Writing your own Ebook – Part Twelve Finale– Images – and Useful Links


Images in Ebooks

There are two types of EPUB Ebooks: Standard Layout, that allow text to re-flow and Fixed Layout where the page layouts are fixed and text does NOT re-flow.

Standard Layout is used for books that are mostly text and they may have images embedded between paragraphs, or on separate pages. This is the format that is most widely used and is compatible with the widest range of Reading devices.

Fixed Layout is used when: you need to have a background colour or to wrap text around images; if your pages have aspect ratios that you don’t want to change or if you want to have horizontal orientation or columns of text.

For most fiction books and many non-fiction books the Standard Layout is fine and I will only address that format here.

Image Guidelines

Different Ebook retailers have different guidelines regarding images and you need to read these if you want your images to appear correctly. However, there are some general guidelines that will help you avoid some common pitfalls and avoid rejection of your file.

Formats

Save all your photos and graphics “.png” or “.jpg”. You also need to ensure that images use Images the ‘RGB” colour space, not CMYK. If you use Photoshop or some other image editor you will be able to check the file and make any change there.

File names

Replace all spaces in the image filename with underlines, or eliminate the spaces completely. Spaces in the filename can cause rejection when using EpubCheck. The operating systems in E-readers are not consistent in how they read spaces and the spaces can affect how your book displays.

Example: instead of “photo 21.jpg” use “photo_21jpg” or “photo21.jpg.”

Captions

To make your images/pictures searchable, include that there is a text description of your picture below the image as well as above. The image may appear on a separate page and still needs to be identified for the reader.

Text Wrap

Avoid wrapping text around images. Use in-line images with text above and below for best results.

Tables and Diagrams

You need to convert Tables, Pie charts, etc. into images but make sure to test your Ebook to make sure that the .jpg or .png files are large enough to be read but not too large. Remember that once converted to an image file the fonts in the table or diagram will not resize if the reader changes font size.

Resolution

Originally all images were set to a resolution of 72ppi, the same resolution that is used for the majority of internet images. In recent years, the resolution of E-readers has increased and Ebooks are also being read on high resolution devices such as Tablets, Phones, and high resolution computer screens such as the Retina. Many web-photos are now set at 96 ppi instead of the older 72 ppi standard.

If you want your images to look good on a wider range of devices the best option today is to save them at 150ppi. This is compromise between quality and size because we still need to keep the size of the file as small as possible for a few important reasons.

  1. Smaller downloads are more friendly for your customer.
  2. You may have an additional charge from your E-retailer when your customer downloads a large file. Amazon charges per MB downloaded.
  3. Some E-retailers have limits on upload filesizes.

If you have a large number of colour photographs your file-size can be quite large. In this case you can always revert to 72ppi OR convert your original files to greyscale. Both of these will have a significant effect of file-size.

Most conversation software will give you an option for the Resolution of your images and you can see it there. If you are making your own conversion you can test higher or lower settings to see the file-size you get.

Adjusting and Resizing your images

Your images may come from a number of sources and are likely to come in different sizes and resolutions. If you want to get the best results in the final Ebook you need to do some work on the photos in Photoshop, or some other image editing software.

Whatever you do, DO NOT just drag or copy an image directly into Word and then resize it using the resize handles on the image. All this does is to change the apparent size. The image document dimensions DO NOT CHANGE! This can cause all sorts of problems when converting to Ebook if the original is too big.

Make all your image adjustments OUTSIDE of Word and then place the images in Word. Apart from avoiding size problems, will get a much better feel for how the reader will see the picture in the final book.

The best time to adjust resolution is also BEFORE placing them in your document. Make the changes when you are editing your photos. This gives you a chance to check that images do not have very high resolution. Sometimes scans are made at 600 or 1200 ppi and these need to be adjusted for size and resolution before placing. Make sure that none of the images are set to more than 300 ppi. Anything above that is just a waste of space for Ebooks.

Image Size

A good guideline for full-page images is to keep them under 590 pixels wide (under 500 pixels for Smashwords) and under 750 pixels high. This will give them a better chance of being displayed properly on most devices. If you are planning to have an image displayed between paragraphs, so that you get a mix of text and image on the same page it is best to keep the height dimensions under 300 pixels so that there is still space for around half a page of text either above or below the image.

Appearance

Ebooks will have page breaks wherever needed based on both the screen size and orientation and on the user settings for font size and spacing. Your images may appear where you don’t expect them, at the top or bottom of a page or isolated on a single page. The quality of the image will also depend on the specific device used. Keep this in mind when selecting your images. If very fine detail is important to your image it may be lost on a low resolution E-Ink screen. If some fine content is important use a zoomed-in photo to show it or describe it fully in the text.

Position

Whatever word processor you use for writing beware of using “floating” images. If you do this the image is not anchored and may not appear where you want it to be. You need to Anchor images. To check if an image is “floating” click on the image and try to drag it. If it can be dragged to a new position it is floating.

To anchor images, right click on the image, then click “Format / Picture / Layout”, and select “In Line With Text”. When you have saved this setting you can then centre the image using your already prepared “Centred” style. When you do this, your photo will appear centred in the E-reader screen. If you leave it left-aligned it will look odd. This also avoids having an indent if the “Normal” style is applied. If the image is the full width of a reader and an indented is part of the applied paragraph style it may push the image off the page if it does not fit. If this happens your file may be rejected by the E-retailer.

Images on separate pages

If you want to have all your images displayed on a page of their own, some of the converters offer this as an option when converting. If not, you can force the issue by applying a heading style that has the “Page break Before” option ticked in the paragraph options.

Text in Images

If avoidable do not use text as part of an image. There is no guarantee that the reader will be able to read it properly on all devices. Put the explanatory text above or below the image so that the text can be re-sized to meet the customer’s needs.

Pricing your Book

In an earlier Post we talked about the impact of file size & download costs and the erosion of your profit margin when you have Witholding Tax, VAT/Sales Tax and distributor charges deducted from your sales revenue before you get YOUR cut. Clearly the whole issue of pricing is key to making your book a commercial success. If you have a book with a lot of images you need to make sure that you keep them small enough to stay within sensible limits. I am repeating a couple of paragraphs here to remind you of the issue.

If you distribute through Amazon you need to keep an eye on the final size of the file. This is not generally a problem with a narrative book but as soon as you start adding complex formatting and illustrations/images the file size will increase rapidly, especially with Kindle files.

There is a limit as to the size of the file you can upload to their site but you need to keep in mind that Amazon charges a delivery fee of $0.15 per MB. This is deducted after all other costs so basically comes from YOUR profit margin.

If you have a 10MB Ebook will cost you $1.50 per sale for your customer’s download.

If you have a complex book with lots of lovely photos and it has a size of, say, 50MB it will cost you $7.50 for every download. You really need to look at your pricing policy when you have a big book or you might end up owing them money for every Ebook you sell.

A final note

Narrative nonfiction with just few images can be a good DIY project. However, if you are planning anything more complex you can save a lot of time and trouble by getting some help. So, unless you’re an accomplished Ebook formatter, with all the software tools available hand to do the job completely, add the cost of some professional help to your overall cost analysis.


Useful Links to FREE Software

If you need a free e-book reader to use on your computer the following programs are good:

Kindle Previewer for .mobi files
Allows you to simulate different Kindle readers to see how the book will appear to a reader.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?docId=1000765261

Calibre e-book manager
Can view all types of e-books modify and convert. Very useful.
http://calibre-ebook.com/download_windows
http://calibre-ebook.com/download_osx

Important Note: If you use Calibre to view your EPUB file book it inserts an additional file inside the META-INF directory with the title “calibre_bookmarks.txt”. This may cause a problem during EPUB validation so if you are converting to EPUB don’t open the final file with Calibre before you upload.

Guidelines from Major aggregators:

Amazon Kindle
https://kdp.amazon.com/,
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A3UPL1JFRLJ2II

Barnes & Noble Nook Press
https://www.nookpress.com/

Kobo
http://www.kobobooks.com/kobowritinglife
http://merch.kobobooks.com/writing_life/images/kwl_faq_120718.pdf

Smashwords Style Guide
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52

Apple
If you plan to go directly, using Apple iBooks Author, here is the link: http://www.apple.com/support/mac-apps/ibooksauthor/

If you just want guidelines about formatting for Apple try https://itunesconnect.apple.com/docs/iBooksAssetGuide5.1Revision2.pdf

Text Editor for PC

Notepad++ This is a free, open source, program. http://www.notepad-plus-plus.org/

Probably the best Notepad alternative for Windows PCs ‑ and much better if you ever want to edit the HTML in your Ebook.

Text Editors for MAC

Unfortunately Notepad++ is not available for Mac so here are a couple of decent alternatives that are also FREE – and these have versions that work on the PC and other OS’s too.

http://editra.org/download
http://www.jedit.org/index.php?page=download

Tools to Crack open EPUB & MOBI files

eCanCrusher, from Rorohiko.com is designed to convert an EPUB folder into a compressed .epub file or vice versa. It needs no installation. To convert, you just drag/drop an EPUB folder or an .EPUB file onto the eCanCrusher application icon. There are versions for both Windows and MAC: http://www.docdataflow.com/ecancrusher/

Cracking open a Kindle file is more complex than working with an EPUB but if you need to do so you can use KindleUnpack (formerly MobiUnpack) to unpack and inspect the contents of DRM-free Kindle Books or MOBI files. You can then modify the content as needed and rebuild the original with Kindlegen.

The program is Open Source and you can get it here… http://www.mobileread.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=130313&d=1414622013

And you can get more info here… http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/KindleUnpack

Validate EPUBs

The Online EPUB Validator is available at: http://validator.idpf.org/ If you want to use the downloadable version from your computer you need to be sure that you have Java installed. If you are an Expert user you can download the core Epubcheck software from: https://github.com/idpf/epubcheck.

If you get an error message that is not readily understandable check on the EPubcheck website https://github.com/IDPF/epubcheck/wiki/Errors and see if they give more details before you start a wider web search.

Pagina epubChecker
http://www.pagina-online.de/produkte/epub-checker/#c1067.

You can download the Pagina checker from:
http://www.pagina-online.de/produkte/epub-checker/#c1067.

That’s it for now!

Once you have had a chance to read through all the posts, and try out some of the things we talked about, we would welcome your questions, comments and suggestions for other Ebook subjects that you would like to read about.

Next week there will be a Q&A running all week where we will ask you to post your questions in the comment sections of the posts so that everyone might benefit from the answers.

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

Links for the previous 11 parts to the series

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/making-your-own-ebooks-part-five-what-can-you-do-with-your-word-processor-to-make-your-ebooks-better/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/writing-your-own-ebook-part-six-creating-the-ebook-framework/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/making-your-own-ebook-part-seven-finishing-the-framework-for-the-book/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/making-your-own-ebook-part-eight-how-to-clean-the-formatting-in-your-word-file/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/making-your-own-ebook-part-nine-making-a-fresh-start/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/making-your-own-ebook-part-ten-metadata-your-digital-book-cover/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/making-your-own-ebook-part-eleven-fonts-2/

Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

 ebook-dr-1

After over 30 years as a senior executive across the cable, telecommunications and cable television industries, David Cronin founded the Indie Publishing company Moyhill in 2004. Already involved with computers since the mid 1970s he quickly made the transition to book designer and publisher and the first book that Moyhill published in 2004, The Red Tailed Hawk, in Spanish won best digital print book in the UK that year.

