Category Archives: e-book design

The 7 Worst Mistakes And How To Fix Them



Joanna Penn recently wrote in her phantastic article: To be an independent author means taking your book project seriously. But most of us haven’t been in publishing for our whole careers it’s inevitable that we make mistakes along the way. Here is her list:

  • Not spending enough time learning about you, your book and your audience
  • Not getting a professional editor
  • Not getting professional interior and cover design
  • Doing a print run without having a distribution deal
  • Paying way too much for services you can do yourself with a little education
  • Doing no marketing at all, or getting shiny object syndrome
  • Focusing everything into one book

Read how you can fall into these traps and how to get out – or avoid them all together.




Hyper Smash


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Are you aware of Apple’s “Distributorship”?


Apple Blossoms

The iLicense Agreement Books Author’s End User (EULA) stipulates that e-books created with the application cannot be sold anywhere but on the Apple iBookstore. 

More specifically, if you want to give your creation away free you can do that wherever you like and if you want to make money off it, you can sell it only from the iBookstore and Apple gets a 30% cut.

According to intellectual property lawyer Dan Booth, this will give Apple an exclusive “distributorship” of texts for sale:

“The most dangerous clause for authors is the distribution clause, which gives Apple the right to refuse to distribute anything created with the software.  Since sales and distribution go hand in hand, Apple could use that clause to prevent any sale, for any reason. This would apparently allow Apple to lock up with contract rights what it could never get through copyright, total control over all sales.”

Read more about “Howls of Outrage” by Ariel Bogle from Melville House Books.

My question is: Why does not anyone sue them?  Like it happened to Microsoft years ago.



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What is Involved in Self-Publishing?











“Have you ever noticed that a person who becomes successful tends to continue to be successful, and on the other hand, a person who is a failure, tends to continue to fail? It is because of goals. Some of us have them, some don’t.”  Earl Nightingale in “Strangest Secret”

Publishing a book is like opening a business. What is an entrepreneur supposed to do in order to start his business, become a successful owner and sell lots of … well, beautiful handbags or lamps for sample or get lots of orders to design gardens or build houses?  She or he would have to set up a business plan and do plenty of research in their particular industry. The same research you will have to do:

  • Industry Overview – the big picture of publishing
  • Competition – their platform, marketing of their books, sales
  • Suppliers – retailers, aggregators, their conditions, prices, reputation
  • PR & Marketing – budget, free PR, social media, contacts
  • Business – contracts, calculations, accounting, legal
  • Markets – audio books, newspaper articles, foreign rights
  • Publishing – e-books, paper books, formatting, cover design, editing, publishing news

Writing an ebook or a book for that matter, is not a Get -Rich-Quick exercise – even if some publications try to make you to believe this (“Write & Publish in 7 days”, “How I became Millionaire in three months”…). It takes at least several months until you have a following in social media or until search engines notice your webpage or blog and until you receive responses (and customers). This is the reason why it is so very important for you to start your marketing before you even start writing your book. Yes, that is right, pre-publishing promotion begins long before the book is ready and it is the key to your books success.

Unless you are solely writing for creative expression, as a hobby and not for sale or god-forbid, to make a living – your book has to pay its own way, contributing to greater opportunities and profits. If you’re not prepared to professionally self-publish, professionally promote and professionally market your book, then don’t go the self-publishing route!

Professional means hiring professionals: editors, graphic designers, book layout professionals and marketing staff – unless you are good in designing and marketing – but never do your own editing!

If you’re waiting until the book is finished to start marketing, you are already behind the curve. Finding, reaching and building your audience will take a lot of time. Don’t wait until you are sitting with a warehouse or garage full of books. Build the audience first and then deliver the product.

With self-publishing your success will double: Writing a great book & market it professionally.



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Are Enhanced Books Now Finally Taking Off?

photo credit Wired

The Wall Street Journal writes: “After being slow to adapt to digital technology, publishers don’t want to come late to what could be the most significant transformation of books and reading behavior since Gutenberg.

Random House is publishing a digital version of Katherine Boo’s hotly anticipated nonfiction book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” about residents of a Bombay slum, that includes video of the central characters that was shot over three years.

The first Harry Potter e-books are set to arrive this year on Pottermore, a Web site where fans can learn spells, read additional material by J.K Rowling and visit a virtual Hogwarts.

Jackie Speaks
An enhanced e-book includes more than eight hours of recordings of the first lady’s candid conversations with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., plus photos and archival videos.

Elvis Lives!
‘Careless Love,’ Peter Guralnick’s biography of The King, will be rereleased this summer with extras like videos, music clips and interviews.

In a move that could shape the market for enhanced e-books in dramatic ways, Apple announced Thursday that it will partner with publishers and educators to create interactive digital textbooks. As a sample title, Apple released a free version of “Life on Earth,” a multi-media biology book by E.O. Wilson, which includes interactive features such as animation of DNA, videos of ants and invasive trees, and quizzes.”

