Digital Only Deals, Translating Into German And The Launch Of Desecration-Verletzung.

The adventures in translation continue apace … and this one is a little different!

Desecration VerletzungToday, I’m excited to announce the launch of Desecration-Verletzung in German, which is part of a debut set of crime/thrillers from a new German digital-only imprint, Midnight by Ullstein. This article includes my thoughts on working with a publisher as well as an interview with my translator.

Digital Only Deal for Desecration with Ullstein Midnight

As part of my 50:50 royalty split deal with my translator, Hans Maerker, we discussed the possibility of pursuing a traditional deal as well as self-publishing. When the opportunity came up to work with Ullstein Midnight, a new digital imprint of a well-known German publisher specifically for crime and thrillers, we decided to go for it. I can’t go into specifics on the contract but here are some thoughts from the process:

  • midnight ullsteinWhile I wouldn’t necessarily be interested in a digital only deal for English language, it makes sense to work with an established publisher with great relationships and merchandising opportunities in a new territory and language. After talking with the great team at Midnight, I was keen to work with them to see what we could accomplish, given that J.F.Penn is unknown in Germany. I believe being an indie author is about making decisions that benefit your business, and partnering with publishers can definitely be worthwhile. I’ve had several skype calls as well as email conversations with the Midnight team and I’m impressed with their energy and willingness to try new things. That’s the kind of partner an entrepreneurial indie wants!
  • The process involved an extra layer of editing, which was great in terms of quality control and also made sure the book fitted the ‘voice’ of the new imprint. You can never get enough editing imho :)
  • The title is interesting as it is an English word and a German word together. Germany has copyright on book titles, so many international books use English words in titles. Verletzung can mean ‘violation’ which was my original title for the book anyway, so I’m pleased with it.
  • The cover design was redone and I did have some input into the process. I actually like this cover a lot!
  • Lesson learned: When I self-publish for free on the digital platforms, I just click ALL when it comes to countries for distribution. Traditional publishers don’t have the easy choice to just click the ALL button as there are more costs involved, so although Midnight have all the digital rights to German, the ebook isn’t available in Canada, or Australia for example. The thinking is that there aren’t enough German readers in those countries to warrant the cost of distribution. This surprised me, as of course, this is all free for indie authors and distribution has no overhead for us. How lucky we are!

With all these translation adventures, the view is more long term and I would expect to report back on how it’s all gone in a year’s time. Still to come in 2014, the Italian version of Desecration and possibly the Spanish Desecration.

Interview with Hans Maerker – translator for Desecration-Verletzung

You can also read this interview in German on Hans’ site here.

Hans Maerker

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing & translating background

I was raised in Germany, but my grandmother’s sister – who lived in the same house with us – was British. She exposed me to English when I was a little boy, and so I grew up with both languages. It helped me tremendously during my engineering career in aviation later on. Aviation requires precision, and I never liked to do things half-hearted anyway. It was a perfect combination. I was all over the globe, needed to immerse in English whenever I was outside Germany, and one lead to another. Prior to Airbus, the civil aviation scene was dominated by American aircraft manufacturers. So, I went to Berlitz, perfected my English, and focused on American English ever since. My passports looked like impressionistic paintings with all their stamps over the years.

Being in Quality Control shaped my ability to write precise reports and to do in depth research. I had friends in Singapore, Australia, and America over the years. I lived like a cosmopolitan, but that changed when I finally left Germany and moved to America. That’s where I met my wife, and worked as an avionics instructor for an US airline. The airline changed their aging fleet at that time, and that required not only teaching aircraft systems in a classroom, but those maintenance technicians needed training manuals for the new aircraft types as well. It was a totally different ball game but I had the knowledge, and felt the satisfaction, writing gave me. Even if it was technical writing and editing. It never changed from that moment on, and shaped me as a writer.