Since then Moyhill has set up authors as their own publishers and has formatted several award winning novels and non-fiction titles. It is essentially a one-man operation and this enables a one-to-one relationship with authors throughout the entire process.

After this series has been completed next week David will be holding a Q&A session via the blog for those authors who have read the series but still have questions.

If after that you feel you need more assistance to give your book a final polished format then you can contact him direct on TheEbookDoctor@gmail.com

 

 

Making Your Own Ebook – Part Eleven – Fonts


Fonts are software and all fonts are not FREE! You may be liable to pay the owner of the font for its use if you embed a font in your Ebook that is not a “FREE” public domain font and you do not have a specific licence to use the font. Just because the font is included in your computer does NOT mean that you can use it when you distribute an Ebook.

Whatever font you set, when you are formatting your book, it will probably be overridden by the E-reader’s internal fonts. You CAN force your chosen font but if that particular font is not included in the E-reader’s built-in set of fonts, you may get some unpredictable results.

Test it!

If you have a physical E-reader, or a PC/Mac/Tablet based E-reader, load your book and see if it uses YOUR chosen font or the user-selected font. Look at the Settings / Options to see if you can see YOUR font in the list. If you are using accented letters for languages other than English, other symbols that are not normally found on the keyboard, or an unusual base font then make a test file with the odd letters and test them by converting to Ebook and see what happens.

Font licences

You CAN override the E-reader’s choice and one way is by embedding the font in the Ebook, but do this only if you have a licence to Embed. Unless you bought the Font and confirmed that it includes a licence to allow it to be embedded in E-books you will probably not have permission to use the font in this way. The general terms & conditions included with most fonts do not specifically allow Ebook distribution rights, and the fonts included with your computer’s operating system and word processor software are also not licensed for embedding in EPUB or Kindle files.

You should not have a problem in general as most conversion software will include the “Desired” font and also include the general definition of “Serif Font” or “Sans Serif Font” alongside the desired font. When this is done the E-reader can select its default, or user set, Serif or Sans Serif font instead.

What is the problem with Embedding Fonts

Software applications that convert from Word Processor format to Ebook format usually offer you the choice to “Embed” fonts. When you Embed the font you actually copy the font definition file from your system into a directory inside the Ebook package.

When your Ebook is downloaded by a customer they will also be downloading a copy of the font file. This is interpreted as distribution of the font software because a full font definition file is included inside the Ebook package, and could be extracted and used by the person who has acquired the Ebook.

When embedding a font, there are methods available to “obfuscate” the font, to hide and encrypt the font information so that it cannot be extracted. However, the font can only be decrypted if there is a current licence for the font on the machine that is trying to open it so not many readers will be able to interpret an encrypted font file. Also, some aggregators will NOT allow encrypted fonts in an upload.

Barnes & Noble (Nook) says: “Embedded fonts are allowed, but the publisher should own the right to include licensed fonts. Encrypted fonts are not allowed.

Amazon (Kindle) recommends using the default set of fonts installed on Kindle devices and apps because they have been tuned for high quality rendering. They also say “Only embed fonts that are not currently available on devices and apps.”

If you do not Embed the font in your file you have no problem since you are not “copying ” the software just saying that if this font is available, use it.

Fonts Availaable in some of the main brands of E-readers:

Kobo Touch: Georgia, Avenir, Amasis, Delima, Felbridge, Gill Sans, Rockwell

Kobo Books for iPad: Baskerville, Verdana, Georgia and Trebuchet

Nook Touch: Caecilia, Malabar, Amasis, Gill Sans, Helvetica Neue, Trebuchet

Nook Color: Century School Book, Dutch, Georgia, Ascender Sans, Trebuchet MS, Gill Sans

Original Nook: Helvetica Neue, Amasis, Light Classic

Kindle 3: Caecilia, Caecilia condensed, Sans serif

Kindle: – Other models just have, Caecilia

Sony Reader PRS-T1: Original, Amasis, Frutiger Neue, Verdana, Univers Next, Really No 2, Palatino nova

Sony Reader: Older versions have only one default serif font option Dutch Roman (Dutch 801)

iBooks: Baskerville, Cochin, Palatino, Times New Roman and Verdana

Kindle for iPad: Caecilia

Wattpad: Georgia, Courier, Arial, AppleGothic, Courier New, and Zapfino

Serif or Sans Serif?

In printed books and magazines Serif fonts are generally used for all body text and it is rare, particularly in older books, to see Serif fonts used for anything except headings. There are good reasons for this but the most important is that, where resolution is high, Serif Fonts are more readable than Sans Serif fonts.

So why have Sans Serif fonts become so popular in recent times?

A couple of quick definitions:  Serif fonts have fine details (serifs) at the end of the letter stroke, the bars on the top and bottom of the “I” for instance. Sans-serif fonts do not have these little flourishes (from the French “Sans” = “Without” serifs).

Sans Serif fonts came into prominence in the early computer days because early computer screens were so bad (very low resolution) that they could not display the fine detail of the serifs. Sans Serif fonts were used as they were generally considered to be more legible on computer screens and became recognized as a result.

Resolution of Ebook readers: I did a rough & ready survey of some of the more popular E-readers and found that the average resolution in pixels per inch (ppi) was around 220. Compare this to the average LCD computer screen which will have a resolution of 72 – 130 ppi; Newspapers around 90 – 150 ppi: magazines around 250 – 300 ppi and more than 300 ppi for high end printing.

Good E-readers have a much higher density of pixels than the average computer screen and compare well with printed material so serif fonts will work well. The choice of built-in fonts seems to support this idea.

Note about ppi and dpi. I know that the purists among you may argue about comparing print media and digital screens using ppi for both. The comparison above is about “relative” resolution for printed material since you don’t have “pixels” in printing.

My Recommendations

If your book is fiction or non-fiction and is mainly text based:

  • Ignore everything except font size, and whether your fonts are Serif or Sans Serif. Let the readers and E-reader device sort out the fonts they prefer to use. The conversion software should identify the main fonts used and put in Serif or Sans Serif as an option in the CSS for the Ebook.
  • Use font colour sparingly. Over 97% of readers are E-ink and only 3% have colour. With the rise of tablets colour may make a difference but in reality black on white works best for type.
  • Don’t try to force YOUR preferred font.
  • Don’t embed fonts.

If your book is has a lot of formatting, illustrations or tables the solution with the least pain is to get someone else to prepare the Ebook for you. There are some things that just work better if you get a pro to do it for you (like dentistry or eye surgery. Ouch!). Once you have passed over your originals it is THEIR problem, not YOURS.

For more complex books you also need to think about whether a standard EPUB or MOBI file is your best option. You may need to move to “Fixed EPUB”, but the old E-readers will not ba able to display exactly what you want and will have no colour..

If the appearance of the book, layout, colours and fonts are important the you will need to move to PDF, or print to achieve what you want.

More to come for links to free softward tools, images and pricing..

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/making-your-own-ebooks-part-five-what-can-you-do-with-your-word-processor-to-make-your-ebooks-better/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/writing-your-own-ebook-part-six-creating-the-ebook-framework/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/making-your-own-ebook-part-seven-finishing-the-framework-for-the-book/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/making-your-own-ebook-part-eight-how-to-clean-the-formatting-in-your-word-file/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/making-your-own-ebook-part-nine-making-a-fresh-start/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/making-your-own-ebook-part-ten-metadata-your-digital-book-cover/

Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

ebook-dr-1

After over 30 years as a senior executive across the cable, telecommunications and cable television industries, David Cronin founded the Indie Publishing company Moyhill in 2004. Already involved with computers since the mid 1970s he quickly made the transition to book designer and publisher and the first book that Moyhill published in 2004, The Red Tailed Hawk, in Spanish won best digital print book in the UK that year.

Since then Moyhill has set up authors as their own publishers and has formatted several award winning novels and non-fiction titles. It is essentially a one-man operation and this enables a one-to-one relationship with authors throughout the entire process.

After this series has been completed next week David will be holding a Q&A session via the blog for those authors who have read the series but still have questions.

If after that you feel you need more assistance to give your book a final polished format then you can contact him direct on TheEbookDoctor@gmail.com

 

Making Your Own Ebook – Part Ten – Metadata, Your Digital Book “Cover”


In the Digital world, your book’s Metadata may be the only way that customers will ever find your book! When a customer types search words into a search engine, and some of those words match your Metadata, your book will appear in the search results.

Metadata provides the trail that leads the customer to your book and is a vital tool for all independent authors and publishers. It is one of those things that few authors take the time to focus on. It gets forgotten about and it is only when prompted, by Amazon or Smashwords, when the book is being uploaded, that we quickly throw together the information that they ask for. Often just the bare minimum of data is entered but the “bare minimum” will not get your book noticed. If you spend a little more time / thought on what goes into your book’s Metadata it can make a big difference to your marketing impact.

What is Metadata?

In the world of Digital Publication Metadata is the equivalent of the book cover in the Print Publication world. The Metadata enables the E-retailer to categorise your book properly.

Metadata is the data about your book. As well as your Book Title, it holds your book description, the genre/classification of your book, and those all-important Keywords. The Metadata is probably more important than the cover and, if your Metadata is poorly crafted, your customer may never get the chance to see your cover.

Example: If you have used Amazon and other online stores, you will have seen instant promotions on your search page along the lines of “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…”or “If you liked that, then you might like this….” The E-retailers do this by searching the Metadata, that YOU have given them, of their book stock. This is a great way to have your book promoted to potential customers who have already declared that they are interested in a book that is “similar” to yours.

Why Metadata is so important – Competition!

Something in the region of 500,000 new English language titles are released each year. Then, even if you look at just the past five years, you have at least 2.5 million ‘current’ titles available to the potential reader. If your book does not stand out in some way, how will your potential customers ever sift through all those titles and end up picking yours? If you think these are just “theoretical” figures, take a look below!

Amazon is a great source of information, so I went into the Kindle store on both the USA site and the UK site and it immediately showed me how many Kindle books are available. Here are the results (yellow highlight) from a look on 01 Feb 2015!

Survey 1 - Books on Kindle USA 01 Feb 2015Survey 2 - Books on Kindle UK 01 Feb 2015There are differences in the number of Ebooks offered by Kindle depending on your country but we can safely say that they have over 3.5 million books to choose from.

When you look down the left side of the same page you will find the books sorted into. categories and will see what the competition is like in your particular genre as they list the number of books available in each classification.

When you upload your book to your own website, or to any of the book aggregators, you have to make sure that your book stands out from others. We have talked about making sure that the quality of your book is high, and that the cover needs to have “instant” impact but this assumes that someone has already “found” your book. How can you tip the balance in your favour as people search for books to read?

