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Home / Publisher Reviews / Ebook Formatting with Ebookit, Book Baby, & Publish Green

Ebook Formatting with Ebookit, Book Baby, & Publish Green

Must preface this by saying I haven’t used any of these services. But having struggled through ebook formatting, paying someone to do everything is definitely worth it.

Ebookit charges a flat fee of $149:

What WE Do:

1. We Prepare Your File for Conversion
2. We Assign You an ISBN
3. We Convert Your File To Many Required eBook Types
4. We Check Your Converted eBook for Quality
5. We Distribute Your eBook to the World
6. We Promote Your eBook! (optional)
7. We Pay You!

Fine print on #7: they take 15% of royalties. However, that’s the same as Smashwords – but at Smashwords you have to meatgrind your book yourself. Makes me think SW needs to take the leap into conversion.  What’s missing is sales you might get from the Smashwords site itself.

Also: “Updates made to your eBook are billed at just $49/hour.” I wouldn’t put that under “just.”

Michael Marcus at Book Making Blog has this to say about Ebookit:

I was impressed by the company’s ultra-friendly website, phone calls with Ryan Levesque and emails with boss Bo Bennett.

Bo says, “I created eBookIt.com out of my conviction that an author should have an inexpensive, simple, and truly fool-proof way to get their book converted to eBook format, and submitted to the major online retailers fast.”

eBookIt does exactly that.

I am extremely happy with the company’s quality, speed, responsiveness and price (just $149 for multiple formats). The eBookit website is easy for even a non-geek to use. It’s always easy to see what work has been done, what has to be done, and to review communications with the eBookIt staff. The eBookIt site is a model for online customer service. Other companies should emulate it.

Some of my emails were answered within minutes, and I don’t think I waited more than 24 hours for any of them.

Bookbaby – a division of the very excellent CD Baby – offers ePub conversion with their $99 package.  If you need an ISBN, it’s an extra $19.  Conversion is free:

Basic ePUB conversion includes:

  • a basic formatting check
  • conversion from your supplied file (.doc, txt, .rtf, or .html)
  • insertion of the cover image

The best thing about Bookbaby is this:

Gives you 100% of the royalties that you generate through BookBaby’s retail network (the HIGHEST pay-out rate for eBook distribution in the industry).

However, the one drawback with Bookbaby is that it currently only distributes to four partners: iBook, Kindle, Sony, and the Nook.

Publish Green is more expensive for basically the same thing:

Publishing Packages
From $399-$999

* Upload your book as plain text, PDF, Word®, or InDesign®. We’ll make it look great on Kindle®, iPad®, Nook® & more.
* You own all files we create for your eBook.
* Distribution through 28+ resellers including Amazon®, Apple iBookstore®, Borders®, and Barnes & Noble®.
* Earn up to 100% net royalties.

They take 10% for their Advanced Package – which costs $699. I couldn’t lock down the royalty percentage for the Basic package, but at $399, you need to be pretty sure you’re going to make that money back, which isn’t really the case for most self-publishers.

This seems like a little dig at Smashwords (emphasis added):

No pre-formatting. No style guides. Our U.S. based human formatters do the work for you.

Publish Green reminds me a bit of an Author Solutions company – charging too much money for something that can be handled much cheaper otherwise.

The verdict: Ebookit is a major value, and something I’ll seriously consider using for my next book*.  It’s only $30 more than Bookbaby (if you purchase an ISBN) and distributes to other stores, like Kobo and Diesel.

*I didn’t get paid to write this.

About Henry Baum

Avatar of Henry Baum
Author of The American Book of the Dead, which won Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival and the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction. Largehearted Boy says it's "reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." Also the author of North of Sunset, winner of the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize, and The Golden Calf - first published by Soft Skull Press, with editions in the U.K. (Rebel Inc.) and France (Hachette Littératures). He was a finalist along with Alan Moore and Dr. Brooke Magnanti for his novel " God's Wife" for Best Writer at The Erotic Awards London UK in 2013. He lives with his wife Cate Baum in Los Angeles. He's the founder of SPR.

