Ebook Conversion Basics

There are really only two remaining eBook formats, of the numerous types that were floating around some years ago.

MOBI:  The first and foremost, in terms of commercial sales, are the Kindle format(s) for Amazon.  Those are :mobi, KPF and (for previewing only) .azk files.   (updated 1-28-2021)  Colloquially, these are called "mobi" by most people in the business.

ePUB is used by Apple, Adobe Digital Editions, Nook, Google Editions, Diesel, Kobo, and most Droid-based readers is ePUB.  ePUB allows greater design flexibility than mobi, because it uses a more advanced level of HTML.

Two other formats, Palm and .LIT, (which was Microsoft's attempt to gain entry into the eBook marketplace), are not supported any longer in any significant numbers, and so we do not normally include conversion to those formats as part of our conversion quotes. Palm used a lot of formats that appear as PRC or PDB files on regular computers.

Don't be fooled by those companies offering "conversion to all 6 formats!" or that type of talk. In today's marketplace, you need two formats, and two only. That's MOBI and ePUB.  The first one covers Amazon.  The second covers literally every ebook retailer still standing, in 2021.  Companies offering that type of "too many format" options are likely auto-converting their ebooks with a free program that you can download yourself on the Internet.  The "all those formats" approach should warn you OFF using any formatter that promotes this!

One of the questions that we get here is “what is font embedding, and why do I need it?”

That’s an excellent question!

To understand the how and why of embedded fonts, you need to understand a few basic computer concepts.

  • Computers can only use and access computer files or programs that are on that computer. If your computer doesn’t have the Adobe Photoshop program, and your friend Sally sends you a Photoshop file, (not an image made with Photoshop, but the actual Photoshop file that she used to make it) you can’t open it and make changes in it.
  • Fonts are actually small computer “programs” that tell text how to appear.
  • If the person who receives your computer file (or eBook!) doesn’t have the font on his device, that you told your book to display, guess what? He won’t see that font. His computer or device will replace the font you told it to display, with what he actually has on his computer or eReading device.
  • Fonts for your text are like clothing for your body. If you want to appear at an event in a red dress or a royal blue tuxedo, you have to have it to wear. No red dress, no wearing that red dress.  That simple. 

So, to understand this more easily, let’s suppose that Janey, is going on holiday to a fancy tropical paradise, with her hubby, Fred.  They don’t want to be like everybody else, all boring and stuff, going on planned tours. Not Fred and Janey.  They’re gonna bring it!

"Fonts for your text are like clothing for your body."

They plan to tear up the town! Eat, drink, be merry and dance the night away.  When thinking about her trip, Janey thinks about just how hot she’s going to look in that red dress.  Oooooh, baby!  Smokin’!

doll with dresses smaller

But, here’s the thing. For Janey to look hot in that dress while she’s in Turks and Caicos, she has to take the dress with her.  I know, you’re shaking your head, thinking, “duh, no kidding!”

If Janey forgets to pack it—if the dress isn’t in her suitcase or her hanging bag, just having it sitting at home, in her closet, won’t let her to wear it on her trip.  No dress in the suitcase means no dress to wear.

If you think, “Oh-Emm-Gee, I love this font,” and you want it to display in your eBook, then, the font needs to travel with your eBook. Think of it like the font travelling in an itty-bitty suitcase, with the eBook.  If the font travels with the eBook, then everybody who gets the book can see that font, while your text is wearing it. 

But, if the font is not in that itty-bitty suitcase, well…just like poor Janey and her red dress, your text can’t wear it.  If you didn’t pack its suitcase, it can only wear what’s already on the device.  Sadly, just like you don’t expect your resort to have a selection of perfectly-sized and styled clothing, in your closet, ready to go when you arrive, eReader devices don’t have a large selection of fonts for your eBook to use.  Most Kindles have kind of predictable and not-very-exciting closets; they have Times New Roman, Bookerly, Garamond, Courier, Helvetica or Arial and maybe one of the other sans-serif fonts, like Futura.

If your title page uses something different, like Brilon, let’s say—well, that can’t display.  No Brilon in the suitcase or closet, no Brilon on the text.  No exceptions.

So—if you want to wear the dress that you want to wear, not what’s available; if you want to use the font that you chose for your title page and your chapter heads, to distinguish your book from the others, then you have to embed fonts. 

For technological reasons, this can’t be done using Word to build an ebook at Kindle Direct Publishing (or other places). It can only be done when an eBook is coded, in HTML and built as an eBook, in an eBook format, like MOBI or ePUB.  For some fonts--for example, Avenir Next, it can be a very expensive proposition, because using those fonts may require special ($$$) licensing.  (For example, licensing the Avenir Next family for an eBook is thousands of dollars! Yes, for ONE use!)

So, that's what font embedding is--nothing more than clothes for your text to wear, when it's out and about.  Just remember--just like your dress, that font has to travel with your text, if your text wishes to wear it.

UPDATED, 4-12-2014:

According to Amazon's latest publishing guidelines, all Kindle books must have an embedded ebook cover and what they call the "Marketing Cover Image," or the "Catalog Image." This "Marketing Cover Image" or "Catalog Image" is what book covers are called when Amazon displays the cover on your book page on their website, and in searches.

So, what are the perfect Amazon cover sizes? It seems that "perfect" ebook cover sizes change nearly monthly, doesn't it? Well, here's the latest scoop.

The latest specifications are:

  • The preferred format for the marketing cover is an image of 2560 pixels on the longest side and 1600 pixels on the shortest side with 350 dpi to ensure image clarity on Kindle HDX devices. The image file size should be 5MB or smaller.
  • If the marketing cover image size is smaller than the 2560 x 1600 recommendation, a reminder message is displayed at time of upload. Covers with less than 500 pixels on the smaller side are not displayed on the website.
  • If your cover image is smaller than the recommended size, Amazon strongly recommends that you create a new image that meets the size requirements. Do not stretch the image to meet the size requirements, because this may lower the image quality.
  • The content of the cover image must not:
    • Infringe another publisher’s or artist’s copyright on the same cover.
    • Mention pricing or other temporary promotional offers.

At Booknook.biz, we'll use whatever ebook covers you provide to us, but please try to ensure that your cover is as close as possible to Amazon's requested sizes and standards. Thanks!

(updated:  4/12/14).


If you are not familiar with Amazon's Kindle Delivery Fees, you should check out their HELP Section on this topic, which can affect your book pricing and your subsequent royalties.  As you'll see, if you select the 70% royalty option, a delivery fee of $0.15/mb will be charged, on each sale, before your royalty split with Amazon is calculated. As an example, if your deliverable file size (final mobi file size) is 10MB, Amazon charges you $1.50, deducted from your sale price, before they split the remainder with you, 70/30%.  This is important to think about when you're creating your book, if you are using a lot of images, charts, and the like.

Remember Amazon's Royalty Calculation:  Royalty Rate x (List Price - Delivery Costs) = Royalty

You don't want to inadvertently create a book that's 20mb in size, with a $2.99 sales price; you'd end up with the delivery fee costing $3.00!  Obviously, that math won't work, so always keep it in mind, as you design your book.  For books purchased in Mexico, the delivery fee is $1/MB--not $0.15, so if you are creating a Spanish-language book, this could really hurt you.  (All figures in USD).  

