Q & A: E-Book Formatting: The Next Generation of Readers are Electronic

On 16th March our webinar on E-Book Formatting: The Next Generation of Readers are Electronic was interesting and packed with great info. Our panel consisted of Claudia Jackson (from Telemachus Press who have launched NovelHelp University) and April Hamilton (founder and Editor in Chief of Publetariat).

They answered a lot of questions but we still had a few unanswered. This post answers those questions. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments for our panel.

1. What are some of the best tools for keeping track of various sales and reports once your ebooks are up on a variety of vendors’ sites? [Kalen Cap]

Claudia Jackson:
Each vendor has their own reporting system for sales. Amazon, B&N and Apple are immediate. Sales numbers from Smashwords are not always immediate as they have to wait to receive reports from companies they distribute to.

April Hamilton:
Each site offers real-time reporting tools, so I’ve never felt a need to employ any outside, dedicated sales tracking tools.

2. Is it better to format your own or go to a service like Smashwords and all the others out there? And if better to format your own, is it better to sell it from your website or go through a service for that? [Sibyl White]

Claudia Jackson:
If u can format on your own u save money. Smashwords converts files and distributes. Formatting and converting are two different things. U format your book in preparation for converting file for different ereaders. smashwords converts your already formatted (prepared) file. As for selling? Sell it everywhere u can!

April Hamilton:
The answer to the first question depends on your skills and level of techno-savvy. The more skills and comfort you have with things like HTML and file conversions, the more likely you are to succeed with DIY conversions. The answer to the latter question is, it depends. It depends on your goals for the book, the strength of your overall platform, whether retail outlets like Amazon, B&N and the iBookstore have policies or pricing standards with which you disagree, etc. etc. In general, I’d say at the minimum you must offer your ebook in Kindle format on Amazon. Beyond that, it’s a decision to be made on a case by case basis.

3. Have uploaded PDF and epub formats to Kindle. All white space is removed, paragraph indents disappear, and on some pages direct speech comes undone. Tried converting Open Office manuscripts to HTML but cannot get rid of lines at breaks. Thanks – [David Milnes]

Claudia Jackson:
PDF and EPUB are not appropriate for kindle. I would suggest using HTML and the KindleGen software to create a .MOBI file to upload to kindle.

April Hamilton:
I can’t really troubleshoot this document based on the information provided here, and to be frank, I always refuse to pick up someone else’s conversion job midstream because it’s much more difficult and time-consuming to try and fix a problematic file than it is to simply re-do the conversion over from the beginning myself.

4. Do organizations like amazon.com demand exclusive rights? Do they agree to publishing also via print book publishers? – [Hugo Tschudin]

Claudia Jackson:
Reputable orgs do not demand exclusive rights. Amazon accepts from all.

April Hamilton:
When you publish to the Kindle you do not give up any of your rights, save one: the right to publish another Kindle edition in the same format as Amazon’s. However, given that the Amazon Kindle format is proprietary (.azw), it’s more or less impossible to violate that restriction, anyway. You’re still free to publish the same content in any other formats you like, e, audio or print, and offer the same content for sale in those other formats anywhere you like at any price and under any terms you like. However, if you’ve opted in for Amazon’s 70% royalty option, you will be subject to Amazon’s “price parity” policy as well. Read more about that here. I can’t speak to all other publishing service providers’ policies, they vary from provider to provider.

5. How do I find a way to protect my copyright. – [Julia Widdop]

Claudia Jackson:
Copyright laws have changed. Your copyright begins when u put pen to paper. You cannot copyright an idea.

April Hamilton:
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf (from www.copyright.gov, the U.S. copyright site)

What are your thoughts? Would you like to add to the answers? Have questions about using e-book formatting and publishing? Leave your questions and suggestions in the comments for our panel.

Apart from being the Community Engagement Manager at BookBuzzr, Freya is an Incurable Drama Queen, Mind-Vagabond, OCDed Control Freak, Innate Traveller, Proud-Softie Dog Mama, Insatiable Reader and Irregular Blogger. She lives in Bangalore, India with her family of six dogs and a husband. Connect with Freya on twitter @freya3377 or her blog Life as Freya.
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