How To E-Book: Formatting Tips

Now that the e-book of Those Who Trespass is out, I can give you a little insight into the process of creating an e-book for Kindle! I wish I could do long, drawn-out posts, but those are a bit dull to read...and I don't exactly have the time to write them. So instead of meals, we're going to have snacks. :) Good, appetizer snacks. Today: chips and salsa. An absolute necessity to any Texan.

Formatting Tips for Kindle E-Book
When formatting for a Kindle e-book, the trick is not to format. You want your document in the barest form when you upload it. Headings, italics, paragraph spacing {0.14" after paragraph}, and that's it. The goal is default.
  • HEADINGS. Yes, we talked about that yesterday.
  • MARGINS. Just use whatever is default.
  • FONT. Use whatever is default. It's possible that the Kindle Fire or app might pick up your font, but the more formatting...the more chance for error. My advice: leave it at default.
  • JUSTIFICATION. Just...don't. Bad idea. It will never look right on all the Kindle devices. If you must, center your chapter titles {using the heading styles}, but, again, if Kindle can disappoint you...it will. If you can be happy with left-justified everything, do it.
    • Don't left-justify or full-justify your text. That causes problems. Just leave it at whatever is--you guessed it--default. {Kindle picks up on the fact that something is default and converts it to its own default. When you deviate from that, Kindle gets confused.}
  •  BOLD/ITALICS/UNDERLINE. I don't know about bold and underline. I can tell you that Kindle is pretty smart italics. Keep that. {But be smart when you make things italic. Try not to have any hard returns or spaces that are italic. Think of it as HTML, if you're familiar with that at all. You don't want to give Kindle an opportunity to turn a whole paragraph italic just for the fun of it.}
  • PARAGRAPH SPACING. Yes. Change your settings so that you have 0.14" after each paragraph. That's it.
  • TABS. Yes. Using your paragraph settings.
The common rule throughout this is that if you are going to format, don't do it haphazardly. You don't care about how it looks as much as you care about the code behind it. {You don't have to know HTML, but you need to think in HTML.}

Don't Do What I Did: The final version of my book ended up being formatted for the print version {because I kept making editing changes right up to print time}. Thus, I figured I could simply copy my text into another document, change the page sizes and margins, and have my Kindle version. NO. It doesn't work like that. There is so much code and formatting that goes into making a print version, that my document was a MESS in HTML.

How To Prevent & How To Escape: Copy your text from your print version document into a text editor like Notepad. Then copy that back into your word processing program. Pros: You lose all your formatting. Cons: You lose all your formatting. You have to start from scratch with your italics and tab indents and justifications and heading styles, but it's worth it to clear out all of that hidden, nasty code behind your words. Yes, you have to go back through and re-italicize some stuff. But if you go into it knowing what needs changing {I didn't when I started, though by the time I fixed this, I did}, it won't be too bad.

And that, my friends, is a snack of e-book formatting for Kindle. Still have questions? Ask me in the comments, and I shall answer!

Posts in the How-To E-Book Series
Formatting Tips: Hard Returns, Paragraph Indentions, More Paragraph Spacing
Formatting Tips: Margins, Fonts, Justification, Paragraph Spacing, Tabs {this post}
Formatting Tips: Heading Styles 

1 comment:

Aimee L. Salter said...

All. Kinds. Of awesome. You are.