Returning to Europe after so many in the States happened just at the time when Germany changed the grammar and punctuation rules. I was thrown in the middle of it and had to learn the new rules. It was sort of a forced brush-up course on my mother tongue, but definitely benefitted my knowledge about its correct usage. My wife’s mother tongue is American English, and so we stayed in Germany for a while, but eventually moved to an EU country where maltaEnglish is spoken and German needed. That’s how we ended up in Malta, where we currently live.

What are some of the particular challenges about translating from English into German?

It depends on what needs to be translated. Technical instructions, actually any non-fiction, is more or less cut and dry translation, where you have to be precise in every shape and from. There is not much room for interpretation.

That’s completely reversed when it comes to fiction. Every language has its own special phrases and usage, to express the same thing. You need to be aware of the country, the habits of the people who live there, and more. Fiction lives off emotions and tension, created by the author. Having a dictionary next to you, or on your computer, doesn’t cut it as a translator. Sure, you can translate any fiction that way, but you risk to have a dull and boring story.

The ideal situation for fiction and non-fiction is, to have lived in this environment yourself. That you’ve talked to the neighbors, waited in line at the post office, or got stuck in traffic on an highway. The feeling and understanding for this different environment, its people, and their use of the language is something that shows in your translation of a story. No language school and no dictionary can teach you this experience. In my opinion, a good translator should have global experience, and not just doing the job after learning the ropes at school.

Why did you want to translate Desecration? And were there any surprises on the translation journey?

I think it was a combination of several facts. One was that I like crime or thriller stories. It’s because of the puzzle that needs to fit logically together. The other fact was that dark and extraordinary mood. The way how Jamie coped with her own emotions and problems.

As for surprises, yes, there were a few. However, they were more on the intellectual side, and not technically related. Pretty soon, I was deeper in this story than I expected. I basically immersed in the story, lived through Jamie’s emotions, and felt them while translating.

Why did you want to do a royalty split deal with an indie author? What are your tips for translators who want to do this kind of thing?

Two good questions. The first one is based on an emotional decision. I believe in myself and feel confident to tackle difficult situations. Those are the benefits when you’re around the block for a while. You know, you’re not only willing to give your best but you’re capable of doing it. If you do any work without really standing behind it, then it can turn into a disaster. No success, no payment. You work on a profit base, and that’s a challenge. It’s fair to your client too, but requires that both ‘click’. It’s based on trust and confidence on both sides. The chemistry between author and translator need to match. That’s not always given.

As for some ‘how to’ tips for other translators, I would say to them, ask yourself first whether you’re an entrepreneur type. Full time freelancers usually are, otherwise they wouldn’t make a living. Go for those authors who write the stories that you would like to write yourself. Look at the author’s website or blog. Read up on their history, and see whether you both have something in common. Trust your feelings in such a case, and approach the author. The final decision comes when translator and author communicate with each other.

How should indie authors find a good translator for their book? How do they evaluate it when they don’t speak the language?

That’s the most tricky part. Not so long ago, I read an article about the small world of translators. Never really thought about it until then. Usually it goes the other way round, and translators are approaching authors or work through word of mouth reference.

The worst part is probably the evaluation. References don’t mean a thing, as every non-fiction translation is different because of the author’s different style. Best evaluation might be the route similar to editing. I would ask for roughly five pages of a translation sample, and hand the translator a more difficult passage of my manuscript. If you don’t know the language, then you have to hand those translated samples to some experts for an evaluation, and rely on their opinion. If the difficult passage got translated to your satisfaction, then the easier ones will pass the test anyway. However, this can be an iffy situation already. Hand the same [fiction] translation to three experts for an analysis, and you will get three different opinions.

How do translators work with authors during the translation process?

It depends where they are located. Most of the time, author and translator live far from each other. Yet, in our digital world, this is no problem anymore. The standard communication routes are email and Skype. The more important one is probably email, as it is quick, can be sent at any time, and allows attachments.

