The Second 5 Topics in Introduction to eBook Formatting

I’ll be teaching Introduction to eBook Formatting at the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies as an elective in their editing program on March 14–16. This course is appropriate for publishing professionals, writers and authors, K–12 and college/university-level educators, homeschoolers, librarians, and document specialists in any line of business. I thought I’d give potential students a taste of the contents by reviewing the main topics in a bit more detail than you’ll find in the syllabus. I covered the first 5 topics in this post. Here, we get into the heart of the course:

6. Simplified eBook Workflow Having placed eBooks in context before the morning break on the first day of class, we will return to a hands-on session in which the basic mechanics of creating an eBook are covered. We’ll be amplifying this as we continue, of course, but it will provide you with an overview.

7. Finding the Least Common Denominator eReaders and eReading apps don’t provide the same results from the same input. In this session, we’ll look at what the differences are as a way of finding LCD items that will work across the board for the major eReaders and capabilities that are specific to fewer eReaders.

From here on, the class follows an additive process; that is, the earlier skills and strategies will continue to be practiced as new skills and strategies are acquired.

8. Assessing the Project Whether you’re considering making eBooks for yourself or others, you will often be starting from some sort of manuscript—perhaps from a print edition, perhaps not. Whether you’re simply getting a fix on the time investment or giving a client an estimate, this

9. Keeping the Client Informed Particularly because eBooks are a newer technology, as well as because eReaders and eReading apps have different capabilities, clients may not know what to expect the way they may with print publishing. So, we will practice decision-making and drafting documents with this in mind. Though not every student may have the intention of working for clients, keeping notes for oneself on why choices were made would be the self-publishing counterpart.

 10. Handling Print-Specific Features Even if an eBook project doesn’t start with a manuscript that has been used in print production, authors and writers may unthinkingly include features and elements that are appropriate for print publications but not eBooks. Whether its adding, deleting, or changing, we’ll address them here.

In the next post, I’ll detail the 5 topics that complete the course, and in the final post, I’ll provide some details about the extra topics that—if there’s time—we’ll cover (tbd by majority vote).

Sign Up Here For more information about Introduction to eBook Formatting, offered March 14–16, 2013 at the University of Chicago Graham School at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, click here.

For the next article in the series, click here.

3 Reasons Librarians Should Learn eBook Formatting

There are many librarians whose training didn’t include information about eBooks for the very good reason that they didn’t exist when the training took place. Professional development in eBook formatting can serve librarians in several different aspects of their work. Here’s how:

1. Increased acquisitions savvy. The more you know about what is and can be inside an eBook, the quality hallmarks, and the typical errors in eBook publishing, the better able you will be to compare and evaluate digital publications and various editions of the same work to create the best possible digital collection.

2. Targeted recommendations. Just as with print editions, knowing the details about digital books can help you make savvy recommendations to library patrons with a variety of interests and needs.

3. Collection expansion. With budget limitations facing just about everyone, librarians who can format eBooks can replace or expand their collection of public domain works by creating their own editions. With this capability, libraries can have targeted editions to serve their particular population(s), using some of the same techniques an educator might use to differentiate instruction.

Here are some of the kinds of features you can use to create an enhanced edition beyond the basic text when you know basic eBook Formatting techniques:

  • background information,
  • chapter summaries,
  • charts,
  • extension questions,
  • guided reading apparatus
  • highlighting or colored text to signal structure or important points,
  • illustrations,
  • linked glossaries,
  • links to websites,
  • tables, and
  • targeted word definitions.

I teach Introduction to eBook Formatting at the University of Vermont and the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.  For more information about my next Introduction to eBook Formatting course, offered March 14–16, 2013 at the University of Chicago Graham School at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, see here.

The First 5 Topics in Introduction to eBook Formatting

I’ll be teaching Introduction to eBook Formatting at the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies as an elective in their editing program on March 14–16. This course is appropriate for publishing professionals, writers and authors, K–12 and college/university-level educators, and document specialists in any line of business. I thought I’d give potential students a taste of the contents by reviewing the main topics in a bit more detail than you’ll find in the syllabus.

1. eBooks vs. Print Books We’ll start the course with the tried and true method of defining our terms. We’ll discuss what makes something an eBook, types of eBooks, and the various ways eBooks (depending on their type) differ from print books.