24 comments

  1. After researching all the various eBook services, I’ve decided to go with BookBaby.com They are the most reasonable and have actual customer service people you can talk to. In fact, I called just to get general information and that was after reading the website. I’ve been dealing with CDBaby.com for years, and I trust the company.

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  2. To Judy: eBookIt has knowledgable live human beings, in the USA, to talk to customers.

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  3. I’d like to add XinXii as another service: You can upload and sell your eBook for free and sell it worldwide (70% royalties) – http://www.xinxii.com

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  4. Avatar of Lindsay

    Just to play devil’s advocate, you can learn to format your own ebook (a novel is pretty simple), and upload it to Amazon and B&N on your own (no ISBN required). Those are the major retailers and will account for most of your sales.

    If you want to get into the Apple and Sony stores, you can use Smashwords for the free ISBN and distribution. It’s entirely possible to get your work out there without paying anyone (though, of course, I always recommend having a professional editor read over your manuscript).

    I know not everyone wants to do all this for themselves (I hired someone to format my first two novels for $80 each), but the more costs you have upfront, the longer it’s going to take to break even on your ebooks. I noticed Bookbaby charges an extra $20 a year for each title you have through them.

    Smashwords isn’t without its flaws, but I like that they don’t make money unless you make money. That’s an admirable business model.

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  5. Hello Henry,

    I just wanna chip in with my 2 cents worth. I decided to use ebookit after doing a lot of research and asking around, and I am more than satsified with their service.

    Their customer support is beyond excellent–they are very accomodating and usually respond in a matter of hours to your questions. I had some credit card payment problem (being an international author and all) and they really went out of their way to accomodate me. I also needed to makes some changes to the file I submitted and they were very helpful with that.

    Their formatting is impeccable–you can really tell that an actual living breathing person went through the trouble of doing it themselves.

    I whole-heartedly recommend them!

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  6. We have used ebookit for several projects and have been extremely pleased. I second the comments above about being able to get someone on the phone and their great customer support. They also have a very quick turnaround that sets them apart from many others. I know that some printers, McNaughton Gunn, for instance, are also now doing eBook conversions. The cost is similar to ebookit, but I don’t think distribution is part of their deal. Of course, you do pay 15% for ebookit’s distribution, so that is a cost to consider.

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  7. There’s a wonderful ebook editor/compiler called Jutoh that produces .mobi (Kindle) and .epub (B&N, Apple) files. I make my illustrated ebooks for Amazon with it… you just upload the .mobi file, and Amazon converts it to Kindle format without any problems. Couldn’t be easier, no middlemen or XHTML hassles to deal with. Jutoh.com… and read the free user manual, it’s a treat in itself.

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  8. I was very pleased with the personalized service I got when I first listed my book with eBookIt. I got a phone call (!) from Ryan to verify a few details because they wanted to get it right. That beat everybody else hands down. No complaints from anywhere on the quality of the finished product. As for how well I do on worldwide sales, I can’t say because I already was listed on Amazon, so my numbers would be skewed. However, it’s an interesting note that for some reason I consistently sell a high percentage of my books through eBookIt in Australia, whatever the reason might be. I love those avid readers in Oz!

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  9. I first listed my book with Lulu.com. What a mistake. Crappy tech support and many headaches. I paid more then I should have with Publishgreen.com although I am very happy with them.

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  10. This was great post. After reading it I am torn between ebookit and Publish Green. Since I have never done any of this before I feel a little apprehensive. I have been in contact with Publish Green and have had great customer service from them so far. The one thing that Publish Green says is they will make sure you get paid. Does anyone have any advise as far as getting paid is concerned? I am probably swayed more towards publish Green because of this. Thanks for your help :-).

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    • Avatar of Henry Baum

      I can’t imagine you’d have a problem getting paid with BookBaby or eBookit. Bookbaby is a division of CDbaby.com, which has a long, solid history. My dad’s signed up with Ebookit and he’s received his royalty checks.

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  11. Thank you, I will complete my research and make a choice :-).

