As everyone who has not been hiding out in a cave for the past five years knows, the book publishing industry is undergoing a digital revolution that affects how books are read, distributed, promoted, discovered and created. Publishers who are able to plan their workflow processes to take maximum advantage of digital opportunities can save time, and consequently money in their production processes. This becomes increasingly important in an era of shrinking margins and growing competitive pressure from ever more demanding resellers and the ever-growing proliferation of new titles.
The following are a few simple suggestions and ideas to consider in order to help keep your costs down.
Know and decide the formats into which you’re going to publish beforehand
Like many things in life, planning is important. It is much harder to gain efficiencies after the fact. So, if print is going to be considered, either at the new release stage or as a POD option later on in your title’s life cycle, it will be most efficient to create print files first, then the eBook files. The one major exception to this rule occurs when you anticipate many changes to content or you will be adding time specific info. In those cases, make an ePUB first since it is easier to create and correct ePUB files if need be. Then create your print book when all info is finalized.
Per Tony Viardo, COO and co-founder of fast-growing niche publisher Astor + Blue Editions, “Bookmasters has given us valuable guidance on best practices in production planning, which has saved a lot of money. We’ve been able, then, to invest that money in marketing, thus increasing sales of multiple titles beyond our initial expectations.”
Tips for efficient use of InDesign CS6
You don’t have to be an expert in InDesign CS6 to gain efficiencies. If you are a beginner or intermediate level user, you can create efficiencies by setting up processes that just use the myriad InDesign tools wisely.
- Strive to create a clean design; don’t set text over image in the first place unless it is absolutely necessary
- Maintain clean style sheets and be consistent in the use of fonts; this results in more/better styling within the ePUB and also makes for a better print file down the line.
- If you need to vary the text in the print and eBook versions of a title, use the conditional text features to keep certain information out of either the print or the ePUB version.
According to Claire Holloway, Director of Data Management and eBooks at Bookmasters, “The improvements in the software over the past five years have made it possible for small publishers to create high quality product that can be used for print and eBook production as efficiently as much larger publishers. This has really leveled the playing field on the production side, as long as the small publisher invests the time in understanding how to get the most out of the software or finds service providers with those skills.”
There is a proliferation of e-reading devices on the market today. Some display in vivid colors while many others use greyscales. As you plan your production, it is important to think about how that color will be used on all devices. Avoid hard-to-read combinations such as yellow on white. Avoid knockout text that will not show up on greyscale; think about those 16 shades of grey on the Kindle.
For certain types of books, color is critical. For others, it is an enhancement that will add to the readers’ enjoyment. Since printing in black and white may be more economical, especially for short runs, but on-screen color can allow an eBook to be more reader-friendly, a slight workaround in your InDesign files can result in the color space that each format requires. At Bookmasters, we will save two copies of the same image within the two different color spaces and then relink all images depending on the colors to be used in the respective final format. Same image, same placement, but different color space saved in different location.
Know your file conversion vendor
If you are using a conversion vendor for your eBooks, it is very important to plan together. Not all conversion vendors are alike and some are better communicators than others. It is important to find out from them the file specifications that will maximize their efficiencies. Knowing that may help you in your price negotiations and will be important in allowing that vendor to do their finest work. For example, at Bookmasters, we convert from print-ready PDFs that are not set up in spreads. So, in our case, we would use the same files you deliver for printing.
Finally, the landscape is constantly shifting, so stay alert to the changes in technology. That includes understanding the requirements and capabilities of new e-readers that hit the market, the implications of new POD technology (i.e. inkjet for short run digital printing), and new versions of the software for file preparation. Doing all that won’t guarantee a bestseller, but at least you’ll have an advantage over many of your competitors.