A New Workflow for E-books

A New Workflow for E-booksHow to generate clean, compatible files without having to use multiple editing softwares? Kindle has it’s own proprietary format for e-books, and we’ve been looking to ditch the horror that is Kindle Create. We now have a new workflow for e-books.

Writing the content is just one part of publishing any book. There’s a multi-step workflow for getting professional-standard publications into the online stores.

A New Workflow for E-books

Workflow Breakdown

Proof read
The usual elimination of typo’s, corrected punctuation, grammar and sense-checked.

Spell Check
Whatever the automated spell checker finds. After the proof-read as any edits can introduce new typo’s and errors.

HTML entities
Character sets don’t travel well between Word Processors, text editors and even operating systems (Windows versus Mac versus Linux). We swap out normal punctuation characters for the HTML equivalents in order to ensure the proper characters are displayed on all devices . These are single and double quotes, apostrophes, greater than, less than and others. This prevents e-book readers displaying strange, boxed hieroglyphs in the text.

This is about filling in the correct metadata such as title, author, publisher, series and title for sorting (no “the” in front).

Do we have the correct, up-to-date copyright information displayed?

Does the Introduction text reflect the content of the book; are the legal disclaimers in place?

Writing or editing theĀ  Conclusion late can reflect the final content of the book.

“Also from…”
We’re currently including a promotional “Also from Proactivity Press” page front and back. This needs checking for the correct layout and items to promote.

The Sigil e-book editor uses ‘semantics,’ additional items of metadata used to markup the internals of the book. Samantics include ‘cover’, ‘introduction’, text, ‘frontmatter’, ‘backmatter’ and so on. E-book readers use these as part of the navigation within the book.

Tables of Contents
There are two tables of contents in each e-book. The first is for the e-reader’s internal navigation in the sidebar menu. The second is an HTML page with jump links, displayed on screen in the body of the book. After all the messing around with content and corrections, these need to be regenerated for accuracy.


Validation: Flightcrew
The first pass in validating the book is the Flightcrew plugin. This picks up XHTML errors and ‘manifest’ errors in the epub file. Flightcrew checks the markup is valid according to the XHTML specification. All tags must be opened and closed correctly, with no is no invalid markup such as target=”_blank”. Flightcrew also does a two-way manifest check. First, it ensures that all assets (images, media and other files) are referenced (used) somewhere in the book. Second, it checks for orphan references to assets which are missing or deleted.

Validation: EpubValidator.org
Our second pass validation is uses the online service hosted by the DAISY Consortium. This site uses EPUBCheck utility to provide validation information for EPUB 2 and 3 documents. It uses a different set of rules to report different errors from Flightcrew.

This is usually sufficient to publish the e-pub version of the book. For Kindle, there are some extra steps.

Output for Kindle

Kindle version
If everything is correct for the e-pub version, we create an identical copy of the file that we’re going to use for Kindle.

No-cover KDP
The only edit we need to do is to remove the cover page and cover image from the e-pub, otherwise when downloaded from Amazon, our book will have the ‘double-cover’ issue.

Kindle Previewer
It’s time to load up our e-pub in Kindle Previewer. This does the first pass conversion to Kindle format. Here we can check that the book displays correctly for Kindle e-readers.

Kindle Quality Checks
There is a quality check routine within Kindle Previewer that does a similar validation to the previous two but uses KDP’s specific rules. This is a little quirky in reporting ‘errors.’ Correcting after Flightcrew and Epubvalidator will minimise errors at this stage.

Export KPF for Kindle
If we have a clean Kindle file, we can go ahead and export to a Kindle format ready to upload to Amazon. We’re using the proprietary .kpf file format.

One Last thing…

Before we upload to the online bookstores, there’s a quick edit and polish of the descriptive ‘blurb’ to promote the book.

That’s it: all set to upload the finished product to the online stores.