As we mentioned before, this means we don't “work” in Word. When we’re done, what you get back from us are two complete ebook files, ready for upload to Amazon and Nook. You can also upload the ePUB version to other ebook retailers like iBooks and Kobo. As part of that process, you receive the ePUB initially, and use that as your "review copy." Only when you are satisfied with that format do we go on to make the Kindle edition. Once that's completed, and reviewed by you to your satisfaction, are you done.
This does mean that you do not get a revised Word file returned to you, complete with any copy-edits you may have made during our production. If you want a revised Word file, let us know, and we’ll include that option when we create your Quote.
We make all your regular narrative paragraphs the same. We add first-line indents, if you did not use them. If you added an extra “return” between paragraphs, we remove those. Extra white lines between paragraphs are discouraged by ebook retailers, as are block-style paragraphs (paragraphs without an indent, with a blank line between each).
For the first paragraph of every Chapter, and the first paragaph after a scene-break, we use flush-left paragraphs (no first-line indent). This is the usual industry standard right now, although some authors prefer something like this: * * *. If this is your preference, simply say so.
As an example of flush-left paragraphs and whitespace for scenebreaks, please see the screenshot of "Jan of Cleveland," in our Mini-FAQ, in the Using Vertical Whitespace for Visual Cues article.
The very first thing that we do to your file when we start production is to convert your source material, whether you typed it in Word or gave it to us in PDF, into HTML. HTML is the same thing that makes web-browsers work, like Internet Explorer or Firefox. Ebooks have a very limited range of HTML, because much of what has become the standard was adopted from HTML as it was in the early 1990's, not the much fancier HTML that you see on websites today.
It takes us 3 more steps to get your PDF into HTML than it does from any word-processing program, like Word or Open Office or WordPerfect. This is why conversion from PDF is more expensive than from a word processed manuscript.
HTML is basically the heart of your eBook. It’s what makes the Chapter headings appear where and how they should, puts page breaks before them, and controls the appearance and layout of your book.
Once we have the HTML, we perform cleanup on it. Some books are easier to clean than others. Some people are very familiar with Word and how to use it, and their books will be “clean" Word files. Some people are not, and we have to do a lot of cleanup on the HTML so that all our books start from the same, cleaned-HTML place. If you are the kind of person who knows how to use Word’s Pilcrow feature, and see your codes, you probably will have very little cleanup, if any. If you’re the kind of Word or Open Office user that doesn't know how to use the Styles and Formatting features, your manuscript will take more cleanup.
What do we do when we “clean" your book? We look for hidden codes that will make your book come out looking bad. As one example, our programs and Crews look for broken paragraphs, so that our “automagic" programs can fix them. They don’t catch them all, but they do catch between 60-80%. This is why we strongly urge you to check your manuscript very carefully before you send it to us for conversion, so that hopefully, we don’t find any of these.
Then we look for “special paragraphs.” These are things like song lyrics, or poems, or indented paragraphs that are meant to convey a diary entry, or a newspaper article, something like that. A format you used to clue the reader that what they are now reading is different than the regular narrative flow. When we find these, we mark them so we can format them correctly in the eBook.
We look for scene-breaks, so we can format those properly.
If you put Headers and Footers in your book, like a “running header," which only means that you have the author name on the top of the left-hand-page and the title on the right, or the other way around, we remove them. Ebooks don't have headers that are contained inside the book. Some eBook devices do create these in the devices themselves, but they do it by using invisible information that we embed inside the book. It's not like a print book, where it's typed at the top or bottom of every page.
eBooks also do not have "page numbers," in the traditional sense. Some readers, like Nook, will create a "faux" page number (every 1,000 characters), to give the reader a sense of how far along s/he is in the book, while Kindle devices provide a "location number." But the type of page numbers you are accustomed to, from a print book, are not used in eBooks, and are not created by the conversion company. If you have used built-in page numbering in your manuscript, it will be removed. If you've typed page numbers by hand, all of those will also have to be removed, either by you or your conversion company.
It is likely that you typed your whole book with double-spacing for the lines, like you were told to do for manuscripts. EBooks don't use double-spacing, so we convert the whole thing to single spacing. We keep extra spaces above the first paragraph of every chapter, and above the first paragraph of every scene-break, using vertical white-spacing for visual impact and clarity of the storytelling or information.
As we mentioned before, Kindle in particular does not like extra returns. These are actually called “empty paragraphs," and if you use return to try to make space, Kindle will ignore them. We have to add special codes to make that vertical white space above Chapter headings, or on the Title Page.
This means we have to find and remove all the extra returns you used, and replace the with special coding in the HTML.
At this point, we visually go through the entire book, and check it for proper coding. We ensure that any blockquotes you've used are correctly formatted; any other special material, like journal entries, newspaper articles, images, fleurons, or anything else that is different than the normal paragraphical narrative. The Crew responsible for your book gives the book to our production manager, who performs QA on the title.