You can find me at www.HansMaerker.com and on twitter @h_maerker

filofax

Hans and Joanna both use Filofax diaries!

Note from Joanna

I found Hans brilliant to work with as he has a strong work ethic, translating faster than anticipated to meet the launch deadlines for Midnight. He’s also very organized and responds promptly to emails and work requests. I’ll admit to a little control freakery in my approach to my business, but our emails and skype calls made me feel confident that this project would go well.

We have also kept honesty and openness as our guiding principle around feedback and money discussions. Critical in any business relationship! I schedule most of my meetings months in advance, and Hans was comfortable with that – we even share the same habit of using an old style Filofax as our diaries.

Desecration-Verletzung

Der Tod ist erst der Anfang!

desecration germanDie junge Frau ist reich, schön – und tot. Inmitten der alten medizinischen Ausstellungsstücke des Royal College of Surgeons liegt ihre sezierte Leiche sorgsam aufgebahrt. Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke sucht einen ungewöhnlichen Mörder und ahnt, wieder einmal muss sie bei ihren Ermittlungen ungewöhnliche Wege gehen. Denn sie hat nur eine einzige Spur: Eine kleine antike Elfenbeinfigur, die neben der Toten gefunden wurde. Nur Blake Daniel, Hellseher wider Willen, kann Jamie jetzt noch weiterhelfen.

Als ein schrecklicher privater Schicksalsschlag Jamie zeigt, wie nah der Mörder ihr mit seinen makabren Phantasien schon gekommen ist, ist es beinahe zu spät. Denn je tiefer Jamie und Blake in eine dunkle Welt aus Grabräubern, Missgeburten und rituellen Zeremonien tauchen, desto gefährlicher wird es für ihr Leben …

Jetzt kaufen

amazon-iconibooks icon

Google Play

Hugendubel

Midnight Ullstein

Do you have any questions or comments about publishing in German or any suggestions for marketing ideas? Please do join the conversation and leave a comment below.

Filofax image: Flickr Creative Commons Heudu

How Audiobook Narration And Production Works With Rosalind Ashford, Audible Approved Narrator And Voice Talent

Recently, I outlined the fantastic services that ACX.com provide for authors, as well as some ideas on marketing for audiobooks. Today I interview Rosalind Ashford, narrator for my dark thriller Desecration.

In the intro, I talk about my interpretation of the Hachette/Amazon negotiations and how power imbalance can impact us. I also talk about my upcoming travels, and book launches for the German edition of Pentecost, as well as the Spanish edition, also coming soon.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Rosalind AshfordRosalind Ashford is an actor, voice artist and Audible approved audiobook narrator. She recently narrated my thriller Desecration, available now on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. You can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • How Rosalind got into audiobook narration, and her background in acting.
  • desecration pennWhy the audiobook market is growing and the exciting times to come!
  • What the job of an audiobook narrator includes – the interpretation of the work, reading it through, the performance and acting, the editing and production time
  • Aspects of editing and production including manuscript proofing – it can be 4-10 hours for every 1 hour of finished audio. Amazon Whispersync is only activated on books with a very close match to the text.
  • The different types of characters that Rosalind has narrated and how she remembers how they sound during production
  • The intimacy between the author and the narrator. The relationship that must grow for a good fit between the ‘voice’ of the author and the spoken words of the narrator.
  • Rosalind talks about why she chose Desecration as a royalty split deal, and the importance of the author’s platform in taking a risk.

You can find Rosalind and her many projects at RosalindAshford.com.

Here’s an excerpt of Desecration.

You can find the audiobook here:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Desecration/dp/B00K7I38NQ/

Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Desecration-Audiobook/B00K6KWCLY/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/desecration-unabridged/id876028026

Continue Reading

Self Publishing With NookPress And Marketing To Nook Customers

Barnes & Noble has been a well-known US book brand for many years, and the Nook has consistently been one of the top ebook retailers alongside Amazon, Apple and Kobo in the US.

