5 Steps to E-Book Conversion

Feb 22

With the rising popularity of electronic books, any book that is only in printed form is only reaching part of its potential readership. Fortunately, converting your book into e-book form can be as simple as hiring an affordable service to do it for you. If you're ready to get your self-published book out to people who rely on e-reading devices such as the Kindle, Nook, and the iPad, here's what to do.

Step 1: Do it yourself or hire a service?

It is possible to convert a book from PDF to e-book format without hiring a service, but be warned: This option is best for tech-experienced authors who are willing to buy software and learn how to use it. If you would enjoy that challenge and have the time to spare, it is certainly more affordable than paying someone to do the conversion.


But for authors who are not comfortable with the technical side of e-book conversion, the better option is to leave it to the professionals. Not only is this option faster, but it also gives you a well-designed and professional-looking finished product. Plus, it saves you time.

Step 2: Consider conversion options

Conversion services offer different rates for different packages. Before approaching any of them, consider these factors.

  • Source format: The source format of your book will influence the price. For instance, if all you have is a PDF of your book, this will cost more than if the book were, say, a Word document or a text file. And of course, if your book is only in printed form (and some e-book conversion services do accept these), it's going to be a bit more expensive.
  • Destination formats: To reach the widest possible readership, it's a good idea to have the book converted into multiple formats that are readable by all the main devices. AZW (Amazon's file format) and ePub (a versatile format that can be read on many devices) are indispensible.
  • Length and design: Conversion services charge by the page or word count, and the price can go up if there are complicated design elements such as tables and images, or if your book has footnotes, endnotes, or an index.

Step 3: Research and get quotes

If you are happy with the printer/ publisher of your print book, check with them to find out if they offer e-book conversion. If not, it's easy enough to find a service to work with.


Google is a good way to find a sampling of professional conversion services. The first few pages of search results for "e-book conversion" and similar terms should give several good options. Meanwhile, Amazon has a list of recommendations for Kindle book conversions on its website. The best ones offer detailed information on their websites about their services, policies, and pricing. Skip those that don't have much information or that strike you as not very client-friendly. There are enough options that you can afford to be choosy while narrowing the field down to three to five choices.


Most conversion services make it easy to request a quote via a page on their website or by emailing them your file. Request quotes from a handful of conversion services, and give them a day or two to respond. Those that don't get back to you promptly might not be reliable enough to warrant consideration.

Step 4: Weigh affordability vs. other factors

Once you have a few quotes, weigh your options. Remember, while price should be considered, the most important thing is for you to get a professionally designed e-book that you can proudly stand behind and that can reach as many people as possible. Sometimes the cheapest option isn't the best. For example, if you want a clickable index, this will cost a little extra, but it might be worth the cost if it helps your readers navigate your content.


Here are a few questions to ask of the services you're considering:


  1. Do they convert to all the file formats you need?
  2. Can they convert from the format your book is now in?
  3. How long will it take?
  4. Is the pricing easy to understand, and is it set in advance?
  5. Are any discounts available for multiple conversions into different formats?
  6. Do they offer any post-conversion services to help you get your book out to readers?

Step 5: Check endorsements, references, and reviews

Most of the top e-book conversion services have testimonials and endorsements listed on their websites. You can find additional information by searching online for the name of the company to see if any reviews, blog posts, or social-networking posts come up. If you don't find enough to satisfy you, ask the company to provide you with references you can contact.


Another way to find a pre-vetted e-book conversion service is to talk to self-publishing authors who have their books in electronic form. Get in touch with any colleagues or contacts who might have a good lead, and reach out to any self-published author whose e-book you've read yourself. If a company that matches all your needs is recommended by someone whose opinion you trust, then your choice becomes easy.

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