Digital Files: The Assets of an Indie Publisher

As an independent publisher, what are your assets? Your digital files!

As I uploaded files today to the EPIC! app, I was struck again with the fact that I’m in a digital file business. Every place that sells my books wants a digital file, even the printers who produce the print books. I recently uploaded my whole catalog to Overdrive, which sells ebooks and audiobooks to libraries. The upload included about 60 files; I was proud that only 3 files had to be revised slightly for their platform. Pristine digital files are crucial for indie publishers. Organized. This means you must be strictly organized with your pdf and jpeg files that constitute the assets of your business. Of course, each book gets its own folder. I further subdivide a book's folder into these subfolders:

  • Production (ebook, interior, covers). These include the original images, InDesign files, high-resolution pdfs for each platform, and ebooks for each platform.

  • Publicity or Promo (covers, sell sheet, reviews) includes everything that I might need to promote the book. One folder holds covers jpgs in every size and resolution that might be typically requested; I’ve gotten in the habit of generating the range of jpg files immediately when I finish the cover. The sell sheet includes all metadata, slugs, descriptions and any other copy that I might need to cut and paste to a sales platform. Reviews are collected in another folder.

  • Other folders might include book trailers, awards, updates, foreign languages, video, audio, contracts, etc.

Metadata files. Besides the actual book files a spreadsheet of metadata is essential. Typically, a platform that sells books will want to know ISBN of each format, title, subtitle, author, illustrator, narrator, description, category, keywords, BISAC categories, language, publication date, release date, age range, and maybe other things unique to the platform. I keep a Master MetaData list and update as often as needed. Still, it’s always a pain to create a metadata file for each different platform, as inevitably, their template lists items in a different order. Or, they require unique information. It’s a necessary chore because metadata sells books by allowing the reader to find your book.

Backup. Do I have to say it? If your business assets consist of digital files, then you should back up regularly. My computer’s video card went out recently and of course, it was right before I had to go out of town to teach. While Apple sent my Mac to Memphis for a new video card, my only recourse was to buy a new computer which I would return when my computer was repaired. My backup was a week out of date. Fortunately, nothing important was lost. But it reminded me of the imperative of keeping good backups of data.