All posts by Heather

I'm an independently published author and a freelance ebook formatter.

Hallowthanksmas Sale!

First up – check this post out.

CyberWitch Press is calling for submissions for a paranormal holiday anthology!


What is Hallowthanksmas?

It is when you can walk into your local grocery or big box store to find dangly skeletons and warty witches next to fall-toned turkeys and smiling pilgrims sitting beside fat-bellied, red-suited santas with leers a little too creepy for comfort. It is when even the stores get so excited for the holidays they forget that one needs to pass before they stock for the next.

Hallowthanksmas is that magical time of year that reminds us all why we wait like drooling adolescents for that first crisp scent of fall in the air. It is our favorite time of year, with the promise of candy, food, and presents in our future. If it’s not, you’re probably a robot.

To celebrate this incomparably wonderful three months, I’m running a sale on CyberWitch services! And there’s a nice little bonus to go with it.

If you hire me to format your book during Hallowthanksmas, not only will you receive 20% off the formatting rate, but you will lock in that rate for any future books you return to me to have done. No, you did not misread that, though it is written very strangely. If you hire me to format your book from now until December 31st, you will receive 20% off the formatting cost (excluding image work). If you then return to me in the future for just one book or multiple, you will be charged exactly the same discounted rate. Indefinitely.

So spread the word, my friends. There are thousands of authors out there who need quality formatting done on their books, both new and existing. They need to meet me.

Updates for 2015

My name is Heather Adkins. I am an author and interior book designer. I’ve owned and operated CyberWitch Press, LLC since 2011. In that time, I’ve formatted over four hundred books in various formats. I work for New York Times Bestsellers, small publishing companies, and for brand new indies just starting out in publishing.

This is a quick run-down of what I offer and what has changed for 2015.

*Please do not send me anything but the absolute final file for your bookI will NO LONGER make typo changes for free during the formatting process for new or existing clients.  Authors seem to be getting lax in their proofreading. When your book reaches the formatter – whether it’s me or someone else – it should be the FINAL file. Every typo change requested during formatting will cost $1. Each.

I understand that sometimes it is easier to catch typos in ebook form rather than in a word processor, which is why I offer a quick and dirty conversion to mobi or epub strictly for your proofreading benefit.

* I do not format for nonfiction. Period. No exceptions. Don’t email me trying to change my mind because the answer will still be no. Please visit the talented folks at or for your nonfiction needs.

* I have a standard two week quote time from the day I receive the file.  I do not schedule files; it is first-come, first-served. If you need your book done faster, I may be able to do it, just ask — but I do charge a rush fee for anything less than two weeks.

*I format for Kindle, epub (Nook, iTunes, Kobo), Smashwords, and print (Createspace) — I also offer what I call “fancy formatting” which uses chapter glyphs, images, and drop caps for an extra fee. My mobi and epub files are formatted in XHTML NOT in a word processor.

*I will not code fonts into your ebooks. I am strongly against it due to the limitations of ereaders and what it means for the person who owns the ereader. There are other formatters out there who will.

* I offer PROOFREADING  on a very, very limited basis — find rates here


Now, below, a quick glance at my rates for STANDARD length novels — further information, and rates for books under 30k and over 75k, can be found on each of the separate rate pages.

If you need a formatter and you can’t afford these rates, just email me! I am very much willing to work with people who want a professionally formatted book, but can’t pay standard rates.


For novels under 75 thousand words:

  • mobi AND epub — $120
  • ONLY mobi — $65
  • ONLY epub — $65


For novels under 75 thou words: $75


Createspace for UNDER 70 thou — $75

Full Package:

Kindle, epub, Smashwords, Createspace, PDF

The Full Package for books UNDER 75 thou words:

  • Mobi/Epub = $120
  • Smashwords = $75
  • Createspace = $75
  • Free PDF
  • + 10% discount
  • TOTAL = $245
  • If you don’t need a Createspace, it’s a total of $195

* If your book is over 140k words, it is an extra $40 for substantial length (no matter what formats I’m doing–one, or all four.)

* I reserve the right to charge extra if formatting change requests get out of hand during the formatting process. I also reserve the right to step away from any job for any reason before payment has been received.

Print Book Formatting Special

When I format a print book, I feel like I have absolute control over the end product, and I’m damn proud of it. I’d love to see more print format requests come in, specifically more requesting the fun stuff I can do with images and fonts!

So along with this post chronicling some of the print books I’ve done in the past, I’m running a special on pricing. Createspace pricing is as follows:

  • Createspace for UNDER 30 thou — $50
  • Createspace for UNDER 70 thou — $75
  • Createspace for OVER 70 thou — $100

For the images and special formatting seen below, I usually charge an extra $50. But I am offering this kind of formatting for no extra charge for the next three months! This way I can build my portfolio, and hopefully grab some new clients.


