Steps for Preparing an InDesign File for eBook Production

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These first steps are some of the most important ones in preparing to convert a book designed to be printed for delivery as an ebook. People sometimes rush past them and pay the price later, with a low-quality ebook that can even alienate readers and resellers, which makes you (as a publisher) and your authors look bad (ethos and "intellectual capital" are really important in publishing!)

  1. Assignments: All students have the files needed for the project in their associated Creative Cloud folder.
  2. Files: Your book's folder contains all the files you need for the interior, in InDesign format. Download all of these files locally (including the all-important subfolders), then open the InDesign file to see if you get a "missing fonts" or "broken links" report when you open it. If you do, then you will need to install the missing ones in the "Document Fonts" subfolder. If there are broken links, that means InDesign doesn't know where to find the image files used in the book. Open the Links palette (see Window > Links) and then select one of the missing images and click on the "relink" icon. Navigate to the location of the file (in the Links subfolder), select the file with the same name, and then "agree" if it asks you to update all the other links automatically. This should fix all/any issues.
  3. Immediately rename and save the file. It would be best to use the same ISBN number (in the file name) but just add at the end (before the extension) _2-26-2015 (underscore and the date) so that you know what version you're working on.
  4. Your next goal should be to verify that the File Info is correct (see File > File Info). In the title field, put the main title of the book (in title case). Put the author or editor's last name only in the author field (if more than one, list them as shown in the example below).  In the "Description" field, copy and paste the "Short Description" that you will find in your book's "Vital Information" file (which I've added to your Creative Cloud folder sometime today--you'll see the name.) You can add keywords from the description if you like, including the genre (e.g., novel, poetry, mystery, etc.). Choose "Copyrighted" in the drop down menu (as shown below). Fill in the copyright info (e.g., (c) 2015 by Parlor Press; use the date listed on the copyright page in the book, which appears right after the title page). And then make sure there's an URL there ( Click Okay when you're done. What you've just done: you've ensured that the book's most important "metadata" travels with the book files; when you produce the ePub, the File Info is used to create running headers and other important file information. 
  5. ADDED: Create export tags. Since you want the ePub to use page breaks at more than just "Chapter Title" styles (e.g., in the frontmatter), you will want to create export tags to associate with all the Styles that you want to use to create page breaks. That usually includes "Chapter Titles" and if used in the book, "Part Titles." You will also want to create new styles for the first line on the copyright page or any other pages where a break should fall. To do this, place your cursor anywhere on the line that should start the break, then create a new paragraph style and apply it to the line (no changes necessary). After you apply the style, double click on it in the Paragraph Styles pane and under "Export Tagging" make sure that "Split Document (EPUB only)" is selected.
  6. Save your InDesign file again. You will now be ready to make some serious progress on your book project.. The next steps involve exporting it as an ePub, adding the cover, testing the contents and the epub version, and more. In order to accomplish that much in class (where you will have help), you'll need to make sure you have already completed these basic steps and checks. If you're not ready, you will miss some very important steps that will make it hard to complete the process later. (eBook production can be a very delicate operation, with lots that can go wrong!)

Exporting to EPUB

Adobe has provided a detailed guide here: The particular settings that work best for these projects are shown in the screenshots below.

For each of the steps shown, it's presumed that you completed 1-5 above. All of your images are inline, your TOC style has been created, and you have created "export tags" to help with page breaks (#5 above).

Export your file (choose "EPUB (Reflowable").

1. Screen 1 (General).

2. Screen 2 (Text).

3. Screen 3 (Object).

4. Screen 4 (Conversion).

5. Screen 5 (CSS).

6. Screen 6 (Javascript).

7. Screen 7 (Metadata).

8. Screen 8 (Viewing Apps)

Now you're ready to export and view your ePub. You can make adjustments to these settings (and to the file) as needed, then re-export to fix minor details.