Creating a Smooth Conversion

by Laura Shabott, Blogger and Author, Confessions of an eBook Virgin

Best Practices for Converting Documents of All Types

File conversion, the technology that transforms a manuscript into an electronic document, is now an integral part of running any business. The independent writer and the head of a Fortune 100 company both worry about how to do it right. With the technology changing so rapidly, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed.

What are the best practices for creating a smooth conversion?

1. Hire the right tech team.  Anyone with documents to convert has a lot on their plate, like a corporation to run or a book to finish. And, the days of throwing some words up on the Internet with bad formatting are over. Hiring a consultant or conversion firm allows you to keep your attention on the part that you have the most control over – the quality of the content itself.

2. Edit yourself until you can’t look at it anymore, and then work with pros.  Let’s compare file conversion to painting a room. Isn’t most of the work in the preparation? The same is true for a document. Make sure your book, report or study is typo free, grammatically sound, fact checked and has continuity.  DCL has editing services. Use them. It will be money incredibly well spent.

3. Don’t get starry-eyed. Enhanced eBooks, ones that add visual, interactive, video or sound are an amazing option!  Open your book with the soundtrack to “Star Wars” (with permission, of course)? Include interactive scoring systems, like “What is your fitness personality”? Make a video presentation and embed it into the beginning? Isn’t this fantastic?  Yes – and no.

Add enhancements because the project is screaming for it. For example, a book on airplane mechanics has an interactive quiz at the end of each chapter that makes sure the trainee gets it.  That company-wide publication regarding a recent merger would do well to open an inspiring video message from the President.   Automatic music at the beginning is great for a composer’s grant application, but unfortunate for a professional reference eBook.

4. Keep the end user devices in mind. Many formatting errors are made by not knowing the electronic devices used by your end users. This may seem simple but it can be hard to figure out.  For example, I recently self-published with .mobi, .ePUB and .iBook files because that is what authors do now. But a whole segment of potential readers where I live don’t even own a device that supports those files.

Now, I teach my Cape Cod audience about how to read an eBook and am creating a POD version, the preferred choice for this group.  What devices are your readers using? Does your formatting plan support that?   

File conversion creates documents, books and important missives that shape how we think, both personally and professionally. A well-conceived project insures a beautiful end product.

Laura Shabott is a self-publishing pioneer on the Internet. As an online columnist (Notes from Lands End) for a website with a one million person reach, she learned how to empower people to create and publish eBooks. 'Confessions', rated five stars by her readers, is available with Amazon, iBook, IngramSpark and Kobo. 

Laura Shabott, Blogger

Larua Shabott is a blogger and author of Confessions of an eBook Virgin.