What formats do you do?
Ebook (Epub and Mobi—Amazon is requesting Epub uploads at this time) and print (PDF).
Do your ebook files pass validation?
Yes. This is the validator I use. Epub Validator: Use This Tool To Make Sure Your Epub is Good
Flowable or Fixed Ebook Layout?
I do not do fixed layout ebooks. Fixed are better for cookbooks, text books, etc.
I do flowable ebooks. The text / images flow to fit the device. This leads to some differences. Some are at the hands of the reader (font preference, size) and some are results of device (space, words per page, how much room an image takes up).
What languages do you format in?
While I don’t have to read your story cover to cover, I do need to be able to read paragraphs to make sure the right design is applied. For that reason, I only format works that are majority in English.
Do you have a contract/nondisclosure agreement?
I use the Invoice as the contract. I can expand in the notes section if you need it to be. I lay out what I am doing, when I received the file, when I expect to return the file, the terms of service, and when you pay the invoice, I treat that as agreeing to the work. Once it is paid, I will start work on the project.
Paypal takes a cut of all invoices if paid via Paypal. If a refund is issued, it will be the remaining amount after Paypal’s fees. This is due to their updated TOS 2020.
I work off an automatic nondisclosure assumption. Unless you’ve given me permission to let potential clients know that I formatted for you, I don’t discuss who my clients are. PERIOD.
Can I hire you for one format and come back later for you to do the other one?
Yes. This would fall under a single format pricing. It is generally cheaper—$20 more than single format—for you to do both ebook and print at the same time instead of paying two single format at different times.
Can you fix/update my files that someone else formatted?
No. It’s not that I can’t, but most of the time your formatter’s way of doing things are not my way of doing things.
With print PDF files, changing even a spelling error can cause a chain reaction that can shift page count, and that can result in hours of untangling. With epub files, I would have to untangle the code your previous formatter did to make sure that what I did matched.
Also, I feel it steps into a grey area. You paid your formatter for that design/layout. To have someone else tinker with it, it’s crossing a professional line.
If you’d like me to redo the files from a Word doc and try to match what was done in previous books, that is a maybe.
What guide do you follow?
For the most part, I follow the Chicago Manual of Styles. Sometimes I may adapt something due to visual appeal, trends that may not be in the latest edition of CMoS (like text message layouts), and customer request. (Ultimately, it is your book, and you have to be happy with how it is laid out.) I will let you know when something isn’t standard/common, but the final decision is yours.
Why should I use you instead of letting Amazon, D2D, convert my Word document?
That’s a good question. For a simple answer, check out this blog post: https://writingwithoutdrama.wordpress.com/2019/06/24/importance-of-correctly-formatted-ebooks/ . On top of that post, converters are AIs. They can’t tell when you left in a double space, used tabs instead of indents, didn’t realize that your centers are really indented centers, or a million other things.
You’re also paying for my knowledge and time.
What programs do you use?
I use Sigil for ebooks and InDesign for print. As of 2021, I have bene shifting clients to Affinity over InDesign.
While I can give a “stylized” word document it will not have headers/footers, margins, or trim done to it. Word is not a formatting program, and as such, I strive to provide the best for you. I will still require Word files to begin layouts.
If I want specific fonts, what do I do?
You need to have the commercial license for that font. Font sites usually say two things: Free for Personal & Commercial Use. Free for Personal use is if you wanted to print your kid’s chore chart or put up a cute “You can do it” motivational thing around your house. Commercial use is easiest to define as “if someone outside your home is going to see it, or/and you’re going to use it in a way that generates you money (ads, newsletters, book interiors, book covers).”
Purchase the font for commercial use and send me the zip file when you send your story. By purchasing it, you can use it across all your books, your promos, ads, etc. If I purchase it for you (at 1.5 x the cost of you doing it yourself), I cannot give you the font files. You won’t be able to use it in any other book unless you use me, you can’t use it in your ads, etc. Buy your fonts for both your book covers and your interiors.
My book contains images. What do I need to do?
I am not an image designer. I do not create images. I only resize them to fit.
Work with a designer who understands the different file types. Does your photos need transparent backgrounds or not?
I want them sized no smaller than 3″ wide. I’ll size them to fit the ebook and the print, but if you make them small to begin with I can’t adjust them as needed. Ideally, size them to fit your paperback.
What do I do with the files?
For ebook (mobi and epub): I recommend you upload the epub everywhere possible, including Amazon. This is the cleanest file possible for your books. Places like Bookfunnel will need both the epub and the mobi files.
For print (PDF): The PDF is the interior file. When you open up the file, you’ll see a total page count, this is the page number your cover designer needs to adjust the spine width. When you upload, KDP and IngramSpark has a place for interior PDF file; this is where you upload the PDF that I send. (All PDFs contain “bleed.” Please make sure you check that option when prompted during title set up on KDP.)
Once you get your proof back, please look over your book. If you don’t like something about the way it is laid out, a simple email asking for xyz will get it started. At worse, it takes me two days to adjust it, send it back, and it has a new page count. At best, it is a 30 second fix and doesn’t affect your page count.
Examples of things authors may want changed: The space around Chapter 1, Chapter 2; they may want it lower down the page or higher up the page. They may want more space between Chapter 1 and the 1st paragraph. They may want a bigger scene break, they may want to change their scene break to something else. They might decide they prefer a cleaner URL than the http ://xyz.com/ and want it as xyz. com instead.
If you take my PDF and convert it to a Word document to make changes on, I will charge you for a full format AND NOT hourly.
Changing the PDF to a Word document causes a mountain of issues that are not in the actual files—hyphen words in the middle of a sentence, paragraphs breaking across two pages with nothing else on that second page, adding extra pages which throws off page count… the list is long.
Word allows x amount of space per page, and a professional software like InDesign has z amount of space. When you convert it, you end up messing up the file to extreme levels.
Just ask me for your Word file if you need to make changes—I keep a Word document for this purpose—OR use the Word file you originally sent me to make changes on. Either way, I use Word’s built in program to find the differences between files.
If you alter my final files, and they no longer work when uploaded, YOU caused that and no I will not fix it for free.
Do you leave reviews for client’s books on sites like Amazon?
No. It is a conflict of interest.
You paid me to do a job, and that’s like hiring an electrician and asking them to rate their own work/work of fellow contracted freelancers. Sure, they could say it’s great because you paid them to do a job, and what else are they going to say? Other contractors/freelancers would consider that shady, and other businesses might as well.
As writers and readers, we run into this issue with sites like Amazon’s TOS and fellow writers and the readers we’re cultivating. Amazon considers you (the writer), your family and friends, your polishing team (editors, cover designers, publicist, formatter) as being bias.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t read the works or recommend them, but I do it in organic and authentic ways.
Are there any other things that can help make the formatting process easier?
There are a few things—
- knowing your trim size (http://bit.ly/WwDTrimSize)
- knowing if you’re going wide or exclusive (http://bit.ly/WwDDistro)
- understanding things like global URLs (https://bit.ly/WwDGlobalURL)
- making sure you’re doing steps in the right order (http://bit.ly/WwDOrders)