You are done writing your book. You have decided that you will self-publish it. You have also made a final decision that you would like to launch your book as an e-book first and then, maybe as paperback in future. Now, your mind is occupied with these questions: How to format your book in Kindle and other e-book formats? What is the process? How to keep costs low and profits maximum while building your readership as a first-time writer? If you are looking for the answers to these questions, you have come to the right blog as Chen Lizra, the author of a unique travel guide, “My Seductive Cuba”, is sharing her knowledge with us regarding e-book conversion. Let’s welcome her on “The Review Girl”.
12 Things to know when converting an eBook
By Author: Chen Lizra
When I started writing My Seductive Cuba, I have already made up my mind to release the book in both formats. I just didn’t know yet what the process entailed and the complexities involved. As an entrepreneur I can tell you that I believe in testing things. I just jump in and do it, sometimes having to make mistakes along the way in order to learn. With something that is fairly new and ground breaking like eBook conversion, I found that it was the only way to get answers, but a costly process. I’d like to share with you my lessons which I know will save you time and money. They will also help you understand your publisher better if you are represented by one.
I typically educate myself first about the subject. I read just about every article that came out on the internet about book conversion. I have learned very quickly a very important concept – if you want to convert a book to an eBook, you cannot fix the pages the same way they are in your physical book. A printed book will have a fixed amount of information per page and this will never change. In an eBook you can change the size of the font to your liking and because of that you need to allow the text and pictures to flow from one page to the other without fixing it. Knowing this made it easier to make decisions regarding the book conversion. I understood the concepts they were portraying and why the headers had to go.
I have searched high and low for the right company to convert my book. Specifically for My Seductive Cuba it was difficult to find the right company because the book is so complex. It is a high quality, all colour and full of graphics kind of a book. I needed a company that could handle it and at an affordable price. I ended up paying close to a $1000 for two file types – ePUB and Mobi.
It was hard to get a recommendation for a company because the field is so young and most authors I know have publishers that take care of it. Even companies that worked with authors didn’t know what to recommend. Many authors today who self publish go through companies that offer Print On Demand (POD) and they also provide conversion services. I could not use POD because the book is full colour. But I am pretty sure that people will be blown away when they will see how unique My Seductive Cuba eBook turned out.
So when converting your book here are the pitfalls you want to avoid:
1. Do I convert it myself or have someone convert it for me. I personally prefer to hire experts because it is their specialty. They can do a better job than me and can resolve any problem that might arise. I am a firm believer that if you do it, then do it right!
2. Complexity of the book affects the conversion. A black and white book with no images is easy to convert. A full colour book packed with graphics is difficult to convert. It will affect the time, money you spend, as well as the company you hire to convert.
3. Books come in various formats. Not everyone knows this but a book can be a Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and other file formats. For each format you need to convert the book, and to allow time to test it. I focused on ePUB and Kindle because these are the most popular. ePUB is the most elaborate and detailed file. Converting from ePUB to Kindle for example meant that things had to be adjusted again to fit the Kindle version, and tested.
4. Cost – don’t forget that each version costs you so think of what your strategy is. Do you really plan to launch it on all platforms or just the top two?
5. ISBN or not – I say yes! An eBook can be released without an ISBN on your site and on other sites. It’s better to have an ISBN because it gives you more options for the future as things expend. When working with self publishing POD companies, they can provide you with an ISBN, for free or for a small fee. If you plan to list your book on iTunes and Amazon, you will need an ISBN. Note that you actually need a different ISBN for each book format. An ePUB will get its own number and a Kindle its own. The ISBN numbers for the eBooks are different than the one provided in the printed version. Each country has a governing body that offers the ISBN numbers. Remember to check that each version has its own number when converting.
6. Is conversion taking place in house or overseas? This is important to know when you interview the company. If they are working overseas and the overseas country has a different sense of ethics, you need to find out how they are overseeing and guaranteeing quality. For example, what happens if the overseas company decides to convert the book but cannot do a decent job? Do you find out about it at the end of the conversion process or does the overseeing company makes sure to have check points every week to ensure quality control?
7. Contract - a professional company will sign you on a contract that states the terms of the conversion. Make sure to read this contract carefully and ensure that you agree to the terms. But what might be missing is what happens if they do not deliver the results on time. While everyone might have great intentions, you are planning your marketing schedule based on what they have promised you. If they fail to deliver, it will hurt your pocket. Bottom line, for such a small contract, you will not take them to court. Your best option is if the compensation is defined ahead of time in the contract.
