The Fifth Error of Self-Publishing: Poor File Conversion

If we avoid the first four errors of self-publishing (poor content, cover, title, and editing), we can still ruin our hard work with a poor file conversion. Just because a book looks good in Microsoft Word, doesn’t mean it’s going to convert nicely. Even one conversion error will lower a reader’s esteem for our work; numerous ones will cause them to stop reading altogether.

Here are some conversion errors I’ve encountered with books. These mostly relate to e-books, but I’ve also seen some of them in printed books:

  • Missing paragraph indents: A new paragraph is not indented but is flush left.
  • Errant paragraph marks: A new paragraph starts mid-sentence.
  • Inconsistent paragraphs spacing: Some paragraphs have no space between them, while others have a full line – or more – between them.
  • Hyphenation problems: A hyphenated word appears in the middle of the line, instead of at the end. Sometimes there is a space after the hyphen.
  • Random font point variations: A sentence, phrase, word, or even letter is larger or smaller than the rest of the text around it.

Many of these errors are more noticeable as we resize text in a reader. Regardless of how careful the file conversion is, we must read (not scan) the converted file to find mistakes. I’ve also noticed a disproportionate number of errors towards the end of books, suggesting that people stopped checking or got in a rush as they neared the end.

Converting a file is tricky and checking the results is tedious, but these are critical steps if we are to produce a quality product.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!