I'm now working with a digital publisher, which means I get to see a lot of ebook covers and overhear a lot of discussion about ebook covers. So I went looking for info (I'm the web-research person, because my Google-fu is good and my skim-and-read rate is phenomenal) and came up with a roundup of posts about ebook cover design, ranging from technical to artistic to commercially-focused.

What I concluded:
  • Every frickin ebook store on the web wants different shapes of ebook covers. Find a good compromise, and expect to make a few variants anyway.
  • Readability, or at least recognizeability, at thumbnail size (about 150 pixels high) is crucial.
  • Covers are not part of the story; they're part of the advertising.

Jan Marshal at iwritereadrate.com: Tips For Authors: eBook Cover Design Advice from @Jan_Marshall
"• Aim to create three covers, then choose the best. You don’t have to stick with these; you can wander off at a tangent as you work.
• Look at covers in your genre and analyze how they work. Sticking with genre conventions, make something about your cover better or more striking. (Easy to say!)"

9 (or 10, depending on how you count) more blog posts about ebook cover design )
Poking through various publishing/ebook blogs, these are the posts of interest to me recently. Some of them have multiple links to other blogs, and those are often worth reading too. The first one, especially, is worth some talk. I'm also annoyed at the growing number of self-pub authors who are releasing first drafts with intent to edit after the reviews start coming in and telling them what readers didn't like.

Dear Author: When I bought your book, I didn't sign up to be your beta reader (grumbling about major edits after release, like adding new chapters)

Carolyn Jewel: Why Ebook Formatting Matters (with screencaps!)

Guest post @ Publishing a Book is an Adventure: Amazon and Book Review Ownership (Amazon claims management rights for reviews on their site. Not quite claiming copyright, but they don't allow authors to use those quotes; authors would have to get permission from the reviewer.)

The Passive Voice: You Say Documents; I say Source Files (formatting manuscripts for ebook production; quote of another person's post + commentary by PG.)

Indie Author News: How to Avoid Bad Book Reviews (Importance of researching one's selected reviewers)
Last year, Steven Saus, who is a digital first publisher and has done the e-book conversions for Jim Hines, among others, wrote a book about writing ebooks, which he published first on his blog and is now selling for $9.99.

The version on his blog is not really collated, it's under his ebooks tag, which includes a lot of other entries about the business of ebooks. So, I am collating here, in approximate order, his So You Want to Make an Ebook entries to date. (Since the original publication, he's added some entries for version 2.)

So You Want To Make An Ebook )
Every month, book designer Joel Friedlander hosts an ebook cover contest on his blog. AFAIK, it's just a personal thing... "send me ebook covers; I will pick 1 winner per month in each of the Fiction and Nonfiction categories, and showcase some of the rest." However, since he has decades of experience in the industry and a terrific eye, people keep playing. I love these awards; he not only shows what's done very well, but what's *almost* great, but fails because of bad typography or too much clutter or other problems that plague ebook covers.

e-Book Cover Design Awards, April 2012

He keeps reiterating that "shrink the paper cover" is often a bad decision--that what works on an ebook and what works on paper are different. Ebook covers, since they need to look good at roughly icon size (or icon width, and can be a bit taller), just look cluttered if they have two sentences of text under the title, and swirling elaborate fonts often get lost.

I like the cover for "Blood and Guitars;" it's one of the few I've seen where the lack of obvious border works well.
Print books are a page-based layout medium. What the producer puts on the page is what the receiver sees, barring exotic technological interventions. (Colored filters for dyslexic readers, magnifying lenses, complex projectors that put the content up on a large screen... whatever. Those aren't how most books are read.)

Ebooks, on the other hand, are a tagged-language medium. What the producer creates is the suggestion of format; what the receiver views is filtered through hardware and software to display something like that intent. In order to make reflowable text, able to grow or shrink or display sideways in the device, the creator can't decide exactly where the line breaks go, how deep the margins are, and how many words fit on a page. The exact appearance of the ebook will be based somewhat on the software and hardware used to read it.

This is a very basic overview of what kind of things make ebooks look different from each other & from print books. )
In sad news, squee!Book's epubs have mostly been broken for me since I posted this entry last week. If I load them directly to my ereader, I get a Page Error when I try to read them. If I convert from epub to epub in Calibre, it does this crazy thing where it treats 10...or 50... pages as if they are one page. While I have gotten it to work on occasion, it's not working more than it is working.
jumpuphigh: Dreamsheep in front of bookshelf with text "Books make everything better" (Booksheep)
([personal profile] jumpuphigh Jan. 6th, 2012 01:35 am)
I just used squee!Book to translate a fanfic to epub format for my ereader and noticed that it now accepts Dreamwidth links for stories. My life has just gotten much better!

If you've never used it before, you plug in the title, author, and link to the story or the text of the story and it will create a book for you to save on your computer. It looks like you can use a photo to create a custom cover as well but I haven't played with that yet.