Important note:  if you create a "coffee table book," you may decide instead to opt for the 35% royalty option, which incurs no delivery fee.  Some of our artwork-book clients have chosen this route pretty successfully.  It's a viable alternative, if you know that your book needs a lot of imagery to work.  

What Is The Purpose of An ISBN?

Every single day, I'm asked about ISBNs.  Yup--every single day.  I get self-publishers who have purchased one ISBN; I get self-publishers who have purchased a pack of ten.  I receive book files with a metadata sheet showing one ISBN per "format," a format being print, ePUB, or MOBI.  I'm constantly asked if self-pubs need an ISBN "for their copyright."  It's obvious to me that people don't really understand the purpose of an ISBN, so let's dig in, and once and for all, set out the facts.

What Is an ISBN?

First, ISBN does not stand for "International Body Suit Number," or "Industrial Sexy Body Number."  No, it stands for "International Standard Book Number."  ISBNs are recognized internationally.  Yes, there are some glitches surrounding international recognition, but unless you're the next JK Rowling, really, this won't affect you at all, so ignore that.

The purpose of an ISBN is, simply, ordering, distribution, fulfilment and payment.  Say that again:  ordering, distribution, fulfilment and payment.  To understand this more easily, think back a few short years to a time when every book was in print, and generally, published by publishing houses.  

The Why? of ISBNS:

Think about how bookstores order books. Or Big Box stores, etc.  If your book is trade-published, and it's out in three formats--say, hardcover, trade paperback and mass market paperback--how does the store actually order the book?  If they put in an order saying "We want 100 copies of 'Bob's Big Boy Book,' in paperback," which book gets shipped to them from the distributor?  And more importantly, who gets paid for that order of 100 books?  Remember that in traditional print publishing, it wasn't that uncommon for one publisher to print the hardcover and first run paperback, and another to print a different type of paperback--say trade versus mass-market.  So, one book; three formats, two publishers, as the example we'll discuss below, in "Here's How It Works."  

Remember the purpose of publishing--it's a business. It's a business which is about making money, and getting paid for their work, like every other business.  One publisher doesn't want the wrong book being ordered, or worse, the wrong publisher being paid for their order.  During ordering, in humongous warehouses filled with towering stacks of boxes of books, how does the warehouse worker know which book to ship, on that hastily-scribbled order for 100 paperback copies of "Bob's Big Boy Book?"

Enter the ISBN.  The ISBN--which is unique to each book, and to each VERSION of the book--ensures that the correct book is shipped for our hypothetical shipment. And, again, the important part--the ISBN ensures that the correct publisher gets paid for our 100-book order.  

Here's How It Works:

You've probably read all sorts of drivel all over the Net, about what an ISBN means, or why you need one, or why you don't.  Here, we're going to give it to you straight.  

The person or company or entity that purchases the ISBN for any given book is the publisher of that book.  Period, end statement. When that book is ordered, via whatever means, the holder of that ISBN is the company that gets paid for that order.  

As an Example: Back to "Bob's Big Boy Book," available in three formats.  Hardcover, trade paperback, and mass-market paperback. It's published by Red River Publishing.  Or, let's say--for the purposes of our example--that the Hardcover and the trade paperback were published by Red River Publishing, but the mass market paperback was published by Yellow Road Press. Three versions, two publishers.  When Costco orders a book, what happens?

  1. Costco looks up the book that it wants, either on its own inventory lists, or by using BooksInPrint, and decides that it wants  100 copies of "Bob's Big Boy Book," in mass market paperback.   
  2. To order it, they submit their order to the distributor (in some cases, this goes directly to the publisher, but usually, it's a distribution warehouse).  
  3. They order the book by its correct ISBN--so, "ISBN-for-mass-market-paperback" is what goes on their order form.
  4. The warehouse ships them the correctly-identified 100 copies of the mass market paperback, using the ISBN as the indicator of which book is being requested;
  5. and--here's the kicker--Yellow Road Press gets paid for that order. Not Red River Publishing.  Why?
  6. Yellow Road Press gets paid because Yellow Road Press is the publisher of record, identified by the simple fact that they are the OWNER of the ISBN associated with that specific edition.  Knowing who owns which ISBN resolves any and all issues of "who gets paid," for the overworked stock clerk and inventory manager.  

So, do ISBN's matter for eBooks?

That's a great and confusing question.  They do IF you are publishing through a distributor, aggregator, or trade publishing house, because they receive their payments, from Amazon, from iBooks, from B&N, etc., by ISBN.  They track your book using that same ISBN, and their payment accounts are also ordered by that unique identifier.

When they upload their dstribution list to the stores for sale, it's via FTP, (File Transfer Protocol) and this means that the books they have in their server aren't called "Bob's Big Boy Book_paperback.ePUB (or MOBI);" they're called "12345678910.ePUB" and "12345678910.MOBI."  The file is shown as "ISBN.ePUB" or "ISBN.MOBI."  This is how the books are referenced, and how payment stubs are annotated.  When Smashwords, for example, gets paid by B&N, their payment stub will have all the books listed by that number (the ISBN), followed by the format (ePUB/MOBI/print paperback, etc.), and the amount.  Smashwords, in turn, pays you the same way--by the ISBN.  That's why Smashwords "gives" you an ISBN when you publish with them--so that they can track the book through their eBook distribution network; track the orders, track the payment, and track what they pay you.  It's all about ordering, fulfilment, and payment.  

In eBooks, obviously, distribution and fulfilment aren't quite the same. This is why people get confused about whether or not they need an ISBN; because by and large, ISBN's really only matter for print books. Now, that's if YOU are directly uploading and selling your books on Amazon, etc.  eBooks aren't "ordered" from some warehouse; they don't get "shipped," and everything happens in a single location. Amazon is, all at the same time, the storefront, the distributor, and, by and large, the publisher.  The book gets loaded by you to their servers; they keep it there.  When a buyer clicks "buy," they deliver it via the Net or wifi or (choose option X).  You, the actual publisher, have already done the shipping and distribution, because you've uploaded it there. They do the rest, and then pay you at month's end.  They have their own internal inventory system--using ASIN's (Amazon Sales Identification Number).  An ASIN is assigned to your book (yes, pretty much exactly like an ISBN), and that's how they internally account for sales.  

So, if you are publishing directly to the main four retailers--Amazon, B&N, iBooks and KoboBooks--no, you don't need an ISBN, because there's no ordering, no shipping, no fulfilment (other than what they are themselves doing), and they don't have to track you and your book through a third party.  

For the TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read) crowd:

Here we are, back at the beginning.

