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Take Pride in Your eBook Formatting – or Hire a Professional

Melbourne

Melbourne

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: http://guidohenkel.com

 

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Bad Formatting = Bad Book Reviews

Readers are losing patience with e-books that are

  • full of typos
  • lost “Italics” 
  • use redundant words
  • have no paragraph breaks or indents
  • page numbers that end up in the middle of the page (note: e-books are page-less)
  • page numbers are all over the site on content pages (that should be linked to the chapters) … and the list goes on and on. 
Sony E-Book Library

Sony E-Book Library

These sloppily formatted e-books compromise the reading experience and customers will give them a bad review. Authors may be finding out about it too late themselves – the hard way. Failure to deliver a quality e-book format is adversely affecting reviews. If you are selling me a sub standard product you won’t get a 5 star rating from me, no matter how exceptional the story is!

Many publishers, even those claiming they are specialists in the self-publishing world, just upload the PDF file, which they previously used to have the book printed.  The problem is not just limited to little-known authors. Many of the e-books released today that were written by author super stars suffer these same indignities. Unless the user is reading with a PDF reader, PDF files do NOT make good e-book files.  Reading a PDF on a screen is usually annoying – unless formatted for that purpose. You can’t fit the traditional page at the traditional font size on a computer screen and expect it to be easily readable.

How to prevent these potential disasters?
Your book needs to be properly formatted and available in as many media types, to have it read by the broadest audience. One of the first steps in self-publishing is getting your manuscript ready for upload to the publishing channels that you have selected – hopefully all of them, if you want your e-book to be a real success.

For maximum exposure, it needs to be available in perfect form in all of the e-book platforms, including the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony e-book reader and the iPad. Sounds easy? After all, it’s just text and the upload must be simple. Sorry, there are no standards and there are no common word processing file types.  Instead there is ePub, Sony Reader LRF, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kindle .mobi, Apple iPad…

Spend the $200 or so and get it properly formatted for a variety of e-Readers. Just google for “e-book formatting”, “e-book developers”, “e-book designer” or “e-book conversions”.  But BEFORE let it proof-read and edit by a professional. Do everything to present your customers a great e-book reading experience and they will write 5-star reviews.

 

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