According to the site, it accepts links from "Fanfiction.net, Livejournal, Dreamwidth & AO3...[and]text from other URLs will need fixing...."
It will create a book in these formats: .txt .html .pdf .rtf .fb2 .epub .mobi

ETA: The About page made me laugh. It's also full of other good information that I didn't know and thus, did not share with you.
Finally, I've come across a software for downloading large multichapter fanfics directly into ebook format from the archive sites holding most of my favorite fics: adultfanfiction.net, mediaminer.org and fanfiction.net. It supports a couple more sites, just check out if your favs are included.

Fanfiction Downloader (version 0.4.1) uses Calibre for creating the ebooks and is the first downloader I've come across that produces good epubs (pdf, mobi, lrf... Calibre be praised!). :-)

When you're a friend of fanfic epics, this might make reading them on your reader so much more comfortable.
Smashwords' blog has a linkspam post about How to Self-Publish an Ebook with Smashwords: 31 Authors Share Their Tips and Tricks

All of them that I've read so far have a strong nod to the Style Guide. While authors pretty much universally insist that following the style guide gets good results, they don't point out the nuisance level involved: in order to follow the guide *exactly,* you have to *strip all formatting from your book,* then use Word's Style functions to put it back. This gets faster with practice, but authors who are used to thinking of the edited-and-proofread version as "finished" are likely to be annoyed at the extra few hours (for a novel) of formatting time.

Also. No matter how excellently well you've followed the guide, the RTF version is likely to be lousy. Tolerable at best. (I assume the guide itself was formatted with the guide; its RTF version is unpleasant to read & needs a lot of reformatting to be suitable for print.) And the Meatgrinder only allows those features supported by the simplest format ... no tables, no drop caps, limited image placement options.

Still, though... 31 authors being enthusiastic about Smashwords. None of them, AFAIK, are on the Konrath path to wealth & internet power, but they're all *happy* about getting their ebooks at Smashwords. They're not saying, "Do this and become rich!" They're saying, "This was definitely worth doing, and it could be for you, too." Some of them are making money. Some are making connections. Some are just learning new skills, and happy with that.
 is there a simple way to turn articles I am reading online into epubs?  Right now, I can copy them into a word doc, which I save as a pdf and then transform into an epub using this site.  I am always shocked to find out that I already had the tools at my disposal to do something simpler so I thought I'd check!
I recently picked up a used Sony PRS-600 to try out ereaders properly, and so far I like it. However, I have noticed that EPUB files converted from PDF annoy the hell out of me, because they have hard page breaks, which do not coincide with ereader pages on my preferred font size. So I have two questions:

1) What's the easiest way to edit EPUB files created by someone else to add a table of contents, fix formatting issues and typos, etc.?

2) What's the easiest way to create basic EPUB files from scratch, if one felt inclined to do so? (No images, no fancy formatting.)

I could do it entirely by hand, but that seems less than efficient--I'd rather generate the file automatically and clean up by hand if necessary. I'm using a Mac, current operating system, and I do have Adobe InDesign (CS3), but that sounds like it might be overkill. Free is good.

Has anyone tried Sigil or eCub? Have another favorite EPUB editor/creator?

Also--does anyone happen to know how the PRS-600 handles epub ebooks that were originally created from HTML that had non-Roman unicode characters (e.g. Chinese)? I know I am going to run into this on occasion. Do ebooks with non-Roman characters have to be PDFs to display correctly?

Ello :D

I have bought an ebook , and it was provided in the following formats: .lit, .pdf, .rtf, and .txt.

I know I can use Calibre to create a .epub file to read on my reader, but I was wondering if anyone knows which of the four formats will produce the best .epub ouput.

By best I mean the clearest, most readable layout with the least amount of weird / haphazard line breaks or unrecognised / garbled symbols.

I am also using osx (macintosh), so I know I could open the .rtf, and .txt. in Pages.app and save as epub, but in my (limited) experience this produces worse results than Calibre does.

I want to save to .epub because I have a Sony reader and find epubs display on it (in my opinion) the most clearly, and also supports font upscaling / text re-flow more accurately

Any help / advice much appreciated.
I managed to get some epub files from a friend and I would like to convert them to PDF since I can't take my laptop everywhere to read through the ebook reader on my laptop. I've tried printing them to the acrobat distiller printer and saving them as PDF, but that failed.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I've tried ABC converter and it doesn't render the text correctly.

Thanks in advance.

Calibre did it. I was able to convert it and now I'm converting all my LIT files. Horrors.

Just for the record, the Linux version of Calibre didn't work, but the Windows version did. (I have a dual-boot system)

Now to get all my PDFs into TXT format so I can read them on my DS. FUN!!!
I am looking at finally upgrading from my ancient ebookwise 1150 to something newer. I am thinking a Nook will be the best choice for me, but I am wondering how easy it is to get fanfic loaded onto it.

Right now to load fic on my ebookwise I simply have to:

1. save a journal or archive post as html file
2. run it through the ebookwise librarian
3. load it on the reader

It is really *really* easy and I love it. Is the nook that easy to put non-purchased from B&N files on? Any info would be most appreciated!


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