NookpressBut up until March 2014, non-US authors couldn’t self-publish directly to the Nook platform. We could only reach Nook readers through other distributors like Smashwords. I struggled with price matching in the UK and since I wasn’t selling anything much on Nook, I pulled all my books from the platform in 2013.

But as soon as they opened up to UK authors, I jumped into NookPress and published all my books directly. In this post, I outline my experience with NookPress as well as things I have discovered about Nook marketing, plus, there’s a 25 min interview I did with Colin Eustace, General Manager of B&n Nook Europe with his thoughts.

Self-Publishing on NookPress Directly

I now publish direct on Amazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, iTunes Connect for iBooks and NookPress. The sites all have their idiosyncrasies, with some good and some difficult parts. Here are my thoughts on NookPress:

  • Nookpress account

    Nookpress Project screen with drilldown per book

    NookPress is currently open to authors residing in USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and Belgium. You can also publish in French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch as well as English and be paid in your local currency.

  • The platform is easy to use, with the same type of interface as KDP and Kobo. It has an overview screen, drilldown into each book for changes and a sales reporting screen with monthly downloads.
  • It requires ePub format for upload, but I have found that the same files that load perfectly well on iBooks and Kobo have a lot of errors on Nookpress. I ended up paying for my files to be fixed up, because I have no patience with formatting! Read the guidelines if you want to do it yourself.
  • A great feature is that you can make a change to the file within Nookpress without loading a new file. This is useful if you just want to alter back matter e.g. add in links to new titles.
  • After you have loaded the book, I’ve found that the Preview screen might not reflect what an ePub viewed on another device might look like. An improvement suggestion is for Nook to do the same as Amazon and have Previews by device so we can see what the book will look like on a Nook phone app, versus a tablet.
  • You don’t need an ISBN to publish on Nook but you can optionally add one
  • You can choose up to 5 categories directly, which can only be done with keyword optimization on Amazon, otherwise you only get the usual two.
  • You can list prices in USD, EUR and GBP. It would be great for this to be expanded as the markets are.

Nookpress desecrationMetadata is critical, as with any publishing platform, and I have found that my sales in one month going direct are significantly more than several years going through distributors. I can only put that down to the increase in metadata possibilities since my email lists are not generally Nook readers.

The actual Nook retail site has some of the same bugs as Kobo, in that if you click on an author name you get a lot of extraneous random books. Something like Amazon Author Central would be great to group them together. The review functionality is also missing, so it’s hard for customers to tell what’s good unless the book has been picked for merchandizing. But overall, it’s easy enough to use and the result of publishing direct is increased control, speed of changes and direct royalty payments.

Interview with Colin Eustace, General Manager of Barnes & Noble Nook Europe

I had a conference call with Colin Eustace and asked him a few questions about Nook and how indie authors especially can optimize their use of the platform. It was great to hear him talk so enthusiastically about the importance of NookPress and the company’s future plans for expansion globally. Colin talked about the partnership with Microsoft being important for the cellphone and tablet market, and despite the negative press we hear from the US, it seems that the view from Luxembourg is rosy!

This was an audio only interview, so you can listen below, or download an mp3 file here.

Tips for marketing to Nook customers

I have been searching for that elusive tip that help rocket my sales at Nook. But, like any book marketing, there is no magic bullet! The same Nookpress blogrules apply as to the other stores: Get your metadata right. Write a great book and add an eye-catching cover. Make your sales description brilliant.

Beyond that, remember:

  • Link to your book on Nook. Make sure your website is linking to the sales pages at Nook as well as Amazon. If you tweet book links, use Nook sometimes and not just Amazon all the time. (You know you’re guilty of that!)
  • Make your book attractive to Nook merchandisers by using a professional cover, appropriate pricing and, as on other stores, the more books you have and the more popular they are, the more likely you will get noticed.
  • Use the Nook pricing options if you do paid promotions, like BookBub. You can just tick the box for Nook and then update your price. It’s pretty quick to get price changes through.
  • Network with Nook employees at conventions and book fairs. Humanizing the people behind the store can often be a way to become more positive about your chances to sell more books on a particular platform. You might have a chance for a merchandizing opportunity too, but please be professional in any approach. Don’t just try to sell your book. Be a human and network with authenticity. I recommend the tips in the great book, “Opening up to Indie Authors” by the Alliance of Independent Authors for anyone trying to expand their reach into stores as well as libraries and more.

