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digital publishing reference

Digital Publishing: Basics for Professionals

Nitrosyncretic Press is proud to have become a trailblazer in the field of digital publications and “dual format” paper/e-book publication.

We've been doing Kindle publication for a long time, but after one title — this one — pushed the technology, techniques and our skill set to the limit, we took a more focused look at the whole topic. The result was a much more sophisticated publishing process that produces substantially better e-books, and allows us to easily produce new works in dual format, without costly, time-consuming and laborious duplicated efforts.

And most of our projects are for “complex” books — not simple flowing-text novels or narrative. Images, tables, sidebars, charts, foot- and end notes, insert sections... we have to juggle a lot of elements that push the boundaries of the layout, export and e-book display process.

And we're happy to share our methods with all other serious e-book publishers.

Why? Because we'd like to see the e-book industry grow out of an extended adolescence. We see it as stubbornly mired in obsolete tools, formats, processes and concepts. We believe it's time for everyone who produces e-books, whether for private/company use, author/small press distribution or mass market sales, to move to modern, streamlined processes. In a nutshell, we don't believe there's something special or mystical or “different” about e-books... books are books, and other than the final production step, all the same rules and processes need to be followed to reach a professional result.

The EPUB/Kindle Papers

The Book

The place you may want to start is with this book, which we wrote after the achievements that came from producing that one complex title. If the snippets here are useful, you'll find the book enormously so. (Recently updated into a wholly new edition!)

Reference Essays

The following articles dovetail with the book above, and with each other. They are meant to be relatively stand-alone, and of use to relative novices in each topic.

Note that each has a publication or update date. As with material anywhere else in the vast realm of online writing about e-book development, it is crucial that information be up to date with respect to standards, software versions and things like Amazon's whims of the week. Nothing is more frustrating, we think, than finding a long, authoritative, step-by-step 'how to' or guide that is years out of date and completely irrelevant to current needs. Most readers will only find out that the material is useless after having invested too much time in trying to apply its wisdom.

So anything here — or anywhere else — more than about a year old should be approached with caution. Anything more than two years old, well, shouldn't be approached at all. Find newer information!

List Export from InDesign to EPUB — an intermediate tutorial

Published May 2024

NEW! This quick tutorial presents the multiple layers of how to export bullet and numbered list from InDesign into clean, esthetically balanced EPUB and Kindle format. From remedying a few outright faults in InDesign's handling of list export to fine-tuning the look and spacing, this tutorial demystifies one of the most frustrating export elements.

CSS Magic for EPUB Export — an introductory tutorial

Published January 2024

This quick tutorial, using hands-on, step-by-step methods, presents the extreme power of CSS in styling e-book exports from InDesign, whether it's mere tweaks (as in the following tutorial) or a wholesale remolding of the layout, as in this one. Besides walking you through those basics, the steps will leave you ready to start the next tutorial and begin doing your own optimized EPUB and Kindle exports.

Perfect Front Matter (for Print and EPUB Export) — a comprehensive tutorial

Published January 2024

A long-overdue overview of all the processes discussed on this page and in the associated book. This long tutorial covers substantial ground for the digital publisher: an overview of book front matter for both print and e-book; conversion of InDesign front matter layouts to a professional EPUB/Kindle export; and a general walkthrough of how to structure both source and CSS files for EPUB/Kindle export... while maintaining a dual-format source.

EPUB Export from InDesign — Image Management

Published April 2023

Getting images into EPUB and Kindle books is a complex process that's not well served by InDesign's presentation and organization of the relevant menus and features. This article straightens out the issues and gives you a complete understanding of how to get images into your EPUBs, the way you envision them.

EPUB Export from InDesign — Some Basics

Updated Febuary 2023

This summary, originally written for the Adobe InDesign forums, is a loose list of basic points about EPUB export that often frustrate InDesign users in their first attempts to export EPUB documents.

General Digital Publishing References

Three-Page Book Cover Layout Template (for InDesign)

Published June 2024

If you need to do a cover layout for a softcover or laminate (wrapped image) hardcover book, there's no better method than the three-page spread. This IDML template for InDesign will kickstart your project. Complete instructions embedded. Direct ZIP file download.

InDesign GREP Reference Sheet

Published July 2024

If you use GREP in InDesign, a compact reference to its slightly variant implementation of GREP quickly becomes useful. Here's mine, which is complete, annotated and verified against actual function and accurate reference sources.

Title link is to Direct PDF file download. If you want to tinker/modify/correct, here's the IDML version [direct ZIP download].

QR Codes in InDesign — a Primer

Published February 2023

InDesign has a built-in generator for QR codes, the square barcodes that can encode several kinds of complex information. It has its limitations, but there is a portal to using it in very sophisticated ways, ones that let designers avoid the pits and traps of "free" online code generators.

And while we're there, we'll explode a number of myths and mythunderstandings about what QR codes are, and can do.

Using Word Like a Pro

Published January 2023

This is a three-part article of use to anyone who uses Microsoft Word in any task more complicated than a simple report or memo, and of critical importance to anyone who uses Word to create publication-level content, either for direct export from Word or for import to Adobe InDesign.

Summary: if you aren't using Word like a pro, you aren't going to get to professional publications without doing almost everything over at later stages. Make your workflow and task load lighter by learning to do everything right, right from the start.

The Relativity of Expertise

“It's less about how many novels you've published than how many of your publications are novel.”

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