… or a leaf or a swirl or anything else you’d like.

it's a leaf!

Ornaments are a nice way to add a little somethin’ to your ebook. Here’s how I do it. There’s 100 other ways to do it … this one works for me and I’d also love to hear your method. Enjoy!

Make an Ornament for Your Ebook | 04-2013
[PDF: 168 kb]

Edited to add the video … because how could I not?


09:00 AM: Check my email, make my work plan for the day

10:00 AM: Start fielding questions from our print designers who are now tasked to QA the ebooks that have been sent to the conversion house from their print files

2:00 PM: Notice that there’s a common thread to recent print designers’ QA questions; most can’t be answered even though I’ve conducted in-house ebook QA workshops because one vendor won’t play nice and yet they account for most of our ebook sales

3:00 PM: Contact my director and fellow ebook developer about updating our outsourcer conversion guidelines …

3:30 …again…

4:00 Go into my director’s office because IM’ing these QA questions is leading to confusion and general angst

4:30 Have a new plan regarding conversion guidelines and what (outdated) ereaders we will no longer support in favor of the vendor that won’t play nice

6:00 Wrap up my work day and wander home to decompress

7:00 Tell my husband that today was a good day because we highlighted issues that will be addressed

Moral of the story: Ebook QA is never done

Here’s my annual post about PePcon. Last year’s is here.

The popular Print + ePublishing Conference is rapidly approaching! PePcon is the popular conference created by AnneMarie Concepcion and David Blatner, the powerhouse behind InDesign Secrets. This year the conference is in Austin, Texas, from Sunday, April 28 through Wednesday, May 1. It is four days of learning new skills, becoming cutting-edge current with skills you already have in print and digital publishing, and uniting with all sorts of your people—people in the publishing industry. If you decide to go to PePcon (and if you’re in publishing production, you should), you will come away empowered to make real-world, scalable changes to your current workflows … what you’re working on right now. It’s about being smarter about tools and more efficient with time. Who can’t use a good dose of that?

As I’ve been looking over the sessions I’ve been doing what I always do before attending a conference: Planning out which ones apply directly to what I’m working on today … and most likely will be working on tomorrow. PePcon has a lot to offer for both print and digital. As an ebook developer, the following sessions offer the real-world take-aways that I can take back to the office.

My perspective is from that of an in-house ebook developer at a book publisher whose workflow is very template-based and heavy on QA, who is tasked with helping to inform co-workers on the latest developments in ebooks and ereaders, and who doesn’t have enough hours in the day. Here’s what I’m excited to be learning at PePcon this year (click to make larger):


These are the sessions that are most applicable to my job as an ebook developer, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. Publishers depend on all of us in production and design to produce print and digital content efficiently and with the highest regard for the author’s voice. Content that visually appeals and connects to the content’s audience. And all this using technology that changes quickly. This conference is valuable in that it’s not just about theory and it’s heavy on the tools and the let’s-get-it-done, can-do attitude.

The check marks indicate ebooks that can be sold through major vendors (think Amazon, Apple, etc) and the diamonds indicate PDF ebooks. Both of viable options for ebooks but, of course, PDF ebooks have one disadvantage: The major ebook vendors do not sell PDFs as ebooks. However, many publishers go around this unfortunate decision by selling their PDF ebooks direct-to-consumer on their own websites.

EPUB Bootcamp: What You Need to Know is my pre-conference workshop! I love teaching ebook production to print designers because, as a former print designer myself, I have found that the trick is to start with what you know. And everyone knows styles. Did you know that Word styles talk to InDesign styles talk to ebook styles? If you want to take it one step further: Word styles map to InDesign paragraph and character styles map to ebook html and css. Here’s another tip: Good print production habits are almost the same for InDesign-to-epub-export habits. We’ll review what you already know, how to apply it in ebook production in a scalable workflow, and how to be sure that the results are what you intended in this workshop.

So make your plans to attend PePcon soon … it’s only 5 weeks away. AnneMarie and David are offering a $50 discount with the code DBW (which stands for Digital Book World where I teach ebook production courses) when you register. I hope to see you there!

EPUB format Digital Book World University has launched and I’m excited to teach the first course! Straight-Text-EPUB is now open for registration. It’s tailored for those who know InDesign, have a basic knowledge of CSS, and have making their first ebook on their to-do list of professional goals. You can even use your own manuscript! If you don’t have your own, you can choose a title from Project Gutenberg. You can find out the prerequisites on the course’s description page.