Read the whole story in the Wall Street Journal:


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Ebook Errors: How to Avoid 5 Common Problems

 Rain clouds at sunset

A white paper is highlighting common formatting errors that frequently pop up for publishers when transferring their titles to digital. The focus of the report was a solution list for five common problems in e-book formatting. The problems were:

  • Headers with Hyphens
  • Strange Characters Inserted into e-Books
  • Chapter titles, Headers, and Sub-Headers Separated on Different e-Book Pages
  • Unsightly Indentation, and Random Blank Pages in the e-Book
  • Overall e-Book Aesthetics

For example, the report states that the problem of sloppy indentation and blank pages are often caused when converting EPUBs from Microsoft Word. Many users of Word use “Tab” to indent paragraphs and “Enter” to insert line breaks, rather than using Word’s formatting styles. The solution: if hand-coding an e-book, one should apply styles to the document (in Word or InDesign) before converting the file to EPUB.

The report also outlined the various contributing factors that lead to errors, which would persist as long as e-books “remain second class citizens in the production workflow,” meaning that print workflow still dictates e-book workflow at the traditional publishing houses. Creating a single XML file at the outset of production would address many of the e-book errors currently plaguing publishers.

Vook’s white paper can be read here


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Take Pride in Your eBook Formatting – or Hire a Professional



In his blog author and ebook professional Guido Henkel rants about sub-par quality of ebooks. He wrote, starting a series of introduction to ebook formatting:

“To me, one of the key elements that sets apart a professional eBook release from that of an amateur has always been the technical presentation of the book. Sure, anyone can write a document in a word processor, run it through some export tool, use a fully automated conversion utility or peruse the services of an online service, but the sad fact of the matter is that none of these approaches typically results in, what I call, production-level digital books.

I will never again touch the book of an author who has made a bad impression on me by delivering a broken eBook that is clearly sub-par. I can forgive many things in a book if I so please — stilted language, poor pacing, logical errors, uneven style, even the occasional typo. However, one thing I cannot forgive is poor eBook formatting, particularly if it is to the point that it becomes distracting from the actual reading experience, and sadly I have seen too many of these in recent memory.

Many authors simply don’t know any better. They write their book, complete it and look for the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to deploy it. Don’t be one of those authors! It is a sad testimony in my opinion, and certainly not a valid excuse. You have labored over your book for months, maybe even years, you have read and re-read it countless times, cleaned out typos and grammatical errors, massaged the style and worked on the structure, grinding away in the wee hours of the night alongside holding a daytime job and maybe having a family. You did not get here just to break the first cardinal rule of book publishing: Don’t get sloppy on the home stretch! It will reflect poorly on your work.

Another reason why many authors never take the time to create proper, optimized eBooks is that they are perhaps intimidated by the process. It is a technical process, to be sure, but it is nothing to shy away from or to be afraid of. All it requires is a very basic sense of structure and sequencing, things we’ve all been taught since first grade and that we have down pat.”

Read more:


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Help is On The Way: Fiverr

I am not sure if you get someone to create an eBook cover for $5, but probably to send out hundreds of likes to Facebook friends or tweet your book to them.  With over 75,000 active listings on the site you might find a quick and inexpensive fix for many challenges in self-publishing, website issues and even lots of social marketing help. For me, it turned to be an instant success delivery for the tiny amount of $5 that I spent on each small gig, ordered at Fiverr.

There’s a flurry of practical micro tasks: CSS micro bugging, social marketing, resume revising and PowerPoint editing help. Here are some samples of “I will”:

• Will place 40 Delicious, 40 Diigo and 40 StumpleUpon bookmarks for you website/video for $5 

• Will send 350+ likes to Facebook from real human for you in less than 48 hours just for $5

• Will write original and effective content up to 500 words for your website for $5

• Will edit your FICTION eBook of up to 5000 words for $5

• Will create and manage a Facebook page and app for your website for $5

• Will tweet your product, services, or link to my 16,000+ twitter followers for $5

• Will translate any text from 50 to 200 words from English to Spanish and vice versa for $5 

• Will draw a cartoon with your messages or sentences for $5

• Will do 50 comments on your blog for $5

• Will post any message on my Facebook wall of 4,000 friends for $5

• Will convert ANY of your files from one format to another for $5

• Will edit, proofread and provide feedback on any document up to ten pages for $5

• Will write a positive REVIEW for your book on Barnes and Noble for $5

• Will audit your website design and usability from a DESIGNERS point of view for $5

• Will make a nice logo design for your business and deliver the LOGO within 3 days for $5

• Will draw a custom logo for your business or website and make it into a graphic for your use for $5

• Will do Performance Testing of your website for $5

• Will teach you how you can Set Up a Database in Excel for $5

• Will edit CSS for you for $5 is really easy to use, give it a try. Snippets from the Wall Street Journal:

“Although buyers pay $5, sellers receive less than $4, after PayPal payment-processing and Fiverr fees, which is the primary way the site makes money. PayPal is the payment method and posting a gig is free.” “, is a site that allows you to buy and sell (business) tasks for $5 and the site is a good match for this economy. Buyers are looking for cheap prices and sellers are often unemployed or underemployed, seeking freelance income. “There is a bizarre joy to browsing the sometimes hilarious user-created content on the site.”




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