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  12. I have a change in the status I reported earlier, and I feel it’s important enough to bring it up here. As I mentioned, I had a good experience with the customer service at eBookIt, and they were the only ones distributing my books to Australia. I saw my book on charts over there, and the numbers looked good. There was one week I saw a chart that showed my book at number 44 there. Wow, was I impressed. But when I checked that against my eBookIt sales reports, something was very wrong. I sold 3 books there, according to that. Was my book pirated? I don’t know. I don’t want to accuse the guys at eBookIt of anything, and they say they don’t know anything about it either. It doesn’t seem like my book would be anything anyone would want to pirate, but I’m finding reportings that say one thing, and my sales reports say something altogether different. I had my book up for sale on Amazon prior to that, so I was able to compare my numbers, and I sold scores of books on Amazon for each one I sold through eBookIt. I know Amazon is much bigger, but eBookIt says they have an extensive distribution base (something like 32,000 locations). I removed my book from eBookIt, not because of those problems, but because I have a new and updated version coming out that has the editing applied from the paperback I just released. Two weeks ago, I found my eBook still being sold online through Google Books. The common denominator in all this? eBookIt.com, I’m sad to say. They were my sole distributor for Google Books as well. Bad luck? Lots of coincidences?

    Sure. Maybe. But I finally have to cry uncle, because it’s too many coincidences for me. Have they got a co-distributor that’s dipping in? Maybe. I just know that my sales through them were virtually nonexistent, yet people have mysteriously continued selling my eBooks all over the world. We’ve had to halt the release of the updated version until we can find out if there are others out there still selling the old one.

    I don’t like bringing bad news to the table or saying anything about anybody when I have no proof. And I stress this again: I have no proof. But there is only one common denominator here, only one name that comes up every single time. eBookIt.

    I’m disappointed about this, because their customer service really did blow away everybody else I’d talked to. But with every other service I sold through, no matter how small or large, I’ve had far more sales reported.

    I’ll let you come to your own conclusions and make your own judgements about this.

    J.M.

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  13. I’m confused now – does Bookbaby have distribution to Amazon and Barnes & Noble? If not, are you able to place your ebook with them anyway although using Bookbaby to self-publish? I’m so green at all this – thanks for your help!

    S.

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  14. I’d like to throw our company’s name into the ring as the best model out right now. We’ve been operating since October 2011 and have converted books for over 100 authors around the world. We offer ebook conversion and ebook distribution plans at a low fixed cost that is completely transparent. One of our biggest strengths is our customer service. We know self-publishing is tough – we don’t want to make it any harder on an author. So we’re available by phone and email and will do whatever we can to make your ebook vision come to fruition. Come check us out!

    Josh Pritchard
    President, Primedia eLaunch
    Primedia eLaunch Ebook Conversion and Epublishing Services

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  15. I just had my first novel published as an ebook and also chose the print-on-demand
    option. All in all, it was a wonderful experience! The customer service was excellent.
    Everyone was very patient with me as I went through the process. I know I asked a fair share of “dumb” questions, but Bo, Ryan or Melissa always replied quickly and were very kind and helpful. The paperback version of my novel arrived on Tuesday and I was thrilled with how beautiful they are. I highly recommend eBookit if you’re considering self-publishing.

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  16. I am Bo Bennett, founder and CEO of eBookIt, and I need to respond to the “non-accusation” accusation mentioned above.

    First an industry primer. Have a look at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32336521/ns/business-us_business/t/secrets-amazon-best-seller-list/#.T7-hpL91ExU – shows an example what it takes to have an Amazon best-seller. It is a brilliant model that allows authors to claim “best-seller” while making the retailer a lot of money from authors who send all their contacts to the site in a given day. Many booksellers do this, and as a smaller reseller, all it takes it the sales of one or two books to get on “Hozay’s Best Seller” list. Point being, “best seller” does not mean much at all these days, unless it is preceded by “New York Times”.

    Another inside tip… while I am not comfortable giving exact numbers, I can say that Amazon and Apple are responsible for the vast majority of sales, and the other smaller retailers, while important, do not account to much in terms of sales (on average). So, if you have your book on Amazon and Apple, and are selling 10 copies per month, don’t be surprised if all the other retailers combined only account for one or two sales per month.

    As far as sales reports, the retailers provide us with detailed reports that we electronically enter and combine for all retailers, then reconcile based on actual payments from retailers to ensure 100% accuracy. If ANY client is suspects a second shooter in the grassy knoll (i.e. dishonest reporting) they can contact the retailers in question and ask for reports specific to their titles.