  • Do you need an ISBN to register your copyright?  No.  
  • Do you need an ISBN to publish an eBook on Amazon? No.
  •  Do you need an ISBN to publish an eBook on B&N?  No.
  • (Nor on iBooks or KoboBooks, for eBooks).
  • Do You Need An ISBN if you are publishing through a distributor, like IngramSpark? The answer to that is maybe. Some distributors are happy to let you use your own ISBN (like Smashwords); some want to assign their own ISBN.  I can't answer that one for you--before you spend your hard-earned shekels on an ISBN, check with the distributor that you plan to use for distribution of your eBooks.  
  • Do you need an ISBN to publish a print book on Amazon?  Yes, realistically.  You can use one of theirs; you can use one of your own, but for accounting purposes,you're going to want an ISBN from somewhere.  

If you use one of Amazon's free ISBNs, at Createspace, your publisher will show up as Createspace (because, remember:  that's who actually bought and owns the ISBN you're using).  The print version is ordered by bookstores, warehouses,  etc.,from Createspace; it's fulfilled by Createspace, and they are the entity that the bookstore pays. In turn, they pay you your share of the order--effectively, a royalty, if you think about it.  If you think about who does the printing, fulfilment, and distribution, it's easy to think about who buys and owns the ISBN.  

Lastly, despite how an ISBN is purchased, and which governmental entity (the copyright office) is associated with ISBNs, remembrer this: NO, your ISBN doesn't prove your copyright. It would be evidence, if a case ever arose, but copyright registration is completely separate and apart from ISBN acquisition and use.  Don't let anyone tell you differently.  

Here endeth the ISBN lesson.  


To be helpful, the steps of converting a print book to ebook are thus:

  1. Scan the print book, which can either be done:
    1. More affordably, by breaking the book and ripping off the spine, or,
    2. More expensively, by keeping the book and spine intact (usually an additional $0.15/page)
    3. The average price for scanning alone in the US ranges from $0.40/page to $1.25 page for plain text; highly-formatted text (like a medical or financial textbook, as an example) will run more.
  2. Then the scan has to be run through OCR (Optical Character Recognition), which turns the scan into actual, digitized text.  The charge for this varies, but is usually included in whatever price you are quoted in Step #1.
  3. The resulting files--should be in Word and in POD PDF format--have to be proofed.
    1. The average price for proofing runs approximately $1/page, or at least $10-$15/hour for 8-10 pages/hour.
  4. Once the files are proofed, the author/publisher should review them (if the proofing was sub-contracted out), and approve them, ready-for-ebook-conversion.
  5. We then take the finalized Word/PDF file from the OCR'd, scanned book and begin the process of conversion, which runs approximately like this:
    1. We export/extract all the html from the Word book/ms/document;
    2. We clean up the code, which is always poor quality from scanning services (no fault of theirs);
    3. We place the properly-coded text into xhtml, which creates an epub, which is one type of ebook format;
    4. We send you that epub for review, along with Proof sheets;
    5. You review the ebook and return it to us with whatever corrections are needed;
    6. We then make those corrections, and return the revised epub to you for approval;
    7. You approve it, and we then,
    8. Export that xhtml from within that epub, convert it into html, "downcode" it to suit the Kindle device, and make a
    9. Kindle book, which we send to you for review and approval, and repeat steps 5-7 if necessary, although that's rare.

And that's it.  The whole process.  It takes a while to do everything--usually the proofing by the author-publisher in Steps 4 and 5.5 take the longest--but for authors with an established fanbase and backlist, it's well worth doing.  

We only recommend those cover designers that we know have done good work, for a reasonable price, in a reasonable amount of time.  For those of you who remember Rick Capidamonte being here at Booknook.biz for several years, we're happy to tell you that he's gone on to his "real" career (the career he actually trained for) as a Stage Manager for a high-flying show--making the big bucks now!  So he's no longer accepting cover clients.  If you've been one of Rick's clients, let us know, and we'll help you find a new designer if we can.  Here are the cover designers that we recommend:

  1. Todd Hebertson: https://globalcliche.wixsite.com/book . We've done work with Todd for ages, and a lot of our customers are delighted with him.  
  2. Kib Prestridge, at http://kib647.wixsite.com/kibprestridge , offers terrific covers at good prices.  He can also do other types of needed artwork, like maps for your book.  
  3. Tell-Tale Cover Designs (Linda Boulanger):  Linda's covers are pretty well known already, but if you haven't managed to stumble across her, check out her site:  http://telltalebookcovers.weebly.com/book-covers.html and while you're there, don't pass up the opportunity to check out her books, either.  I mean, cover designer and successful author?  Life's just not fair! ;-)  Seriously, though:  You've seen her covers on Jenny Hilborne's successful mysteries and Judy Yates Borger's, too!  Make sure you stop in and look her up.  
  4. Looking to discover a new talent?  Look no further.  Emma Grace, at Inksplatter Design has a new shop, but she's done some terrific cover designs.  
  5. Goonwrite:  I know, I know--James probably didn't think that text through when he originally named it!  However, this is the "pre-made cover" location from James at Humblenations.  His pre-mades sell for about $45 USD, and they are first-class! James also does custom covers, which you can see through a link from the Goonwrite.com site. Also, he has begun to offer covers for series, that he sells in packs. Themed covers. If you're on a budget, this is a do-not-miss stop on your Cover Safari.  

 For the moment, that's our entire list.  We peruse spots like DeviantArt and other places, always seeking breakthrough cover art talent. But for now, (as of 2-23-18) those are our updated recommendations.

We Make Your eBooks in HTML

We make your books  in HTML, a markup language that is also used to make webpages.  What you get back from us are two complete ebook files, one ready to be uploaded to Amazon ("MOBI" format), and one ready to be uploaded to Nook and other ebook retailers ("ePUB format").  What this means is that we do not give you back a “revised” or “reformatted” Word file.

Which Means That You Do NOT Get a Word File Back When We're Done

When we get your file, we immediately start work to convert your manuscript or book into HTML.  As explained in the next section, we work in HTML, and not in Word.  This means that there is no “final” Word file to give back to you when the work is done.  Upon request, we can make a final Word file from the final, approved ePUB file.  This incurs an additional charge, but many authors like to do this so that they have the file for any future needs. 


About Starting Chapters at The Top of New Pages (Screens):

Creating chapters and page breaks is very easy, and it’s strongly encouraged that you use them. The break in the flow of paragraphs helps the readers “feel” like they are reading a “real,” or print, book.  Some retailers of ebooks have books that have a chapter starting right after the one before.  The location of a Chapter title at the top of the screen, or "page," helps the reader channel the sense of the print version of the book.  Below is the first chapter of "Requiem for the Puppet Master" from an Amazon Fire tablet, and you can see how starting the chapter at the top of the screen really makes the book feel like a book.



Requiem for the Puppet Master, displaying Chapter heads.
Requiem for the Puppet Master, displaying Chapter heads.


Do eBooks Have Page Numbers?

When you see “page numbers" in ADE (Adobe Digital Editions), or other readers, they are created by the reading software. This happens when the book is loaded for reading. Ebooks makers do not create them. In ADE, they are shown as changing to a new number every 1,000 characters. In Kindle, a new "location number" is displayed, approximately every 128KB.  While these numbers are very useful while you are proofreading your book, to indicate to your bookmaker where you need changes, as they don’t exist, they are not something that you need to worry about. They won't show up in your final book. You can see an example of those "faux" page numbers below, in Robert Ryan's "2013:  Beyond Armageddon." 