In reality, we all know that the only thing that makes a real difference is Marketing; spreading the word, in every possible way, to your potential audience. Many authors make very credible efforts to do that, through Social Media, Radio & Press interviews, etc. but this effort tends to happen only at the time that the book is launched and the effects inevitably wear off over a relatively short period and the book’s “profile” begins to fade. We have to find a way to get an edge in the longer term so that sales of the book can continue over time. Taking a little extra time to get your book’s Metadata just right, is one way to achieve that.

Keywords

Think about how your customer will search for a book. Web searches are becoming the primary way that readers look for what will be next on their reading list.

Metadata included in websites and Ebooks to enable Search Engines to find them more easily. When a website is launched, one of the most important jobs that the developers do is to look at Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A big part of SEO is about the “Keywords” for the site. Although many major search engines, like Google, no longer factor in the Keyword metatags in search results, they DO read the Description tags and the Keywords you use there WILL be examined by Search Engines.

Your Ebook Metadata has to be crafted in the same way as the Metadata of a website if it is to be “found” more frequently than other sites during searches. The first step is always to identify the Keywords, the words that a searcher will use when looking for a book like yours.

Identifying Keywords

Creating the Metadata for your book is an essential part of your marketing campaign and will need time and effort if it is going to work for you. Treat it like you would treat your “Book Poster” in the electronic bookshop’s window.

The Keywords for the book must be selected carefully. You have to think about how they will work when your customer is searching for a book to read. They should not just be the first words that spring to mind when filling in a form when you submit it to an E-retailer. You are an author; crafting words is your business and these words are vital. So take the time to craft them well.

If you know who your audience is, and you can fill out a form, you can create metadata for your book.

The process

You need to step into your customers’ shoes and think about the words and short phrases that they would use when searching for a book in any search engine. When looking for something new to read, we rarely have the patience to “Browse” along a bookshelf looking at covers, it is just too slow. Today we Search, and we search using a few key words to isolate what we are looking for. Your job is to find search words that potential customers might use that will lead them to YOUR book.

You can use the help of anyone when gathering keywords, and if someone has read the book ask them to contribute keywords. Think about the genre of the book first. If your book is a thriller, a mystery, a romance, etc. get this in. Most people have a favourite genre and will search within that genre for new books. Your first list should be as long as possible and should contain anything that is unique and identifiable that might be included in a search.

Some starter ideas:

  • Title: Some SEO experts suggest that you include the full title and subtitle of your book in your Description / Keywords.
  • Genre: Include words that describe the category of your book, such as “novel” or “essays” or “collection.” You will have space elsewhere to select from a list of generic genres for your book and you need to choose something there that best describes your book. However the available lists of categories are not always specific enough so you can always add something much more accurate in the Keywords and description. E.g. “romantic period action thriller….” This helps focus on the precise audience for your book.
  • Words: Use adjectives. Tell your customers how they will feel when they read your book. Name the emotions: fear, love, happy, excited, thrilled…
  • Characters: Talk about the characters, their state of mind, their emotions, the location, the time period…

Once you have your master list you need to do some sorting and prioritising. I have found that the best way to start the sorting is to pick out the top three “Definite Yes”, and then the bottom three “Definite No”. Then go through the rest of the list in the same way till you get a shorter list on the “Yes” side. Repeat the process until you have a manageable number of words & phrases. Aim for a final list of 10 to 20

When you use “phrases” in the Keyword list you need to avoid repeating words.

Your Book Description

Once you have your keywords list, you need to make sure that you use as many of them as possible when writing your book description, when creating tags on blog posts, and in any of your other social media activities. It is best to target the search engines’ needs first and users second when composing the Description. Beautifully crafted prose won’t work here; you need to keep it short. Keep the number of characters under 900. Some search engines will only look at the first 100–150 characters so get to the point quickly and include Keywords as early as possible.

Keep in mind that you will have more leeway on some E-retailers than others in terms of the number of Keywords you can enter and in the number of words that you can use in your descriptions. Make a variety to match your needs; short, medium and long. For Social media sites a maximum of 150 characters may work better.

Entering Metadata

Any of the Ebook conversion software packages that you are likely to use has the facility to add metadata. This is the best place to enter your data if you are doing the conversion yourself. It is much simpler to enter the data when converting. If you want to change the Metadata after conversion it is not so easy; you have to crack open the Ebook file, make the changes and then reassemble the E-file.

If you publish with any of the Ebook aggregators, like Amazon or Smashwords, they all offer the opportunity to enter your Metadata during the submission process for the book.

ISBN Metadata

If you own the ISBN for your book you will use the same Metadata information when you register the book in the ISBN databases of Nielsen (UK) or Bowker (US). The advantage of owning the ISBN is that you own the Registered Metadata related to that ISBN and you can change it whenever you want. It is another opportunity to get the details of your book circulated.

If you have more than one book to write, or want to market under your own Publisher name, you may want to get your own batch of ISBNs. However, you do NOT need to own the ISBN to publish with Amazon or Smashwords. Both will supply a unique number free of charge. If you take advantage of the “Free” ISBN (or ASIN from Kindle) it is the E-Retailer whose name appears as publisher and who controls the Metadata related to the ISBN.

One point to note is that if you want to have your own ISBNs; there is a cost – and you may need up to 4 per book, if you publish in Print, EPUB, MOBI and PDF, as each format requires a separate ISBN.

ISBNs are not exactly cheap so you may want to consider whether having your own Publisher name on the books and retaining control of the external Matadata is vital to you, especially if you have written a good set of Keywords and a good Description to upload to the E-retailers.

Most of the E-retailers will let you go into the site Metadata and change it so take advantage and refresh it if you have new ideas that might help your marketing.

Spread it around!

Use your Keywords and description wherever you can and make sure that it is linked to the title and / or a place where the book can be found and purchased.

Social Media sites are good places to spread info about your book. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube all have space for tags, so use them wherever possible using your Keywords or Description. When you put your Bio on a site make sure that you use your keywords there too, and if you write guest blogs, or articles, get some keywords into your signature at the end of each blog or article.

Next time  Facts about Fonts!

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

For more information on David and the work that he does
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/moyhill-publishing-and-david-cronin/
http://www.moyhill.com

The previous nine parts of the series to refer to.
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/making-your-own-ebooks-part-five-what-can-you-do-with-your-word-processor-to-make-your-ebooks-better/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/writing-your-own-ebook-part-six-creating-the-ebook-framework/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/making-your-own-ebook-part-seven-finishing-the-framework-for-the-book/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/making-your-own-ebook-part-eight-how-to-clean-the-formatting-in-your-word-file/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/making-your-own-ebook-part-nine-making-a-fresh-start/

Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

Making Your Own Ebook – Part Nine – Making a fresh start


Sometimes the only way to remove the formatting from an existing file is to make a fresh start by stripping out all existing formats, completely, and start the formatting again. But you want to do this in a way that does not disturb the text of the book and also is as fast as possible. In this post we will look at the detailed processes that you can use to do just that. The best approach is to read through the post completely then you will be in a position to decide which of the options will work best for YOUR book.

To make a “fresh” start you will want to mark all instances of formatting – Bold, Italics, Bold Italic, Headings of all kinds, indents, etc. so that when you transfer the plain text file back into Word you will be able to find all the instances and format them again using styles. The best way to do this is by “tagging” each instance.

The Tag and Replace Process:

  • Make a backup of your original file and put it in a separate directory for safekeeping.
  • Open the file in Word and Tag all the formatting in the file.
    (More on the details of how to do this below.)
  • Save the file with “Tagged version” in the name
  • Select ALL the text in the book file (Ctrl + a)
  • Open a plain text file using “Notepad”
  • Paste all the text into the Notepad File (Ctrl + v)
  • Once all the text is copied over, save that file also With “Tagged” somewhere in the filename. This file will have a “.txt” file extension
  • Close the original Word file
  • Open a New Word file
  • If you have already prepared a blank template for your book that is the file that you should open up – remember to save it under a new name so that your Blank template is saved elsewhere and available for use in other projects.
  • Go back to notepad and Select All (Ctrl + a) the text.
  • Back to Word and paste all the text into the new file (Ctrl + v).
  • Save the new file and include the word “New”, or a version number, in the filename.
  • Replace all the tags with formatting from your styles (More on how to do this below) and save the file with a new version number.

This process is the most “robust” approach and gives the cleanest file.

Manual Process

If you have a file that has only a small amount of formatting you can do the process manually, but this is time consuming and only works if there is not too much formatting.

  • Make a backup of your original file and put it in a separate directory for safekeeping.
  • Open the file in Word
  • Select ALL the text in the book file (Ctrl + a)
  • Click on the “Clear All” line at the top of the styles list and this will clear all formatting.
  • Save the file with “unformatted” in the title.
  • If you have already prepared a blank template for your book that is the file that you should open up – remember to save it under a new name so that your Blank template is available for use for other projects.
  • Go back to the unformatted version and Select All (Ctrl + a) the text.
  • Switch to the new template and paste all the text into the new file.
  • Save the new file under a new name.
  • Open the original Word file with all the formatting in a separate window and resize both instances of Word so that they are displayed side by side on the screen.
  • Either search through line by line in the original to spot the formatting, or use the find box to locate types of formatting.
  • When you find the formatted text format it with the new styles.

How to Tag the formatting in your file

When you read through the tagging process it may seem a bit complicated but when you have done it a few times you will see how fast and useful it is compared to manually searching and changing formatting.

Tagging the formatting in a file is a great option if you have a lot of formatting. It will save a huge amount of time. However, it does not make sense if you only have a small amount text styling. The Manual method may take less time.

All we are doing with Tags is putting a simple Text Marker before and after each type of formatting so that the format can be identified by the “Find & Replace” tool that is built into Word. Each type of formatting has to have its own individual tag so that it can be easily identified and not confused with other styles.

This approach works well for text styles – mainly because there are usually many more instances of Text Styles compared to Paragraph Styles – but it is generally easier to format paragraph styles like Chapter Headings and Paragraphs Headings by placing the cursor in the paragraph and clicking on the style to apply. Check out the section on Keyboard Shortcuts at the bottom of the post if you want to really speed up the manual process.

Here are examples of the tags you can use to mark the formatting in your book:

  • -STARTI- for italics
  • -STARTB- for bold
  • -STARTU- for underline
  • -END- to close any tag

Here are the search scripts to use to change formatting to tagged text:

  • -STARTI-^&-END-
  • -STARTB-^&-END-
  • -STARTU-^&-END-

You can use your own tags as long as you make sure that they clearly mark the start and end of each format and are easy to find. Don’t use short tags like “i” for italics or “b” for bold as Word will misinterpret them.

Also, notice the hyphens before and after the tags. This helps avoid confusion with real words in the text and makes them easier to remove later.

Replacing existing formatting with tags

You can set the tags automatically using the Find & Replace function. As an example let’s use Italics as the first format to tag.

To tag and replace Italic formatting

Open up the Find & Replace Dialogue (Ctrl +h). If the fullbox is not visible click on “More>>”  to open it fully.

  • In the Replace box, type in, or copy & paste, the search term
    -STARTI-^&-END-
  • Click in the Find box but leave it empty
  • Click on “Format / Font / Italics” to set the Find script to Italics
  • Click on “Replace All” and all of your italicized text will have the tags applied.

