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Old 12-24-2008, 02:13 PM   #1
Robotech_Master
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Feasibility of charging for conversion?

I've converted a number of e-books over to eReader format for free, for writers who were giving their works away for free.

I was wondering, now, would it be fair to hang out my shingle and start offering to convert for a fee for people who wanted to sell their books in eReader format? Something like, say, $20 a book that would cover the time involved in running and proofreading the conversion?

Think I'd get much business?
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Old 12-24-2008, 02:48 PM   #2
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Joshua Tallent is a "professional eBook developer" and he charges $40 per hour (1/2 hour increments) for Kindle and Mobipocket eBook conversions, see Kindle Formatting Services. Joshua is probably getting top dollar because his conversions are very good. See Extra Large Print Kindle ebooks and Rand McNally Road Atlas on the Kindle. There may be more of a market for Kindle conversions from individual authors than for eReader conversions. Does eReader (or FictionWise) even have an author contributed sales mechanism? On the other hand, the two examples above are for conversions done for publishers.

You may want to offer iPhone optimization as part of your eReader conversion, since this is now a major selling point for eReader.
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Old 12-24-2008, 02:49 PM   #3
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You couldn't possibly proofread a book for $20 and make any profit from it. I reckon it takes me a minimum of 50h work to proofread an average size novel, and 100h+ for some of the Dickens "blockbusters"!

I don't seem to be able to find any books that you've uploaded here. Why not start by converting a few PG books and uploading them to the "Book Uploads" forum here so that people can see the quality of your work? Many PG books are full of errors, and very badly need proofreading.
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Old 12-24-2008, 03:19 PM   #4
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You couldn't possibly proofread a book for $20 and make any profit from it. I reckon it takes me a minimum of 50h work to proofread an average size novel, and 100h+ for some of the Dickens "blockbusters"!
I'm just curious... What do people mean with "proofreading"? I can think of three levels:

1. Quickly check the text for common mistakes, things that "stand out" (italics, indented blocks, etc.).

2. Actually read the whole text (with care), correcting mistakes and adding format as one notices while reading.

3. Meticulously compare every sentence and paragraph against a printed or scanned copy of the text, correcting minor differences in punctuation, etc.


When I say that I "proofread" what I upload, I mean level 2, by the way.
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Old 12-24-2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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Books that I've formatted for eReader include Cory Doctorow's Content and the three Chaos Chronicles giveaway books by Jeffrey Carver, among others. They all have their own download sites, so I didn't think there was any need to put them here.

In regard to proofreading, the level of proofreading I would provide would be on the order of a glance-through to make sure that italics hadn't gotten left on for entire chapters by mistake; I would assume that the manuscript they sent me was already proofread.

Fictionwise/eReader does not, as far as I know, accept user-submitted books. However, if someone wanted to sell his book in eReader format, there is nothing preventing him from hosting it on his own website (now that Fictionwise has changed their EULAs so that eReader books may be sold commercially without having to pay royalties).
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Old 12-25-2008, 03:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
I'm just curious... What do people mean with "proofreading"? I can think of three levels:

1. Quickly check the text for common mistakes, things that "stand out" (italics, indented blocks, etc.).

2. Actually read the whole text (with care), correcting mistakes and adding format as one notices while reading.

3. Meticulously compare every sentence and paragraph against a printed or scanned copy of the text, correcting minor differences in punctuation, etc.


When I say that I "proofread" what I upload, I mean level 2, by the way.
I consider proofreading to be your "level 3".
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Old 12-25-2008, 04:19 AM   #7
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When I say that I "proofread" what I upload, I mean level 2, by the way.
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In regard to proofreading, the level of proofreading I would provide would be on the order of a glance-through to make sure that italics hadn't gotten left on for entire chapters by mistake; I would assume that the manuscript they sent me was already proofread.
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I consider proofreading to be your "level 3".
So you see, all three levels in just three replies
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Old 12-25-2008, 05:06 AM   #8
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Let me add that I consider it to be level 3 for PG texts which have been manually typed in or scanned. The reason I consider this level of proofing to be necessary to get an absolutely "correct" text is that, unfortunately, it's not at all uncommon for the older PG texts to have words, lines, or even whole paragraphs missing from them, and the only way to detect this is to do a careful line-by-line comparison with a printed source or a scanned image ("Google Books" has helped enormously with this).

