Digital Book FAQs

  1. Do I begin with a print version or a digital version of my book?
  2. What’s the pros and cons in  starting with a digital version?
  3. How can I make my ebook available on cellphones (mobiles)?
  4. I’m writing a downloadable PDF book? Why do I need an index?
  5. But isn’t “Find” feature on my computer just like an index?
  6. Are there any reasons not to have an index in my PDF book?
  7. I’m writing an eReader book. Why should I hire an indexer?
  8. People writing about eReader books tell me to omit my index? Why?
  9. What if I want to consolidate several ebooks into a book?
  10. Where and how can I market my ebook?

(1) Do I begin with a print version or a digital version of my book?

You can go either way. If you have created a print book first, there are sites that will reformat it as an eReader ebook. You can create a new index for both books if you have not already done so. Digital books can be created from PDF files for a print book. PDF files can easily be created from any software text file. Or you can use a design software to create a digital book, such as InDesign.

It may seem more comfortable to begin with a print book and then find a digital formatter to convert your book into an ebook or audiobook. Or it may seem easier and faster to do a digital book first.

Be sure to think carefully about how you will market your book. Don’t expect either an digital book or a print book to sell themselves. There are millions of new books that will be competing with yours each year.

(2) What are pros and cons in starting with a digital book?


Digital books, other than PDF books, are  distribution-driven. As soon as you are done, your book has somewhere to sell it. Digital bookstores abound on the web and offer good “royalties” to authors. 
Digital books are instantly available. 
Digital books, especially PDF books, are very low cost compared with print books. They can be used to sell your business services and/or products. They can be used to “test the market” for your book.

In particular, ebooks for the different eReaders target different buyer demographics. One of the eReader companies could sell their books to just the right market for your book.


As a whole, far more readers buy print books. 
You’ll need to add an index and format pages if you do a print book. 
E-reader and audiobook devices use several different digital formats and the index costs a bit extra to format.

The limitations of current ebook software can prevent your ebook from having the same features as your p-book. If you are creating an book with intricate design, print will be your best choice. Also, current digital download speeds may limit the total size for your ebook file.

Whatever you decide, discuss the formats you plan to use for your book with your indexer before they begin work for you!

(3) How can I make my ebook available on cellphones (mobiles)?

Amazon’s free Mobipocket Creator software will convert your ebook into a form some cellphones can read. Mobipocket is Amazon’s protocol for mini-ebooks. The advantage of using it is to get your book into Amazon’s online Kindle Store.

IPhone apps are another way. Rasterbook and ebookapp format ebooks for cellphones. Smashwords, which can convert your book to all kinds of ebook formats, offers downloadable ebooks for the iPhone using Stanza, a free e-reading app

(4) I’m writing a downloadable PDF book? Why do I need an index?

Digital books are no different than print books. If a book has information in it, it needs to be indexed. Your reader needs to be able to go back and look up things they’ve read in your book. Your reader needs to find scattered discussions of a topic all in one place in order to explore and think about that topic. More importantly, your index shows readers how seriously you take the message of your book. The bottom line is that a bad index or no index can kill sales of your book.

(5) But isn’t Adobe’s “Find” feature on my computer just like an index?

If your PDF book has a substantial amount of information in it, do not rely on an Adobe software’s “Find” function!

Find function’s “hits” are tedious to scan. Find can even return so many page numbers it tries your readers’ patience an they give up. Many readers don’t yet know quotation marks must be used to find phrases. Most importantly, Find only looks for words in a document; an indexer will look for concepts and the main points you are trying to get across to your readers. While not all indexers will take on a PDF book, I will be happy to discuss indexing your PDF book! Contact me at .

(6) Are there any reasons not to have an index in my PDF book?

If your PDF book is very brief or if it only makes a few points you may not need an index. Likewise, if your PDF book is a collection of articles, you might do fine with a table of contents. If it’s by different authors, a names index along with your table of contents would be a good idea.

Similarly, if your downloadable PDF book is part of a “membership club”that includes webinars and teleseminars, you may decide your don’t want an index. That’s because these programs are designed for group study sessions rather than independent learning.

If your PDF book is part of group learning program or high-end objectives based program, you’ll want to guide your followers through it in your own way. However, you might consider an expanded table of contents (chapter titles along with chapter section titles in page number order). This will make it easier for students to follow as they listen to you talk about what is in your guide.

If you are interested in indexing your PDF book, please contact

(7) I’m writing an eReader book. Why should I hire an indexer?

Indexers are full-time professionals. Indexers use specialized software such as CINDEX, MACREX, SKY, InDesign, and HTML-Indexer. While most indexers work for traditional publishers on print books, a few are rapidly moving into ebook and mobile (cellphone) books.

You will find the following benefits from using a professional indexer with Internet indexing experience.

A) Your index will look like one that print book readers are used to.

B) The index will be done quicker than you could do it.

C) An index that pleases your readers will help sell your products.

D) If your competitors lack an index or have an inferior one, buyers will be more likely to choose your book over theirs.

In addition, indexers who work with self-publishers accumulate information about self-publishing from their other clients that could be useful to you as well.

(8) People writing about eReader books tell me I must omit the index? Why?

You should not take their advice – an index can be created for for your eReader book.

Formatting your index for e-Reader books will require an extra step. That’s because digital text does not really have pages. An ebook is a continuous digital file. Like a web site it only has screens. And screens come in many different sizes. So ebook pages will differ from each other depending on what device you are using to read the ebook.

Despite this difference from print books, page numbers can be inserted in ebooks by use of a web design device called an “anchor.”

An invisible anchor is placed in your digital text where a print version page ends to indicate the page number. (The icon for an anchor is a tiny anchor inside a box.) Each “page number” in your index will refer back to one of the anchors embedded in your book’s text.

(9) What if I want to consolidate several ebooks into a bigger book?

Indexers can easily conflate  entries from more than one ebook into a single index for a bigger ebook or even for a print book. The main challenge will be in handling the page numbers.

Likewise, it is possible to break up an ebook into separate parts, each with its own  index. In this case the challenge will be to identify which See and See also cross-references belong in each separate part.

Whether conflating ebooks or breaking down an ebook into parts, you’ll find it will be less expensive if your indexer knows your intentions right at the very beginning. So create at least a rough marketing plan for your book before you begin.

(10) Where and how can I market my digital book?

The first place to market is on your own page or a web site or blog site  for your book! Click here for reasons why.

If you have a PDF book you can sell it on your web site and distribute it via an online vendor like 1shoppingcart or PayPal or If your eReader book is designed for a particular eReader, your eReader company will have a site where you can sell and/or distribute your ebook.

But don’t stop there! Or with just Amazon or iTunes! The web is full of places to market ebooks. Here are just a few examples.

BooksonBoard claims to be the largest ebookstore for trade books. carries all kinds of books too. Booklocker, an ebook seller, carries ebooks formatted for iPhones and iPads. And you can upload PDF documents as well as eReader ebooks to Scribd.

You’ll find online sites geared for niche and genre e-markets too. For example, not only carries trade books, but also academic and scholarly ebooks, while Overdrive carries ebooks for libraries.

Have You Thought About Marketing Your Ebook to Libraries?

For information about my book, Marketing Your Book to Libraries: An insider’s Guide for Authors by Nancy K. Humphreys, CLICK HERE!

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