Word 28 - Tagging Italics 1

Word 29 - Tagging Italics 2

Word 30 - Tagging Italics 3Here is an example of what the text would look like Before and After.

  • Before: This line has some words in italics. This is a test.
  • After: This line has some -STARTI-words-END- in italics. This is a -STARTI-test-END-.

When you use consistent tagging it is easy to replace the tags with the proper formatting with the Find and Replace function.

Tagging Bold and Underline

Repeat the Find & Replace process for Bold and Underline if you have used them in your manuscript. Paste in the appropriate Replace term from the list above and remember that when you go into the “Find” box it is best to click on the “Clear formatting” button before entering a new format to search for. It is easier to Copy & Paste the search script as this will avoid typing errors that might mess up your changes.

Word 31 - Tagging Italics 4Once the tagging is done you can remove all the text formats using the methods outlined in the “Tag and Replace” or “Manual” processes above.

Strip out the Formatting

The surest method is to Copy & Paste all the tagged text into a plain text processor, like “Notepad”. This will strip out all the formatting but leave all your tags. Then copy and paste the plain text back into a new Word document which has your Styles ready to apply. If you do not use “Notepad”, the built-in plain text processor in Windows, there are a number of FREE apps that are easily downloaded which will do the job also. I will post links for these later.

You can re-apply the styles using “Find and Replace” function in reverse. Then, once the text has been re-formatted you can remove the tags and you have a cleanly formatted file.

Re-formatting the text and removing the tags

This time we will be entering the “Script” in the “Find” box and the format in the “Replace” box.

Here are the search scripts to use to change the tagged text back into formatted text:

  • -STARTI-*-END-
  • -STARTB-*-END-
  • -STARTU-*-END-

The “*” is the wildcard marker and all it is doing is telling the system to apply the change to any text found between the Start and End tags.

Let’s use the Italic format again as the example process:

When you open the Find and Replace dialogue the first thing to do is to make sure that none of the boxes have any formatting applied. You will see if this is so as the format information will be below the Find or Replace boxes. Click in the Find or Replace box and then Click on “No Formatting” this will clear any existing formats. Repeat in both boxes if needed.

For this part of the process you will need to activate “Wildcards” for the Find function.

Word 32 - Use Wildcards for FindReplacing tagged text with formatting

  • In the Find box, type in or copy & paste the search term
    -STARTI-*-END-
  • Click in the Replace box but leave it empty
  • Click on “Format / Style / Emphasis” to set the Replace format
  • Click on “Replace All” and all of your tagged text will be returned to Italic but this time All the Italics will have the style “Emphasis” applied.

Word 34 - Select Emphasis Character StyleWhen the “Format / Style” pop-up menu appear you will need to scroll down to find the Character style “Emphasis”. You know it is a character style because it has a lower-case “a” in front and will only change the characters not the whole paragraph.

Word 33 - Replace Tags with Italic FormattingUse the same process to replace the Bold and Underline tags.

For bold you can use the “Strong” style which is the same as standard Bold but for Underline you will have to create a new style or modify one of the standard Character styles (e.g. Subtle reference or Intense Reference) to get exactly what you want.

A note about Underlining

If you use underlining for emphasis in your Ebook you need to use it sparingly if at all. Hyperlinks are usually shown with underlined text and when you use underlines there is a risk that readers might confuse YOUR underlines with hyperlinks. When they do not link to anything customers may be disappointed.

If you are using a word processor to style your Ebooks, use the Heading 1 and Heading 2 styles for your chapters, parts and sections. Do NOT depend on the conversion programs to recognize your inserted page breaks!

Keyboard Shortcuts

One thing that can really help speed things up when you are applying styles is the use of Keyboard Shortcuts. If you have used Word for a number of years you probably use quite a few shortcuts without thinking about them: such as “Ctrl c” to copy and “Ctrl v” to paste. But if you have not used styles you may not be aware that you can create a keyboard shortcut for any of the styles in your list!

All you need to do is to go into the Modify dialogue box and at the bottom when you click on format you will find “Shortcut Key” near the bottom of the list.

Word 35 - Setting Shortcuts for stylesWord 36 - Shortcut Dialogue BoxIn the example above, I have set a shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+A for the “Heading 1” Style. All I have to do now is to place the cursor in a piece of text and press Ctrl+Alt+A to make it “Heading 1”. If you want to remove the shortcut just go back into the dialogue box and click on Remove (bottom left) to clear.

That’s it!

You now have all the basic tools needed to create a robust and well formatted file that should pass muster if you are uploading to your Ebook retailer. If you are converting from Word to Epub with any local conversion software remember to use Epubcheck to test the file before you upload it anywhere.

Testing (again!)

In a couple of earlier posts I went on about testing and proofing and here we are again. Testing and proofing is vital and all you have to remember is to keep on with the cycle of “Test – Fix – Proof read / Test – Fix – Proof read” until the result is clean and without problems. It may be tedious but your reader will be happy – and a happy customer tends to tell others and sales go up, and then YOU are happier… A “Win-Win” result!

Finally

What I have described are the basics and these are some of the steps that we use when repairing files and producing Ebooks. Once the book has been proofed before and after conversion we then open up the HTML files and check all the files for errors that do not show up as “conversion” problems. We almost always have to make adjustments in the Metadata file and have to remove parts of the CSS and modify HTML code that would cause problems in some readers.

Since most people don’t want to mess with HTML I need to add some notes about Metadata and how to manage it. There is also some important information about Fonts that you need to be aware of and I will include that next week too. The final piece will summarise the links for FREE software that you can use to enhance your formatting and testing process. I will post these next week to close off the series.

Here are the links to all the previous posts in the this series and it is recommended that you read them in order…

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/making-your-own-ebooks-part-five-what-can-you-do-with-your-word-processor-to-make-your-ebooks-better/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/writing-your-own-ebook-part-six-creating-the-ebook-framework/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/making-your-own-ebook-part-seven-finishing-the-framework-for-the-book/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/making-your-own-ebook-part-eight-how-to-clean-the-formatting-in-your-word-file/

Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

David Cronin

ebook-dr-1

After over 30 years as a senior executive across the cable, telecommunications and cable television industries, David Cronin founded the Indie Publishing company Moyhill in 2004. Already involved with computers since the mid 1970s he quickly made the transition to book designer and publisher and the first book that Moyhill published in 2004, The Red Tailed Hawk, in Spanish won best digital print book in the UK that year.

Since then Moyhill has set up authors as their own publishers and has formatted several award winning novels and non-fiction titles. It is essentially a one-man operation and this enables a one-to-one relationship with authors throughout the entire process.

After this series has been completed next week David will be holding a Q&A session via the blog for those authors who have read the series but still have questions.

If after that you feel you need more assistance to give your book a final polished format then you can contact him direct on TheEbookDoctor@gmail.com

 

Making Your Own Ebook Part Eight – How to clean the formatting in your Word file


Now that you know how set up a clean template for your Ebook how do you apply it?

If you have NOT written your story

This is the easiest situation to handle and it just takes a little preparation to make things work really well. The sequence is straightforward.

  1. Create a new document for the book. This makes sure that there are no Manual Styles already in place. If you are using existing document the best approach before adding Styles is to clear all previous Manual Styles before you begin but it is generally easier to start with
  2. Create the framework for the book as described in the previous posts…
  3. … Or use the template you created in the earlier exercises
  4. Start writing…

If you have already written your story…

If you have already written your story then the word-processor file will probably be full of formatting, some of it invisible to you, which can mess up your output. You have two options:

  1. Go through a clean-up process for your existing file.
  2. Take a drastic step and strip out all the existing formatting and create styles for each paragraph and character style used in the book. Step 2 may not be too “drastic” if you don’t have a lot of formatting as it can be quick to reformat Chapter headings etc. once the Style is in place.
    You can strip out all formatting by copying and pasting all the text from Word to “Notepad”, or another plain text processor (You can get these free on the Web and I will post the links for the best FREE versions at the end of this series). This will strip out ALL the formatting – including Bold & Italics. Then copy & paste the text from the “notepad” file back into a new Word document using your Ebook template styles. This is actually the best way to do the clean-up as no styles will remain in the plain text file.

We will deal with each of these solutions separately but with both solutions you will need to make visible all the usually invisible formatting marks in your document. We went through this in an earlier Post where we showed how to use “File / Options / Display / Show all formatting features” to reveal all formatting marks. Do this before you start the clean-up so that you can see the marks and take appropriate action. You can turn them off later if they are in your way.

When we receive Word files from clients, to create either Ebooks or Print Books, we go through the processes below in order to get a clean file to work with. If we don’t do the clean-up we generally get problems at a later stage when converting to EPUB or MOBI so a clean-up is always the first step for us.

Tools: Find and Replace

If you have not had to use the Find & Replace function before it is easily started in Word using the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl h” or by clicking on the “Replace” icon in the top right corner of the Ribbon.

Word 24 - Replace function

Once open, the Replace dialogue looks like this:

Word 25 - Replace Dialogue Screen

There are many possible searches and I will go through some of them in detail as we go through the clean-up process.

How to clean an existing file:

  • Make a backup copy of you file before you start just in case anything goes wrong.
  • Remove Justification
  • Turn off Hyphenation
  • Remove headers and page numbering: There are no page numbers in Ebooks and if you have them they may appear in inappropriate places. You need to remove them completely.
  • Remove columns – they don’t work in Ebooks
  • Remove text boxes ‑ they don’t work in Ebooks
  • Check for and deal with any special characters. Don’t use an oddball font to get special characters. If you can’t find them in Times New Roman and Arial/Helvetica then your Ebook reader will probably have problems in finding them too and will display something incorrect.
  • Make sure that any bullet lists or numbered lists are based on the Built-in styles within Word and do not use “inserted” symbols for Bullets or manually inserted numbers. These can give unpredictable results

For the next few parts of the process the “Find & Replace tool is the quickest way to make changes. You will find the “Paragraph Mark”, “Tabs” and “Manual Line returns” in the “Special” menu at the bottom of the Dialog box:

