Formatting an eBook

Unshakable eBook displayed on cell phone.Formatting an eBook isn’t hard. What you have to remember is the conversion process involved.

An eBook is read on a device such as a Kindle Fire, a Nook, an iPad, and more. Many of the devices have proprietary coding—Kindle is one, and it comes with a .mobi extension to the file.

Here is an excellent article that explains the varied eBook formats.

An eBook is a reflowable file. The text is fluid—not constrained to a specific page size like a print book is. This reflowable aspect to eBooks means you don’t create page headers or page numbers for your book. But it also comes with some definite requirements.

Specific formatting needs

Until I figured it out for myself, the most frustrating part of a digital file is how the conversion programs view stand-alone paragraph returns. They don’t! Well, maybe they do, but they ignore them. I’d have to ask a programmer. The end result is the same—no extra space.

Let’s examine the picture below.

Viewing the paragraph and how to avoid it in formatting an eBook.

Those little black backward Ps are paragraph returns. Many people will use them to put space between separate elements of their book such as chapter headings and body text. That’s exactly what I’ve done in the example above.

In the conversion process, those extra returns will not code and thus, your body text immediately follows the chapter heading.

Therefore, you must use styles. The picture below is the standard styles menu you’ll find in MS Word. These styles have special settings that create a certain font size and spacing before and after your text. Experiment with them. You can also create your own.

MS Word Styles menu

Many people also use extra returns to put the next chapter at the beginning of a page. While this may work with print books (but I don’t recommend doing it that way), it does not work with eBooks. The page break is required. If you don’t use a page break, your chapters will not begin on a new page in your eBook.

Using the page break in formatting an eBook.

Conversion programs

There are a number of programs available for handling the conversion to eBook.

  • Kindle Create, free from Amazon Kindle.
  • Reedsy, requires an account, but as far as I can tell, it’s free.
  • KindleGen, required if you use Scrivener to compile to MOBI.
  • Calibre, the program I use.
  • Draft2Digital, requires an account.
  • Vellum, an excellent program, but for Mac only, currently $199 for unlimited eBook creation, or $249 for unlimited eBook and paperback creation. If you don’t own a Mac, there is a work around. The process for which you can Google.

You do not have to worry about trim sizes as you would in print design. Just open a new Word doc, set to single spacing, adjust your first line indent to what you want, and set it to no spacing before or after your paragraphs. Here are guidelines from Amazon KDP on how to format your book in MSWord.

You’ll probably find that formatting an eBook is way simpler and easier than formatting a book for print.

If you have a question I haven’t answered in today’s blog, just type it in the comments below.

How to Format a Book – Part 2

How to format a book, 8-page signatures awaiting assemblyLast week in part 1 of “How to Format a Book” I covered trim size, margins, and fonts and their sizes. This week, we’ll look at page headings, chapter beginning elements, and page count.

Whether you’re doing the layout or you’ve hired a designer, the elements discussed last week are essentials you must determine before you begin. If you don’t, then you’ll be spending time making adjustments.

Now let’s look at the importance of page headings, chapter headings, and page count. [Read more…]

How to Format a Book – Part 1

How to format a book, 8-page signatures awaiting assembly

Pallets of 8-page signatures awaiting assembly into a final coloring book.

How to format a book seems to give indie writers more difficulty than writing the book itself.

In my world as an editor and book designer, the word format means several things. When a writer contacts me asking for book formatting, I always have to clarify exactly what they want.

I covered formatting the text of your book in the following posts:

How to Format Numbers, Dates, and Times in Your Manuscript

Should I Use Italics or Quotation Marks? A Style Guide to Formatting Titles

Before formatting your book for publication, there are several things you must consider and decide first. [Read more…]

Pantsers, how do you do it?

A pantser at the keyboard, writing.What are pantsers?

Writers who write by the seat of their pants—no outline. They just sit down and start to write. Or so, that’s what I’ve been told. Surely they have some kind of story idea, but maybe not.

Pantsers, if you’re reading this post, I’d like to pick your brain.

Ten years ago I was taking a writing class that required me to write a fiction scene. Just one scene.

Later, I decided liked that scene and the characters I had created. So, I took it and started writing a full novel.

I did some initial plot work, but didn’t plot the entire book. I got around 14,000 words written before I [Read more…]

How to Create Your Perfect Content Calendar

Savannah Cordova explains how to create a content calendar

Here is part 2 of Savannah Cordova’s guest post on content calendars. Be sure to read last week’s post, “What Is a Content Calendar? A Beginner’s Guide” if you missed it.

Savannah is a writer and content marketer with Reedsy, a platform that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Savannah enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories.

How to Create Your Perfect Content Calendar

“Developing an online presence” is a staple book marketing tip for indie authors these days. That’s because, in the very saturated indie book market, self-published authors need a way to distinguish themselves from the crowd — and building an online presence can be a great way to do so. But how? [Read more…]

Snag a Publisher!

Looking for a publisher? Then be sure to get 5 Tips to Snag a Publisher with Your Manuscript Submission. Sign up below for your free download.

Get Published!

Looking for a publisher? Then be sure to get 5 Things Every Writer Needs to Do When Submitting a Manuscript (make sure you avoid these common mistakes). Sign up below for your free download.
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