ePub Author Question – What Is a Fair Price For ePub and Print-On-Demand Conversion?

Converting a manuscript to ePub and converting to Print-On-Demand are two completely different animals. This blog article will cover the major parts of each process so you can see what you are paying for.

Creating an ePub

I generally charge $150 for converting a book to ePub. If there is a lot of image work or difficult formatting, I may charge a bit more. Here are the major parts of converting a book to .epub/.mobi:

1. Create a text file containing the book’s content. That usually  is just a simple copy-and-paste the contents into a text file. This can normally be done no matter what format I receive the manuscript in. If I receive the book file as a .pdf, I have to take the additional step of deleting all carriage returns at the end of each line. This can be time consuming for a long book. Inserting the content into a text file removes all formatting. I will later rebuild all formatting with CSS styles.

2. Paste the text file into an HTML editor. An ePub file is actually a mini web site complete with pages of XHTM, a cascading style sheet, and a folder of images or links to images. An HTML editor such as Dreamweaver (I use Microsoft Expression Web) is the best tool to build a web site and also the best tool to build an ePub, which is a mini web site. Each page of HTML code will contain one chapter from the book. I could paste the text into Adobe InDesign but I like to work directly with the HTML and CSS code, which InDesign does not allow.

3. Break all text up into separate paragraphs.

4. Build a CSS style sheet with all formatting styles for paragraphs and characters.

5. Apply all styles to paragraphs and characters.

6. Build the table of contents by applying <H1>, <H2>, and <H3> tags.

7. Copy and paste the style sheet into an ePub editor. My choice of ePub editor is Sigil.

8. Copy and paste the HTML code from the HTML editor into the ePub editor.

9. Resize and sharpen all images in Photoshop. Images should be 72 ppi and no more than 500 pixel wide or tall. The cover image should be somewhere around 600 pixels wide by 800 pixels tall.

10. Insert all images into the ePub editor.

11. Create the table of contents page, which is a page of HTML bookmarks that link to the chapters.

12. Insert all page breaks with the ePub editor.

There will normally be a lot of feedback from author when I am creating the ePub file. I send the author a link to download a free e-reader (Adobe Digital Editions) so the author can view the ePub document as I am making it. I will normally email the updated ePub file to the author whenever I make any additions or changes.

Creating Print-On-Demand

I generally charge $200 to create the two .pdf files that Print-On-Demand companies require. If there is a lot of image work or difficult formatting, I may charge a bit more. One .pdf file will contain the books contents and the other will contain the cover artwork. These .pd files are not ordinary .pdf files. The files go right to the printers at the Print-On-Demand company. There are numerous detailed specifications that these .pdf files are required to meet in order to be printer-ready. Here is how I create the two .pdf files:

1. Create a text file containing the book’s content. That usually is just a simple copy-and-paste the contents into a text file. This can normally be done no matter what format I receive the manuscript in. If I receive the book file as a .pdf, I have to take the additional step of deleting all carriage returns at the end of each line. This can be time consuming for a long book. Inserting the content into a text file removes all formatting. I will later rebuild all formatting.

2. Paste the text file into a Word document. At this point, the file will be completely without any styling or formatting.

3. Create all formatting with Word formatting tools.

4. Create the table of contents using the table of contents builder in Word.

5. Create any headers and footers that the author wants.

6. Resize and sharpen all images in Photoshop. Print-on-demand requires that all images are 300 ppi and CMYK or Grayscale color mode. I generally try to make sure that all images are no more than 5 inches in width or height.

7. Download cover artwork template from the print-on-demand company. I use Lightning Source for all of my print-on-demand books. I am very satisfied with their service. The cover template is something that is customized based on the number of pages and the type of binding. It can be sent in several types of formats. I request mine as .pdf files.

8. Open the template up in Photoshop and build the cover. This ultimately winds up being a very large file because it must be saved at 300 ppi.

9. Upload the two completed .pdf files to the Print-On-Demand company. If everything is OK with the files, the Print-On-Demand company will send a proof of the book to the author. As soon as the author approves this proof, the Print-On-Demand company will get the book listed in the catalogs of all of their partners, such as Amazon. The Print-On-Demand company handles all aspects of order fulfillment whenever a customers makes a purchase.

There is normally a lot of feedback between myself and the author when I am creating the Print-On-Demand files. I send a copy of the Word file to the author when I make any changes or updates. The authors are generally very involved during the file creation stage.

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