Prepare Your Source Files

Make it an eBook

eBooks are unique editions of your book. Long gone are the days of reprographic electronic versions. If converting from a physical title or print version's source files, take out all remnants of the print book. Search for and remove the following types of items or terms: "printed in", "printed on", embedded page numbers, advertisements for print versions of the book, coupons, forms, puzzles, “notes”, work book sections, etc. Retailers will reject your book if it contains these remnants because it’s confusing to the customer. 

Garbage in, garbage out

Take the time to look through all your image files to ensure that there is no pixelation, blurriness, illegibility, or any random white lines or other compression remnants. Beware of PDF or Word Doc compression. Your book designer should be able to supply high quality source files at least 150 DPI or 300 DPI for photographs. Do not use CMYK files. Please also note that Apple restricts image sizes to 3 million square pixels and Amazon restricts images to 5MB in their propriety MOBI files.

*Images must sometimes be redesigned to fit the dimensions of e-reader device screens too. Conversion partners will downsize and optimize your images but please be aware of how these rules will affect your designs.

Source files are final files

The source file must be the final, fully copy edited version (if not, ask for proof reading services to be included in your conversion costs). Post-conversion editing is like asking the printer to reprint all the books. While not as expensive, it can certainly add to costs and delay eBook production significantly. Scanned books that have been OCR’d need to be thoroughly copy edited because OCR is not 100% correct. Copy editing must extend beyond spell checking to include checks for proper spacing and text formatting as well.

Be prepared for the tiny screens (Reflowable vs. Fixed Layout)

Think about what will not display or read well in a reflowable eBook file where text can be sized to the reader’s specifications. Reflowable books should not have double columns, sidebars, background images, transparencies, full page images, etc. If you can’t make these changes to your design, you will need a Fixed Layout file created. Device screens are much smaller than book pages so prepare to adjust your Fixed Layout designs for them. And remember, if you need any re-design needed to make the book available in eBook form, this is going to cost extra. Design work is different from conversion work.

True Type (TTF) or Open Type (OTF) fonts can be embedded if you have the rights to do so:

Make sure you own the rights to embed a font’s files. Embedding requires sharing the actual font files. Some font files have DRM over them to block illegal sharing and embedding. A designer may be able to design with and print a font, but they may not have the right to send a font’s file to your conversion partner to embed in an eBook file.

Note: All retailers will take EPUB files with embedded fonts. If an older device can't display the font that is embedded, it will just display one it can support.

You can use the same cover as your print edition if you have the rights to do so:

Sometimes the cover designer has not sold you the rights to use the cover in the eBook edition- make sure you check!


Make sure your preliminary pages have all the information needed:

A unique ISBN is required for the eBook edition. You may include in the eBook any ISBNs for other editions of the book, for example:  Print Edition, Library Edition. Copyright pages should have at least the following information: Title, Author, Copyright © [Year Created] by [Name]

Consider “template-ing” your files for easier eBook production:

Reformatting and coding books to go from paper to digital screens can still be a very manual process, especially if your book has unique design elements. Possible solutions:

  • Creating simple design templates for your eBook editions in InDesign or Word makes conversion easier and more cost effective.
  • Large publishers may be interested in developing an XML workflow and working with the Open Document Type standard. XML allows you to establish “markups” which can cut out manual steps. Our conversion partners are available to help you develop a DTD/Schema.  Here is a great diagram explaining XML workflows:
  • Small publishers may be interested in using the template-based tool Press Books which allows you to choose an already created eBook template. All you have to do is fill it in, much like a blog editor uses Word Press: It works with all text-only books, books with many images or designs may be too complex for the tool.
  • Publishers who produce illustrated children’s or highly designed books may be interested in Metrodigi’s Chaucer tool which also uses a web based tool for easy eBook creation and export: It works very well with all types of books and especially allows for unique designs.
  • Partner with one of our conversion partners and we can help develop a cost effective solution for you. Sometimes it is just best to outsource!

Most Importantly:

Consult the eBook QA Rules (retailer requirements) and Retailer Quick Guide for all information regarding retailer requirements.