8. Timeline – define the timeline for the conversion of your book but also leave room for unexpected challenges to come up. Conversion takes time and unexpected problems can occur. Also listing the book on sites takes time to process. Typically if conversion is done right the book can be posted within 48-72 hours.
9. Will the book pass the iTunes test? iTunes specifically is very finicky. It has very specific requirements and the eBook has to pass certain tests before it can be listed. Find out what the latest version accepted by iTunes is – a bit of research on the internet will answer this question. Then be sure that the company that you are hiring converts and prepares for the industry standard. The last thing you want is to end up with a great book but having to fix it.
10. Post it yourself or use an aggregator? When a book gets posted in the eBooks stores, the publishing company or self published author, gets a commission of about 70% of the sale price. You can post it yourself as a Kindle book, but for iTunes you will only be able to do it if you have an IRS number. Another option is hiring an approved aggregator; it will claim another 5-10% depending on the company and their offer. Aggregators can also convert for a fixed $ amount per page. This is good to know ahead of time because you might want to convert your book through your aggregator. Kindle conversion options can be found here.
11. DRM – add it or not? DRM is what protects your book from circulating freely from one person to the other, it puts limitations on how many times a book can be downloaded, used etc. Not all aggregators offer you DRM. Your choice should be made based on your strategy. For example, you might decide to release the eBook with no DRM because you’d like to build readership rather than sales.
12. Extra functionality – an eBook can have an interactive TOC, the ability to skip chapters, double clicking on an image to make it bigger, pushing a button to go back, adding interactivity to hyperlinks, and more. You should also remember that on iPads, for example, the image flips as you turn your screen to the side. As such you want to make sure that big photos that take up the whole page are set horizontally and shrunk down. You will be able to double click them to enlarge them. Or else you risk annoying your readers. If you have a picture that is spread over two pages, it will need to shirk to one page. And finding the right balance between keeping a certain graphic with the text as a picture or converting it to text is an art in itself. These decisions are not a quick matter and require some back and forth. Finally, the index numbers will not fit the actual page numbers in the book since they are not fixed to a page, instead you will need to turn them into interactive links that tag specific words in a specific page. It’s good practice to add a remark at the beginning of the index explaining this to the reader.
Final word about multimedia eBooks – from my research these will be a very cool option to offer in the future as books will have GPS implementation and other special features, but currently the industry is not quite there. The conversion is too expensive and the readers prefer, at this point, to buy cheaper books and lots of them. Even a $9.99 book has to show a high value through reputation in order to sell well.
I invite you to check out My Seductive Cuba both in print and as an eBook.
About the Author:
Chen Lizra started traveling to Cuba in 2005 in order to train with the island’s best professional dancers. Each year she finds more excuses to visit Cuba, discovering the culture from within and hanging out with her close friends. Chen grew up in Israel and later moved to Canada. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing, which allowed her to turn her passion — Cuban dance and music — into an inspiring lifestyle for others through her company, Latidos Productions®.
Chen was selected as the Student Entrepreneur Champion for British Columbia in 2008. The following year, she was nominated as one of the “Women of Distinction in Vancouver,” and in 2010, she was named “Woman of the Month” by Modern Working Woman Magazine. In addition, the Australian government has honoured Chen with a distinguished talent permanent visa. She’s also been featured in numerous newspaper articles and TV shows.
Her latest book is My Seductive Cuba – A Unique Travel Guide.
Visit her website at www.myseductivecuba.com. Connect with her via her blog www.chenlizra.com, at Twitter at www.twitter.com/#!/MySeductiveCuba, www.twitter.com/#!/ChenLizra and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MySeductiveCuba.
About the Book:
My Seductive Cuba
Packed with practical information on where to go in Cuba, what to pack and the best ways to get there, "My Seductive Cuba" also helps readers ferret out persistent opportunists while finding Havana's best reggaetón, flamenco, jazz and salsa clubs. A glossary of Cuban slang and a description of the Santería religion - along with a vivid chapter titled "Getting Possessed" - makes Lizra's humorous travel guide even more compelling. This is one book you won't want to be without, even if you don't plan on going anywhere! – (Courtesy: Amazon.com)
To buy this book on Amazon, click here.
Here is a tempting video trailer which I would love to share with my blog’s readers. Enjoy!