I hope I can save everyone money here. First things first: you really only need this information if you are going into other ebook retailers than Amazon’s Kindle.
After I decided to risk putting one of my books into other markets, I paid $204 to have Fortune’s Flower converted into an .epub. When it came back, it was a thing of beauty, but it failed the final test that would let it go into iBookstore. That simple failure blocked my book from going to anyplace other than Smashwords for several days, while I tried to figure out what was wrong.
Get this: I followed the Smashwords Style Guide and reformatted the same book from MS Word all by myself, and it passed! Every single check!
I did something that further delayed my book. Once it had been reformatted according to Smashwords’ Style Guide, I still checked the box on Smashwords’ upload page that said in essence, “Leave my previously submitted professional .epub version alone, do not replace with this one.” Why would I want to risk replacing a book done by a professional with my own hand-done version? I did not realize that each time the book was rejected, it was the Other Version, the expensive one, that blocked my novel from being approved.
Apple has a very stringent screen that will block anything that doesn’t match their parameters, and the professional epub book (even though it worked perfectly on every single epub reader I tested it on) ran into a brick wall at Apple. Initially you could buy it at Smashwords, but the book was not at Apple, nor at any of the other venues to which Smashwords sends the book.
So. If you want to branch outside of Amazon, and IF you are willing to give up all the benefits of Kindle Select (which are many), don’t pay someone to do your epub book. Go to Smashwords, use your own document and follow their Smashwords Style Guide, no matter how idiotic their instructions seem at times, and let them help you format it for free!
P.S. If you try to find my Fortune’s Flower in those other markets, I eventually determined that it did not work out for me. At least, not for now. Perhaps some day I will risk it again, and if so I know I have a good, workable ePub version. For now and for myself, I have decided Amazon is my home.
(originally written 12/11/2015)