Can Your Ebook Formatter Be Trusted?

Over the weekend, I purchased the ebook Women in the Middle Ages by historians Frances Gies and Joseph Gies for my Nook. I started reading the book and found two words stuck together…and then two more…and then two more. It was pretty distracting because each merged set of words made me pause in my reading. There were other errors, too, like inconsistent indents. I, of course, assumed the book was self-published because there were so many errors. I was wrong. It was published by HarperCollins, “HarperCollins E-books” to be exact. Shame on them. I feel sorry for Frances Gies, who is 97 years old (Joseph died in 2006). He probably doesn’t even know about the errors in the ebook. By the way, I emailed Harper Collins to ask them about the numerous errors in the ebook, telling them I was writing an article on this topic. I did not receive a response so, needless to say, I won’t be buying any HarperCollins E-books in the near future.

Today, I was reviewing an ebook on Amazon and the formatting was absolutely HORRIBLE. Not only were there symbols (empty boxes) in the middle of text, but the indents were all over the place (some were 12 characters wide!) and there were also very long blank spaces between some words.

AMAZON DIGITAL SERVICES – The photos below are from a book that was published by Amazon Digital Services. We’re betting nobody at Amazon every laid an eye on that file. Even if they did, I doubt they’d care. Amazon has a lot of questionable inventory for sale. It doesn’t appear they vet books they are publishing for quality. There are plenty of other Amazon Digital Services ebooks with errors for sale, too.

I started searching for ebooks published by a variety of publishers and found similar problems across the board –

AUTHORHOUSE – Inconsistent margins; weird formatting – font and alignment inconsistencies

XLIBRIS – Formatting errors (I found more than one book with copyright page errors from Xlibris), and a horribly distorted (out of focus) cover.

IUNIVERSE – Pixilated graphics and broken lines.

TRAFFORD – Broken lines, off-center chapter numbers, inconsistent margins.

CREATESPACE – Inconsistent margins, broken lines

LULU – Crooked margins, pixilated covers, off-center cover with “dirt” or some other odd thing on it.

Unfortunately, most of the ebooks I reviewed had errors. I had a hard time finding ebooks that DIDN’T have errors. Sadly, either these authors don’t know the errors exist, or perhaps their publisher won’t fix the errors without charging the author an additional fee. Some authors get so fed up with the conversion process that they give up and put an error-laden file on the market. That is not recommended.

Ebook formatting is not easy. You can’t simply save your current file as a mobi or epub file and put it on the market. It doesn’t work that way. That’s why quality conversion services are not cheap. At, we don’t use cheap conversion programs that spit out numerous errors. We have an individualized conversion process that has quality checks so each published book is a professional product. If an author has used a formatting technique that is not compatible with epub and mobi conversions, we give them different options for what will work. Do quirks and burps happen? Sure. But, when they do, we fix the errors in the ebooks right away – and at no charge.

With ebook conversion services, you get what you pay for…sometimes. To see how wide the price ranges are, click here.

If you’d like Richard at to take a look at your manuscript, send an email to and he’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have, and to give you a quick quote on request.

Angela Hoy is the co-owner of and is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, and is: “As close to perfection as you’re going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I’ve ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can’t go wrong here. Plus, they’re selective and won’t publish any manuscript just because it’s accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors’ books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know.”

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