Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
My colleague and fellow ebook developer Laura Brady wrote recently about the challenging job prospects facing would-be ebook production professionals. As she pointed out, learning how to create ebooks is neither an easy process nor a cheap one.
But Brady also noted that there’s still a range of ways to acquire production training—to which I would add that there’s likewise a considerable variety of publishing professionals who might benefit from different levels of it.
Determining what kind of production knowledge best suits your goals can be a helpful point of departure, even if you aren’t considering a career as an ebook developer. Whether you’re an author looking for DIY options or a publisher trying to figure out how to expand your process and make it more efficient, it’s important to learn both the strategic principles and the practical techniques that will allow you to develop ebooks more successfully.
Here are some options you should consider as you decide what might work best for you.
The Print + ePublishing Conference (PePcon): This conference, which is run by the rock star team of David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion, is among the best available for anyone involved in the creation of ebook files. The conference sessions cover a lot of great information about InDesign and related tools as well as discussions on workflows, content creation and even some marketing. In addition to being a top-notch production conference, PePcon takes the cake when it comes to providing the best conference environment possible. Anne-Marie and David have perfected the art of conference hosting, from serving real protein at breakfast to a well-thought-out schedule of sessions, to informative and engaging networking opportunities. They also happen to have the best swag bags of any conference I’ve attended.
ebookcraft: This one-day ebook production conference in Canada, hosted right next to BookNet Canada’s Tech Forum, has a lot to offer anyone in ebook production. While it is shorter than other conferences, the speakers are all very interesting and speak from their experiences in the trenches of the ebook world, offering practical advice, intriguing concepts and constructive analysis on the creation of ebooks.
Digital Book World Conference: This is a strategy-heavy conference, with a focus on the business side of the publishing industry. The practical, production-related material is likely to be limited to the pre-conference workshops, but the remainder of the three-day event does offer an opportunity to broaden the conversation about how the digital products live and breathe in the wider market.
Books in Browsers: This interesting, somewhat off-beat conference is on hiatus for this year, but if and when it does come back you should plan to attend. The sessions range from the esoteric to the extremely practical, from dealing with today to dealing with the far future.
eBook Ninjas: The eBook Ninjas workshops are hosted by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and Firebrand Technologies (full disclosure: I work for Firebrand and teach these eBook Ninjas workshops). We just completed a series of workshops on ebook production and quality assurance, and I’m excited to see what we come up with for our next series. If you have ideas about topics that would benefit from a full-day, in-person workshop, please let me know in the comments section below.
Lynda.com: This online training subscription site, which was recently acquired by LinkedIn, has a variety of high-quality training videos from experts in the ebook production field teaching everything from Adobe InDesign to XML.
The Internet: While you have to use caution when relying on the power of Internet searches, it’s still not a bad idea to look around the web for ways to learn about ebook creation. Here are some places you should definitely dig into:
- the EPUB specification at the IDPF website
- the #eprdctn Twitter group
- the #eprdctn Facebook group
- ePub Secrets, an ebook development blog.
- the FlightDeck Handbook, with sample code, explanations of potential issues and a long list of resources
There are also a few colleges (like Emerson College in Boston) that offer higher education options if you are looking for that kind of training.
What resources do you use when learning about how to create good ebook files?