Format and Edit Your Ebook: DIY or Outsource?
With content complete, a major next step in ebook creation is transforming your raw manuscript into a visually polished, error-free file ready for publication. This involves formatting, designing layout and covers, copy editing, and quality checks.
But for time-strapped creators lacking specialized design skills, this process can become an overwhelming barrier. You essentially have two options – struggling through formatting yourself using DIY software tools, or outsourcing to formatters and editors.
This guide will break down key ebook formatting and editing tasks, evaluate pros and cons of DIY vs outsourcing approaches, and provide tips for managing the process efficiently based on your resources.
While production has costs, thoughtful formatting and editing drastically improves content presentation and quality – elevating your credibility and sales potential. Let’s unfold your options.
Key Ebook Formatting Tasks
Before detailing execution options, let’s enumerate key ebook formatting milestones:
- Compiling all written content – front matter, chapters, graphics etc. – into a single cleanly formatted Word .DOC manuscripts.
- Tagging content pieces like headings, subheads, blocks etc. consistently with Styles for smooth conversion into ebook code.
- Setting trim size dimensions and margins.
- Typesetting body text and styling headlines, paragraphs etc.
- Inserting, sizing, and placing supplemental graphics and multimedia.
- Creating and formatting front matter – title page, TOC, forward etc.
- Creating internal links – footnotes, endnotes, TOC entries etc.
- Inserting and styling separators, sections, and scene breaks.
- Sourcing/creating front and back cover images, patterns, or graphics
- Incorporating required text elements like title, author, logos etc.
- Formatting and compositing layers into a cohesive finished cover.
- Previewing formatted ebook across devices to validate responsive display.
- Testing embedded links/navigation function properly on various screens.
- Reviewing for errors across formats like MOBI, EPUB, PDF outputs.
Well-executed formatting tailors and structures content for smooth digital reading optimized for popular devices and apps.
Essential Ebook Editing Services
Beyond formatting, professional editing polishes critical errors and inconsistencies:
- Fixing typos, spelling, punctuation, formatting inconsistencies etc. that distract and diminish credibility.
- Flagging grammar problems – tense issues, fragmented sentences etc. and smoothing phrasing.
- Ensuring vocabulary and terminology is clear, consistent and appropriate for audience.
- Identifying content gaps needing elaboration or tightening.
- Evaluating structure and flow – reorganizing sections that make sense.
- Assessing tone and style for opportunities to strengthen engagement.
- Providing high level guidance on areas needing concept development.
- Validating any statistics, data points, expert quotes, and facts presented in the book to ensure 100% accuracy.
Careful editing safeguards against mistakes undermining book authority and impact.
DIY Formatting Considerations
With foundation of key tasks, let’s examine executing formatting in-house using DIY software tools:
- Using ebook creation tools like Vellum, Atticus, or Adobe InDesign well requires learning curve even for seasoned designers. Expect a time investment.
- Preset layouts and styles offered in beginner tools limit advanced customization requiring workarounds and creativity.
- When inevitable hiccups emerge, resolving technical issues around embedded fonts, images etc. demands troubleshooting tenacity without easy tech support.
Multi-Format Publishing Challenges
- Adapting polished formatting across fixed and reflowable formats like PDF, .MOBI, EPUB etc. often requires rework to optimize each output.
Cover Design Skills Needed
- Crafting professional book covers using design tools is its own skillset – composition, typography, imagery etc. DIY presents a steep learning curve.
For creators lacking design expertise, DIY formatting demands significant motivation for self-teaching complex software.
Risks of DIY Editing
Attempting comprehensive self-editing also poses challenges:
Skill Level Needed
- Developing the experience to intimately understand the many style, grammar, structure nuances that comprise ‘correct’ writing is a years long endeavor.
Missing Own Mistakes
- We know what we meant to say so gloss over actual typos, poor phrasing etc. Fresh eyes identify overlooked gaps.
- When overly attached to our own words and ideas, it’s near impossible to surgically refine and alter our writing with the neutrality editing requires.
Too Close to Content
- After extended immersion writing a manuscript, we lack perspective to evaluate structural flow, character consistency, factual accuracy etc. with clear eyes.
Subpar Result Quality
- Non-professionally edited books reflect poorly on authors, get negative reviews, and dissuade referrals. DIY options risk this.
With so much on the line after investing months writing, relying solely on self-editing is an immense gamble few experts recommend.
