Feature: Inside the E-Book Production Process
Bringing front-list conversion back in-house helped offset the cost of converting increasing numbers of backlist books. The publisher chooses to convert front list books internally because of the relative ease of producing series romance fiction; still, "you can't just press a button on your keyboard and create an ePub," she notes. "So we did make some investments to make sure that workflow was integrated into our production process internally."
EPub standardization, including Amazon accepting ePub for conversion to its proprietary Mobipocket platform, has made things much easier, she says, as has the Book Industry Study Group's work to standardize metadata requirements.
"If you find anyone doing the exact same digital workflow as anyone else, I would be actually kind of surprised," she says. "What I've found is every publisher is trying to figure out what works best for them at this exact point in time, and what … works for us now, that probably is going to change in three months, and definitely will change in six months."
Hackett Publishing Co.
IN A NUTSHELL: Small trade publisher Hackett Publishing Co. outsources its e‑book conversion—but that doesn't mean it can take its eye off the ball. Prepping files and most proofreading are handled in house, and are essential to creating a quality product. So is clear communication with vendor partners.
Once source files have been chosen for conversion, meetings are held to strategize the process. "Source files … are located and assessed for any potential complications or formatting problems," Liz Wilson, senior project editor and e‑book production manager at Hackett, says. "Meetings are held with marketing, editorial and production to discuss these potential problems and come up with compromises as needed."
From there, source materials are prepped and special instructions written for the conversion partner. Each book presents its own challenges, and identifying potential problems ahead of time helps to smooth the process later on. "First pass" conversions are proofread in-house or by a trusted freelancer, depending on in-house workloads, the length of the book and type of source material, Wilson says. The files undergo as many revisions as needed to ensure a quality product before being uploaded to distributors.