eBook creation is complicated, but many publishers and authors have pretty small budgets set aside for their eBook development projects. While we always recommend that you plan your eBook development as part of the larger book creation budget, that is sometimes still not enough to pay for high-quality eBook creation.
If you are stuck in this situation and you have to figure out how to make do with a smaller eBook budget, here are some tips to ensure your eBooks do not suffer.
1. Don’t DIY. The first reaction many people have in these situations is to say “I’ll just do the eBook development myself.” That inevitably leads to many, many hours messing with “automatic” formatting tools, trying to understand techno-speak in the eBook format specifications, and banging your head against the wall every 10 minutes. Your time is valuable, too, so be sure you are taking that value into account when you make your eBook development plans. The same is true of the poor designer you task with this job. If he/she needs to spend 10 hours on an eBook project then you are probably better off sending it to a professional.
2. Choose developers wisely. If you must go to another eBook development company to have your work done (we’ll try not to be sad), be sure to pick someone who has a solid reputation and is available to assist you if you need help. Also, look at their terms of service and understand what they will fix if something is wrong with the files you receive.
3. Quality Assurance. Regardless of who does your eBook development, you know your content better than anyone else. Plan in advance to spend at least a few hours looking through the eBook files on different devices and making sure that the conversion was done properly. You will need to educate yourself on how to do this well, but it is worth the effort.
4. Get professional diagnostics. If you are concerned that the eBook files you paid for are not good, or if you are getting errors from ePubCheck or retailers that you just can’t figure out, consider having a professional eBook developer perform a diagnostic check on your ePub file.
Update 8/6/14: In addition to all of these points, you should always test your files in FlightDeck, our EPUB quality assurance testing tool. You’ll get reports about Validation, Best Practices, and Retailer Support, and more.
Those are just some of the things you can do to make sure your eBook files succeed, even on a small budget.