Sunday, January 26, 2014

How to Upload E-books to Apple When You Don't Own an Appple Computer

It must be the after-NANO-books-come-to-fruition time.  It seems that lately I've had at least seven people ask me about how to upload their ebooks to Apple when they don't have a MAC computer.  My first response is always to find  friend with a MAC who will let you use it for a few minutes.  However, if that is not possible. Then, consider one of these three options.

  1. For a fee, you can rent space on Mac in Cloud and use a virtual Mac. If you’ve ever used a service like GoToMyPC or similar, this is what Mac in the Cloud is like. Once you "rent" your Mac, you can log in to your iTunes Connect account and download and install iTunes Producer in the cloud – it often is already pre-installed for you. Services start at $12 a week (3 hours a day – one day free trial), or you can buy 30 hours of prepaid time at $30. 

    Note: You want to have a good, solid Internet connection for this (not wifi that goes in and out) in order minimize your frustration.
  2. You can pay someone to upload for you. Most services that do this charge around $50 per book. One service I recommend is ebook formatting faeries
  3. You can upload to Smashwords or Draft2Digital and have them distribute to Apple for you. Both services take a percentage of every sale.

As most of you know, I'm a control-my-distribution-myself person. So, I would choose the first option if I didn't have a MAC. I would NOT go out and buy a MAC for only this purpose. You can load lots of books for the prepaid $30 (like 30+ books). Not to mention if you've used a PC all your life, the switch to MAC is not easy.
I personally don't load to a middle-man like Smashwords or Draft2Digital. However, I understand that many people like this middle-man option and don't mind paying a percentage of their sales for the convenience.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Possible Table of Contents EPUB validation Error - Case Study

Recently, a UK reader sent me a message with an epub validation error related to the table of contents file.  Without getting into all the reasons this can occur, let me provide you the most common reason and how to make sure it doesn't happen to you in the future.

By defaut, Jutoh generates a table of contents with links to all your chapters.  Most of the time this is great, but depending on your style sheet it can sometimes create a problem.  Specifically, when a level 2 or more heading was found, but not a level 1 heading, then Jutoh would add a level 1 entry using the first bookmark it found - which had already been used by the level 2 heading which creates a TOC error with two TOC identifiers sharing the same item.

As most of us flail about while using style sheets, or have many styles included that are not used, it is easy for this error to occur.  Just in case you are not perfect (I know I'm not), I suggest you do two things to make sure your table of contents is generated correctly.

First UNCHECK the  "generate table of contents" in your configuration file.

Second use the Table of Contents wizard to generate your table of contents from the sections you have defined in Jutoh. This will make sure that the TOC reflects exactly what you intend it to reflect. 

So, let's take a look at how to do these two steps.


Open a Jutoh file with your book. Then click on the Book menu item, and select Edit Configuration.

Scroll down in the configuration for building Epub files until you see Generate table of contents under Options.  There should NOT be a checkmark here. If there is, click on it and the checkmark will go away.

Click the OK button to save your new configuration. 


Go to the Book menu item and select Build table of contents.

The Table of Contents Wizard screen will appear. Click in the circle next to the first item, "Leave it to Jutoh." 

This will create a Table of Contents based on your section titles (see in the content section on the left side of your Jutoh screen). It will not search for styles or headers or anything. It will only take those sections as you have already defined them.

Click the NEXT button and it will create that for you, but it will NOT appear in your contents.

Now click the COMPILE button and a new EPUB will be generated with your table of contents.

NOTE:  In most e-readers this table of contents does not appear as the first or second page. However, when the user selects the Table of Contents option it does appear.  This means it is available whenever the reader wishes to access it but it does not take up a valuable page in the front matter.

Non-Fiction books where multiple level headings are desired may NOT want to use this "Leave it to Jutoh" option. You will instead want to use the advanced option in order to select what you want included in your table of contents and navigation.  See this Jutoh documentation from the Jutoh creator for more information.

Then click on COMPILE button again to generate a new EPUB file for your book without the table of contents generated as a separate item.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Do not use BISAC codes in file metadata for Kobo Uploads

Recently I have assisted several indie authors who were having a problem uploading to Kobo after following my book instructions.

Most often the problem is in the use of the BISAC code, which is a U.S. based categorization scheme. Kobo validates epubs against the international validator.  You can check it out here:  Any time you get an error on an epub upload you might try validating it here first.  I have found that every time Kobo has given an error when authors have uploaded epub following my book instructions, the validator indicates it does not recognize the BISAC code. 

Over the past two weeks we have identified two coding problems for different distributor uploads: 1) BISAC codes for Kobo; and 2) Custom codes for keywords for Apple.

Both the BISAC code and the custom codes for keywords are accepted at  Barnes and Noble and in MOBI form at Amazon. 

Therefore you have two choices when setting thee two pieces of metadata for your books.

Do not include the BISAC code or the keywords custom code.


Create a separate EPUB file for Kobo uploads and a separate EPUB for Apple uploads.

The first choice may seem easier on the front end, and I have to admit that moving forward I will recommend that to most authors.

With our International distribution, it is important that we follow metadata tagging protocols that fit the most hardware options.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Clarification on SUBJECT in Metadata

I have received a couple of inquiries about how to handle the SUBJECT option in the metdata on Jutoh.  My book left out a couple of steps and it certainly needs clarification.

The difficulty lies in the reality that most books fall under more than one subject, and the author wishes to make sure that each subject is searchable.

In the book I talk about the BISAC codes and how to set that up for your book under the SUBJECT metadata. However, my description of how to set up the subject string with words was rather circuitous. I offer an alternative here. We are going to use a book that would normally be classified as Urban Fantasy for Young Adults.  BISAC does not have a young adult category, so we begin with the categorization scheme below.

FICTION / Fantasy / Urban

The easiest way to do this is to actually type the string exactly as I did above. All capitals on the main subject category FICTION or NON-FICTION. Then a space and a backslash, a space and the subject beneath that.  Remember, you want these to follow the BISAC categorization scheme. If you add in subject names that are not part of that taxonomy, it is likely they will not be part of the search on a distributor's site.

The two screenshots below detail how I entered this recently for a friends book.

Once you've entered your subject click on the ellipses to the right.  This will bring up a second screen that allows you to additionally modify the Subject metadata item.

Note that the subject information I already entered appears under the ELEMENT Subject 1, and the Attribute "Value" is FICTION /fantasy/ urban.  Now I want to add the BISAC code.  That code relates to the same subject and I looked it up at the BISAC site.  

To add the code, click on the Add button next to the attributes box.  That will bring up a screen for you to identify an attribute. That is where you type in BISAC.  Then BISAC will be added below the Value attribute and have a blank box next to it. That is where you type in the actual BISAC code. in the example above, that is FIC009060. The FIC stands for Fiction, the header category. The number then provides the subcategorization of fantasy and urban which identifies this book as an urban fantasy book.

I hope this helps to clarify how to correctly add the Subject metadata in Jutoh for the best outcome. 

Reminder: For those who are not selling in the United States, where a different categorization scheme is used, you can do these same steps but the Attribute name would be the categorization scheme you prefer (e.g.,  IBIC, Thema).