Join Anne-Marie Concepción for an in-depth discussion in this video Services that convert your file to EPUB, part of Ebook Foundations.
- [Instructor] If you're not that into creating an e-book in all the different formats yourself, or maybe you're just too busy, or you have a big project with lots of books that need to be converted, you should consider using a third party service to do it for you. I have brought up a whole bunch of ones that have a very good reputation, and the main thing you want to look for is what formats will they take your book. Hopefully, you have it in Microsoft Word, and they'll take a Word document, or if you've already gone to the trouble of creating an e-pub, and you just want them to add it to all the stores and list it for you, and then you give them your account number, and they put the money in, maybe that would work as well.
Also, who owns the rights to the book, of course, you always want to keep the rights, and who shows up as the publisher, usually you would show up as the publisher in the iBookstore or the Kobo store, but you just want to double check that, and how easy it is to update the book and so on. Of course, in the end, how much do they charge. Most e-book resellers will keep a percentage like the iBookstore keeps 30% of all proceeds from your e-book sales and sends you the remaining 70%, but most of these services, of course, also need to make some money, and they'll take either a per sale cost of a few cents, or they'll take a percentage of the gross or the net that you get from the e-book reseller.
Well, these are the kind of things you want to find out and compare. When you work with one, you're not tied to just that one. You could list one book with one and then another book with another, and see how they do. I think the one that's kind of most famous or maybe infamous among professional e-book developers, is Smashwords. They take your Word file, and they put it through what they call the meat grinder that turns it into the lowest common denominator, reflowable e-pub that will work basically anywhere. If you go to Smashwords.com and click on How to Publish on Smashwords, you'll see that these are all the places that they will distribute your e-pub to, and it says you'll earn 60% of list price and up to 80% list at the Smashwords store.
This company has their own bookstore. Then there's highlights about their services and how to get started, and this is the key, Smashwords Style Guide. It tells you exactly how to set up your Word doc. There's not going to be any surprises. You'll see that chapter headings should be set up as H1, and subheadings as H2, and so on, but this is the key to how Smashwords works. If you have an e-book that's more complicated, that's not so text heavy and has lots of graphics or you want interactivity, Smashwords is not the answer.
Now another service is Lulu.com, and they've been around forever. If you come here and you go to Create an e-book, you can either give them an e-book or a Word file, or they can make the e-book for you, and even if it's a little bit more complicated than normal, they have a guiding hand. Nothing goes through anything like a meat grinder. It's a great company, and you should check them out. Similiarly, Draft2Digital is really simple to work with. IngramSpark, a lot of my clients have said that they've decided to go with IngramSpark.
One of the cool things about IngramSpark is that Ingram themselves is a very well-known book distributor, and they'll work with your e-book and also your print book. They can help you turn it into a print book. Just go to Plan Your Book, and go down to e-book, and choose EPUB guidelines. Basically they want an EPUB for your book's interior and a JPEG image for your cover, so they don't take a Word file. You have to give them an EPUB. There's instructions about how to prep the pub file that are pretty easy to follow. Another higher end company like Ingram, is Aptara.
I know a lot of small and medium-sized publishers use Aptara to turn their back lists into e-books, for example. Then, a cool new one on the scene is called Pronoun, and for now, everything is completely free with Pronoun. You can create, as they say down here, create a gorgeous e-book, sell it on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and more. They help you market your book. They give you a professional author page, all for free. So at some point, they're going to start charging for it, and they're pretty upfront about that, but right now it's free.
I brought this page up because your other option is to actually hire a company or freelancer to turn your manuscript into an e-book, and that's part of what my business does, and a lot of my colleagues, they'll take your files, and they'll convert them to an e-pub or a mobi or a fixed layout or iBooks for you, and that way, you get to work one on one with somebody who specializes in this. Smashwords has an interesting page that I found. It's called Mark's List. I'm not quite sure who Mark is, could be the founder, I don't know, I've never used them myself, but he's got this wonderful list of e-book developers that know how to work with Smashwords.
So if you're not that familiar with Word and you just want to hand it off to somebody, look at this guy, $50.00 a title, that's not bad. There's that list, and then I love this list here. At digitalbookworld.com, they have a directory of e-book design and development companies. Large vendors and then they have individuals, scrolling down, very useful here. So, there are lots of services to help you take your manuscript, no matter what shape it's in, and convert it into something, and distribute it and sell it for you for free or at a very low cost.
You might consider that.
- Finding, downloading, and reading free ebooks
- Choosing the right format for your ebook
- Building reflowable EPUBs and fixed-layout EPUBs
- Using tools like Word, Sigil, calibre, Jutoh, Pages, PubCoder, and InDesign
- Adding animation and interactivity such as clickable buttons
- Creating ebooks for the Kindle
- Learning the pros and cons of PDF ebooks
- Creating reflowable and multitouch ebooks with iBooks Author