Monday, September 7, 2015

EPub Formatting and Beyond

When e-books broke onto the market many years ago, there were numerous formats required to make it available to everyone. Today, EPub is universal - everyone accepts it, from Amazon to Barnes & noble to iTunes to Smashwords and more. A Mobi copy is good to have for people with Kindles, but all other devices accept ePubs. And when it comes to uploading your book, ePub is all you need.

I format books for authors into ePub and Mobi format. It’s taken much trial and error to learn how to do it properly. For those interested in doing it themselves, I offer the following invaluable sites for learning the process.

How do you create a ePub? Often you can format in Word and run it through conversion software. You can also create it in InDesign. Two sites that offer some great tips:

Apple’s ePub creation guide
Jane Friedman’s tips

There are a lot of ePub creators and creation services available:

Jutoh
Calibre
writer2epub
Hamster
Online-Convert
EPubsoft EBook Converter
Wondershare
Scrivener

If you are creating the ePub yourself, you need to check it for errors. Two options available:

International Digital Publishing Forum and Validator
EPubCheck

There are many errors that would cause your ePub to be rejected. ITunes in particular is very picky and requires a perfect file. The primary errors are:

Missing the “http://” in Web Address (replace all www with http://)
Image File Misidentified (image not anchored or improperly imbedded.)
No index (no table of contents or chapter markers)

For a list of other errors and how to fix them:

EPubCheck
Smashwords

The final step is distributing your book to retailers. You can use a distribution service that will deliver your book to multiple retailers:

Smashwords
BookBaby
Booktango
Vook
Vearsa
EBookIt
EBook Partnership

Or you can set up accounts with the individual platforms and upload directly:

Amazon
ITunes
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Get your book in ePub format today!



Don’t forget our IWSG Anthology Contest is open to members until November 1, 2015!

46 comments:

Murees Dupé said...

Thank you so much for these great tips. I formatted my book myself, but I am always willing to learn more ways, if not easier ways to do it.

Lan said...

This is the reason why I hired a formatter! I didn't understand a word of this article. Thank goodness for you and your fellow formatters!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the tips. I think I'd hire an expert like you if I was going to self-publish and need to format the book right.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for this information, Diane. As always, it's useful and spot on.

Emma Adams said...

Great list! I'd also add that you can use Scrivener's "compile" feature to export a book as an epub. I've used it for all my books and never had any problems with it, even uploading to Smashwords.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Lan, there was a time when I didn't understand any of it either.

Emma, that's another good converter. There were so many.

Ann Bennett said...

Good points made. All I know is I may have to hire someone one day.

Christine Rains said...

Great formatting is important. I know the basics of formatting, but one of my critique partners is awesome at it. She makes my self-published works so pretty!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think this is a growing service and more people will get into doing it for those of us who don't want to take the time or don't have the patience to learn.

Susan Says

Medeia Sharif said...

Great info. I always like to try things myself, but if the time comes I might hire a pro.

Bish Denham said...

I'm thankful there's someone like you who will do it for me!

Pat Hatt said...

I can do it, but I find it so much of a headache that I'd rather just hire someone else to do it haha

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Oh, the errors! I remember the frustration with those until I understoond the ins and outs of the epub.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great tips and resources for those who format their books.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - great comprehensive info .. but am glad Scrivener was mentioned ... but useful to know it's a service you recommend - cheers Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Bish, I've loved formatting your books for you.

cleemckenzie said...

It's the time involved that I'm not wild about. I've done it, but that was more to prove to myself that I could. :-)

Not sure about being able to enter the anthology contest. I'd love to, but I may have to sit on the sidelines and cheer for this one.

Erin Fanning said...

Excellent tips! Thank you!

Kelly Steel said...

Thank you so much for these great tips.

Nadine_Feldman said...

Very helpful! Thanks for all the detail.

Olga Godim said...

Great post, very informative. Thank you, Diane.

Dean K Miller said...

