January Tasks

Accounting, Webinars and Fixed Format ePubs for BN

This is a round-up post of things that don’t need a full blog article, but need to be mentioned.

Accounting for Writers

I’m doing all those nasty January tasks (accounting, I’m talking about you!) Of all the things indie publishing requires, accounting is the most challenging for me. I’ve written about it in this blog post, Accounting for Writers.

Webinar: Indie Publishing a Picture Book

I’ll be teaching a webinar for the Austin SCBWI on Indie Publishing a Picture Book on January 26 - next week! Come join me and bring your questions!

Share Indie Kids Books

Fixed Format eBooks for Barnes & Noble

Fixed format ebooks are those in which you use an image with the text embedded into the image. That’s the only kind of ebook I use for my picture books.

Why? I’ve tried reflowable text ebooks but for picture book, the positioning of the text is often crucial and dependent on the illustrations. If you move the text a fraction of an inch, it may hide something important in the art, or become illegible. Adobe InDesign does export to reflowable text, but it’s not reliable. The problem is that there are over 100 ebook readers and each has slightly different ways to interpret text and positioning information. Yes, there’s an epub standard, but no one implements it perfectly. That means a reflowable text picture book becomes a customer service nightmare.

Instead, I design for the lowest common denominator. That means I embed the text in the image. To do that, I export jpegs from InDesign. You can read about my full process here. But Barnes & Noble has been the difficult vendor. Nothing I did was accepted there. My new picture book, A LITTLE BIT OF DINOSAUR, releases on February 8, and I was determined to figure this out.

For Kindle and epub vendors, I design double-page spreads to reduce file size. But BN will not accept double page spreads; it must be single-page. And even when I hand-coded that, sometimes they were rejected. I’ve tried Jutoh (clumsy) and hand-coding (I’m getting faster). But nothing worked reliably.

I use Vellum to format novels into reflowable epub files and love it. But it didn’t work well for fixed format ebooks. Adding one photo per “chapter” made the Table of Contents look weird. Recently, though, they added a new feature that allows you to create a Page Return within a single chapter.

So, I created a new epub with one chapter. Into that chapter, I put 32 single-page spreads with embedded text followed by a Page Return. (My picture books are always 32 pages, 8.5” x 8.5” print size. For more see this or this.) There’s only one “chapter” but it has 32 separate pages, exactly what I needed.

To prepare the files, I exported single pages from Indesign, then used Photoshop to change them to 1400 x 1400 px, medium quality.

The process was simple and effective. I exported for BN and uploaded. Accepted!

I still need to go back and convert my backlist. But the other question is how well an indie picture book will sell on BN. I won’t prioritized getting the backlist done until I see how this book does.

Do you have sales on BN.com with indie picture books? Tell me your secrets!

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