A novel in Adobe Digital Editions, displaying the faux page numbers created by ADE.
A novel in Adobe Digital Editions, displaying the faux page numbers created by ADE.


What's an NCX?  Why is that different than the "Table of Contents?"

If you've been researching eBooks at all, whether it's for MOBI (Amazon Kindle) or ePUB, you've probably heard about the "NCX."  You've probably seen people asking about it--how to make one for Amazon, or why it's different than the "TOC," meaning "Table of Contents."  If you're working solely in Word, trying to DIY your eBook, this can be a tough thing to create, and harder to understand. 

If your ePUB version book is viewed in Adobe Digital Editions, which is called “ADE,” yes, you will see a "Table of Contents" pane on the left-hand side. This allows your readers to “click around" to any part of the book that they desire.  In an ePUB, this is not a traditional, "typed" TOC; it's actually normally invisible. You can't page to it, by flipping through pages of an eBook.  It's created in a special file (the NCX), which is invisible until it's called to be displayed by a reading device or software (like Adobe Digital Editions, which is what you see in the image--that pane on the left is the NCX, being displayed for human viewing). The important part of an NCX is that it's not really for the people; it's for the device.  It's how the device knows where it is, in the book; what the "playorder" is (Chapter 1, 2, 3, etc.), and allows the human reader to navigate by clicking on any of the entries, to go wherever they want to go.

Other ePUB readers have different ways of showing the Table of Contents, or making it available to their readers. All are well-known to ePUB readers, and so this should not be something you need to worry about.  Below you can see an ePUB of "The Prince and the Pauper," by Mark Twain, displaying the "TOC ncx" on the left-hand side.  Those entries are clickable links, which enable the reader to navigate around the ebook at will.


An ePUB in Adobe Digital Editions with the TOC NCX displayed.


“The Prince and The Pauper,” produced digitally by Ignacio Fernández Galván and has been used herein for illustrative purposes with his express permission.

Back covers are really not used in ebooks. When reduced to the size of an eBook device, the text on the back cover is usually not readable. For this reason, we recommend that the text on the back cover be provided to us to be included inside the book, like a “praise” page, or as blurbs.

Remember:  a backcover on a print book is intended to lure your buyer to your book, to hook them on the story.  When they buy from an online retailer, like Amazon, your prospective reader will have:


  •  seen something about the book, somewhere, that interested them;
  •  navigated/found their way to your Amazon sales page;
  •  Reviewed the description (which you create), 
  •  looked at any editorial reviews (like reviews from a newspaper), 
  •  looked at any user or reader reviews, 
  •  read the look inside, or, 
  •  downloaded the free sample, then, 
  •  decided to buy the book, 
  •  bought the book, 
  •  read the book, 
  •  got to the end of the book....and then, they'd see the rear cover.


So, in an ebook, by the time a reader saw the back cover, they'd not only have bought the book, but finished it!  For an ebook, that back cover that was created for print is neither needed nor even desirable. 




A print book’s cover is made to wrap around the entire book. It covers the front, the “spine" and the rear. Print books are usually laid out at a size ratio of 2:3, with 2 being the “short side" and 3 being the “long side.”

EBook covers only show the front cover. No spine or rear cover is required, or even desirable. This is why eBook cover designs save you so much money! Remember that ebooks are shaped differently than print, and range in ratio from 3:4 to 1:1.7. 

More importantly, think of the "job" that a rear cover does for you, with regard to marketing.  A rear cover has blurbs (praise from other authors or readers), a book description or a "hook."  All of this is there in order to induce someone to buy your book.  In an ebook, the rear cover wouldn't be displayed until after the reader already had purchased the book, read it, and completed it, so the marketing "blitz" of the rear cover is a bit unnecessary at that point.  Instead, Amazon, B&N, etc., give you the book description pages, Editorial Reviews section, etc., in which to put this information.  

For the latest updates on the "perfect" ebook cover sizes, please see our FAQ Entry, What is the Correct Cover Size for Amazon eBooks?, which you can click through to by clicking that link.  We keep this article updated as each new cover size is announced.  

What Happens After I Accept Your Quote?

Wonder what to expect at Booknook.biz?  In a nutshell--so to speak--here's how it goes:

Does that help?  Don't forget--click the image for an enlarged Lightbox version!


Our eBook Conversion Process, laid out in steps. Click to enlarge.
Our eBook Conversion Process, laid out in steps. Click to enlarge.

What the Heck Is Metadata?

When we move a book into production, we ask every client to provide us with a completed form, called the "Production Checklist."  The "PCL."  It's a simple form in Word, with boxes to be filled out by you, as the publisher.  Those boxes are "metadata."  Using the PCL is optional.  If you don't provide us with one, we'll simply embed the book name and author name in the metadata.  If you do complete it, we'll embed all the information on the form (description, tags, subjects, etc.) inside the book, invisibly.  (That's what "metadata" is for ebooks--information embedded inside a book that's invisible to the human eye, but is visible to search engines, to help them find your book in searches on the Net.)

This is one of the services that we include, as part of our Secret Sauce, to help our authors get their books sold, after they are published.  For more information please read this article from PBS and Mediashift about metadata, and how it's used:  PBS and Mediashift Article about Metadata and why we go to the trouble of adding to your book.  

Too Long, Didn't Read--What Does That Mean for Me as an Author?

The short version is this: the description, tags, subject information, that you fill out on the PCL are put inside your book so that it can be found across the Internet by search engines.  Some of these Search Egnines are able to search what is sometimes called "The Deep Web," which is merely web-geekery-speech for "databases."  The upside, though, is that by using the embedded metadata, your book is more likely to be found by someone searching for a title in your area (genre, topic) than someone whose book only uses the metadata fields available to them at upload at Amazon, B&N and the like.  It's simply part of our service.  

Don't miss that MediaShift article--it's long, but it's worth the effort and the focus.  

Kindle e-readers come in many sizes and shapes nowadays. The two most popular are the standard Kindle e-ink device and the Kindle Fire Tablet. The Kindle e-ink device only displays black and white. A Kindle e-ink screen is precisely 3½x4¾" in size, with a ¼" margin all-round. You will want to remember this when you format your book, if you have any images, or charts and tables. When you think about using a chart inside your book, shrink it down to 3” wide, and see if you can read it. If you can, then it’s safe to use in a Kindle book. Below, you'll see an image of an e-ink Kindle, followed by an image of a Public Domain book, "The Prince and The Pauper," by Mark Twain, as it would appear on a Kindle e-ink device. 


One of the Kindle e-ink readers
One of the Kindle e-ink readers

The Prince and the Pauper on the Kindle e-ink device.
The Prince and the Pauper on the Kindle e-ink device.


A basic Kindle Fire Tablet is 7” long, with a reading area of 3½” x 5”. It displays in vivid color. It also has advanced formatting features that the e-ink devices do not have, like drop caps, as just one example.  Below, you'll see an image of the 7" Kindle Fire tablet, followed by an image of a book, "Madman Dreams," by Keith Ferstl, as it appears on the Kindle Fire tablet (note the Drop Caps and the red line highlighting the Chapter title.)