  • Remove extra paragraph returns using Find & Replace:Word 27 - Double Para Mark ReplaceTo insert the paragraph symbols in the Find or Replace boxes, use “Special / Paragraph Mark“. Do this twice for the Find box and once for the “Replace with” box. Make sure there are no spaces before or after the symbols then click on “Replace All”.
    You may have to click Replace All several times to remove all repeated paragraph marks.
  • When you have deleted all the double “Paragraph” markers you can create and apply Styles to make spaces between paragraphs.
  • You also need to search for unneeded spaces before and after paragraph marks as these can cause display problems on some readers. To remove spaces after the Paragraph Mark – keep the previous Find open; delete the second Paragraph Mark in the Find box and replace with a space. Just hit the spacebar for this. Then hit Replace All. Repeat as needed.
  • Remove Leading spaces, remove the space after the single Paragraph Mark in the Find box and put a space in front of the mark. Then hit Replace All. Repeat as needed.
  • Remove manual line breaks. Use the Find & Replace function as described above but click on “Line Break” in the drop-down menu to insert the symbol in the Find Box. Place a Paragraph Mark in the Replace box. Hit Replace All. Repeat as needed.
  • Remove page breaks and create your chapter breaks by setting up a style with “Page break before” ticked in the Paragraph style
  • Remove all tabs: TABS do not work properly in Ebook files. They can cause skipped lines, compressed text, font size changes and other strange problems. You have to create styles to give the needed indents.
    Use the same Find & Replace function as before but click on the tab symbol to place it in the Find box. This time leave the Replace box blank but make sure there are no spaces there before hitting the Replace All key. Again, repeat the Replace All as needed until no Tabs are found.
  • Remove extra spaces between words, sentences, and before and after paragraph returns. Lots of people use a double space before each new sentence (it used to look good on typed letters) but E-readers justify text by spreading out the spaces between words so extra spaces between sentences can look very strange. Extra spaces at the beginning of paragraphs will give uneven results and extra spaces at the ends of paragraphs can cause blank pages.
    Use the same find & Replace function but this time with two spaces in the Find box and a single space in the Replace box. Hit Replace All until no more double spaces are found.
  • Get all the commas and inverted commas, around dialogue etc., turned in the right direction. You can do this by replacing all occurrences of “ with “. That means search for “Double Inverted Commas” and replace with “Double Inverted Commas”. This process should change all “Double Inverted Commas” to “Smart quotes” and get them the right way round. You will still have to check them when you do your proofreading in case spaces between characters have messed things up.
    Using the Find & Replace function you just type the commas into the Find box and Replace Box before hitting the Replace All button.
  • Do the same process for single quotes!
  • Only use hyphens to hyphenate words. If you want a text separator you need to use the “n-dash” but you need to have a space before and after ( ‑ ) (space n-dash space). If you have no spaces around the dash you can have line break problems.
    You may not have used the n-dash ( – ) before. Its name is an old printing term and refers to the width of the space taken up by the lower-case letter n in a standard set of type. In Word you can insert an n-dash using the key combination “Ctrl+Shift+-” (this is the minus sign on the top line of numbers not the Numeric keypad. (You can also insert it using the ASCII combination Alt+0150 on the numeric keypad.)
    When changing hyphens to n-dashes in the “Replace” dialogue you can find the n-dash in the “Special” menu at the bottom of the box: Just make sure that you place the cursor in the replace box before clicking on Special / En Dash. That will insert the dash in the find box.

Word 26 - n-dash in Replace Dialogue

  • Don’t use the “M-dash” in Ebooks. You may find it easier during writing to use a double hyphen and then go back using the Find & Replace function to change to n-dashes.
  • Un-centre “centred” text and create a new style to centre text and get what you need.
  • Create a style for scene dividers or section breaks: I use 3 or 5 asterisks with a 16 pt space above and below.
  • Create styles for special layouts such as lists, block quotes, centred text, etc.
  • Create styles for Bold, Italic, Underlining, Hyperlinks, etc.
    If you are used to blogging, using WordPress for example, you may know that you can get a good result using “Ctrl B” or Ctrl I” to apply those styles. But that doesn’t work well for E-books. For Ebooks you can either create specific character styles for Bold, Italic and Bold-Italic. OR you can built-in styles “Strong”, “Emphasis” or “Intense Emphasis” to get the same effects. When you do this the Ebook conversion software will create a specific style in the CSS file which will help to make sure that the text is displayed with your chosen style on the E-reader.
  • You also need to use the proper ellipse character NOT three full-stops (periods) in a row … This can confuse E-readers and split lines unexpectedly as the reader will interpret as three “Full Stops (Periods)”.
    You can use the Find & Replace function to make the change. Type three Full Stops (Periods) into the Find box and place an ellipsis in the Replace box and click Replace All.
    One of the reasons that many people use three dots instead of the proper ellipsis symbol is that it is not clear where to get the symbol. All you have to do is: Click at the position in the document where you want the ellipsis to appear and press “ALT + CTRL + . ” on the keyboard.
  • Use Fonts that are available in E-readers:
    One problem we often see is where the writer uses a font that is not one of the built-in fonts that are installed on Ebook readers. The reader will do its best to display the closest font match, with unpredictable results. The problem occurs when the font is “defined” by the word processor. Then it cannot be changed in the Ebook reader’s choice of display fonts.
  • Don’t “define” the line spacing in your Word document. If you do this it will probably override the definition in your reader… again with undesirable results.
  • If you decide to have graphics, illustrations or photos in your book you may already have discovered that it is hard to tell how and where these will appear when you convert to a Kindle or EPUB file. There are numerous reasons for the unpredictable results and the best way to get them to appear correctly is to get into the HTML/XML file and modify them manually so that their size is defined as either a percentage (of the unknown device screen width) or in Ems.
    I will do a separate post about Images sometime in the future.
  • When you do a clean-up of a file you will always need to proofread it again afterwards!

There are many other things that you can search for and check, depending on the formatting and fonts in your document, and you can use the Find & Replace tool for these. Explore the function and you can see that you can search for fonts & styles, use Wildcards, etc. to make your clean-up easier.

Next time we are going to cover the “Drastic Option” of stripping out all the formatting and replacing it with Styles. We will use the Find & Replace tool again but this time in a very different way!

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/making-your-own-ebooks-part-five-what-can-you-do-with-your-word-processor-to-make-your-ebooks-better/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/writing-your-own-ebook-part-six-creating-the-ebook-framework/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/making-your-own-ebook-part-seven-finishing-the-framework-for-the-book/

Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

David Cronin

ebook-dr-1

After over 30 years as a senior executive across the cable, telecommunications and cable television industries, David Cronin founded the Indie Publishing company Moyhill in 2004. Already involved with computers since the mid 1970s he quickly made the transition to book designer and publisher and the first book that Moyhill published in 2004, The Red Tailed Hawk, in Spanish won best digital print book in the UK that year.

Since then Moyhill has set up authors as their own publishers and has formatted several award winning novels and non-fiction titles.  It is essentially a one-man operation and this enables a one-to-one relationship with authors throughout the entire process.

After this series has been completed next week David will be holding a Q&A session via the blog for those authors who have read the series but still have questions.

If after that you feel you need more assistance to give your book a final polished format then you can contact him direct on TheEbookDoctor@gmail.com

Making your Own Ebook Part Seven – Finishing the Framework for the book


Now that you know how to set up the basics we can go through setting up the rest of the framework for the main pages so that you have a complete basic template to use for your E-books. Once you have a template all you will need to do is to replace the text and save under a different name and you are nearly ready to go.

Last time, we put in place one Chapter header and a Table of Contents. The TOC was set to display anything formatted with the Heading 1 Style. The next step is to put in place a few more chapters and then we can put in the “Front Matter” of Titles, Copyright page, etc. and do some final formatting before creating the Ebook.

If you are planning to do a number of books then you can save the final “blank” document as a template and use it as the basis for more books.

Adding new chapters

You can use Ctrl-Alt-Shift (combined) + “S” key to make the Styles list appear on the right of the page.

Now that we have the chapter style set up (Heading 1) it is easy to create new chapters. Simply type the chapter name in a new paragraph at the end of the previous chapter and click on the “Heading 1” style to format the title. Remember to keep the cursor in the same line as the chapter title, or you can always highlight the title with the cursor before clicking on Heading 1” This will format the heading and force it to start on a new page.

In my test file I have created 4 chapters and before I format the headings it looks like this…

Word 12 - Adding New Chapters 1Then I click the mouse in the first of the new chapter headings…

Word 13 - Adding New Chapters 2

 I then complete the rest of the Chapter headings and can update the table of contents. Before updating I have:

Word 14 - Adding New Chapters 3

Update the Table of content

Now we can update the Table of Contents

Word 15 - Update TOC

Add the rest of the pages

Now we can add the Title page, Copyright page and Acknowledgements page to complete the basic framework. As you probably don’t want these page headings to appear in your Table of contents it is best to set up a couple of additional styles. And remember that you can always add these manually to the TOC later if you change your mind.

The first thing I want is the Title page and in this example we will put in the Title, a Subtitle and the Author’s name:

There are built-in styles in Word for “Title” and “Subtitle” but if you don’t like these it is easy to modify these to create a style to suit YOUR taste – but stick to the basic font types and only mess with the size and spacing. In my test file I have modified “Title” and “Subtitle” and have added a new Style, “Author”.

Lets’s look at the process for setting up The Main Title. You can use the same process to set up the other styles once you know the routine.

Open your word file and go to the first page. Type in your “Title, Subtitle and Author’s name so that they appear as three separate lines. In case they have appeared in another style, and you need to reset them, use the mouse to highlight the three lines and click on “Clear all” at the top of your styles list. This will set them all to “Normal”.

Word 16 - Clear All

 Left click in the title of the book than Right click on the style “Title” and click on “Modify”. The built-in “Title” style in Word has an underline and is “Left Aligned”. Also, it has little space above & below so I went into “Modify/Format/Paragraph” set the Alignment to Centered and the spacing to 30 above and 30 below.

Word 19 - Modify Title Style 1

 I don’t want the underline so I went into “Modify/Format/Borders” and clicked on “None” to remove the border. Then Click on OK, and again to exit the dialogue box. We now have the title in a reasonable format.

If you have a subtitle for the book you can use the built-in style also and then modify it. I used 16pt Arial, Centered, with 30 pt space below.

We don’t have a built in style for “Author” so I created a new style called “Author” and another called “Centered”.

To set up a new style, click on the first of the icons at the bottom of the styles list: If you hover the mouse pointer over the icon it will show “New Style”.

Word 17 - New style

 When you click on “New Style” you get the usual “Modify” dialogue and can alter as needed. For “Author” I made it 16pt, centred, with 30 pt above in the paragraph spacing.

Word 21 - Settings for Author style

Using the same technique I created another style called “centered” and the only change I made on that was to center the text. This is a useful style to have in the body of the book for things like quotes etc.. In this case I used it to center the “by” line on the title page. If you have been following along you should now have something that looks like this:

Word 22 - Title page

 You may want to add other info on the title page, such as the Publisher identity, so just use the same approach to create what you need. Don’t be concerned about trying to put the publisher name at the bottom of the page as that will not work. Just put some spacing above it using the “paragraph spacing” settings in the modify dialogue.

If you look at my example above you will see that all the “Formatting Marks” are shown and there are no Paragraph marks between the lines. ALL the spacing is achieved inside the style.

If the text does not look the way you want it to be you can always change it. Right-click the name in the Style gallery and choose “Modify”. Make your changes and click OK. All text formatted with that style will change automatically to match the new settings.

Note: One point to note here is that we have NOT used Heading styles on the Title Page. This is deliberate. If we used Heading styles for some of the lines these might appear in the Table of contents (TOC) and we don’t really want that. I recommend using Heading Styles only for items that you want to see in the TOC.

Copyright page

You can now use the same techniques to create a new page for the Copyright info. When you create the page it looks better to have it appear as a separate page so you need to edit the Paragraph style, Line & Page breaks, for the top line to tell it to start on a new page.