Obviously for a text which has been created electronically, such considerations don't apply.

One thing which one quickly discovers is that, even with the "classics", such as Dickens, there are considerable textual variations between different editions of the text, and so one of the first things one needs to decide is which version one is going to proof against. With Dickens, I regard the "Oxford Illustrated Dickens" to be "definitive", and proof against that.
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Old 12-25-2008, 05:36 AM   #9
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the only way to detect this is to do a careful line-by-line comparison with a printed source or a scanned image ("Google Books" has helped enormously with this).
You are probably aware that some of the versions you find in Google Books (and in Amazon, even) are editions of the PG texts, and they have poor formatting and the same errors!
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Old 12-25-2008, 05:41 AM   #10
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You are probably aware that some of the versions you find in Google Books (and in Amazon, even) are editions of the PG texts, and they have poor formatting and the same errors!
Certainly, yes. That's why I only proof against those which are original "page scans" of books, not "OCR'd" versions.
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Old 12-25-2008, 06:50 AM   #11
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Certainly, yes. That's why I only proof against those which are original "page scans" of books, not "OCR'd" versions.
I mean they are original books, new printed editions (or so it seems), which are sold and available at Google Books, but they used the PG text as-is.

Like this (in p. 19, there is "Yon remind me" instead of "You remind me").

Or this (the format is *@#!, see the "surrey doing badly" title in page 8).
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Old 12-25-2008, 06:55 AM   #12
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Yes, I know what you mean . Fortunately, with Dickens, there are numerous scans of original 19th century editions available, so that's not a problem. I agree, though, that with many authors it is a very real issue.
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Old 12-25-2008, 10:50 AM   #13
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Hey, everyone. I am the Joshua Tallent mentioned earlier in this thread. I have been an eBook developer for more than 6 years, and yes, it is my full-time profession. I manage an eBook conversion department at a software company, run KindleFormatting.com, and provide formatting and conversion advice to publishers, authors, and others. I am also giving a tutorial at the O'Reilly Tools of Change conference in February about formatting books for the Kindle. So, this is not just a passing interest or something I do periodically.

The amount of work that goes into an eBook conversion varies based on the type of book, size, complexity, number of images, presence of a subject index, and other factors. I have converted books of all types.

What I charge is not necessarily top dollar for the industry. Some eBook conversion houses I know of spend as much as $60 per hour converting eBooks (that is cost, with no profit). Other services charge more than I do and give you less. For instance, Book Surge charges a $300 flat fee to convert files for the Kindle, but the quality is sometimes lacking. I work hard to be an affordable option for individual authors and small publishers while still keeping food on the table. $20 per book sounds nice, but that is not enough money to sustain a business, especially when you are doing more than just simple fiction books.

A note on proofreading: I am not a proofreader, and I see that task as completely different from the task of converting a print book into an eBook. I assume when I receive a file from a client that they have done the necessary due diligence in the writing department. My job is to create an eBook from their file. Now, if my process messes something up (and sometimes it does due to conversions from PDF), then it is up to me to fix it. And if I OCR a book, the software I use has built-in tools that help fix errors that happen in that process. Also, I am in a good position to see some things that a book proofreader or layout designer might miss. I commonly catch misnumbered chapters and pages, misspelled words and other issues as I go through books, and I have the opportunity there to give the author some feedback about those issues. In general, though, I am not a proofreader as it is defined above.

- Joshua Tallent
http://kindleformatting.com
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Old 12-25-2008, 10:59 AM   #14
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And if I OCR a book, the software I use has built-in tools that help fix errors that happen in that process.
If you OCR a book, how can you catch the inevitable errors that this introduces except by careful proofing against the original? Many OCR errors will not be caught by spelling or grammar checkers, but only by good old-fashioned human proof-reading.
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Old 12-25-2008, 11:22 AM   #15
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If you OCR a book, how can you catch the inevitable errors that this introduces except by careful proofing against the original? Many OCR errors will not be caught by spelling or grammar checkers, but only by good old-fashioned human proof-reading.
Actually there is quite a bit of knowledge about the kinds of errors produced in scanning and there are special tools that can fix these kinds of errors beyond the typical spell/grammar checkers. These tools are sometimes built in to expensive OCR programs. Of course in the end the human is the best at finding certain errors.

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