The Kindle Fire Tablet, image used by permission of Amazon.
The Kindle Fire Tablet, image used by permission of Amazon

Madman Dreams, on the Kindle Fire tablet.
Madman Dreams, on the Kindle Fire tablet.


With very few exceptions, books have to work both on the regular Kindle device and the Fire Tablet. Children's books can be formatted strictly for the Fire, “forcing" the reader to view the content in landscape mode. Some other types of books, like cookbooks, can be formatted this way. Authors who want to format their books for the “Fire only" should remember that many, literally millions of, Kindle owners have the e-ink devices.  You can see an example of a children's fixed-format book, below, from "The Fox and The Fawn," by Daniel Derasaugh, displaying the Region Magnification (pop-up text) capability, which is very useful for reading on the smaller devices, like Android smartphones with Kindle for Droid reading apps. 

Unlike the iPad and the Nook Color, as of this writing, the Kindle Fire cannot support embedded, recorded files as “read-along” for children's books for self-publishers. Unlike the iPad, the Fire cannot support embedded video inside of eBooks at this time. (June 7, 2012, updated 5-31-2015)



The Fox and the Fawn, with Pop-up Text, on the Kindle Fire
The Fox and the Fawn, with Pop-up Text, on the Kindle Fire.



The standard formatting for a Kindle novel is paragraphs with first line indent, and no blank lines between the paragraphs. If your book has block paragraphs with no indent, we will have to add the indents. If you have extra lines between paragraphs, we will have to delete the extra lines. The first paragraph of a chapter may usually be flush-left (no indent) and the first paragraph after a scene-break.

Remember that on the Kindle devices, readers can change the font size (all devices) and sometimes even the font (the Fire Tablet). This will cause your book text to reflow. If this concept is unfamiliar to you, you may wish to read our FAQ article on the topic, Text reflows--or wraps.

How Big Is A Nook Reader?

Barnes & Noble, the second largest seller of eBooks as of the writing of this booklet (8-12% of the market monthly), has its own lines of e-readers, called Nooks. The Nooks come in B&W e-ink, like the Kindle, called the Nook Tablet, as well as a color model, called the Nook Color.

The Nook Tablet is 8.1” long and 5" wide. The screen, with a PPI (Pixels per Inch) resolution of 169, is 3.55” wide and just about 6” long, not dramatically different than the Kindle Fire Tablet.

The Nook Color is exactly the same physical size, and its screen size is also identical.

The Nook uses ePUB formatted books (see What Are the Main eBook Formats? if you need a reminder on formats). This means that unlike books read on the (basic) Kindle e-ink device, some advanced formatting is possible, like drop caps and images wrapped inside of text.

The Nook Color also has available a fixed-format ability, like the Kindle Fire, for children’s books in landscape mode. Moreover, it has “read along” capabilities, for audio files to read to children. (This should not be confused with the “text-to-speech” capability of the Kindles, which uses an automated voice. The read-along uses MP3 audio files.)  The two vertical pages below are from the NookColor Tablet; the horizontal page is also from the NookColor tablet, but is from a proprietarily-formatted "ePIB" NookKids' books, which operates in "Fixed Format mode," so that text can display atop images, and show "spreads" (images that cross two pages) in the way that childrens' books should be read. 

Some Screenshot Examples of Books on the Nook Reader:

(click images for lightbox slideshow):

The Brimstone Murders, on a Nook Reader
The Brimstone Murders, on a Nook Reader
Sharon and Eleanor, an illustrated children's book, on the NookColor
"Sharon and Eleanor," an illustrated children's book, on the NookColor


From Frumpy to Fabulous, on a NookHD
"From Frumpy to Fabulous," on a NookHD










One of the wonderful Fergus the Ferry books, on the NookKids' reading platform.
One of the wonderful Fergus the Ferry books, on the NookKids' reading platform.








Why are image sizes inside eBook difficult?

The "story" of image sizes inside ebooks is a long one.  The bottom line is that the advent of the newer, high-resolution devices has made image embedding a much more complex job.  There used to be an uber-handy Wikipedia article on the topic, where you could look up all the screensizes, resolutions, etc., by device, but some overzealous, politically-correct Content Nazi decided that this usage was "too commercial," and removed the article.  (As you can tell, this just irritates me no end!  If someone at Wikipedia grows a brain, and reinstates the article, I'll revive the struckout content.).  You can see the screen resolution of all the Kindle devices here, in this Wikipedia article:  http://bit.ly/1qrmIgT.  The range of screen sizes and density is amazing.  (If your question is about COVER sizes, please see this FAQ article, What is the Correct Cover Size for Amazon eBooks?,  instead.  This article is about interior images inside of ebooks).  Although we talk primarily about Amazon devices here, the same issues and challenges are true for the Nook HD devices, as well as the later iPads versus the first-gen iPads, and the like.   

Resolution of Amazon's HD Displays

But what matters to you is this:  each device displays pixel-for-pixel.  What does that mean?  Let's assume that you're doing your Mom's memoir.  And in the frontispiece, you want to put a lovely picture you have of her.  The image that you give to us is, for this example's sake, 424 pixels wide.  In your Word file, it was 5.88" wide, taking up nearly 3/4ths of the width of your original manuscript page.  You scanned that image of Mom, on your home scanner, from an old photo, saving it at 72ppi/dpi.  How big will that ebook image be, when it's viewed on a Kindle?  The answer is:  it depends.  

  • On a Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire HD 7", it will be about 2" wide, across the screen.
  • On the Kindle, Kindle Keyboard 3G, Touch 3G, Touch, original Kindle Fire and the Kindle DX, it will range in size from 2.85" in width to 2.5" wide.
  • On the Kindle Fire HD 8.9", it will display at 1.66" wide--about 1 and two-thirds inches wide.
  • On the Kindle Fire HDX 7", though, Mom will only display at 1.31 inches wide.  
  • And on the big HDX, she'll be barely 1.25" wide.  Basically, the length of your thumb, from the tip to just past the last joint (nearest the tip).  Not even a quarter of the screen width.  That's a bit small for good old Mom, isn't it?  

And what about height of images?  This gets to be even greater fun.  

  • For an image to be full-height on the older Kindles, the old "800px tall" standby works pretty well.  That only works for the old devices, however.  The heights for the others are far, far greater.
  • The Paperwhites are 1024px tall.  So is the original Fire.
  • The DX is 1200 pixels tall.  
  • The Fire HDX 7" and Fire HD 8.9" are both 1920 pixels tall.  If you put an 800px tall image on those, it would only cover 40% of the screen height.
  • And the big HDX, 8.9"?  That's a whopping 2,560 pixels tall.  An 800px tall image on that would be lost, covering merely 1/3rd of the page, in terms of height.

So, what do we recommend?