(These are scans of books I have on hand that I formatted, whether mine or a client’s. Some of the shadows are pretty wonky ‘cuz scanning a book on a flatbed scanner is pretty weird, but you can see the basic format.)

abigail“Abigail” by Me

I was going for whimsical and girly because the book is a fantasy/romance.


anna“Anna” by Julia Crane

Julia picked out the roots because it was “earthy.” I loved the way this book turned out.


csod“Constant State of Disaster” by Me

I’d seen this look in a traditionally published book, and I wanted to emulate it. I actually do that quite a bit. If a client came to me and said “Look at such-and-such’s book. That’s how I want mine,” I could make it happen.


dp“Dark Promise” by Julia Crane & Talia Jager

I love this look. It’s simple but striking.



“Eternal Youth” by Me & Julia Crane

This was one of those books I did based off a trad novel by Susan Wittig Albert.  The text page (below) isn’t a very good scan, but I loved adding the line to the page heading. It made it look so crisp. The final product was pretty damn close to Susan’s.




“Freak of Nature” by Julia Crane

Julia’s main character is a half-human/half-robot hybrid, so she wanted this patch of coding on her chapters. It’s so cool to see when you open the book.



“The House” by Me

I wanted to go “creepy” because it’s a ghost story. The cover has branches on it superimposed over the image of the girl/guy and house, so that’s how I got the idea to use creepy branches.



“Lauren” by Julia Crane

Another example of a simple yet striking chapter heading.


If you’re on a search for a print book formatter, consider giving me a try!

David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Visible”


The follow up to LET’S GET DIGITAL, the book I recommend to every new writer who asks me “Hey, I wanna self-publish. Where do I start?” I was updating my site and realized I never posted about this back when he released it.  Copied and pasted from his blog:

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble |

Kobo | Smashwords | $4.99

Here’s the blurb:

Take your sales to the next level! The author of the award-winning, bestselling Let’s Get Digital is back with an advanced guide for more experienced self-publishers.

There are over 1.5 million books in the Kindle Store, with thousands more added every day. How do you get yours noticed? Visibility isn’t a challenge that can be bested once – it requires continual work. But there are tools and strategies to do much of the heavy lifting for you.

In Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books, you’ll discover how to:

  • Leverage Amazon’s famous recommendation engine to take advantage of the various opportunities it provides for exposure
  • Position your books for discoverability on other sales venues
  • Minimize the time you spend promoting so you have more time to spend writing
  • Promote in a cost-effective way that actually works

By using these tips, you will get your book noticed. And getting noticed is the key to growing your sales.

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | $4.99

But hey, that’s marketing copy. Here’s what the first reviewers had to say:

Let’s Get Visible is the best tool I have discovered for a writer to push sales and visibility to the next level, and an indispensable addition to the library of any indie writer. If you’re an indie writer and you’re not buying this book, you simply aren’t playing this game to win.” – Michael Wallace, bestselling author of The Righteous.

“Gaughran distills complex subject matter and explains it in a way that anybody can easily understand, and takes the guesswork out of promotion at Amazon. He removes the mysticism and gets you as close as anyone outside of Amazon will probably be to understanding how stuff works behind the curtain.” – David Wright, bestselling author of Yesterday’s Gone.

“If you are a self-publisher looking to improve your ability to get eyeballs on your books, I can’t recommend this title highly enough. The book contains many ideas I’ve used successfully and several I’m now excited to try.” — Cidney Swanson, bestselling author of Saving Mars.

You can check out all the reviews on Amazon US and Amazon UK, and, if you hadn’t guessed already, you can grab a copy at:

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | $4.99

ME: Word on the street is Dave’s about to publish a Second Edition to LET’S GET DIGITAL. I’m stoked to see the boatload of info I’m sure he’s added after three years in the publishing biz.

Open for Business

Yep, that’s right – CyberWitch is taking new clients again.

It’s funny, because I was recently denied a job I REALLY FREAKING WANTED working tech support for a software company. But the process of interviews and emails got me so excited about the job, that when they turned me down, I realized how much I love technical stuff. Like formatting.

I started formatting for clients in 2011, only a few months after publishing my first book. I kinda fell into it with a bang, since I never really do anything halfway, and six months later started a year’s worth of workload – more than I could handle on top of my day job. I got some great mentions in the writing community from David Gaughran and The Bookshelf Muse (now called Writers Helping Writers), and so clients poured in.

By the start of last year, I had to tone it back. I was literally losing sleep so I could finish formatting jobs because through it all, I’ve had a full-time day job. But I’ve realized how much I enjoy helping people, whether it’s doing the work for them or writing up posts on formatting tips.

So hopefully I’ll use this blog more. I’ve got some ideas of stuff I’d really like to cover here. And if anyone finds me in a Google search and drops by needing a formatter, just shoot me an email.

Happy spring!

