Sunday, November 6, 2011

Formatting your eBook for Kindle

I've recently been helping a friend out with formatting her manuscript for conversion to Kindle ebook form. I was very excited to do this, as I've been curious for a while as to how the process works, and from everything I'd read it honestly didn't look too difficult.

I have to admit, though, that it was a little more of a mission than I anticipated. NOT because it is difficult in any way, but because I am finicky about tiny details, and every time I'd done the conversion process and put the file onto my Kindle to check, I'd think something like... actually, that heading right there would look better in caps, or that word between the title name and author name might look more attractive in italics.

So I lost count of the number of times I did the whole save as html / import into Mobipocket Creator / add cover / click Build / plug in Kindle / copy file onto Kindle / open and check ebook process. It was all good though, because I could do it in my sleep now :-) (though why I'd ever need to do that, I can't imagine...)

Formatting a document for Kindle is not that difficult.

The instructions provided on KDP's Simplified Formatting Guide page are pretty easy to follow:
(specific for MS Word 2007)

  • DON'T manually indent the first line of each paragraph, but rather use the Home > Paragraph > Indentation > First Line function, so that it's automatic.
  • DON'T manually insert page breaks but using multiple returns (the Enter key), but rather use the Insert > Page Break function at the end of each chapter, before you begin a new chapter.
  • DON'T copy and paste images into your document, but rather use the Insert > Picture function.
  • Save your Word document as a .htm file.
  • Open Mobipocket Creator (the software is available for download. Follow the link on the Simplified Formatting Guide page) and follow the last few instructions on the Simplified Formatting Guide page.

There was only one thing I found frustrating: Whenever I had blank lines between lines of writing, for example:


My First Chapter's Name

My first chapter begins with these lovely words: We all went out for a blah, blah, blah. It was delicious. But just as we were leaving, a great, big blah, blah, blah appeared and we were all, like, terrified!

Those blank lines DID show up when I put the file onto my Kindle device to check it, but they DIDN'T show up on the Kindle Previewer software or the Kindle for PC software. Freakin' annoying! But I eventually figured out the following solution:

  • Put the cursor in front of My in My First Chapter's Name and go to Page Layout > Breaks > Section Breaks > Continuous. Do the same in front of the My in My first chapter begins with... And, of course, anywhere else you'd like there to be a blank line.

So. Anyone else done any formatting for ebooks lately? Have you formatted for different platforms? Are some of them more complicated than others? (For example, are Smashwords guidelines more complicated than KDP guidelines?)


Pk Hrezo said...

Oh good to know! Thanks! I had my last eBook formatted by someone else. But you make it sound so easy... just time consuming. I'll have to bookmark this page for later. Thanks! :)

Francine Howarth: UK said...


Yep, no probs with Kindle. Dead easy once you know how. Same with making book trailers, simple ones that is! ;)

Smashwords. Whoa, I've seen terrible formatting in all platforms over there. I think their auto format system is maybe okay for one software package but not all.


Elliot Grace said...

...thanks Rachel! Will bookmark this post just in case ;)


Sarah Pearson said...

I'm with Elliot. I'll hang on to this page. You never know ... :-)

Cally Jackson said...

Great advice. I haven't tackled this terrain yet, but this post will definitely help me if/when I do. :-)

Sher A. Hart said...

I'm with the bookmark crowd. Even if I get my novel trad published I might want to put some of my short stories in an anthology.