Why did we start with using InDesign? We’ve heard from many print designers who want to make the transition from print to digital. The problem is that nobody has much time between deadlines, more deadlines, and having a life, to sort through all the training information available out there. Let me walk you through the steps of making an ebook using the tool that’s already familiar to you: InDesign. It’s not the only tool out there but it has a solid place in the print-to-digital workflow.

Here’s the outline of the course:

Week 1: Digital Workflow and EPUB Project Plan

1. Know the difference between ebook vendors, ereaders, and formats
2. Think like an ebook consumer
3. Keep up with ebook technology
4. Plan your ebook project

Week 2: Beginning with InDesign and Graduating to Dreamweaver

1. Follow file naming best practices
2. Format your text consistently
3. Check your punctuation
4. Map your styles
5. Control the order of content and plan section breaks
6. Create robust navigation
7. Insert metadata
8. Create a cover
9. Export to EPUB
10. View the results in Adobe Digital Editions

Week 3: EPUB Validation and Editing in Dreamweaver

1. Validate your ebook often
2. Choose the correct software to edit the EPUB
3. Plan for opening and closing the EPUB
4. Know what makes up the inside of an EPUB
5. Check the navigational TOC
6. Understand the difference between HTML and CSS
7. Design your ebook
8. Specify or embed fonts
9. Use color carefully
10. Refine the metadata

Week 4: Kindle Conversion, Quality Assurance, QED Seal

1. Collect vendor spec documents
2. Plan your QA process
3. Predict QA issues
4. Convert to Kindle
5. Aim for the QED Seal

Every week you will turn in a weekly project for personalized feedback from me and our message boards will be open for discussion of the week’s lessons. A sample EPUB will be included in your materials that you can copy markup from and keep for future reference.

Even if you are not a book print designer but know InDesign / or if you have already made an ebook but want to refine your workflow and get personalized feedback / or if you are a beginning ebook freelancer who wants to learn best practices from an in-house professional ebook developer, do join us! It will be an intensive four weeks of learning and at the end you’ll have a consumer-ready ebook ready for your portfolio or for publishing on iBooks, Nook Color, Nook Touch, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Fire.

If you don’t join us for this course, check back at Digital Book World University for future course offerings. If you have any questions before registering for this course, please let me know in the comments. This first session starts on Monday which is just a few days away. I look forward to sharing this digital journey with you.


eBook production doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s always the context that surrounds it:

  • Personal professional history | learning at school or on the job resulting in your skill set developed on or off billable time
  • Toolbox budget | budgeting for production tools and ereaders for QA
  • Deadlines | balancing your team’s ultimate goals and promised deliverables against personal and workflow pressures
  • Content | leveraging your skills most applicable to the content you’re working on (flowable, fixed, one-epub-for-all, targeted-epub-for-one-platform … and especially looking at you, ePUB3)

Add in walking the dog, petting the cat, spending time with your partner and/or kids, and keeping the house clean and it’s a wonder we keep up at all some days.

This is where a personal project can fit in. Is your to-do list filled with flowable epubs but you’re curious about fixed layout? Do you develop highly-designed ebooks for iBooks but wonder what graceful degradation looks like across platforms? Do you work on straight-text but wonder about art-heavy ebooks? Or do you work on art-heavy ebooks but wonder about pushing the typography limits of digital text?

Is your soul satisfied at the end of the workday or do you have an idea that won’t leave you alone?

A personal project can remind you of why you started down the ebook path to begin with. All it takes is some time, the glimmer of an idea, and wanting to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that little extra more and see what’s on the other side of deadlines and daily work tasks.

Of course, a personal project needs parameters just as a live work project does because we don’t have all the time in the world. If you have an idea for content that you’d like to use to expand your ebook development skills, ask yourself:

  • Where is the content being generated from? my camera, my writing, public domain material, a friend’s manuscript
  • What format(s) would best display the content? flowable, fixed, enhanced, ePUB2, ePUB3
  • What development tools and ereading devices or apps will you use for your toolkit? so many possibilities
  • Is there a deadline? even if the project doesn’t go live it’s good to set one to keep yourself motivated
  • Will you distribute the ebook? among friends, sell through your website or through a vendor
  • How does this project make me feel? happy, frustrated, curious, free, motivated

This has been on my mind lately and I finally came up with an idea to put my own photographs and writings into an ebook format in time for the new year. It will be fun to experiment without a hard-and-fast deadline and learn as I’m having fun. As long as the cat gets petted and the house stays clean, all will be well.

If you’ve worked on personal ebook projects, what are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?