For 2013…

The CyberWitch Business Plan for 2013.


I will be taking existing clients on a case-by-case basis and with plenty of notice.  Right now, I’m planning on capping my monthly work load of existing clients at FIVE jobs and will be scheduling them for exact dates.  This is a biiiig jump down from 2012, when I was booked for 20-30 jobs a month and just quoting a month wait time.  I *MAY* accept another job or two with an extra fee.  So book me early if you want me!

A further note for existing clients:  I will NO LONGER be formatting for Smashwords. Period.  They keep making changes to their Meatgrinder system, and over the past few weeks have caused me nothing but problems when I’ve used the same methods for over a year.  I’ve wasted too much time fighting with them, when the simple solution of allowing a fully formatted epub would solve all problems.  Hopefully Mark Coker will come through with his promise to begin allowing fully formatted epubs and this will be a moot point. Until then, I will not be formatting Smashwords docs.


I will be taking Createspace formatting jobs at any time from anybody.  Rates will be $100 for books under 100k words, and $150 for books over 100k, regardless of whether you want images/fonts/etc (so nothing extra to do the fancy stuff).  The fancy stuff that I can do is something Createspace charges upwards of $250 dollars for, so I think that’s a pretty good deal.  Plus I really enjoy formatting for Createspace.  Print books are pretty :)

As always, if you have any questions for me, shoot them  Thanks for reading!


Thank You :)

I have been putting this post off because I love formatting books so much.  BUT life happens.  And a girl just has to adapt as it changes, regardless of what she wants.

I’m shutting down CyberWitch for the indefinite future.

I still have a full-time day job as a police dispatcher.  I had planned on leaving to do formatting/writing full time, but then my husband and I decided we needed a new house before we murdered each other (900 sq feet in a semi-bad part of town is NOT good for two people and four dogs). I’ve been approved for a loan, and we’re going for it.  What this means is I can’t give up the steady paycheck.  Sacrifices must be made.

On top of remaining in the day job, my position has been given  much more responsibility.  I used to have a lot of downtime at work to format (third shift, very boring), which would leave me writing time at home.  Well. No more.  Now, I work all eight hours earning my actual paycheck like a good little girl, and I’m spending five and six hours a night at home formatting.  This leaves A.) No writing time. and B.) No free time for seeing my husband/family/mental health.

As much as I’ve loved doing the formatting, I have to recognize that I can’t keep going at this rate.  It was tough before, now it’s become even more difficult.  If you are ALREADY MY ACTIVE CLIENT, please feel free to email me about this.  I may take jobs from ACTIVE CLIENTS on a first-come/first-serve basis with plenty of notice, depending on my schedule.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past year.  I have met and worked with some pretty damn amazing people.

I will still always be available for advice/questions about formatting or self-publishing at


Ebooks and Fonts

Fonts are not all created equal.

Before you get into an uproar about why your formatter can’t use your pretty calligraphic font in your ebook, let me explain something.

HTML is meant to be universal, meaning no matter who creates the HTML document or on what machine, that document can be viewable across all web browsers.  This same concept applies to ereaders and HTML – what I create in web language can be viewable exactly as it is supposed to be across ALL ereaders (Sony, Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. etc.).  This is the beauty of HTML – TRUE CONSISTENCY.

But, there are limitations, as well.  Font face is one of them.

Most ereaders on the market currently only support the fonts that come standard.  My Kindle has three fonts, all generic (sans-serif, serif), while my Nook supports five nameable fonts like Constantia and Arial Bold.  And my Kindle Fire has a couple of different fonts that aren’t listed on the Nook.  That’s a wide and varied selection, right?  And believe it or not, none of the fonts supported on my Nook or Kindle Fire are Times New Roman, Courier New, or Calibri, some of the most popular fonts.

Have you ever opened a friend’s PDF or Word doc before to find that the headings are some really ugly courier type font?  Something generic and bland?  Unless it actually says “Courier New” in your font box on your word processor when you put your cursor in the heading, I betcha money that those headings are supposed to be a fancy font – something calligraphic or artsy.  So, where is it?  NOT installed on your computer, that’s where.  If the font isn’t installed on your system’s hard drive, then it doesn’t exist to your word processor, and so the word processor defaults to something else.  This concept is the same for ereaders. They only support the fonts at their disposal – saved on their hard drive, so to speak.

Again, before you say “But I uploaded a Word doc just fine with a non-standard font”, let me ask you – did you download a sample of your book and check it out?  If you’re arguing your font uploaded just fine, I bet you didn’t, because you’ll find that your “special” font has magically disappeared, to be replaced by your standard ereader font.

There is an exception, I’ve found.  I use the Firefox Epub Reader for quick checks on my files as I’m formatting.  The cool thing about the Firefox ereader is it will support any font that is installed on your computer – but that doesn’t mean you should try to code fonts into your ebooks.  Very few people read on their computers; ereader ownership is growing by the day.

