So, you’ve been through the painstaking process of writing, editing, and proof reading your book. Maybe you’ve even gone so far as to have had it beta read. The question is: Is it print ready? In our experience, most books aren’t. In the rush to get their book published, many authors overlook the nitty gritty details of what used to be called simply “typesetting.” Those details can make all the difference between a frustrating publication process, and one that goes swimmingly well, producing a top quality product.
- Did you use a template when you wrote the book? You’d be surprised at how many authors don’t. If you’re one of them, apply a book template now! It will save you a lot of money in ebook conversion and typesetting costs.
- Do you have two versions of your manuscript? You should! One for your ebook, with your “web-links” intact, and another for print where the weblinks are replaced by more traditional notes and bibliographic references. Is there anything that says “amateur” like a print book filled with blue underlined text, or an ebook with dead footnotes?
- Do you have two versions of your graphics? You should! In fact, you might need three! Ebooks use “web standard” graphics. That means they use the RGB color space and exactly 72ppi. Printers require a much higher ppi rate. 300 is pretty much considered the minimum. If you’re offset printing, you will also need to color separate the print book graphics for the printer. (POD printers don’t usually require this.) If the interior of the book is black and white, but the graphics are in color in the ebook, you’ll need to convert all your graphics over to 300ppi black and white images. Not all images convert to two colors gracefully. Keep that in mind when selecting graphics. It will save a lot of hair pulling later.
- Do you have two book covers? If you’re doing a physical print as well as an ebook, you’ll need both. The same rules apply to covers as graphics, and any decent cover designer will know this and supply you with the ebook cover at no extra cost. (I mean, really! It is just a front cover cut reduced to RGB at 72 ppi.)
- Do you know what kind of ebook you need? While inside the Amazon ecosystem, things aren’t changing all that much – Kindle is just “mobipocket,” a very limited, 20 year old technology. Outside of Amazon, things are on the move. The epub 3.0 standard opened up the ebook world considerably. If your book is a picture book or an academic book, you may need this functionality to present your book properly (at the expense of losing readers who use older technology). A simple novel, on the other hand, is far more forgiving in its presentation requirements. Graphic novels have their own e-publishing standards (though epub 3.0 now does graphic novels very well, also). It’s still the wild west out there in ebook land. A bit of study, or the opinion of an expert, is advised for complex projects.
Today’s readers aren’t really all that different from readers five hundred years ago: They want to immerse themselves in their reading experience. They want to “dive into” the book. That means presenting them with a familiar, comfortable reading experience. In the old days, that meant every book needed to comply with a long list of familiar typesetting customs and traditions that guaranteed a familiar look and feel. Today, that comfort comes from an alchemical stew made up only in part by your content. The other part is provided by the reading device and its software. Even the best software can’t make a badly formatted ebook look great; but it can turn a good presentation into a great one.
This article was written by Michael Matson of “Metaphor Publications.” You can contact Michael via their official website.