What’s your experience been publishing with Nookpress? Do you have any tips for growing the Nook reader base? Do you know any specific advertising or review sites for Nook? Please leave your comments below.

Pentecost. Ein ARKANE Thriller Now Available In German

I’ve talked before about the truly mind-blowing possibility of rights exploitation as an indie author, and I am trying to put it into action myself as much as possible!

Today, I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Pentecost in German, now out in multiple ebook formats and coming soon in print. If you read German, you might also like to sign up for my German language list – giveaways and another book coming this summer!

I’ll be doing a mega blog post in the next few weeks on everything from the translation to the launch marketing approach, so expect more detail soon if you’re wanting to experiment with the German market too. For now, here’s the book!

Mysteriöse Kräfte wurden 2000 Jahre lang geheim gehalten. Eine Frau ist in Gefahr, alles zu verlieren.

Pentecost GermanIndien. Auf den heiligen Ghats von Varanasi wird eine Nonne bei lebendigem Leib verbrannt, und Unbekannte stehlen den Stein, den sie bei sich trägt. Das löst eine internationale Jagd nach den Reliquien der Frühkirche aus.

Die Pfingststeine haben die Feuer und das Blut der Märtyrer überdauert. Sie wurden über Generationen von Hütern weitergegeben, die ihre Wirkung und die Aufbewahrungsorte geheim hielten.

Bis jetzt.

In einer Welt, die sich durch religiösen Fundamentalismus verändert, werden die Hüter ermordet, und die gestohlenen Steine sollen für dubiose Zwecke verwendet werden.

Als ihre Schwester und ihre Nichte entführt werden, macht sich die Psychologin Morgan Sierra von der Universität Oxford auf die Suche nach den Steinen. Sie wird dabei von Jake Timber unterstützt, der für ARKANE arbeitet, ein geheimnisvolles britisches Regierungsinstitut, das auf übersinnliche und religiöse Erfahrungen spezialisiert ist. Morgan muss ihr eigenes Leben riskieren, um ihre Familie zu retten – wird sie dabei am Ende verraten?

PentecostGermanBanner2Die Suche nach den Steinen führt Morgan und Jake von frühchristlichen Stätten in Spanien, Italien und Israel bis in entlegene Orte im Iran und in Tunesien. Es ist ein Wettlauf gegen die Zeit, bevor ein neues Pfingsten heraufbeschworen wird, bei dem es diesmal um die Feuer des Bösen geht.

PENTECOST ist die erste Folge der ARKANE Serie. Der temporeiche Thriller handelt von Grenzbereichen des Glaubens vor dem Hintergrund von frühchristlicher Geschichte, Archäologie und Psychologie.

Jetzt kaufen

amazon-iconnook-iconKobo_Icon-150x150ibooks11912

ePubli

Google Play

Weltbild.de

Buecher.de

Rezensionen

vorablesen reviewsRead some of the early reviews on Vorablesen.de:

„Das Buch hat mich ein wenig an Dan Browns “Da Vinci Code” erinnert, ist aber auf jeden Fall kein Abklatsch und es lohnt sich, das Buch zu lesen!”

„Zuerst war ich skeptisch und dachte ‚noch so ein Mystery-Thriller à la Dan Brown’ aber dieser Thriller hat mich von der ersten bis zur letzten Seite einfach mitgerissen. TOLL! Mehr davon!”

