Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Apple iTunes Producer Errors Case Study

Special thanks go out to author Anna Brentwood for bringing this problem to my attention. She had purchased my book and was following it diligently to get her ebook up at new distributors.  Working with iTunes Producer, her package would "validate" but then fail on delivery to Apple.  She kept running into three errors.  Let me explain the errors below and what to do about them.

First, when a delivery fails take a deep breath. Don't panic. The error messages may look confusing but you can figure them out.

You will always get the following two errors with any failed delivery attempt: Apple's web service operation was not successful and Unable to authenticate the package: xxxxxx.  So, don't worry about those first two because they are the summary statements. The actual problems will then be listed below these first two errors.

Here are the problems Anna encountered.

Problem 1:  Cannot use the custom metadata for keywords at Apple.  

In my book, I advise you to create a custom metadata field in Jutoh for keywords.  This is particularly important for distributors who do not provide a keyword entry option and may take this information from your MOBI or EPUB file for search purposes.

Unfortunately, Apple does not recognize this custom field as it is translated in Jutoh. It can only be done with the "meta" tag. 

To resolve this, I went into Jutoh and deleted that item in the Metadata properties under the menu items Book | Project Properties

Problem 2: Cannot use the attribute BISAC in the metadata at Apple because they already use it in your selection on iTunes Producer. 

In my book, I advise using the attribute "BISAC" when defining subjects in Jutoh and providing the actual BISAC code.   This is because libraries and many booksellers in the United States use this system for genre categorization. This attribute is accepted at other EPUB distributors like B&N, Sony and Kobo.

However, Apple does not allow this attribute.  This is because the iTunes Producer software already identifies the BISAC selections within the program when it asks you to make those selections. Unlike Amazon, Kobo, and B&N which keeps this same data separate from the product file, Apple incorporates that metadata information in the file you are delivering. So, it runs into a problem when it has it twice.

To resolve this I went into the metadata properties for Subject and deleted that attribute and its value. However, I kept the categories.

Problem 3: The cover image size exceeds limits.  (Note you will get a similar error if your cover size is too small, but it will then remind you of the required sizing minimum of 2100 pixel length)

Jutoh does not have a size limit for the image loaded for a cover. Amazon, B&N, and Kobo simply have minimums but no maximums defined. However, Apple does have a maximum of 3 MB. In this case study, the print image (at 300 dpi and a very large file) was loaded as the Jutoh default cover image. Thus, when the EPUB file was created, that large image was incorporated as an asset. It was too large for Apple to accept. Once I reduced the size to 72 dpi and 2100 pixels on the length it was fine.

Tip: As a rule of thumb it is wise to load your default cover image in Jutoh as a web version of the cover, not the print version.  This would help to keep the ebook file smaller and would guarantee no problems in having your cover loaded to all distributor sites.

After making the needed corrections in your  Jutoh file, be sure to click the COMPILE button next to epub again.  Then, in iTunes Producer be sure to reset the publication asset and choose the new epub file you've just compiled.

Thanks again to Anna Brentwood for sharing her problem with me.  I can also say I've actually read her book, Songbird with the Sapphire Eyes, and highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction set around the roaring 20's-- a time of gangsters, speakeasies, gambling, and the women who were tasting their new found freedom of choice for the first time.  

Happy formatting!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Use COMPILE instead of Export in Jutoh

After sending my DIY Publishing book to Jutoh creator, Dr. Julian Smart, he pointed out something very important.  That is to use COMPILE instead of Export when creating your final EPUB or MOBI file.

I am copying his notes to me exactly so that I don't misinterpret it.

"Exporting - actually I would recommend selecting a configuration and using Compile, not using Export.

I should probably get rid of Export but it's included for convenience in some circumstances.

The advantage of selecting a configuration and using Compile is that you're clear about what set of tweaks (in the configuration) will be used for this file. "Export" may have to guess a configuration, and the settings may be wrong for the file type.

So, I have to admit that in making decisions about what to include or not include in my book, I thought that explaining the "configuration" portion of Jutoh would be one step too far and that EXPORT was more easily understood by  most non-technical writers. However, after an exchange with Dr. Smart, he convinced me of the importance of using COMPILE because it will look to a specific configuration to make decisions about how to create your file in the best possible manner.

So, I've added a few screen shots here and some explanations regarding some of the most common configuration options my readers will want to use.  Also, don't forget that Jutoh provides a great 180 page free user guide. It will answer things in greater detail than I have her and discuss some of the options I don't cover in the book or in this configuration tutorial.

How do you get to the configuration section of Jutoh?

Go to the top menu line and select Book | Edit Configuration

The next screen provides a list of ALL the configuration possibilities.  I won't go through each one, but let me talk about a couple of important ones you may find useful.

First is to make sure the formats you will want to have Jutoh create are checked.  By default all the formats are checked. You can leave it that way or uncheck the ones you will not use.  Definitely you want to make sure that MOBI and EPUB are checked as those are the two formats used by the majority of ereaders (MOBI for all kindles and EPUB for everything else).

Another configuration section to check is the cover.  In the book I highly recommend that you create your cover separately in a good graphics program (like Photoshop) or have it created professionally. You then indicate to Jutoh you will use that cover. That cover becomes the DEFAULT cover.  So, you want to be sure that Jutoh is using the DEFAULT cover.

Another important section is around optimization.  Jutoh can do some special things in the background to make sure your book works the best for Apple iBooks and for Kindle. Be sure those optimize options are checked: Optimize for iBooks; Generate iBooks XML, and Optimize for Mobipocket.

There are several other options you can see if you scroll through, but these are the ones likely to be used by everyone.

Okay, I changed the configuration now how to use a Compile?

The easiest thing to do is to make the selection on your Jutoh drop down in the control panel. Note you can select epub or mobipocket (same as mobi).  You might also want to specifically select Smashwords if you distribute through them, as they have some additional "quirks" they require.

 Once you have made your format selection, click on the COMPILE button.

  In the example above, I selected an EPUB file. Once that is compiled. I can then go back and select MOBIPOCKET for my Kindle compile without having to leave the program and come back.  Then go back and select SMASHWORDS or whatever other format you wish to compile.

I hope this helpful. I have asked Dr. Smart to join us in January to answer some questions both from me and from readers, so stay tuned for that scheduling.  I know lots of people will have questions to ask him or suggestions to make about the program.