Sunday, January 1, 2017

New & improved for 2017!

Notjohn's Guide to E-Book Formatting is now in its eighth edition, revised and updated for 2017, including a new chapter on formatting the print edition.

I became an Amazon e-publisher eight years ago, uploading a few Word docs to what was then called the Digital Text Platform. I soon changed to Html, the markup language used to build web pages. (All e-books are web pages at heart.) Then I discovered the wonders of the free and excellent Sigil software, which builds an "epub" of the sort used by Amazon's rivals in the e-book industry. It is by all measures the best way to format your e-book, creating a single file that can be uploaded to any retailer.

I outline the process in ten steps, with screenshots of my progress along the way. It's simple enough that anyone should be able to follow it, but as a fallback I also provide Plan B -- the Ultimate Basic Template that you can adapt to your own book. (And also a Plan C, in case you're still not convinced.) The Guide is intended to be used in connection with this blog.

I'll be happy to answer questions about the process. Just use the Comment window. -- NJ

17 comments:

  1. Yep, I use Notjohn's formatting approach, and my epubs just fly through the KDP submission process. There's a little bit of a learning process with Sigil, but once you get it, it works great.

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  2. Hello - I purchased your Guide last year. Do I need to purchase again in order to get the updated information? Thanks much for all of the information you provide! Betsi

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    1. It's worse than that, I'm afraid. Amazon won't even let you buy another copy! I'll ask them to send out an updated version, but they've always refused in the past. I think they're afraid somebody will publish a monthly magazine disguised as a book....

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    2. I've had this problem. I even had a phone conversation with a tech, asking me to email him the new file to push to users. Never happened.

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    3. Amazon has an auto-update option which I selected. So far I'm not getting the updated version on amazon cloud.

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    4. Alas, Amazon only sends out an update for a CORRECTED version. Improvements or revisions don't count. (There is the paperback version, of course....)

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    5. One reader has reported success when he asked Kindle Support to "push" the new version to his archives. Worth a try!

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  3. I tried to download Sigil on my MacBook Pro and after it downloads, I get a message that there is no application to open it. I download Sigil for Mac.

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    1. There is something about Apple that doesn't like e-books! Did you read the stuff on https://github.com/Sigil-Ebook/Sigil/releases headed "Attention Mac OS X Users"? Except for my beloved iPhone 4, I stay as far from the Apple universe as I can. There are also issues with Kindlegen software on Mac OS (but then, I've never been able to run Kindlegen on my Windows 7 machine, either).

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  4. In your book, do you discuss Print Replicas and image quality at all? I couldn't find a blog entry here discussing them.

    I have a thousand page book I want to publish on Kindle, (yes, I have the rights). It has a ton of images, so publishing it as a flowable text would create untold amounts of labor. So if I use the Textbook Creator app, it works. However, the image quality degrades significantly. I used InDesign to create an epub version, filled with a thousand pages of pngs, but that just meant the text was rasturized and looks horrible. Looking for an automated process, or a new script that will do text as text, and pdf's images as pngs or jpegs.

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    1. No, I don't use fixed-format. I've never had occasion to publish anything that would benefit from it enough to make up for its drawbacks, notably its limited distribution.

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  5. My books all average 50,000 words and I use Times Roman 11 point... is this a mistake?

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    1. In my wayward youth I probably read 50,000 mass-market paperbacks (I bought them for a dime without the covers and sold them back for a nickel), so if your audience consists of wayward lads (or lasses) you are probably safe. But TNR was designed for the Times newspaper, with columns two inches wide. It's hard to read for older eyes on a wider column. Read the stuff on thebookdesigner.com -- I've learned a lot from that website.

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  6. I have several tables in my book that appear pretty ok in the online KDP previewer, but are unreadable on an i-pad. Is there a html fix for that? Or do I have to resort to using a jpgs of the tables?

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    1. I stay away from tables because they don't work well in the very oldest Kindles. I suppose this is less important than it used to be, though these gadgets do seem to last a very long time! But what sort of file are you uploading? And how are you seeing that iPad version (that is, have you published it and purchased the copy?)?

      Images are certainly a possibility, but they have issues of their own. (Can be hard to read on smaller devices, work best when you control the html and insert a width="100%" instruction.)

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  7. I'm using draft2digital to publish my epub on all available platforms. I got this message back for Apple: "Competitor Links: The content contains links to sales channels that are in direct competition with the chosen sales channels." This is probably for a link to a different e-book I published on amazon. How do you handle this issue?

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    1. I have a website, with a page or three devoted to each book. I link to those pages, which link to the correct Amazon store (using a booklinker.net link), Barnes & Noble, etc.

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English only. No links. Keep it clean.