2. Converting vs. Formatting vs. Designing vs. Redesigning eBooks People talk about “making an eBook,” but depending on how you go about this, very different types of actions could be involved. We’ll discuss the differences between and among converting files, formatting eBooks, designing eBooks, and redesigning eBooks from print editions.

3. A Variety of Ways for Creating eBooks There are many different ways to create eBooks, including a number of DIY options that may involve coding or the eBook version of WYSIWYG, as well as individuals and companies you can hire to do it for you. We’ll explore some of the top methods and their key features.

4. The Skills and Tools of eBook Creation No matter how you create an eBook, there are certain fundamental, underlying skills and tools you need to assure a high quality product. For example, you need to create content, validate your end file, and test on target devices.

5. eBook Client Issues and Tools for Client Communication Every author, writer, or other client you ever work with will have had vast experience with print materials. Depending on your work, you may encounter some who have little or no experience with eBooks, and so may have unrealistic or inaccurate conceptions of how their content will appear as eBook. Knowing about and addressing these proactively will make the process easier for everyone.

More Information and Sign Up For more information about Introduction to eBook Formatting, offered March 14–16, 2013 at the University of Chicago Graham School at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, click here.

For the next article in the series, click here.

“The Little River” Is a Fine Debut Short Story

In this debut short story, Michael Podhaizer convincingly captures the emotional turmoil of a young boy’s feelings towards his abusive father when the boy suddenly, and realistically, has life-and-death power over his tormentor.

The story opens with two vignettes that establish the characters: the narrator, Richard; his father; and in the background, the rest of the immediate family—Richard’s mother and two sisters. The third section takes the reader to Richard’s critical moment of decision, and then the story doubles back to explore in detail how the situation unfolded, casting further light on the relationship between not only this son and father, but also the dynamics and sequela of abuse.

A well-written and moving first effort.

You can purchase “The Little River” for $0.99 here.

Note: Full disclosure – Michael is my son; that is why this review is posted here, and not on Amazon, where the out-of-guidelines criteria prohibit family members from posting reviews.

Four Reasons for Authors to Learn About eBook Formatting

Many writers have wondered whether they should format eBooks themselves or give them over to someone else to do. But there are reasons to learn eBook formatting even if you’re not going to format yourself. Here are four good reasons for learning eBook formatting, whatever your plans:

1. Grasp the Possibilities and Limitations. The differences in creating eBooks and print books favor eBooks for some particular content types and print books for others: eBooks have some capabilities that print books do not, but also have some limitations that don’t apply to print. If you understand the possibilities and restrictions, you can make better decisions and choices, whether you go one to do all your formatting yourself or not.

2. Save Money. You can cut eBook publishing costs by have a good basic EPUB document that you can then hire someone to tweak or tweak yourself rather than having to pay for a conversion that starts from .doc, .docx, .txt, .odt, or .pdf.

3. Get Started on the Way to HTML and CSS Editing. You may have a plan to eventually build your own eBooks from scratch, but starting with coding right off the bat is taking on a major learning curve. By beginning with a solid understanding of EPUB and the eBook testing procedures and taking the time to see the effects of various choices made in a word processor, you can gain valuable experience that will underpin your plunge into coding.

4. Save Time with Useful Workflows. Whichever way you go about formatting your work for eBook publication, there are valuable approaches and strategies that can help you produce high quality work, and which can be demonstrated in the familiar context of word processing.

Learn More. Writers might not see themselves as the target students for a course on eBook Formatting offered as an elective in an editing program. But the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies has a new offering, Introduction to eBook Formatting, that can serve writers as well as publishing professionals with editorial and production positions.

Details. Introduction to eBook Formatting is offered by author/educator Mary Elizabeth, who has worked in both editorial positions in print publishing and as a writer for over 30 years, as well as being involved in design, layout, and music engraving.  As an eBook formatting specialist, she has worked with many types of books, including novels; books of poetry; business, tax, and finance books; cookbooks and nutritional guides; scientific and medical books; scholarly works; travel books; spiritual and religious books; children’s books; article collections; autobiographies and memoirs; and works of history and philosophy. Whatever genre(s) you write, you are likely to find one or more samples used in the course that are related.

For more information about Introduction to eBook Formatting, offered March 14–16, 2013 at the University of Chicago Graham School at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, click here.