Happy Weekend, WG2E-Land!
Please give a fabulous WG2E shout-out and welcome back to New York Times Bestselling Author Ruth Harris, who’s got another terrific post on Ebook Formatting! In case you missed the first two parts of this series, here you go:
Take it away, Ruth…
Just as the revolution in e-publishing has made galleys and page proofs obsolete, a new profession—formatting—has been created. I’ve asked four of the most experienced formatters in the epub world to explain the process that turns your story from a previously published book or original manuscript into an elegant, easy-to-read ebook.
Here, in Part 3 of the series, our formatters will address questions about sample pages, scanning, and best practices for submissions.
Do you offer sample pages?
Rik Hall: On both my web site and FB page I have covers for many of the books that I have formatted. Any perspective customer can go to any of those books on Amazon and do a “Look inside.”
Judi Fennell: I don’t have my clients’ work on my website for others to view, but you can certainly go onto Amazon and utilize the “Look Inside” feature, or download a sample from the other platforms.
Rob Siders: We do. We either encourage people to visit the ebook retailer of choice to download sample ebooks we’ve done for authors. We’ve also got a selection of samples we’ve put together that we’ll send out on request. In some cases, a few authors have given us permission to send all or a part of their ebooks to prospective clients.
Pam Headrick: No I don’t because the material would be copyright protected… but a potential client could certainly view a sample on-line at B&N or Amazon.
In what form should an author submit his/her book/manuscript? ie: MSWord, plain text, etc.
Pam Headrick: MSWord, ‘rtf’, WordPerfect (although there are issues which crop up when a WP file is translated into Word).
Rob Siders: Our preferences are Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or RTF… anything native, formatted text. These file types will get you our best quote. We also accept PDF, InDesign and Quark files. Each of these requires more work, so the price will be higher.
Judi Fennell: I prefer to receive a manuscript in MSWord format. Also, please don’t send me a manuscript before we discuss the services you want because my email inbin is only so large. I use www.DropBox.com to transfer files back and forth and will walk you through the process if you aren’t familiar with it. I prefer to initiate the dropbox transfer by inviting a prospective client to share the folder. They then upload their manuscript so I can take a look before issuing a final quote.
Rik Hall: MS Word is the most common and the one I prefer.
Do you provide scanning services for previously published books?
Judi Fennell: I don’t. However, I do offer a PDF to text conversion, so if your book is already scanned, or you’ve scanned it, and want to convert it to MSWord, I have an OCR program that will do this for a minimal fee.
Rik Hall: Sorry no, on that one. My wife used a group called Blue Leaf Book Scanning (http://www.blueleaf-book-scanning.com/) I am in no way affiliated with that group, just a happy customer.
Pam Headrick: Yes, we have a very high res sheet feed scanner (so the books must have their spines removed before sending to me). We also have state of the art OCR (Optical Character Resolution) software which will take the scan and put it into editable text (rtf or doc). From that point either the client or my company MUST proof this resultant document to the print version. This is a critical step.
Rob Siders: We don’t provide it in house, but we will facilitate scanning on your behalf. If we do this, we charge you what our scanning partner charges us.
What different challenges present themselves between a scanned book & an original ms?
Rik Hall: Lots and lots. For the first three books we had scanned at BlueLeaf, the MS Word files were almost perfect! We were so pleased. For the next four books we had scanned there were problems. The Publisher was a different publisher and the font used was different. So, some “e”s became “c”s. There were a lot of words that got broken up with a weird MS Word character at the break. But, having them scanned and then fixing the problems was a great deal easier than typing the three hundred page novel in again. For four novels.
Judi Fennell: Unfortunately, the OCR software usually puts hard returns (the paragraph symbol) at the end of every line. I have proprietary coding I’ve devised to remove most of this issue, but the client will want to read through the converted document to make sure all paragraphing is as it should be.
Rob Siders: The biggest one is making sure we find the goofy artifacts that always get introduced into a book during the scanning process. We mitigate this as much as possible by running our own OCR against the scan’s PDF output. We can fine-tune the results better than working with the text output from our scanning partner. Once we have that new Word file, we give it a scrub looking for obvious and frequently-found OCR bugs. At that point it goes to the author to finalize. They can make changes right to the document and some even choose to rewrite scenes or entire chapters.
Pam Headrick: The scanned book has all kinds of invisible code and some visible (like optional hyphens) which will really mess up an ebook. Lots of errors are dropped into the document during the scan/ocr process. In fact the quality and age of the paper used in the print version to be scanned makes a big difference. Trade paper books scan better and more accurately than mass-market, mostly because of the quality of the paper. And the ocr process is translating an image (pdf) which is pretty problematical. It will see ‘arm’ and give you ‘aim’, ‘coming’ and give you ‘corning’, and this is a good one and a real story-changer… ‘arm’ and sometimes give you ‘anus’. I’m collecting these ‘OCR words’ for a humorous book.
Next time, in Part 4 of this series, our formatters will address questions about how much time to allow for formatting and best practices for handling edits and corrections.
Rik Hall http://RikHall.com
Judi Fennell: http://formatting4u.com/services/
Rob Siders: http://www.52novels.com/pricing/
Pam Headrick: http://www.athirstymind.com/
Okay, WG2E-Land: What questions do you have for our fabulous Ebook Formatting Panel?
The Best of Ebook Formatting Wishes —
NYTimes Bestselling Author
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