and Graphs
Tables and graph should be inserted as an image following all of the guidelines for an image.
Image File Formats
Graphics should be in one of the following file formats: BMP, GIF, JPG (JPEG), PNG, or SVG. JPG is most universally accepted.
Sidebars and pull quotes can be inserted as text box graphics. This requires extra formatting in a graphics program. Follow distribution companies’ instructions for handling and inserting graphics.
Headers and Footers
All headers and footers need to be removed. Footnotes need to be changed to endnotes.
Other than standard keyboard symbols, symbols don’t render well on most e-readers without special programming codes. If symbols are necessary, it’s best to use a graphic.
Other Little Details
Use standard fonts because fancy fonts don’t translate well to e-books, if at all. Generally Serif for body text and San Serif for chapter heads and sub-heads are used.
Use simple titles to make creating a table of contents easier.
With the search function of e-readers, an index isn’t necessary.
- Check manuscript for formatting problems
- Recommend distributors
- Guide through e-publisher process