OK, so here goes the ebook formatting section of the Kindle publishing guide I’m currently blogging.
By this stage your book should be completely up together, meaning your final draft is completed, coupled with Front and Back Matter. This next level can be a little tricky, I must warn. But persevere and you will get through it. I’ll quickly mention that I’ve never claimed to be any kind of computer wiz or genius – because, well…I’m not. However, through my own ebook formatting journey I was able to find ways of getting my manuscript up together and to the stage where it could be converted to a Kindle e-reader file.
I don’t know whether my ways are the best and fastest. All I can say is that they worked for me, and that said, logic surely states they should work for you also. I used Word 2007, so if you have a different version you might have to do things slightly differently. As ever, I would always advise you to follow Amazon’s – or whoever you are using – Kindle publishing distribution guidelines. The only problem is that sometimes they can be very confusing. And so hopefully you will find my own advice relatively short and simple.
Firstly, before you do anything, create a folder to be specifically used for backups of your Word document after you reach each ebook formatting milestone. Save a backup of your work now. If anything goes wrong, you’ll always have this duplicate copy. The next thing you want to do is open your book and save it as a separate Word 97-2003 (doc.) file. The reason for this is that doc. files convert better to e-reader files than docx. (Word 2007 and onwards) do.
Open this new 97-2003 version. Things may look slightly different, but everything should all be the same bar a bit of spacing. This will all get sorted in good time, though, so don’t worry. Next, if you haven’t already, set the font size of your text to 12, and no larger than 18 for chapter headings, also ensuring that you have used either Times New Roman or Arial throughout.
Now we move on to paragraphs. There is a golden rule of never starting a new line/paragraph with the Tab key. Is this you? Do you deserve to walk the Literary Plank of Shame? If it is, don’t worry. Lots of sites will try to make you panic about this and ruin your day. But it won’t take you too long to sort out. The way I got round the problem was by clicking on the Replace icon (up in the right of the toolbar menu). Type ^t (meaning Tab) into the Find field and leave the Replace field blank. When I say blank, I mean completely blank. Now click on Replace All. Your horrible Tabs which should have never existed on earth have consequently been deleted.
Next, select all your text by clicking on the Select icon on the right of the toolbar and click Select All. In the paragraph section (middle of toolbar) you then need to click on the little arrow in the bottom right corner. On the Indents and Spacing tab, now change the Special field to Single. Your manuscript now has the correct indentations for each new paragraph (1.27cm).
There’s a good chance that at some point in your document you hit the space bar more than once while writing your book. But how on earth are you going to find and zap them? Easily is the answer. Click on the Replace icon again and enter two spaces into the Find field, and then enter one space into the Replace field. Click on Replace All. Any accidental double spaces have now been changed to one.
If you’re worried about losing the double spaces at the start of each new sentence – don’t. This is because double spacing is not used in literature today. In short, publishers think it’s archaic. One space also tightens things up a bit. Nothing wrong with that, is there? If you’re worried about whether you may have entered additional spacing errors, simply click on the Paragraph/Formatting Marks icon (it looks like a back-to-front bold P) which can be found centre toolbar, and have a search through your book to see what mistakes you may have entered.
This is a good way to manually sift through a stripped version of your work to uncover any lurking faults. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that if you have any paragraphed blank spaces which are formatted with bold or italics, you’ll need to remove this formatting as it could produce Kindle publishing conversion problems.
That’s it for part one, I’m afraid. Click here for Kindle Publishing Formatting Part 2 – wherein I’ll explain how to insert Page Breaks and an active Table of Contents (TOC).
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I’d love to get some feedback on this guide. Was it useful? Have any good ebook formatting advice of your own? Just let it all out in the comments section.
Stay tuned and keep writing!