This is the next in my on-going series of post on ebook creation; it focusses, obviously, on ebook conversion online. It was originally posted over at Joel Friedlander’s wonderful site for indie publishers, TheBookDesigner.com
The Convertible Cloud: Ebook Conversion Online
Previously, I’ve compared some of the computer apps that you can use to convert your manuscript into an ebook.
This month I’ll talk about online conversion tools — all of the ones I’m going to discuss are attached to the retailers and distributors that you are going to be interested in.
Eye of the Hurricane: Top Ebook Retailers
Let’s start with the most popular retailers and their conversion tools (or lack thereof).
Once again, I’m assuming that you’re in the US — which isn’t a given, I know. (Most of this information is true for non-US publishers as well.) Also, I’m defining “manuscript” as synonymous with “Microsoft Word document” (either .doc or .docx), since that’s the most common file format for authors to work with, and that’s the format I used in comparing the desktop conversion tools.
As before, these are the major retailers you will probably be looking at:
Continue reading The Convertible Cloud: Ebook Conversion Online
Last month I discussed how to clean up your manuscript to prepare it for ebook conversion. This time I’m going to be looking at how to do the same thing with images.
There’s one big difference, however: where the advice that I gave you about getting your text squeaky clean was equally valid for preparing to convert your words to either print or ebook format, these suggestions are ebook-only.
What’s the difference?
Well, in either case, you’re going to start by finding the perfect picture to go with your words. You’re going to crop the picture (cutting out any extraneous bits) and enhance it (or get someone who knows how to do so) so that it looks beautiful.
However, there are two enormous differences between the image files you want to use in an ebook and ones you’re going to get printed on paper:
In a print book, color is expensive, while in an ebook beautiful color costs (essentially) the same as black and white.
On the other hand, in print, you want the image file that goes off to the printer to be as high quality (that is to say, large) as possible, while in an ebook, every kilobyte costs you (I’ll explain how below).
Continue reading In the Picture: Prepping Images for Your Ebook
This is the second in my series of blog posts about ebook creation. It was originally posted on Joel Friedlander’s wonder resource site, TheBookDesigner.com.
Last time I talked about just what an ebook is — a website in a box. Ebooks come in a number of flavors, but for the purposes of this discussion I’m going to stick with the most common and most malleable format of ebook, the ePub file that is the basis of all of the major retailers’ ebook offerings.
There are four basic ways to create an ebook (that is, an ePub file):
- From scratch
- Saving from a word-processing or page-layout application into ePub format
- Using a conversion app or online service
- Hiring a designer
The trade-off among these methods involve quality, time, and price. As the old saying goes, you can generally pick two. In order to get all three, you’re going to need to become an ebook maven yourself, which will take a fair amount of time, but which will allow you to control all of the variables yourself. Let’s look at the options, and you can see whether that’s the road you want to take. Continue reading 4 Ways to Create an Ebook
I was asked recently which file format was better, ePub or PDF. (Just as well that the Kindle-only mobi format was left out! It’s easy to convert from an ePub file anyway.)
Which is better depends on what purpose the file is going to serve. Continue reading Which Ebook Format Should I Choose, ePub or PDF?
Recently, I was honored to have been invited to post on Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer on the subject of ebooks — a subject I love talking about, having been designing ebooks since 2010. (In this industry that makes me practically an old-timer.) This is the first of a monthly series of posts on the subject. It was originally released here.
There are lots of very complex questions when it comes to ebooks:
- text and image formatting,
- different file formats,
- various workflows for creating ebooks,
- and much more.
For this post, before we get into the more esoteric issues of ebook design and publishing, I’d like to start by defining the subject: just what is an ebook?
This may sound like a very simple question to answer, but it isn’t as straightforward as you might think, and being able to answer it correctly will make many of the thornier issues of creating ebooks just a bit easier.
Continue reading What IS an Ebook?
Enhanced ebooks have been a cause of much excitement over the past few years — and with good reason. One of the things that an ebook can do that a paper-and-ink book can’t is to add embedded video and sound. (There are many other ways to enhance an ebook— but those are the most common enhancements.) Here’s a chance to make the book something truly new!
At Bay Area Independent Publishers Association, we have a group that is meeting regularly, discussing enhanced ebooks, led by a long-time digital publisher, Joe Sinclaire. One of the members of that group recently shot me an email recently asking about how long a video she could reasonably add to an ebook — two minutes? Five minutes?
Here’s my answer: Continue reading How Long Can Video in Ebooks Be?
This is a plea from the heart to all of the page-layout/book-design folks out there on behalf of us lowly ebook designers, but it’s also, I’m afraid, a bit of a rant. Bear with me.
Here’s the gist: PLEASE DON’T USE THE SPACE BAR OR THE RETURN KEY TO MAKE YOUR LINES LOOK PRETTY!
I’ve worked on two ebook conversions recently where the designers had used spaces (or possibly hairspaces) and line feeds to make the pages flow cleanly and attractively on the printed page. They would use the hairspace/space between letters in a word and resize it to make the letters space out attractively — this was usually in the chapter heads or subheads, since spacing in display type can sometimes be tricky. And they’d use the return key (or possibly the shift-return combination) to force a line break in the middle of the paragraph — to avoid hyphenation, for example.
The problem is that when an ebook designer takes your book and converts it into HTML (since ebooks are just self-contained web pages), those little adjustments lose their meaning and are treated for what they are: spaces in the middle of words or paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences.
Continue reading A Plea to Book Designers: InDesign Is Not a Linotype Machine