Contents Page Formatting

The same approach goes for the Contents page, Just format the top line to get it to start on a new page and make the Table of Contents Title “Bold”. At this stage it is best to leave the rest of the contents alone as the E-reader will format it to show the list as hyperlinks.

Acknowledgements and / or dedication, Foreword, Preface, Prologue

Same process here and if you want the item to appear in the TOC format the header for the page as “Header 1”.

You should now have a series of pages like this:

Word 23 - Testfile

Indents

When it comes to the body of the text in the manuscript, there are generally only two options that are used to indicate the start of a new paragraph.

  1. Indent the first line OR
  2. Don’t indent, but leave a space between paragraphs.

There is a tendency today to both indent AND create extra space between paragraphs and this can cause some confusion when paragraph spacing is used to indicate the beginning of a new train of thought, e.g. The best option is to choose either 1. or 2., but not both. Number 1. is the more traditional approach, and still works well so that is the approach I usually recommend.

To add to the confusion, the default behavior is different for Kindle and EPUB. The Kindle automatically indents each paragraph, and must be told when not to, and the EPUB default is leave space between paragraphs.

So how do you create a solution that works for both?

What I do is to set the “Normal” style to have an indent and create a new style, based on “Normal” called “No Indent” and simply set the indent to zero. Then at the beginnings of chapters and where there is a “Scene change” in the text I apply the “No Indent” Style.

If you plan to indent paragraphs this HAS to be done in the style definition, NOT WITH TABS or SPACES! Just go into the “Normal” style and modify it:

Next time

We will go through what has to be done if you have already written and formatted your text and need to fix it!

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/making-your-own-ebooks-part-five-what-can-you-do-with-your-word-processor-to-make-your-ebooks-better/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/writing-your-own-ebook-part-six-creating-the-ebook-framework/
Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

Writing Your Own Ebook Part Six – Creating the Ebook Framework


If you decide on the DIY approach and are stuck with, e.g. Word, how do you get a clean result when you convert to Ebook?

Remember the “Garbage in Garbage out” maxim; you need a clean input file to get a clean output file.

There is no way around it, you are going to have to learn about some of the functions of Word that you may not have had any need to know about before. Specifically, you need to learn about:

  • How to Show all formatting tags
  • How to set up & use Style sheets (fiction writers may be able to get away with only three or four paragraph styles)
  • The Find/Replace function
  • Using Formatting tags

Key points about formatting your book!!!!

  • Remember that you will NOT be printing your Ebook file so it really doesn’t matter what the source file looks like. You don’t need to make it look like a print book and if you try to do so you may end up with problems
  • We are only concerned with the OUTPUT file. “Less is More” really applies where formatting is concerned. Avoid formatting unless it is absolutely necessary for the story. Ebook readers have a limited repertoire of display options.
  • Fonts. I will have more to say about fonts later but at this stage do nothing with fonts other than selecting basic fonts for the body of your text and for Chapter headers.
    In most E-readers the user sets up their favourite font type and size, e.g., most Kindle readers have “publisher” fonts turned off by default and they will probably never see the font that YOU chose. The most important thing is to write well and lay the book out properly and consistently.
  • There are some things that e-books do better than print and one of these is hyperlinks. Especially if you are writing a non-fiction book, hyperlinks can give the reader a very different experience. Remember too that you can create hyperlinks inside your document as well as externally. Keep in mind though that your reader may not be connected to the web whilst reading so it is best not to have too many external links if they are essential to your narrative.

Step-by Step Setting up in Word

If you are already an expert with word then the next bits will not be of interest so just skip to where it becomes more interesting. If you are not an expert you will find it useful to try out the examples below and see the results for yourself.
The illustrations here use Word 2010 but if you have 2007 or 2013 it will be much the same.

Step 1 ‑ Show the formatting marks

  • You need to set the Options to show all the formatting marks:
  • Go to File / Options / Display and select “Show all formatting marks

Word 1- Display all formatting marks

Once you have set up what you want to see in the Options menu you can toggle the “Show all” option using the main Ribbon menu. Go to the Home tab and in the Paragraph group click on the paragraph mark to toggle between “Show” and “hide”

Word 2 - Display all formatting marks

This method only toggles whatever settings you chose using the Options Menu

The display that you see will be different but it is important to be able to see the paragraph marks, tabs, spaces, page breaks, etc. so that you can remove unnecessary ones and correct any problems that occur. You can easily un-tick the box to turn them OFF if you find that the extra info on the screen interferes with your writing but you need to have them ON when you are proofing or fixing your file.

The Display info shows you some of the main formatting marks so that you can see what they mean but if you need more information about the marks there is a good post about it here: https://kranjac.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/formatting-marks-in-word-2010-showhide/

Step 2 ‑ Set up styles

If you have not used styles before then you need to read this section. This will give you a basic outline of what you need to do but you will need to do some more reading if you want to get really proficient.

The first thing to do is:

  • Reset your Word default “Style set” to “Default (Black & White)”
    Do this on the “Home” ribbon menu over on the right side…

Word 3 Change-to-Default-(Black-&-White)

  • Then reset the default Font Set to e.g. Arial, Times new Roman.
    Do this on the “Home” ribbon menu as before over on the right side…

Word 4 - Change Default Font Set

  • We always recommend using a Serif font (Times New Roman being the classic standard) for the main body text and only using Sans Serif fonts (Arial, Helvetica or Verdana) for headers or small sections of text. Serif text has the “serifs” because these make it easier to read blocks of text. Sans Serif is more difficult to read but works well to highlight headers etc.

Remember that it is most likely that the fonts you choose will be overwritten by the defaults in the E-reader so your customer may never see your choice. The only thing that DOES carry through is the choice of “Serif” or “Sans Serif”.

Styles are probably the single most important thing to learn about when preparing an Ebook. Microsoft Word, like most other word processing applications, has the ability to set up custom styles for your document. They also have a large number of built-in styles which make it easy to create a well formatted document very quickly.

If you also use Word to write your Blogs then using Styles there will make that job much easier too, particularly if you stick to the built-in styles in Word.

Main styles for your book

Whatever genre of book you are writing it will have many common parts so the Framework for most books will be similar. The best plan is to set up the Framework in Word first then, when you are writing the book, you can concentrate on content, not style.

You will need styles for the main parts of your document and the essentials are:

  • Title
  • Sub-title
  • Copyright page
  • Dedication and/or Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface or Foreword
  • Prologue
  • Chapters
  • Epilogue
  • About the book
  • About the Author
  • Also by the author

One of the reasons for using styles is to get the page breaks and Table of Contents to work correctly, so we need to identify what needs to be in the Table of contents so that we can set that up quickly.

  • Preface or Foreword
  • Prologue
  • Part numbers, if the book is split into major parts
  • Chapter titles and/or numbers
  • Section headings
  • Paragraph headings
  • Paragraph sub-headings
  • About the book
  • About the Author
  • Also by the author

Clearly not everyone will want the same number of styles so you just need to create those that you need.

How to set up Styles

When you create a new file you will see a large selection of styles available along the top right side of the Ribbon.

Word 5 - Selection of styles

As this layout can be a bit cramped I prefer to have the list constantly open down the right side of the page. You can do this by holding down the “Ctrl, Shift and Alt keys, all at the same time and then hit the “S” key. Your page should now look like the snapshot below, although the actual styles shown may be different.

Word 6 - Styles Setting panel

With this layout it is easy to see the available styles and to apply them

Main body text font “Normal”

If you are happy with the default font and size for “Normal” just leave it be, but if you want it to be bigger or different you can modify it by Right Clicking the Style and clicking on “Modify”.

Chapter Header

The first style that we want to change is the Heading 1. This will be our Chapter heading and we want each chapter to start on a new page. Right click and select modify. Then select Format, then Paragraph:

Word 7 - Modify para style 1

When the Paragraph options box opens, select “Line and Page Breaks” and then tick the Page break before box. This will force a new page every time the Heading 1 style is used.

Word 8 - Modify-Para-2

I prefer to have my chapter headings centered and also like to see a good space before and after the heading so I also modify the paragraph position and spacing:

Word 9 - Set Paragraph position and spacing

With just these few changes to a standard style we now have enough structure to be able to force a new page for each new chapter, have a nicely centered chapter heading with plenty of white space above and below it and when we set up the table of contents to point to the “Header 1” style each new chapter will be added automatically.

Table of Contents

You can use the “References” tool to create a table of contents automatically.

When you have a basic framework already designed you will know where to insert your Table of Contents (TOC). Here is the process:

  • Left click in the document where your TOC will start.
  • Type in the title for the TOC, “Contents” should do it, and hit enter.
  • Find the “References” tab in the Ribbon and you will see the “Table of Contents” section on the left end of the screen.

Word 10 - TOC1

  • Click “Table of Contents” and select “Insert Table of Contents…” at the bottom of the drop down menu. This will open a dialogue box:

Word 11 - TOC 2

  • Un-tick the box that says “Show Page Numbers”.
    We want a re-flowable Ebook so page numbers don’t apply.
  • Set the “Show levels” box to 1
  • Click “OK”
  • The table of contents should appear automatically

When you add more chapters, or headings that need to appear in the TOC, and apply the “Heading 1” style you need to make sure that the TOC is updated. All you have to do is click anywhere in the TOC and hit the F9 key; this will add new chapters and delete any that you have removed or changes.

If you have sub heading that need to be in the TOC use Heading 2, Heading 3, etc., and go back to the TOC definition and simply increase the number of levels to show.

You now have the basic essentials of the Ebook in place and we will continue in the next post to finish the framework.

©DavidCronin 2015

Here are the other posts in the series so that you can catch up if you need to. At the end of the series there will be a Clinic where you can ask questions if there is anything that you find when reading the posts that you need clarified.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/making-your-own-ebooks-part-five-what-can-you-do-with-your-word-processor-to-make-your-ebooks-better/

Making your own Ebooks, Part Five – What can you do with your word processor to make your Ebooks better


Let’s start by looking at a list of the most common Ebook problems. If you recognise a problem then you may have a quick solution coming up. We are looking at EPUB & MOBI files here, not fixed format PDFs.

There are links for all the essential information & software that you will need to be able to test your Ebook and make sure that it is working correctly before you put in front of your customers. All of the software links are to FREE applications that I have used and test on a Windows PC. I have not personally tested the Mac versions but if they work as well as the Wondows versions you should have no problems using them.

(The next part in this series will cover formatting and fixing your files in Microsoft Word.)

What are the most common problems with Ebook files?

  • Chapter titles, Headers, and Sub-Headers Separated on Different Pages
  • Titles not appearing as proper “Titles”
  • Chapter Headers not appearing correctly: not centred; incorrect spaces above & below or Chapters not starting on a new page
  • Unsightly Indentation or paragraph indents not appearing correctly
  • Paragraph spacing not appearing correctly
  • Strange Characters
  • Overall aesthetics not good
  • Random Blank Pages in the book
  • Table of Contents missing or incorrect
  • No NCX Table of contents when viewed on an E- reader
  • Metadata incorrect or missing when viewed on an E- reader
  • Cover size & / or resolution not correct

What causes these problems

There are only a few fundamental issues at the root of most of the common issues:

  • Styles not used for each paragraph variation
    Without Styles, a Table of Contents will not work correctly
  • Many format variations using “overrides” instead of styles
  • Paragraph markers used to create space between paragraphs
  • Tabs used to create indents.
  • Non Standard fonts used

How do you fix errors in an Ebook file

If you want to fix the problems AFTER the Ebook is generated you have a difficult task ahead of you as you will have to crack open the Ebook file and modify what is inside.