„Ich war positiv überrascht, wie es der Autorin gelungen ist, die Bibel so real in ihr Werk einzubauen. Ich werde sicher die weiteren ARKANE Bücher lesen.”

If you read German and have ideas for marketing, please do let me know! Or if you have any tips for marketing to German speaking readers, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Publishing: Why You Should Care About Ebook vs Print Formatting

One of the fantastic rewards of writing a book is being able to hold a physical copy in our hands. Regardless of other definitions of success, the thrill never goes away.

letterpressI’m a huge fan of print-on-demand, and one of the most popular posts on the blog is Top 10 tips on self-publishing print books on Createspace by Dean Fetzer. Today, Dean is back to share a common question about formatting ebooks vs print.

I get asked this question a lot: “Can I use my CreateSpace PDF for the ebook version?”

The simple answer is ‘no’. Well, you could, but I doubt you’d be very happy with the finished results — and more importantly, neither would your readers. Frankly, a PDF is the last format you should use to create an ebook from as it does so many things that you just don’t want an ebook to do.

Flow vs rigid formatting

With a printed book, you want to control as much as you possibly can, from how the text aligns to the headers at the tops of the pages to where the page numbers sit on the page: that all needs to be exact to provide the best printed reading experience you can for your readers.

Ebooks, on the other hand, need to flow. You’ve no idea what the person reading your book is reading it on, much less whether they use really small text or enlarge it so they can read it easily. Even if all you format your book for is the Kindle platform, each model varies in the way it displays the written word.

If your book doesn’t adjust to that, they’re not going to enjoy reading it.

Differences in Kindle formatting

 

You can see from these three examples how different even the Kindle platform is when each device displays the book differently.

Ebooks are basically created using hypertext, the same language that web pages use to format content for the internet, albeit with fewer options for styling the text for the viewer. (No, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn HTML to set out your book, it just means you need to think differently about how you do it.)

The key for ebooks is about ‘flow’: how does your text look when you enlarge the font size on your reading device? What happens when it gets smaller? The pages reformat themselves automatically to fit the screen of the device and your book needs to do that, too. This is the main reason page numbers are pretty much worthless on an ereader — how do you know what page it is if the text has reflowed to fit the screen or the needs of the reader?

Minimal formatting

Your printed book looks great on paper, but that’s because a lot of effort has gone into making it fit the page, not to mention all the other work that goes into setting a book out for the printed page. Not so with ebooks – if anything you want less control.

The key to a successful ebook is to minimise the amount of additional formatting: that means no funky fonts, no weird margins and try to avoid tables or other text constructs in your copy that require a specific format.

I know, I know, “it looks so much better if that funny bit is in Comic Sans” — trust me, nothing looks better in Comic Sans. And if you want to keep your reader interested, you need to make the reading experience as easy for them as possible.

Keep formatting to a minimum. This means that rather than use an unusual font that isn’t supported by a lot of devices, go for bolding a basic font or use italics instead. If you have to use a different font, put it in a graphic. That way you can control the look and feel without resorting to embedding unusual fonts or anything else that will look bad on an ereader screen.

Sure you can indent a paragraph, just don’t try to lock it into a particular size or style at the same time. Don’t use drop caps as that’s another option that will just cause problems.

First tip: keep it simple. By that I mean take out any text formatting that is going to cause the reader problems with your book.

Graphics

Photos or other images need to be high resolution for a print book – at least 300 dpi – it’s just the way printers work and the best way to get good results from your printed book. Graphics for ebooks, on the other hand, only need to be screen resolution.

So the simple explanation is that graphics need to be resized. Don’t worry, this is done by a lot of the converters out there, so it’s not a huge worry, but if you use a lot of images, I would recommend resizing them yourself before you put them in the ebook to avoid complications later. And by all means, keep them to a  minimum.

Tip: keep images to a minimum and resize them before you submit your ebook.

Page breaks

Page breaks or section breaks are important in print and ebooks, as they keep chapters from flowing into each other and separate text you don’t want flowing on from a previous text block. Use them.

