An #eprdctn Noob’s First-Time at Ebookcraft

Tightly croppped selfie showing the author with two enamel pins on her sweater. One reads code.epub, the other is a graphic reading I heart ebooks.
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This guest post is from Laura Bowman, Publicist and Ebook Production Manager at Pajama Press.

I was very intimidated to attend ebookcraft last week. I am brand-new to digital publishing, am an amateur with HTML at best, and am just a one-person department at a small, independent publisher. With only about a day and a half of other, recent EPUB workshops under my belt, I expected a lot to go over my head at ebookcraft. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, some did. But I also thought I’d feel like a total imposter, unable to speak with the presenters or other digital publishing professionals without embarrassing myself. Thankfully, I was very wrong about the latter.

I am essentially building an ebook program from scratch at my publishing house. Workflows need to be developed, accessibility standards need to be learned and implemented, and so much more. But ebookcraft introduced me to all of the facets of ebook publishing, and in a comprehensive way.

The workshops on day one were extremely useful, even from a beginner’s perspective.

The workshops on day one were extremely useful, even from a beginner’s perspective. Erica Gamet’s So You Think You Can Style workshop was a fantastic, hands-on way to explore or review some fundamental InDesign practices. And Kevin Callahan’s Simply Accessible was the perfect companion to Erica’s presentation. His discussion focused on EPUB-specific applications to InDesign files to ensure accessibility in the finished ebook. I know I will be referring back to my notes and their slides often. It’s too bad I couldn’t attend more of the workshops—but I was very impressed that all of the slides from presentations were made available online. Even though I couldn’t attend Naomi Kennedy’s or Romain Deltour’s presentations as they overlapped with Erica’s, I was able to download and review their materials. A fine example of how ebookcraft took the most-talked-about topic of the conference to heart: accessibility.

Day two was straight-up fun.

Day two was a very different, but also really enjoyable experience. Actually, day two was straight-up fun. The catering was delicious and impressive, the technology worked seamlessly throughout the day, and there was an actual crafting station at lunch time! (I was feeling inspired and went off-template, designing a keychain of my cat.) But, random details aside, the seminars of the day were really, really relevant and full of useful information, and they made for an outstanding networking opportunity. Ebookcraft even made the networking fun by creating a BINGO, providing guests with a ton of icebreakers and enamel pins when they filled a line with signatures. Any social anxiety I might have felt going into day two dissipated after my first couple introductions. I spoke with so many friendly people and I made several important connections. Some people I was able to start working with faster than I could get this blog post finished.

Crafty looking cat keychain

The day-two seminars are definitely where I started to feel like more of the conversations were going over my head. But this didn’t really intimidate me. By this point, I was already so excited about the task ahead of me, about the evolution of ebooks, and about the opportunities digital publishing could open up in my career. Although the conversations were sometimes more technical and advanced, a full scope of the digital publishing landscape became clear: trade and educational publishing observations; retailer and librarian perspectives; updates on the development of EPUB standards; HTML and CSS discussions; and research into the current demographic of ebook readers. I was especially enlightened by the presentation from Rose Donohoo (Overdrive), Maria Cipriano (Toronto Public Library), and Teresa Elsey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) about how our metadata travels through Overdrive and the libraries, and the challenges they regularly face.

The library panel from ebookcraft, showing a slide titled, Why Is Digital Lending So Popular?

Thanks to ebookcraft, I now know dozens of people to follow on Twitter, have lots of notes, websites, and book recommendations, and when I get in a pinch, I’ve made a few friends who I can ask for help. It was so worthwhile to the advancement of our ebooks program for me to attend this conference.

I can’t wait for next year!

Laura Bowman recently graduated from Centennial College’s Publishing program and has been working in the publishing industry for nearly two years. After interning, Laura took on the role of Publicist at Pajama Press. But in late 2017, her role promoted to include that of Ebooks Production Manager. When she has free time, she usually just hermits with video games or a book and one of her cats in her lap, but sometimes she likes to experiment in the kitchen. And if you’re a TFC fan, you may also recognize Laura as one of your friendly, enthusiastic beer vendors.

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