Yes, this stuff gets confusing.  In terms of image-to-screen coverages, our best recommendations at this time are to use 1200px for height, 600 pix for half-height and 300pix for quarter height, all saved at a minimum of 300ppi/dpi.  If we receive these images at a high-enough resolution (use 300ppi/dpi in your Photoshop, Gimp, PC Paint, etc., program), we can ensure that these have enough clarity and crispness so that even on the larger screens, they'll produce clearly and with good detail.   If you send us images that are 72ppi in resolution, the likely outcome is going to be that it's going to be quite a bit smaller than you expect on the higher-resolution devices.  Always output your images, or save the stock images you're using, at 300ppi, to ensure that we have enough "pixels" to work with, and to prevent you from having any unhappy surprises.  

You will probably read, in various places, ebook "experts" who will tell you that they use smaller images, and "just set it to be 100%, so it always fills the screen."  While that sounds nice and easy, and almost sounds like it makes sense, if you've ever seen an image blown up too much, that's what can happen if a smaller image is simply enlarged too much--it becomes pixilated.  So you want to be sure, whenever you can, to use or give us the best-possible image quality for your books.  We use custom coding for each and every image, to ensure that it is displayed at the best possible size for every device.  

Like our Cover Designer List, we only recommend editors whose work we know and trust.  As of this writing, our list is:

  1. For heavy and developmental editing:  Elizabeth Lyon, www.elizabethlyon.com, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (You can read about Elizabeth's background at her website);
  2. Line editor and proofer-extraordinaire:  Elisabeth Hallett, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  3. From development edits to a light edit, with extensive Hollywood experience:  Laren Bright, who may be reached by email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  4. The wondrous Barb Elliott, experienced with copy and line-editing, very detail oriented:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 
  5. Lastly, but not least:  Rob Bacon at The Perfect Write, http://www.theperfectwrite.com/ .  You can read all about Rob at his website, and his newsletter is worth receiving, too!


That's our list as of August 2016.  You can't go wrong with the folks on this list for some helpful polishing with your book.  Do be aware that most of them have queues, so ask before you assume that they'll be instantly available, particularly if you decide at the last minute to have someone look over your manuscript.  


How To Send Us Your Materials:

When we are contacted by prospective clients, we are often asked how to send physical materials to our office, or, we receive an email telling us that something has already been sent (CD's, thumbdrives, sometimes actual books, etc.). While we appreciate the enthusiasm, we respectfully request that unless we expressly request them, please: do not send any physical materials to our office. If we need them, we'll ask for them, but there is almost nothing you can send that isn't sent faster and better via the Internet.

If You Have LOTS of files, or big ones:

We are an Internet-based business, and everything you would ever send to us, for conversion and formatting, can and should be sent either in email, via Dropbox, YouSendIt, or other methods. If you have spectacularly large files (over 20MB), or more than one file, don't use our Contact Widget; instead use our corporate Hightail Account, which allows multiple files to be sent, or anything up to 2gigabytes in size. If you have a Dropbox account, simply send us a link to your files for downloading. We do not need the covers for your books to provide a quote, although we will need them for production, should you elect to proceed with us. You can find the Contact Widget at the top of every single page (look up!) on the right-hand side of the main menu. Just hover-over the contact menu item and click the "Contact Us" link. The Contact widget can only accept ONE file. If you try to send more than one file, or a file larger than 20MB, the Contact Widget will not function, so please use the Hightail link in this article instead.

The Hightail link, again, is here: Hightail. If you have a Dropbox link, please just send it to us in email. If you don't have a Dropbox account, but would like one, (many authors find it invaluable for preserving easy-peasy back-up copies of their work) click this link: Get Dropbox Account.

We Do NOT Return Any Physical Materials Sent To Us

We do not return any physical materials sent to us--not thumbdrives, CD's, etc. If you need to have a book scanned, please discuss this with us first, as we shall most likely refer you to Golden Images, in St. Louis, MO, for scanning expertise, rather than scanning in-house. We highly (highly!) recommend Stan Drew, Golden Images' owner, as his scanning services are, literally, second to none in the business in this country. His website is here: WWW.PDFDocument.com. His phone number is 636-375-9999.

We archive any books/manuscripts sent to us, in any fashion, for six months, on our servers, as we've found that many people come back to us, months after we send out a quote, to proceed. At the 180-day mark, we delete manuscripts, materials, etc., sent to us for quoting off our servers. If people inadvertently send us physical materials, like a printed-out manuscript, we will shred them at the same time. Again: if you send us a printed-out manuscript, we will not return it; we shred it. Or a thumbdrive or a CD, which we'll wipe clean (thumbdrive) or shred (CD). This is why we request that you use the Internet to send all materials for quoting, thanks. Please note that almost all literary agents and publishers have the same policies now--all materials are to be shipped eletronically, over the Net.


We thank you, sincerely, for abiding by this request.

Back up to the Menu, which is a direct link to our Contact Information page! That page has all the ways to reach us, and our Contact Form. You can send us your manuscript for quoting directly by uploading it to us there, and a note to go with it, so we know how to reach you. That's the fastest method to get a return quote.

About the Contact Widget: the Contact widget can only accept one file, not two or more, and it cannot accept files larger than 20MB. This generally means that most fiction titles will not have an issue, but if you have an image-heavy memoir, in Word or PDF, or a graphics-heavy non-fiction title, you may need to use our corporate YouSendIt Account: CLICK HERE. Simply click that, and you can upload as many files as you need to, up to 2gigabytes in size, to us, and we'll receive them and be notified almost instantly. We do not need your cover to provide a quote, but we do require the manuscript and any and all graphics it will contain--all images, charts, drawings, fleurons, etc.

Alternatively, our phone number is also on the Contact menu, and the phones are answered after noon, MST. If you're not that familiar with the US Time Zones, here's a link to a World Time Zone map: http://www.worldtimezone.com/ . We're in Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America. This means that in the summer, as Phoenix does not "do" Daylight Savings Time, we are 3 hours BEHIND the East Coast (so if it's 10:00 a.m. in Miami or New York, it's 7:00 a.m. here). In winter, we are 2 hours behind (so again, 10:00 a.m. in New York, it's 8:00 a.m. here.) Generally, if you live on the East Coast, it's your best bet to try after 3:00p.m. your time. Please, if you call us before our phone hours, hanging up without leaving a message and calling us back 5 times in a row before noon won't get you a live person. We don't phone-harass people; if you leave a message, you'll receive nothing more back from us than a polite return phone call.


Calls are generally returned 3 days a week, and phone appointments are encouraged, especially in our High Season (from Labor Day through midnight, December 24th, when we are running crews 24/7). Although we run crews through Saturdays, emails and phone calls on the weekends are not returned until Monday, thanks.

With regard to sending us materials for review, quoting or production, please see our article here in the FAQ, Sending Materials. (Simply click that text to be taken immediately to the article.)

Thank you, we look forward to hearing from you.



Will You Upload My Book For Me At Amazon?

We are often asked to upload books for clients, to Amazon, NookPress or iBooks.  Sometimes even Kobo.  

Generally, No, We Won't.