One of the worst crimes in terms of manuscript formatting I’ve seen is the use of paragraph returns to separate pages. I spend a good portion of my life taking paragraph returns out of manuscripts. So don’t do it. That’s what page and section breaks are for. I prefer section breaks between chapters because that’s more useful than a simple page break and provides a better standard of break.

Tip: use section breaks between chapters.

File formats

Okay, you’ve got your file ready for publication in print, so now what? That print file is a good place to start, just remember that you’ll need to simplify it for your ebook. It’s probably too complicated and not necessarily laid out in the right order to suit your electronic version.

For your ebook, you need to get it into the right format for the device you’re planning to publish on. The most popular version of format is the ‘.epub’ file format. Yes, I know, Kindle Direct Publishing until recently preferred a ‘.mobi’ file format (don’t write in), but they will now accept an unbundled .epub file, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Personally, I always submit a .mobi file to KDP as I know where it’s been. By that, I mean that it is formatted in such a way that nine times out of ten I can predict how it’s going to behave.

This is probably the most common question I get asked: “How do I convert my book to the right format?” The straight answer is there is no simple way to do it that will guarantee you the best results. I usually code my books by hand until they’re ready to be made into an epub file, then convert them to .mobi for Kindle.

“How do I get my book into a .mobi format?”, I can hear you ask? Well, that’s the difficult part. No one has yet come up with an easy way to generate a .mobi file, although it’s easy enough to convert a file with a shareware app like Calibre. I find that Calibre’s conversion is a bit too rough and doesn’t always compile the files correctly.

A simple way to get to an .epub is to import a modern Microsoft Word file (.docx) into Calibre and then convert it to the epub format. You will need to add a table of contents and either link them to bookmarks for each of your chapters via the Hyperlink function or produce the file on a PC which will allow you to embed the links as HTML. Why the Mac version doesn’t do this, I don’t know.

Once I’ve got the epub file, I put the book through Kindle’s free application KindleGen on the Mac to convert it to a .mobi file. This isn’t something I’d recommend for everyone, as it uses Apple’s Terminal application and does take a bit of know-how of the Unix command line to do this kind of conversion.

If you’re converting to a .epub file, I would recommend Calibre as the results for that conversion have been pretty good for me. Once you’ve produced an epub file, you need to see if it validates by using something like ePub Checker or use an online validator to test it. If it doesn’t pass the checks, it won’t be a submittable file. And it won’t always give you enough information about what is wrong with the file.

There are a number of places to look for advice online but I’d recommend Mobile Read for general advice and great forums, Joel Friedlander  is always a good source (here he talks about decision making when producing your ebook) and this blog entry has some great resources, too. Oh, and Joel Friedlander has just added a new kind of template that allows you to do both versions from the same file.

I know Joanna uses Scrivener to compile her ebooks and is happy with the results, but again, it takes a bit of work to get it to come out correctly to the standard you want. Personally, I don’t like giving that control up – hey, I’m a control freak with a perfectionist streak, what can I say?

Alternatively, you can always pay someone like me to do the conversion, so you don’t have to or you can submit a Word file that you’ve reformatted to be as simple as possible, to KDP or one of the others and hope for the best.

The end result

This is what you’re looking for: a file that passes KDP or any other ebook platform’s checks to get your book published. It’s not an easy job and if you’ve seen a badly formatted ebook, you know exactly what I mean.

The final tip I’d give is to do the best you can to make sure your book provides a great reading experience for the reader.

And I can help!

If this all this seems too daunting, I can help you produce the best ebook for your project. And I’m reasonable!

Dean Fetzer - www.deanfetzer.com

You can find more information on the services I provide at www.gunboss.com or contact me through the form on the site.

Dean Fetzer is the author of four thrillers, a former pub reviewer and has been a graphic designer for more than 20 years, designing for print and then the internet before naturally moving into book design.