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Top 10 Reasons Why Your eBook Was Rejected

Glenn_LuluGlenn_Lulu Author
edited May 2018 in ISBN/Distribution

If you plan to offer your eBook for distribution anywhere other than the Lulu Marketplace, it must pass our Quality Assurance (QA) inspection process. This process confirms that your work meets our distribution partners’ formatting and content requirements. To assist you in getting your work out to your fans faster, we have put together this list of the top 10 reasons eBooks are rejected during the quality inspection.

***BEFORE READING THIS GUIDE: It is very important that you preview your EPUB before submitting it for our review. We strongly encourage you to download Adobe Digital Editions, a Firefox browser plug-inCalibre or upload your EPUB to your eReader device to ensure that your eBook looks the way you want it presented to the world.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

What is an NCX?

The NCX file is the “electronic” table of contents in an eBook. On an eReader, the NCX allows readers to navigate within a book by clicking on the listed Chapters and sections. Lulu’s Word-to-EPUB converter automatically generates an NCX using the section Headings within your document.  An EPUB’s NCX is different from a traditional table of contents. In fact, we encourage you to remove any other tables of contents from your text, as they are not relevant in an eBook.

What are Headings?

Headings are one type of text style used within Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX) documents. Heading styles are applied to your book‘s title, chapters, and subsections. When you upload your MS Word document to Lulu’s EPUB converter, the headings within your document are used to create the NCX. If you are not using our converter to create your EPUB, you can skip to number 5 in this guide.

What is metadata?

Metadata is text that labels and describes your book. It includes your title, author name, genre, description, etc.  The most important eBook metadata is your title, subtitle, and author metadata entered during the first step of creating an eBook project on

  • To create a subtitle in the title text box, use a colon after your title, or a dash surrounded by spaces.
  • To add a second contributor, click the green plus button.

Top 10 eBook Rejection Reasons

1. Styles, NCX are missing

In order to create a functional NCX file in your EPUB, you must use styles to format your Microsoft Word document.

MS Word comes with many preset styles, but for the purposes of the Lulu EPUB converter, you will only need four basic styles: Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, and Normal.

In order to pass our eBook QA inspection, you must style the title and section headings in your document as Heading 1, 2, or 3, and all body paragraphs as Normal.

  • Tip: In MS Word, open the “Navigation Pane” view to browse your headings – this view also provides a preview of your NCX.

eBooks are often rejected for linking some, but not all sections – so be sure your title, chapters, and ALL subsections (including the often-forgotten Dedication, Copyright and About the Author pages) are linked in your NCX.

2. Headings improperly ordered

Heading styles must be in sequential order, from Heading 1 => Heading 2 => Heading 3. Deviating from this order such as jumping from Heading 1 to Heading 3, or vice versa, will cause a “***” error in the NCX, and result in your work being rejected.

3. Title link/entry improperly styled

Many books are rejected for not following one rule: your title must be the very first line of your MS Word document and it must be styled as Heading 1.

There are no exceptions to this rule. Our conversion tool automatically adds your cover image to the first page of your eBook, so there’s no need to include it in your Word document. Any spaces or images placed before the first line of Heading 1 text will cause an “untitled” link to show up in your NCX, which links to a blank page. If your book contains this error, it will be rejected.

Please Note: Kobo has a 250 character limit for titles. If your title contains more than 250 characters, Kobo may reject it from their retail channel.

4. Improper Capitalization

  • Title, subtitle, and author name(s) must match everywhere: metadata, cover, and book's title page.

  • Regardless of how they appear elsewhere, title and subtitle must be correctly capitalized in the metadata.
  • The first letter of all words in the title and subtitle should be capitalized, except for the following words: a, an, and, for, from, of, or, the, to. The first and last word of the title and subtitle should always be capitalized.

These titles are correct:

“War and Peace”

“The Man with the Movie Camera”

“The Last Samurai”

“Either This or That”

“My Story: The Sequel”

“What Is This World Coming To?”

These are incorrect:

“War And Peace”

“the man with the movie camera”


“Either this or that”

“My Story: the sequel”

“What Is This World Coming to?”

5. Metadata Mismatch

If there is a difference between the text on your cover and the text in your metadata, you’ll need to change your cover image, or revise your metadata so that they match.

One common problem is when middle initials and titles are left out of author names. For example, the author metadata is “John Williams”, and the cover shows “John Q. Williams, Ph.D.”

But remember your metadata must always be correctly capitalized. If you choose to display the author’s name on the cover as “johnny smith”, your metadata must be “Johnny Smith”.

6. Incomplete metadata

Our retailers require that all subtitles and contributors on cover images be included in the metadata.

  • A subtitle is text on the cover that isn’t a tagline or an imprint name.
  • Contributors are all authors credited on the cover, including illustrators, editors and translators.

Note: If you have any contributors listed on the marketing image, including "forward by" or "cover image by", those contributors should be included in your metadata.

The best way to establish your eBook’s metadata is to look at your cover image first and add the text you see on the cover into your metadata, using the correct capitalization rules.

Apple's iBookstore has the strictest rules for ebook distribution. We must meet these guidelines for all ebooks in distribution, so we recommend using their rules as a standard. You can find Apple's complete guidelines here.

7. Poor Image or Cover Image quality

You will need to upload a full size cover image. The cover size should be at least 612 x 792 pixels (8.5” x 11”, 72 DPI) to avoid blurriness.  Check all images, including your cover, before you upload to make sure the images are readable and don’t contain obvious pixelation.

Your cover art should perfectly fit the available space/frame of the image area. Otherwise, the cover tool will add white borders around your image, making it appear small or incomplete. 3D images of a book, screenshots, or images of a printed version of the book for your cover will also be rejected.

8. URL/email on cover or description

You will need to remove email or website addresses from your description and cover for Lulu to distribute your eBook to retail channels.

9. Title/Author Name unnecessarily duplicated on your cover

You will need to turn off the author and title text in the Cover Creator Tool if you upload your own cover image. This duplicates your author and title info on your cover and makes your cover difficult to read.

10. Page numbers on the Table Of Contents page

You will need to remove the page numbers from your table of contents section – or just remove the section. Since font size and page count are variable on eReaders, these numbers can be confusing to your audience.

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