With regard to uploading, we do not do that for you.  Why not?  Because it’s in your best interests if we don’t.  To do the uploading for you, you’d have to give us your username and passwords, and for that short time we’d have access to your financial information, purchase history—you name it.  At Nook, in order to upload the book, we’d be able to see your Social Security number, as well as banking information.  We don’t want to know that information, you shouldn’t want us to know it, and, if those reasons aren’t enough, it’s actually against Amazon’s Terms of Service for someone else to do your uploading for you.  Yes, we know that some companies advertise that they’ll do it, and they do—but they shouldn’t.  Uploading is not hard to do, and it’s better for you to be safe than sorry.  (See Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Terms of Service, section 4.3, under "Account Security.")  

Remember:  you're the publisher.  Don't get taken in by so-called "digital publishers" that charge you the same or even more than we do to make your ebooks for you, charge you to upload the books, and then, on top of all that, take a percentage of your sales as a "publisher," just for uploading your books.  Uploading is easy, once you have a completed book, and you shouldn't pay someone a piece of your royalties just for doing that.  

BUT, If You Feel You Need Help:

If you feel really uneasy, we do offer our "Author's Concierge" consulting service, starting at $50/hour, and we'll sit on the phone with you while you upload, if that makes you feel more comfortable.  If you'd like, we'll do a Face-to-Face Video conference, via Skype or a Google Hangout.  

Believe me when I say, of the 100+ times a year I'm asked this, not 3 clients ever come back for uploading help, because as we said--once you have a professionally-made book, the uploading is EASY.  

Here’s a question I get asked a lot:  why does print layout cost so much more than ebook layout

With regard to the costs of print versus eBooks: while specialized knowledge is needed to create eBooks that take advantage of all ebook functionality and possibilities (like embedded fonts and things that can’t be done with Word uploads), other specialized knowledge and software is needed to do print book layout.

Print book layout simply takes quite a bit longer than ebook layout, for a variety of reasons; amongst them are

  • preventing what are called “ladders” (searching each page to ensure that multiple lines in a row don’t have hyphenated words),
  • widows and orphans (you already know what those are);
  • looking at virtually every line to see if it needs kerning or leading (vertical or horizontal space),
  • checking for intersecting ascenders/descenders (depending on font—the bottom of one letter running into the top of another letter on the next line), and the like.
  • Other things contribute to the time:
  • do all chapters start on a right-hand page?
  • Or do they continue in the middle of a page, if a chapter ends?
  • Or, on the next page, regardless of whether it’s recto (right-hand) or verso (left)?

Everything, generally,  takes more time to do in a print book: for example, if you make an edit, and you change “intersection” to “stop sign,” you’ve exchanged 12 characters for 9. That may or may not change an entire line. if it does, it changes the paragraph. This can change the entire page’s layout, and if it does that, you then have to check and recheck the entire chapter, as it may ripple-effect all the way through to the end of that chapter. And if the chapters don’t start on new pages? Then you actually have to check the entire book, page by page.  For a single edit.  

If you peruse other layout companies, you’ll see that many start at a base price of $3.50-$4.50/page for fiction or fiction-like layout, and start at $4.50 a page for “non-fiction.” That pricing doesn’t include any ebook production, either. There’s a reason that so many don’t list any pricing on their websites; they don’t want you to know upfront what it’s going to cost you. Even Createspace has an Amazon-subsidized base package price, which means that they can create it at a loss, of $349.00 for any PDF creation whatsoever.  If you take the time to contact other reputable print layout companies, (which I strongly encourage), you’ll be surprised at what print layout can really cost.  You can do the math yourself; a page is construed as 250 words.  If you have an 80K manuscript, that will calculate out at 320 pages (at least, for the purposes of the pricing; 80,000 divided by 250 = 320 pages).  Multiply 320 pages by $3.50 a page, and that starts to add up pretty quickly—and remember, that doesn’t include any ebook production! Our starting pricing for POD Packages can be reviewed here:  What is a POD PDF? (which includes ebook production in both ePUB and MOBI format) aren’t just lower, they’re significantly lower.  

Remember also that creating your various book formats (print, ePUB and MOBI) all at the same time will save you money over creating your ebooks first and print later, no matter what company you use.  

What Should I Ask or Know Before I Start Self-Publishing a Kids' Book?

Before you proceed with digital publishing for a children's book, you need to consider first what platforms (retailers) you intend to sell upon; then, you need to decide whether you're going to publish that kids' book as a "fixed format" book or a regular, reflowable ePUB and MOBI title.  There are important considerations for both options.  The first thing to know is that if you want to create a "fixed-format" book for your illustrated children's book, each retailer that allows this type of book (Amazon, Kobo, Nook and iBooks) has its own unique format.  You can't, in other words, make an ePUB for iBooks that also works on Kobo or Nook.  If you wanted to make a fixed format book (illustrated children's book) available for all four of these retailers, we or your conversion company have to make four separate book files.  


"Fixed fomat" books are ebooks that can display two-page spreads, or pages of illustrations that have text on top of the illustrations.  Below are two examples of fixed-format books.  One is from "The Big Galoot," by Shadoe Stevens, on the iBooks application (Apple); the lovely pen-and-ink "Fox and the Fawn" is shown on a Kindle Fire device, with pop-up text boxes (also called, "region magnification," but "pop-up text" just sounds cooler!)

Now, the upside is that these books will look exactly, or "as exactly as possible" like the original print layout.  The downside is that they a) are extremely expensive, and, b) are limited to use on the platform for which they are created.  For more pricing information, please see our Fixed-Format eBook Pricing page.  For more samples of ebooks for children that we've converted, please see visit the Kids Book Showcase.

What's The Downside? 

What this means is that if you have a company make a Kindle Fixed-format Kids' book, it can't be read on any other e-reading device.  An Apple Fixed-format book for iBooks can't be read on a Nook.  And a Nook Fixed-Format book can't be read on anything but a NookColor tablet, in the special NookKids' platform. An Amazon MOBI made this way only works on those devices that have "K8" formatting--basically, the Kindle Fire Tablet and certain Droid Tablets.

And, warning:  to publish a NookKids' book, you have to be approved as a NookKids' publisher, by Barnes & Noble, or use an Aggregator/Distributor that is already approved. 

We at Booknook.biz have extensive experience in making these types of Kids' books in fixed-format, including books with embedded video, audio, and even animation, the latter on the iBooks platform only (and to a lesser extent, the NookKids' platform); audio is only available to self-publishers for iBooks and Nook at this time.

Are There Alternatives?

An alternative to this approach, if you have simple images with text on opposing pages, is to create a reflowable ePUB and MOBI format (please see our basic formats article here on the Knowledgebase: What Are the Main eBook Formats? if you don't know which formats work on which devices).  While this can mean that images and text may become separated while someone is reading the book, it is significantly less expensive and has the added advantage of portability.  An ePUB made this way, in other words, works for iBooks, Nook, Sony, and virtually every other ePUB-reading device.  A MOBI file made this way will work on all Amazon devices.  Two examples of books made as reflowable ePUBs or MOBI's are shown below; "Sharon and Eleanor's Escape" by Connie Pontius (Geese image) and "Emerald Green Runner" by Andrew Kay and Romy Dingle (on iBooks, with a tree in the image).

