E-Book Layout and Distribution

By Dawn Clark, Crimson Dragon Publishing

E-book production and distribution has become almost a necessity in today’s mobile oriented word. Before converting your book, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, establish your distribution method. E-distributors (see below) may provide free conversion software. If you’d rather hire it out and get a quality guarantee, you will pay on average $100-$250 per text only manuscript.

Reflowable Layout

If you have a standard doc, docx or rtf file with no special formatting, your file is relatively easy to convert to a reflowable text e-pub file. Because this format is more about content than appearance, it allows the reader to select font and size options for reading ease.

While there are specialized software conversion programs, there are free options that work fairly well. One of my personal use favorites, Cailbre E-book Management, converts free rights documents into several e-reader versions and has a personal library system.

Special text, pictures, illustrations, charts, graphs, etc. increases your conversion cost.  Your manuscript will not convert well if there are manual tabs, extra returns, frequent unusual bold and italics, centered lines, and various fonts.

Fixed Layout

Generally seen in children’s, cookbooks, art and photography, and textbooks because their content is graphics critical. This is quite a bit more complicated and tends to start around $125 plus a page count fee. Amazon has a free children’s book app with limited functionality for simple conversion and upload to KDP.

While you can produce fixed layout E-books from a PDF file, the low quality is only suitable for small print runs such as pamphlets, family books or small organization publications. Photoshop or Illustrator files are a necessity for high quality graphics.

Tablet and touch based interactivity for children’s, education, and training books require specialized services, starting around $300.


If you only sell on your own site, you need cross platform usability and Digital Rights Management (DRM) to restrict use and sharing. Going through a distributor is a much better option. Except for Amazon KDP, you will also need a new ISBN for the e-pub version of your book.

The top 4 retailers have very specific considerations and requirements for authors and publishers (including non-competitive pricing), so be sure to read all terms and conditions very carefully.

  • Amazon KDP and Amazon KDP Select – If you only sell on one site, this is where you need to be.
  • iBooks
  • Google Play Books – SEO ranking is the biggest reason to sell on Google
  • com

Multi-site distributors have many linked sales sites, including the four above. There are quite a few options, but the two biggest are:

  • Draft2Digital – a new and growing site with easy to use tools.  They provide conversion, which is a plus in my book.
  • SmashWords – been around a long time and has many partner sites. They provide the tools, but you convert the manuscript yourself.

E-books provide more exposure and a low-cost revenue stream. If you haven’t converted your book yet, what are you waiting for?

About Dawn D. Clark

Dawn D. Clark is the senior editor and owner of Crimson Dragon Publishing. In addition to publishing Science Fiction and Fantasy for all ages, Dawn provides developmental and copy editing for all fiction genres, e-book conversion, and Illustrator referrals.

The views expressed herein are not those of Colorado Independent Publishers Association, its officers or directors.  They are solely and completely those of the author. The Colorado Independent Publishers Association will not be held liable for any legal action resulting from information published in this newsletter, and the organization’s insurance will not cover any such action.