  • Extract individual HTML files form the EPUB/MOBI file
  • Check individual files for correct HTML and fix as needed
  • Check “content.opf” that information is correct and correctly displayed. Fix as needed.
  • Open and check the “toc.ncx” files and correct as needed to get correct display.
  • Check CSS manually and fix as needed
  • Check CSS with WC3 CSS validator and fix as needed
  • For EPUB Check with EPUB validator for errors, & fix
  • For MOBI Check with Kindlegen for errors, & fix
  • etc.

Clearly, when books have a lot of errors, it is not practical to fix the files at this level and the only sensible solution is to go back to the original word-processor file and restructure it BEFORE conversion and then convert to Ebook again.

If you cannot fix the file by editing your original then you will need to strip out all the formatting by copying the text into a plain “text processor” like Notepad or get into editing the HTML inside the Ebook.

How to get a good result!

Keep in mind here that A Poorly Written book that is beautiful to look at will sell more copies than a well-written book that is poorly presented. People DO judge a book by its cover and contents. Everything that you can do to make your cover and text look good will pay off in terms of sales!

If you want your book to look nice you have to make sure that you understand how to make your word-processor work for you, and that means knowing what it CAN do and learning how to do it. You may remember the well-known acronym from the computer business: “RTFM” (Read The … Manual).

Whatever word processor you use it will have plenty of Help Files built in, so if I don’t cover what you need for your specific software then, once you have an idea of what needs to be done, search for it in the manual, or online.

Two key steps

  1. Read the Guidelines provided by your Ebook retailer(s)
  2. You HAVE to test your Ebook files before your put them in front of your customers.

Whether you are planning to use MOBI or EPUB files you need to read whatever guidelines are provided by the retail site you plan to sell through. This will help you to avoid problems that are specific to their sites at the layout stage and may save you a lot of time and effort later

Testing your file is Vital! DO not skip this step!

You have to know how your customer will experience the book. If you find problems during testing you need to fix these before your customer sees them. It is the same a proofreading a printed copy of a book. Always proofread the input AND the output!
99% of the problems can be spotted and fixed if you read the thing again, and again.

If you don’t have a physical E-reader available to test the Ebook there are plenty of FREE E-readers available online: including the Kindle Previewer, Calibre or Adobe Digital Editions. (Links below.)

I guarantee that, even if you have read your book ten times, every time you read it again you will find something that needs to be fixed. Patience and Perseverance are really important at this stage. It helps if you are a bit OCD but if you find yourself dreading yet another re-read see if you can find a very picky friend to help out.

You need to go through as many cycles as needed of: “Convert – Test – Fix the problem…” until you are satisfied with the book. You need to be a harsh judge here and must be aware that anything that disrupts the reader’s “flow” can produce a negative effect.

If an Ebook has too many problems the reader may simply give up and never finish the book. You might be lucky if someone takes pity on you and sends you a message to let you know that the book is “Broken” and does not display correctly. They might also return the book for a refund. The follow-on from this is that a reader may never buy another of your books and may pass on a negative recommendation to all their friends. Or, perhaps worst of all, post a bad review on your retailer’s site or to their 000’s of social media followers! This can completely undermine your marketing efforts.

Preparing Kindle Books

Ideally, you need to acquire, read and follow the relevant bits of the Kindle Guidelines in “Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines”. If you have already looked at this you will know that it is not an easy read. It is an 86 page PDF file which focuses a lot on the HTML inside the book. If you don’t plan to modify your book at the HTML level you can always skip the coding bits, but try to read the text guidelines and cover guidelines to get the overview of what you need to do to format your text and cover to meet Kindle standards.

The second item that you will need is Kindle Previewer. You can use this to see how the book will appear with different Kindle devices before you upload to Amazon Kindle. This is an essential part of your Ebook production process.

Where to download

You can download the current version of the Kindle Publishing Guidelines (2014.3) from: http://kindlegen.s3.amazonaws.com/AmazonKindlePublishingGuidelines.pdf

You can find the Kindle previewer on this page. There are versions for both PC and MAC http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000729511

When you install the Kindle Previewer it has a lot of useful links inside which take you to help files on how to use Previewer. Here is what the start screen looks like.

Kindle_previewerPreparing EPUB books

Download & Read the “Smashwords-Style-Guide.epub” from this link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52

There is a lot of online help on the Smashwords site so it is worthwhile searching though the help files on the site if you run into problems

If you follow the guidelines you will get much better results and fewer rejected files. But you still have to remember that just because the file was “not rejected” does not make it a perfect result. All you have to do is compare one of your files with a file from a published work from one of the big publishers and spot the differences in ease of reading and style of presentation.

Testing an EPUB file

One of the most useful FREE online tools for EPUBS is Epubcheck a validation tool for EPUB. This allows you to upload an EPUB and have it checked for all the most common problems. It will tell you about any issues and you can go back to your original, fix it and resubmit. If you do a lot of books (more than 3 in a year) you need to download the program to have them checked locally, without uploading.

The first thing that Smashwords and other online EPUB retailers, will do when you upload a file to them is to run your file through Epubcheck. So if you do it first your book will not be rejected because it is incorrectly structured.

The downloaded version for Epubcheck is run from a “command line interface” so can be difficult to use if you are not familiar with working with that kind of software. So, what I recommend is another FREE utility that runs a “drag and drop” interface using the Epubcheck software behind the scenes. This is available from “Pagina” and has versions for both Windows and MAC. This is a breeze to use and can update to the latest version of Epubcheck from their menu.

Here is a screenshot of the “Pagina EPUB-checker” interface. You can either browse to the location of your EPUB file or drag & drop it into the box and it will do the job in seconds and list any problems it encounters.

screenshot_pagina_epub-checker

When Problems are listed in Epubcheck…

The error list that you get when you have problems with a file are not always crystal clear and you may have to do a bit of searching on the web to understand what causes any specific error. If you get a message that is not readily understandable check on the EPubcheck website https://github.com/IDPF/epubcheck/wiki/Errors and see if they give more details before you start a wider web search.

Reading an EPUB file

If you do not have physical reader there are a number of FREE E-readers that you can download.

Where to download

Calibre e-book manager is probably one of the most useful FREE Ebook readers and managers available and it is available for Both Windows and MAC.
http://calibre-ebook.com/download_windows
http://calibre-ebook.com/download_osx

Adobe Digital Editions is also FREE and available for both Windows and MAC. You can download it from: http://www.adobe.com/solutions/ebook/digital-editions/download.html

The Online EPUB Validator is available at: http://validator.idpf.org/ If you want to use the downloadable version from your computer you need to be sure that you have Java installed. If you are an Expert user you can download the core Epubcheck software from: https://github.com/idpf/epubcheck

You can download the Pagina checker from http://www.pagina-online.de/produkte/epub-checker/#c1067.

Conversion Software

This is a subject that I will return to in more detail later, as there are many converters available.  In general, if you convert a Word document with, e.g., “MobiPocket creator” or some other converter, you will be able to read the output with a Kindle Reader. However, the output would not be considered as an “Ebook” by any professional formatter, even though Amazon will accept them and not report any problems. In general this type of conversion will produce what can only be described as a “broken Ebook”. You will need to examine every page in a reader to see where the problems lie and fix them in the original before converting again.

A better route is ti target an EPUB file first and get that to work. THEN, convert your final EPUB to MOBI using Kindlegen or just open it withKindle previewer and it will do the conversion for you and give you a list of any problems.

If you are using “Kindlegen” with an EPUB file you can get a pretty good output but you have to remember the old computer programmer’s mantra “Garbage in, Garbage out”. If the original file that is converted by Kindlegen is not properly formatted then the output will not change and be magically correct in all respects. Luckily Kindlegen gives you warnings about problems it finds during conversion and you have a chance to go back and fix them.

More Repetition about Testing…

Whatever program you use to convert your book,  you have to use a program like the Epubcheck or Kindle Previewer to TEST the file!! Look at all the pages in the converted file, check out the Metadata, check that the Table of contents, both the embedded and the NCX versions, actually work and are displayed correctly.

Next Post

The next part in this series will cover the first stages of formatting and fixing your files using Microsoft Word. This is not to say that Word is the best software to use to compose your E-books, it isn’t, but it is the most commonly used.

Note

I have chosen Microsoft Word as it is probably the most common word-processor around, and nearly all other word-processors have very similar functions.

In December 2014 ntemarketshare.com published an update on the share of operating systems around the world and reported that 91.5% of all desktops were using some variety of Windows and 7.2% using some variety of Mac for their OS. A little earlier, in November 2014 Microsoft announced that there were over 1 billion people using their Office suite of apps, and now there are versions for every available operating system, including Apple’s IOS.

Hopefully this explains the focus on Windows and Word instead of Apple Mac and I hope that the information will work for most of you.

©DavidCronin 2015

The previous posts in this series are here

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-own-ebook-part-four-what-ebook-format-should-i-use/
Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

Writing your own Ebook – Part Four — What Ebook format should I use?


Let’s get straight to the point — there are only 3 formats to go for: EPUB, MOBI and PDF. There are many other specialist formats for specific readers but these 3 formats will cover you for almost all the market.

Now that you know the answer, here is the thought process:

We have looked some of the technical aspects of E-books but how do we decide on the format to focus on. This may be a trivial question, especially if you are planning to write narrative fiction and are planning to go with Amazon only. But if you have any other kind of book and want to get to a wider market you have to think again.

Will my book work as an Ebook?

Before you start work on formatting your book, you have to decide if your book is going to work as an Ebook.

The Ebook is a great format for the kind of narrative text that we get in, e.g., novels, biography, memoirs, inspiration, political books and essays. But the Ebook format is NOT great for many types of non-fiction works: e.g. how-to books, art books, reference books, some cookbooks, and project books that rely on complex formatting, big images, text wrapping around images, vector graphics and tables. This kind of Ebook is really difficult & time consuming to put together, and even when done correctly, you may find that your readers find the format inadequate for the type of book.

Once you move away from the average, there are some books – like coffee table books – that will only work in print format. But you still have two alternatives for most complex books: you can go to Print Publishing or distribute the book as a PDF Ebook. The content in a PDF has a fixed format and will not lose its structure, just because it is on a different device, and shows up on the screen exactly as you created it. PDFs can be fine for tablets and larger screens but are usually too fiddly to use on phones because you have to zoom in & out the whole time.

If you had a chance to read one of the earlier posts about the common E-readers out there in the market, you will have seen that the average screen size is still relatively small and you need to keep this in mind if you are considering a PDF. You need to let your readers know if they need to use a larger screen to view your content.