The XHTML commands I give my formatted manuscripts pencil in the instructions for how that book is to be displayed when it opens on the reader’s Kindle/Nook/etc.  When it comes to fonts, I don’t USE a specific font (for all of these reasons stated above).  Your book is coded with NO font and in such a way that when your reader opens it, your book will display in their already pre-chosen font style.  If you own an ereader, you already know that you can pick your own font size and face – my coding allows that reader’s specifications to automatically work in your book.

To quote Guido Henkel (from whom I learned ebook formatting): eBook readers allow users to use their preferred settings. Font size, justification and font type are very personal things and who are we to mess with what people like? By not setting our own values, the eBook device will automatically fall back onto the user preferences and immediately display our book in the user’s preferred way. It may be a small thing, but trust me, it goes over really well with your readers. Usability is key!  ALL of his posts on ebook formatting are well worth a read.  The man knows his stuff.

Plus, one thing I have found (specifically with my Nook) – when you purchase Smashwords books through Barnes & Noble, and that book was formatted in a font that isn’t TNR, the reader loses all ability to change not only the font face but also the font size.  I’ve returned books because of this – I have really bad eyes and need that big font, not to mention I can’t stand reading in a sans-serif font.  I know I can’t be the only ereader owner out there with this problem.  As mentioned in the Smashwords Style Guide, every manuscript formatted to their guidelines should be formatted using Times New Roman – this is the SW answer to HTML coding to allow for the ereader to display using the reader’s preferences.

All of this is a major reason why you should use HTML for ebook formatting, though it’s only part of the big picture.  One of these days, I’ll finish my blog post on why HTML is the way to format.

There is an alternative if you MUST have your pretty font – images.  You can create tiny images with transparent backgrounds that display your headings in the proper font. This works wonderfully as an alternative, and you can’t tell a difference.

There is one downside to this image plan – Kindles don’t support transparency.  On a white screen, this isn’t a problem.  But when your reader chooses to read off a sepia or black screen, they’re gonna see a white square around your heading.

So, in any of these situations, it’s a win some-lose some problem.  Almost all of my own books use images as headings; the little white box on the Kindle app doesn’t scare me.  One day, my hope is Amazon will get with the program and fix their format and ereaders to support that transparency.  I like pretty stuff too much to give up.

But as we move further into our digital revolution, we will see the formats grow and strengthen; that’s the best thing about technology :)

Amended to add: With the new wave of HD ereaders, we’re seeing images supported less and less in ebooks.  An image formatted specifically for a regular ereader screen will be entirely too small on an HD screen. I’m looking further into this.

The Smashwords NCX/TOC

If you’re formatting for Smashwords, READ THIS POST HERE.


I even have step-by-step formatting instructions for text only books.

Now, we’ll discuss that often elusive Smashwords NCX/TOC.

Ever received an error about NCX?  Have you ever opened your final mobi file and wondered why on earth you have no pagebreaks in the file, even though you used that handy-dandy pagebreak function in Microsoft Word?


So now you know you need a table of contents.  If you’ve got the Chapters and the heading styles goin’ on, you’re all set (as mentioned in that first post I told you to read).  However, if your chapters don’t meet the specifications, you’ll have to do the back door method of showing the Meatgrinder what to do.

Here is our make-believe file.

This file is already formatted per Smashwords’s guidelines.  Now I’m going to show you how to create that snazzy TOC.

Highlight the first chapter heading.  Move your cursor to the toolbar where it says INSERT.  One of the options is “Bookmark”.  Choose it.  A new little dialogue box pops up, as shown below:

In the name line, make the bookmark something that will be easy to refer to later.  It’s best to make it one long name using every word of the chapter heading because there is no room for error when you’re linking to each bookmark later.  So, as you can see in the image, I’ve titled my bookmark elsienewfriend.  (Note: You can’t use characters or spaces in the bookmarks, only text.)

Click add. You’ve put in your first bookmark.  Rinse and repeat for every single chapter heading in your document.

Return to the table of contents.  Highlight the first chapter heading in the list–in this instance, Elsie’s New Friend.  Right-click to bring up that fancy little box.  Click “Hyperlink”.

This new little box shown above will pop up.  See the blue square?  It’s a tab that says “Place in this document”.  Click that, and the white dialogue box will change to show you a list of all your bookmarks in the document.  Click the bookmark for elsienewfriend, and hit Ok, then voila — hyperlink.  Rinse and repeat for the rest of the list.

Your final file should look a little something like this with those nice blue hyperlinks:

Notice how I didn’t even use a pagebreak in the doc.  None.  It’s all on the same page.  Yet… if you want an idea of the separate pages that result from the meatgrinder’s conversion, here’s a montage of images:

Pagebreaks intact.

Happy formatting!