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!

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