Ebooks with tables

If you distribute through Smashwords they will not put your book on their premium list if it has “real” tables. This happens even if you upload your own properly formatted EPUB file through their EPUB direct channel. If the book is not in the Premium List it will not be distributed to Apple, Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, etc. and will be available only through the Smashwords website. You will have to replace all tables either with images of the tables or with lists. Changing a simple table to a list is reasonable to do, and the same goes if you turn it into a .jpg or .png image. But if your table has multiple columns and / or small text these solutions don’t work so well, especially if the table has a lot of columns when the text becomes too small to read.

Back to Formats…

There are more than 20 common Ebook formats and there is no single format that every device can read. Screen sizes on E-readers vary, so page sizes, image formats, image sizes, and other elements must vary, too. If you plan to have images in your book you need to be sure that they will display correctly and be small enough so that the book file is not too big but yet still be clear enough to read easily.

One KEY POINT to remember is that, whatever Ebook format you produce, you have to keep it simple! If you keep formatting to a minimum your book can look good on almost all E-readers.

Unless you are publishing professionally it is unlikely (and unprofitable) to look at any format other than EPUB, MOBI or PDF.

Should you produce files for EPUB or Kindle readers?

Ideally you should produce both an EPUB and a MOBI file. When you generate an EPUB file the result generally looks more like your original layout, and MOBI has quite a few limitations by comparison. What most professional developers do is to target EPUB as the primary format and then convert the EPUB to MOBI when the layout is done. This is easily done with Amazon’s Kindle Previewer. You can download this from… http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?docId=1000765261 for both PC and MAC.

The reality is that most people focus on Amazon as their selling platform and either let Amazon generate their Ebook file or create a MOBI file themselves. If Amazon is your sole vendor then all is not lost as many of the E-readers out there will read Kindle files. The reverse in not the case unfortunately as the Kindle readers will not read EPUB files and kindle users cannot download EPUBs from Amazon.

Amazon’s Kindle Ebook format is proprietary and is designed to work on their own E-reader devices and some popular E-Readers do not directly support MOBI/AZW files, including the iPad. However, you CAN read Kindle files using 3rd party software or by downloading Amazon’s KindlePC reader (FREE). You can get that here… http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/pc/download?forced=1 or if you work on a MAC… http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/mac/download/

At the moment, EPUB is the better base format for Ebooks as it produces better results and is compatible with the majority of readers. BUT Amazon is, without much doubt, the biggest Ebook retailer, although Apple is catching up and they favour EPUBs. Barnes & Noble used to be the second biggest in Ebook retailing but appears to have slipped badly in 2014. It has its own proprietary player, the Nook, but seems to have frozen its development so their proprietary format is becoming less important.

If you only market through Amazon you are missing up to 50% of your potential market!

Marketing in the UK

Amazon is a truly international business and it markets successfully into many countries. But not everybody buys through Amazon, or Smashwords. The UK is an important market for all booksellers and is number 2 in terms of the number of English language titles published each year. The International Publishers Association (IPA) report that UK publishers released 184,000 new and revised titles in 2013 and the US released 304,912 — so it is a big market, even compared to the US.

Formats used by the main Retailers:

  • Ebook store — Ebook format
    Amazon Kindle — AZW/MOBI
    Ebooks.com – EPUB
    Foyles – EPUB
    Google Play – EPUB
    Kobo – EPUB
    Uncuva – EPUB
    Waterstone’s – EPUB
    WH Smith — EPUB

Special note about Pricing

If you distribute through Amazon you need to keep an eye on the final size of the file. This is not generally a problem with a narrative book but as soon as you start adding complex formatting and illustrations/images the file size will increase rapidly, especially with Kindle files.

There is a limit as to the size of the file you can upload to their site but you need to keep in mind that Amazon charges a delivery fee of $0.15 per MB. This is deducted after all other costs so basically comes from YOUR profit margin. If you have a 10MB Ebook will cost you $1.50 per sale. If you have a complex book with lots of lovely photos and it has a size of, say, 50MB it will cost you $7.50 for every download. You really need to look at your pricing policy when you have a big book or you might end up owing them money for every Ebook you sell.

With the new changes in VAT rules affecting Ebooks from 01 Jan 2015, you will need to take a look at your prices anyway. When you take account of all the deductions I think many people will have no choice but to increase their prices. We have VAT + Withholding + fees from Amazon & Smashwords which means that the taxman can take around 50% of the gross and leave little for the author. If you are properly registered with the online retailers you can avoid the withholding tax but you still need to set money aside for your eventual payment of taxes in your own country.

I think that many authors, who have not already done so, will need to create their own websites where, especially if they are below the tax threshold for VAT, they will get a much better return for their work. The challenge, as always, is how to bring new books to the attention of your prospective audience – Marketing!

Next Part

In the next part we get into the real detail of your Ebook design. We will look at the common problems with Ebooks and start looking at the steps to take to get a good result.

©DavidCronin 2015

The previous posts in this Ebook Doctor series can be found here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/the-ebook-doctor-anatomy-of-an-ebook-continued/

Mailbag
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/

The Ebook Doctor – Anatomy of an Ebook – Continued.


Inside the Ebook file

In the previous section we looked at the principles and some useful tools for examining Ebooks. Today we will take a detailed overview of what is inside the Ebook file.

Apart from the book text, the files stored inside the Ebook Container will also include some key administrative files that help the E-reader navigate through the files and also give it the information about the book:

  • a Metadata file
    This holds the information about the book title, the author, the publisher, the language of the book, ISBN, description of the book, keywords etc.
  • a Contents file
    This holds a list of all the files contained in the package/container
    It also contains the reading order for the text files tells the E-reader where to place images;
  • and an NCX file
    This is the Navigation Control file for XML, which holds the navigational Table of Contents for the book. This contents file is different from the Internal Table of Contents file that is displayed inside your book and we will go into that later when we talk about layout.

Top level folders inside a .epub file

If you crack open an EPUB file, using one of the tools we covered earlier, and look at the files you will find two main top-folders or directories, META-INF and OEBPS:

Inside_an_EPUB_1

Top level Files inside an Epub

The META-INF directory holds the Meta Information about the Ebook package. This is produced automatically when you create the book file and you are not generally going to change anything inside it.

OEBPS stands for Open Ebook Publication Structure And this is where all your book text is stored. If you are going to make any changes to the book at the HTML level this is where you will go.

The Minetype file tells the processor in the Reader about the book structure. You will not need to do anything with this file.

Second Level files inside a .epub file

The content of these folders may vary a bit depending on your conversion software but essentially they will have a list that is like the one shown in the snapshot below:

Inside_an_EPUB_2Files inside an Epub

The key file in the Meta_inf folder is container.xml. This just holds a pointer to tell the reader where to find the content.opf file, which in this example is inside the OEBPS folder. It can also hold other files also, including the encryption.xml file for DRM, and a file for embedded fonts depending on the way the book has been prepared.

Inside the OEBPS folder

All your book content will be in the OEBPS folder.

  • CSS: All your text Styles are stored here.
    If you needed to make a style change or to correct style problems this is where you go.
  • content.opf (Open Package Format): Describes the contents of the Epub
    Metadata – metadata for the Epub
    Manifest – list of files used
    Spine – Order of appearance for the parts of the book
    Guide – Role that each XHTML file plays
  • .xhtml: There will be a long list of files with the .XHTML extension. These are your book’s text and you would normally have one file for every chapter ‑ or wherever you have inserted a page break.
    If you need to change something in the text of the book after you have converted it this is where you would look.
  • toc.ncx (Navigational Control for XML): where the Table of Contents style exports to. This is the built-in navigational control for the Epub
  • Although not shown in this example structure, if you have images in you book they will all be stored inside another folder titled image.

Why do I need to know about the structure inside the Ebook file?

Even if you never plan to look inside your Ebook file, you now know that it is structured like a series of web pages. When you format the file in your word processor you need to keep in mind that as web pages there is a severe limit on the formatting that can be imposed on the text.

You need to create a “style” for each type of formatting, or use the inbuilt defined styles inside your word processor, or the formatting may not appear correctly when your list of styles is converted to a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet).

You can’t use fancy fonts: If the font is not in the E-reader that is used to display the book then whatever text used the fancy font will be displayed using a default font from the Reader and will not appear correctly. In reality you can “Embed” a “fancy” font so that it will display correctly but this is a separate issue with other problems. We will cover this later.

You need to define where your page breaks will appear. If you don’t do this then the file will appear as one long document with no breaks because the Reader will not know where to start displaying a new page.

You need to define a basic Table of Contents so that the NCX (Navigational Control for Xml) file can be generated during conversion. If this file is not present then your customer will have a problem navigation through the book. Once you have defined the style for your chapter headers this is generally not to difficult to do with most word processors. We will go into the details later.

Converting from word-processor to Ebook

Most of us will want to compose our text on a standard word processor and then make a simple conversion from that format to the Ebook format that we want to give our customers.

All converters work on the same basic principle: they take your text and translate it into HTML and create a CSS file to describe how the text should look, based on how you have “tagged” the text in your word processor. This kind of automatic HTML code generation can produce uncertain results and most professional Ebook developers end up going inside the container file to clean up problems with the HTML.

I think I am correct in believing that most people do NOT want to get into the HTML editing business and would prefer to make a couple of clicks with a mouse and produce the converted file. The Good News is that this CAN be done ‑ but the quality of the results can range from Good to Awful.

The Bad(ish) News is that if you want to get a ‘Good’ result you have to spend time learning more about your word-processor software so that you can get the formatting right. If you spend the time on it you can learn how to do it properly and save yourself a lot of agony trying to fix files that are rejected by your Ebook retailer.

Generally speaking, if you make some relatively easy change in the way that you format your files you can make your Ebook production painless.

In the next Part we will talk about the format for you Ebook file, what to do with tables and things that will affect your pricing (and your profit). Then we will have finished all the background and be ready to get to the detail of the common problems in Ebooks and how to avoid and fix them.

Glossary, for the technically minded

HTML means ‘HyperText Markup Language’. Web pages must conform to the rules of HTML in order to be displayed correctly in a Web browser. The HTML syntax is based on a list of tags that describe the page’s format and what is displayed on the Web page.

XML stands for ‘Extensible Markup Language’ and is used to define documents with a standard format

XHTML is short for ‘Extensible Hypertext Markup Language’. It is a hybrid between HTML and XML specifically designed for Net device displays. Because XHTML is ‘extensible’, Web developers can create their own objects and tags for each Web page they build. However, XHTML has a stricter syntax than standard HTML pages and is less tolerant of things like missing quotes or incorrect capitalization. The advantage is that, although it is more meticulous to write, it ensures that the Web pages will appear more uniform across different browser platforms – i.e. E-readers.

©DavidCronin 2015

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ebook-doctor-making-your-own-ebooks-by-david-cronin-part-one/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-ebook-doctor-part-two-which-ereaders-for-format-your-books-for19394/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ebook-doctor-part-three-anatomy-of-an-ebook/

Mailbag

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-ebook-doctor-mailbag-epub-and-pdf-the-differences/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/mainstream-vs-self-publishing-2014-the-numbers-are-looking-very-interesting/