What ebook production problems are self-publishers facing?

Driven by curiosity (as always), I’ve just spend a large part of my lunch break browsing through various forums[1], trying to get a handle on what problems self-publishers are facing when they are creating their ebooks.

My impression is that, unlike what I expected from the work and challenges I face making ebooks for a traditional publisher, styling and formatting isn’t a major issue—formatting problems seem limited to edge cases. I’m assuming this is because most self-publishers are doing novels with very simple style needs.

The problems people seem to be facing, in no particular order:

  • Getting font embedding to work
  • Editing and managing the metadata
  • Editing the book itself:
    • Creating ToCs
    • Getting footnotes to work and look nice
    • Editing typos and making corrections
    • Adding dropcaps (which fortunately has a simple solution[2])
  • Making sure the images embedded are of a correct resolution.
  • Conforming to vendor requirements (mostly making sure there are no links to rival stores)
  • Converting a Word file to a tolerable ebook.

Then there are more general problems that are probably more about library management for readers, such as:

  • Extracting a subset of a book
  • Merging books

What do you think? Is this an accurate reflection of the ebook production problems self-publishers are facing? Are there any major biggies that I’ve missed? Are any of these maybe not so big a problem (i.e. I stumbled upon a newbie thread and regulars think the problem is solved)?


  1. Ebooks @ StackExchange, Mobileread format subforums, kboards.com, KDP Community.  ↩

  2. Just don’t use them. Seriously. They’re ugly, break the word apart, and can’t be done properly on the web or in ebooks.  ↩

One thought on “What ebook production problems are self-publishers facing?

  1. I write in Open Office and use Calibre to format e-books, and I find that most of the process is fairly automatic. Doing a Table Of Contents is the only part I had any real problems with, and I figured that out in an evening.

    I write fiction with, as you say, very simple formatting. I don’t embed fonts, don’t have footnotes or endnotes or pictures.

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