I’ll guide you through the ebook conversion process, but this checklist will help you get everything ready.
- Proofread the manuscript. (Proofreading is available, but as an extra service.)
- For a standard novel manuscript save as a single file rather than separate ones for each chapter / section. Microsoft Word is fine for text-only titles but isn’t suited to illustrated titles such as textbooks. Applications such as Adobe InDesign are better for this. (If you use InDesign the ‘package’ function will export a complete version of the document with all linked images and fonts.)
- Please supply the manuscript with the minimum of formatting, rather than a version ready for print publication. To create the ebook I need to extract the content, so extra formatting such as page margins, headers and numbering has to be removed, adding to the time required. (If you’ve used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to scan printed material the file produced may contain this unnecessary formatting.)
- For text-only titles keep formatting to a minimum. Paragraph breaks, chapter headers, text alignment and simple tab spaces are fine. Sidebars, inserts and other complex items will not translate to ebook format.
- Don’t use tables to create page layouts.
- Use a standard typeface such as Times New Roman, Helvetica or Courier so special characters and symbols are preserved. While it’s possible to embed fonts within ebooks, only specific readers will display them. Also, this could take us into the area of font licensing which can be expensive.
- Don’t wrap text around images as some ebook reader devices / apps will not support this. Set images in-line with the text, or in their own paragraph block. (Fixed layout ebooks support more advanced layouts if this is required.)
- Tables, graphs and charts are difficult to display in some ebook readers. Is it possible to provide the information in a simpler format? If not, we may have to redesign these to be more suitable for small displays. This can add to the time and cost.
- Check front matter, such as title page, copyright information and dedication.
- Add a table of contents at the beginning of the manuscript.
- If your book has an index make each entry link to the appropriate point within the text, rather than simply listing a page number. Ebook content reflows to fit the display size, so page references are meaningless. For example, in Microsoft Word you can add a bookmark to an appropriate word or phrase within the text, then link its matching index entry to this bookmark.
- For any corrections please refer to the original manuscript document rather than the ebook. References to ebook ‘pages’ won’t help in this situation. Quote the text to be replaced so I can use the search function to find it. Proofing on a Mac or Windows PC using Books or Adobe Digital Editions is useful because you can copy and paste text from the ebook.
- Low resolution images will not provide enough detail so make sure your source files are a reasonable size. It’s better to work with large image files, saving smaller edited versions for production use.
- Cover images should be at least 1400 pixels wide. (Assuming standard cover width / height ratio the height will be around 2100 pixels.) You will need even larger images for use as product art when uploading the final ebook to online publishers such as Apple or Amazon. For example, Amazon ask for separate cover images up to 4500 pixels high.
- Internal full-page images should at least 1400 pixels wide by 2000 pixels high. (Please note it’s almost impossible to make ebook readers display full-page images without a margin.)
- Have images been saved in the appropriate file format? For example, the JPEG format is suited to photos but not images such as charts or logos. The PNG format is better for these. Also, images such as logos are likely to have been created as vector graphics in an application such as Illustrator, in which case we should be working with the original files for the highest quality.
- Do you have permission to use all images? This is extremely important. Unless you took your own photographs or created artwork, it’s likely the images belong to someone else and require a license for reproduction. If you use images without permission you could be sued for copyright infringement.
- Update your Mac or PC to the latest version of the operating system. Mac OS X 10.10 or later, or Windows 7 or later is recommended.
- Update your ebook reader applications, such as Books or Adobe Digital Editions.