    As for removal of books, clients are informed that the process could take up to 30 days, and yes, Google usually takes the longest. Any sales will still be credited to the author.

    Unfortunately, many authors are overly optimistic when it comes to the number of books they think they will sell. As an author of three books myself, I experience this. J.M., if you question our (my) honesty, contact me directly and I can work with you to get reports verified from the vendors showing your sales. I know you might just be purging here, but your implied accusations are serious for a business such as ours in an industry based on trust.

    And thank you for the good words about our customer service — we are a small company and like Avis, “we try harder”.

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  17. A few days ago I transmitted a third book to eBookit, and plan to give them future books, as well.

    BookBaby wants my business. Their base price seems like it’s $50 less than eBookIt’s $149, but the charge for every graphic image above ten would quickly eliminate the saving for me.

    Also, Baby says, “In about four to six weeks, your eBook is up for sale at Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble…” No thanks. I could lost lot of sales in four to six weeks.

    Michael N. Marcus
    – Coming very soon: “499 Essential Publishing Tips for a Penny Apiece” (e-book) http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing/499selfpublishingtips.html
    – New: deluxe hardcover edition of “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983057249
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.BookFur.com (information, help and book reviews for authors)
    – Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html

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  18. My ebook is already on Amazon.com. CreateSpace formatted my book. I am looking to expand the book’s reach beyond Kindle, which I am completing an exclusive deal within days. Do I have to be re-formatted, and if so, which company is the best? I have been leaning toward Book Baby, but I am getting more knowledge on this forum. Can anyone give me some learned advice?

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  19. Everybody listen!!!

    Do not pay eBookit, BookBaby, or any other internet company to get your book listed on Amazon or anywhere else!

    Don’t do it! They’re not reliable and they just take your money. It’s easy to do yourself – you just need a little patience.

    You’ve spent so much time writing your book, just spend another week researching ePub conversion companies and retail outlets (Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, etc).

    It’s not that hard.

    I hired one of the above companies the first time I published a book – but after 6 months of frustration I cancelled and did it myself. That’s how I learned how to do it the easy way.

    5 Simple Steps:

    1. Write your book
    2. Design a GREAT book cover (google book designers or go to Smashwords, Book Baby, etc for their service – yes, for this you can hire these folks – but only for this).
    3. Hire an independent ePub converter (I now exclusively use ebookconverting.com – Lisa is the BEST! Trust me!)
    4. Upload to Amazon
    5. Upload everywhere else

    The good thing about Amazon (and the other sites) is that you can totally mess up the upload process but you can ALWAYS fix it! These companies know authors are going to screw up :) They make it easy to edit, change, or do whatever you need to to make sure everything is set up properly. Even after it’s for sale you can ALWAYS tweak it.

    Amazon also doesn’t need an ISBN. iTunes does, I believe. But that’s no problem! Go to Bowkers and buy one. Easy. Done!

    What about meta-data and all that stuff? Whoever converts your book will take care of it. Easy. Done!

    I mean, seriously – are you really going to let BookBaby or eBookIt or Smashwords takes a cut of your profits? Really? Are you insane? What’s your excuse? Sorry, there are none. The security these companies offer is a sham. Detailed reports, quarterly checks, blah blah blah. But you know what? If you do it yourself, you get the same reports (and more!) directly from Amazon/iTunes/etc – and in real time.

    PLEASE!

    Take a week and do it yourself.

    You’ll thank me later. I guarantee you will! You will want to buy me a drink or a cup of coffee. But I won’t be there, of course. Instead, please give a buck or two to someone in need.

    Thx!!!

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  20. Corle,

    You made quite a harsh claim: “Don’t do it! They’re [eBookit, BookBaby, or any other internet company] not reliable and they just take your money. ”

    Can you back this up? Are you a client of eBookIt, BookBaby or “any other internet company”? If not, how can you possibly make a claim to our reliability?

    On a side note, BookBaby does not take any percentage, and at eBookIt.com clients have the opportunity to do cover/conversion only, or submit to any of the retailers on their own and let eBookIt.com submit to the retailers that require contracts and multiple book submissions.

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