One thing to bear in mind is:  if you've made a very, very large children's book, the final product will most likely be seen on a traditional e-reader screen, which is 4¾" long and 3½ wide (held in landscape mode).  If you've made a book that needs to be read in "spreads" (text on the left page, for example, and image on the right) that's 22" wide in total, it's going to be very difficult to fit this into a 4¾" space.  If you are designing your children's book now, keep the dimensions at the front of your mind; because no matter how geeky we are, even we can't fit 20lbs. of flour into a 5lb. sack!  

Whichever way you decide to go, we can help you.  


Shadoe Stevens' wonderful, The Big Galoot, on an iPad

 The lovely pen-and-ink

Sharon and Eleanor, on the Nook device.  Emerald Green Runner, by Andrew Kay and Romy Dingle, on iBooks on an iPad.

Do You Need Some Novel-Writing Essentials?

Are you a new writer, just starting out? Or an experienced writer, looking to polish your craft, preparatory to publishing? Here at Booknook.biz, we only recommend the places, courses, people and resources that we've used, tried, and in which we believe. Do you need a critique group, but want to stay away from the harsher free-for-alls available on the Net? Then the Holly Lisle courses may be for you. Are you trying to world-build, with epic fantasy? Again, the Lisle courses have something you can use, all the way down to building your own language.

Check out The Writer's Boot Camp!

The Writer's Boot Camp forums are divided by courses and each class within that course, and hundreds of students may be taking the same class as you are, at the same time. The forums are fully moderated, and the action is never "too" rough and tumble for even the faintest of heart to deal with. I know that I hear, around the Net, quite a bit, that people are afraid to use critique groups because "they're too mean," and that is never an issue at the WBC forums.

The mini-clinics and bigger courses are both excellent. If you're hesitant about trying the bigger courses, try one of the Mini-clinics first (they're incredibly affordable and helpful; I'm a big fan of the Plot Clinc myself) and get your feet wet before you jump in to deeper waters.

There's something here for literally every writer, at every stage of his or her career:


How to Write Page-Turning Scenes

How to Write Dialogue with Subtext

Professional Plot Outline Mini Course

Create a Plot Clinic

Create a Character Clinic

Free Flash Fiction Class


21 Ways to Get Yourself Writing When Your Life Has Just Exploded

How to Find Your Writing Discipline

How to Motivate Yourself Workshop

How to Beat Writer's Block

Mugging the Muse (hint: this one is FUN!)


7-Day Crash Revision Workshop

How to Revise Your Novel

WORLD-BUILDING: A don't-miss for fantasy writers!

Create a Culture Clinic

Create a Language Clinic

Create A World Clinic


How to Think Sideways

How to Write a Series

Writing Clinics Bundle


Some of these courses are simply a BLAST. I know that people have told me that Mugging the Muse is a hoot, and I enjoyed the Page-Turning Scenes mini-course. I hope you'll find something here that you can use to help you achieve your writing goals.

Or, if you don't see anything here just yet, take a browse at the How To Think Sideways Store:


As Holly Lisle says: write with joy! And good luck to you from the folks at Booknook.biz. We hope you find our Resources helpful.

What is POD? What is a POD PDF?

I know, all those acronyms, right? (Tip: you can hover over or click acronyms that you see with a pale line beneath them, anywhere on our website. Like this one: TOOLTIP. That will instantly pop-up a small tooltip, telling you the meaning or definition of an acronym.) In today's world, instead of printing thousands of copies of your self-published book, keeping them someplace, having to ship them, etc., you can use "Print on Demand," or POD, which means that companies like Amazon's Createspace will print and ship an ordered book, at the time that it's ordered. This is called "just-in-time fulfillment," and doesn't mean anything fancier than, the book is made when it's ordered, not before.

Some companies will allow you to upload a Word file, for creation of a POD. This can have unexpected results. Using a PDF as your upload file instead ensures that you don't have unpleasant surprises when you receive your ARC, or "Advance Review Copy." The good thing about PDFs, when used for this purpose is that unlike word-processing files (Word, Wordperfect, Pages, etc.), the appearance of the page doesn't change, depending on what computer it's on, what size screen, etc. PDFs are always the same, and give you nice consistent results when used for POD printing.


We Scan your PDF

So, how do we convert your PDF? 95% of the time, after we try a few things, we end up running OCR software (Optical Character Recognition) on it. Yes, just like it is a print book. Believe it or not, this is faster and less expensive for you than if we use Adobe’s tools to “export to Word” or “export to HTML.” We try this, of course, on every book, to see if we can save the client money. But usually, OCR is the best way, and produces the cleanest Word output. 

Then we run comparison software which checks every single character in the output against every single character in your original PDF. Our accuracy is 99.95%, guaranteed. No conversion is ever 100%. This is one of the reasons that every client gets a review copy, to check. If we make errors in the conversion, we fix them at no charge to you. Our output format from the OCR is Word. We export that scanned Word File to HTML.   Then we export that file to HTML--and from that point, the process is the same as listed in the "From Word" section. Once the PDF has been OCR’ed and put into Word, we take that Word file and convert it to HTML. From that point forward, the process is identical to the process described for Word or other word-processed files as described here in the FAQ and Knowledgebase. 

Obviously, not all non-fiction books are "tricky" to format for ebooks.  Most memoirs, for example, are formatted very much like fiction titles, but with images.  But many DIY, self-help, medical, diet, exercise and other non-fiction books can be real bears to format.  Why?

Remember, a Kindle screen is precisely 3½"x4¾" in size, with a ¼" margin all-round.  A book that is laid out and created at 8½" x 11", has 93.5 square inches of space.  A Kindle/Nook screen, by comparison, has a mere 16.62 square inches.  This means that an e-reader screen has only 17.78% of the space of the typical PDF or default Word page layout.  When most publishers create their pages, for their books, they work in "Letter" size in their word processors, which is the 8½" x 11" size.  When print designers do layout, they use the book's trim size, which can be 6" x 9", or any number of other sizes.  When charts, tables, diagrams, etc., are laid out at these sizes, they're laid out to make the best use of the available space, by using it all.  When those same diagrams, charts, tables, lists, and so forth, need to be fitted into the much smaller screen of e-readers, not to mention, made to work within the limitations of those e-readers, it can be quite demanding to do properly.  Sometimes, it can't be done at all.  Not every single non-fiction book can be made into an ebook (for example, extremely complex books full of mathematical formulas, due to limitations on how ebooks can/cannot set horizontal or vertical alignment exactly.)

And don't forget other aspects in non-fiction books; sidebars, pullquotes, images with captions, illustrations, icons, and the like.  Many ebooks can't display sidebars (like the millions of e-ink Kindles).  When that happens, we have to think of creative ways to display the same content in a different way that "tells" the reader that what they are reading is removed from the regular narrative flow.  Sometimes, we have to do that one way for one reader, another way for a different reading device.  This is quite common for Amazon books.  We have to create what are called "media-queries," which really just mean, "if/then" instructions that tell the book "if you're being read on an e-ink Kindle, show this paragraph THIS way, but if you're being read on a Kindle Fire, use this other formatting."  That type of hand-crafting takes time and expertise, and can't be done from within a word-processor like Word.  That level of detail can only be done with HTML, XHTML and CSS coding, to make your ebook function perfectly on the different devices.