Formatting: Best left to the professionals; i.e. NOT ME! Great tips and leads and links!

dolorah said...

If I ever decide to self publish I will hire you to format for me.

G. B. Miller said...

I have no shame in admitting that I cannot format to save my hide. I did it once for short story trilogy, but afterwards, I said to myself that I was going to higher a pro to do it for me. Been doing it that way ever since.

Father Nature's Corner

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I remember formatting my first ebook back in 2011. Things change so fast, I doubt I could do that today. Now I understand why the fellow who won a copy of my ebook last month was so astonished. I'd sent him a pdf file. He was happy because he could actually read it on his laptop. It's hard to keep up with all the changes.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Donna, I would be happy to.

Joylene, that's why it's good to be prepared with many formats.

Thanks for the suggestions - I added Scrivener to the list.

Karen Lange said...

Good to know, thanks so much! Will bookmark this for future reference.

Chrys Fey said...

Sometime in the future, I have two short stories I want to self pub and I'll be coming to you for the formatting. :D

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

When we're not insecure, we're sure to get ourselves into trouble. It's that old, "You don't know what you don't know adage." Unfortunately, it still carries over to when we hire someone to help. They look good, but unless we've done our homework, we still don't see what they didn't do or what they did wrong. In other words, there is no cure. Sorry to be discouraging. The only thing that approximates an appropriate medicine is to keep reading and keep asking questions. (-:

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I wish this wasn't like a foreign language to me. I don't know how I managed to self-pub with a nice looking book, but I did. Minus numerous typos.

I appreciate knowing where to come when I have questions about any of this, Diane. Thank you.

Lux G. said...

Nice! I've never tried writing an ebook so I had no idea what formatting they're using. Thanks!

Michelle Wallace said...

Diane, thanks for sharing.
You make it seem so straightforward but I'll be honest, it sounds like quite a challenge, a totally foreign language...

Robyn Campbell said...

This is bookmark worthy. Thanks for the fabulous tips. I'm self-publishing a book in the not to distant future. Wish me luck. And Lynn Kelley is typesetting the Kissed by an Angel (the anthology to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation) anthology right now. Thank you, thank you.

Sherry Ellis said...

This is really great information for someone wishing to format their books themselves. Thanks for sharing!

Fundy Blue said...

Fascinating, Diane! This is something I knew little about, but now I have a good resource!

Lexa Cain said...

You're my hero, Diane. I've been researching for months trying to find a converter other than Smashwords so I can distribute to Amazon. I never found any of these sites, just things like Ingram and Draft2Digital. Booktango sounds fantastic - almost too good to be true. I have so many problems self-publishing because I live in Egypt, but I refuse to be at the mercy of badly-managed ebook publishers anymore. Thank you so much for this awesome comprehensive list!!

M Pax said...

Sigil ++ is great for fixing and validating epubs. It's freeware, too. Great info, Diane.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Chrys, be happy to!

Robyn, as away.

Robyn, I'm glad this helped you.

Lexa, I hope you can get on Amazon now.

Mary, I will add it.

Denise Covey said...

Great post, L Diane. Of course anyone can format themselves if they invest the time necessary and that could be a lot. My comment: why would you want to?

Cherie Reich said...

I love Jutoh and Sigil and would add Draft2Digital as a distributor and Google Play and OmniLit/All Romance Ebooks (ARe) as individual platforms to upload directly to. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm bookmarking this one! Thanks Diane :)

Arlee Bird said...

This is valuable information that I, like others have indicated, will be coming be to reference.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Wrote By Rote

Nick Wilford said...

I do my own formatting, but I was unaware of many of these services. Great list.

Elsie Amata said...

This was timely. I'm working on formatting my book right now. Thanks!

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm doing my own formatting this time around. I'll have to give it a final once over as I just uploaded my latest line edited version.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for these excellent tips. I think the formatting is the hardest part of creating a self-published book.