Pros of Outsourcing Formatting
Given challenges above, hiring professional formatters is advisable for creators prioritizing quality, accuracy and launch efficiency:
Expert Skills and Efficiency
- Seasoned formatters know best practices and can swiftly execute with pre-built templates. Years experience improves quality and speed.
- Outsourcers seamlessly optimize files for both fixed layout and reflowable formats like .PDF, .EPUB, Kindle etc. supporting wide distribution.
- They manage entire production process from manuscript to final files without you sweating technical details and troubleshooting.
- Professional designers craft book covers and custom layouts matching your vision and resonating with audiences much better than DIY attempts.
Improved Sales Potential
- Polished production directly impacts reviews, purchases, referrals etc. Pro execution gives your book the best chance to impress.
While adding costs upfront, professional touch substantially improves content presentation, credibility, and income potential.
Benefits of Outsourcing Editing
Reasons hiring editors outweighs DIY for error-free books include:
Expert Language Skills
- Seasoned editors intimately understand the intricacies of grammar, punctuation, prose elegance etc. Average writers don’t.
- Objective editors refine writing based solely on conventions and reader clarity vs. author attachment.
- They analyze entire manuscripts assessing comprehensive flow, transitions, character arcs over microscopic line editing.
Credibility and Praise
- “Edited by X Press” elevates author brand and earns reviewer praise. DIY screams amateurish.
Saves Author Time
- Offloading tedious editing labor lets creators focus energy on passion points like marketing and product launches.
Editing decisions carry immense weight given their impact on reader experience. Most experts consider professional editing mandatory.
Tips for Streamlining Outsourced Formatting
To ease project hand offs and smooth outsourcing logistics:
Use Styles in Manuscript
Consistently styling headings, paragraphs etc. with Word Styles from the start helps formatters swiftly translate to ebook code.
Provide Brand Style Guide
Share author or company logo files, brand colors, graphic elements, fonts etc. to inform custom designs.
Clarify Audience and Tone
Inform editor of target reader age, knowledge level, seriousness, humor level etc. to adapt editing appropriately.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Leave ample time for quality formatting and editing based on project scope. Rushed jobs risk sloppy errors.
Confirm Deliverable Details
Align on ebook formats, testing requirements, rounds of edits included etc. to set explicit expectations.
Clear communication, organized docs, and reasonable timeframes help maximize collaborator workflow.
Vetting and Selecting Providers
Whether choosing formatters, editors, designers etc. vet carefully by:
Evaluate previous ebook samples assessing formatting quality, design aesthetics etc. Ensure expertise aligns.
Checking Reviews and Testimonials
Verify industry reputations via client reviews on Google, LinkedIn, their website etc. Flag poor feedback.
Collect rate quotes from 3-5 providers to compare. Note higher pricing often reflects higher quality but confirm first.
Understanding Deliverable Details
Ask detailed scope questions on key deliverables, process, timelines etc. Ensure approaches align to your needs.
Trusting Your Gut Feeling
Soft factors like professionalism, communication style, responsiveness etc. also influence collaboration success. Trust instincts if uncertain.
Vetting thoroughly protects your investment and sets foundations for smooth partnerships. For crucial projects, consider paying hourly versus fixed cost to allow thoroughness.
While self-driven creators may initially only consider DIY ebook production to save costs, making professional polish and error-free content a priority has immense upside for long-term success.
Carefully evaluating real capabilities against project needs makes clear when outsourcing to experienced partners is the wise investment despite added upfront costs. Their expertise can elevate execution well beyond DIY limitations.
But for smooth outsourcing, communicating effectively, providing assets and guidance, and setting realistic timelines helps ensure the best quality end product worthy of sharing with readers.
In almost all cases, professionals complete tasks like complex formatting or intensive editing with far greater craftsmanship and efficiency, freeing authors to create. And the dividends for sales and credibility over the long run outweigh the initial expenses tenfold.
- 1 Format and Edit Your Ebook: DIY or Outsource?
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Key Ebook Formatting Tasks
- 1.3 Essential Ebook Editing Services
- 1.4 DIY Formatting Considerations
- 1.5 Risks of DIY Editing
- 1.6 Pros of Outsourcing Formatting
- 1.7 Benefits of Outsourcing Editing
- 1.8 Tips for Streamlining Outsourced Formatting
- 1.9 Vetting and Selecting Providers
- 1.10 Conclusion