Monday, September 19, 2011

On Writing and Publishing: A Writer Shares Her Limited Knowledge!

Ebook Formatting

This section is where you’re going to be really grateful that you used the formatting as outlined in Section 1. It will save you a bunch of time in undoing formatting for your ebook. If you haven’t done that, you can undo all formatting by clicking Home>Styles>Clear All. Keep in mind, though, that this will remove your bold, italics, and other special formatting that you may want to keep. The better way is to go through and remove all formatting by hand (make sure you turn on the show formatting marks to see what you’re doing). You can use the Find and Replace feature as well. For example, ^t is the symbol for tabs. So you can Home>Replace, type ^t in the find box, and leave the replace with box blank to remove all tabs. (Don’t know what the symbols are? They’re easy to discover. Replace>Special gives you formatting options to remove.) Leaving the replace with box blank deletes the specific formatting, or you can replace it with a different kind of formatting from the same place.

Ebook formatting is completely different than any other formatting. The reason for that is that the words show up completely different on an ereader. If you’ve ever read anything on an ereader you know what I’m talking about.

Most ereaders give an option for making the font larger or smaller (which is great for those of us too lazy or prideful to get our glasses out when reading). Obviously, if a document was formatted with full justification it would really look screwy, because it can’t reformat itself and continue to retain the full justification. What that means is that when the font size is changed, you might have one word on a sentence by itself because it’s pulled part of the previous sentence down to make room on the previous line for the justification. So for an ebook, it’s always going to be left justified.

You cannot have any breaks between chapters, because if someone has the font enlarged, this will create many blank pages. You don’t want someone so frustrated by trying to read your book that they either don’t finish or leave you a bad review. This is also why you use returns to create new paragraphs, and not the “tab” key. It is suggested to not have more than 8 returns to stop from creating blank pages, but it is suggested to only use 4.

Cutesy, unusual fonts won’t translate, and neither will drop caps. If you prefer something to make the beginning of the chapter stand out, bold the first three words. Use a basic text such as Times New Roman (recommended), Calibri, Arial, etc. Centered text will also look strange, so put your chapter headings to the left. If you have something such as a letter or dream in your book that you’ve formatted to be indented, un-indent the right side. You can leave the left side indented, however I suggest you keep it small (.2) so that on an enlarged text screen, it won’t be pushed so far to the left. If you have a poem, you can keep it centered, though on enlarged text it might only have a few words per line.

Here is the specific formatting for your ebook in Word. As always, begin with a copy of the original manuscript, and turn on your show/hide to make sure your formatting is correct.
1.       Turn on the hide/show feature!!! Otherwise, you may as well be formatting with your eyes closed.
2.       Front Matter: The only thing you should have at the beginning of your ebook is your title page and the copyright page. You can add a few short reviews also if you want to try to appeal to those who are downloading the sample, but keep them short and place them before the title. Make sure these are true reviews, never falsify unless you have a desire to destroy your career. Move ALL other front matter to the end of the book, including author’s notes, acknowledgments, about the author, etc. Nothing annoys ebook readers more than having to shuffle through a bunch of pages to get to the book
a.       Your copyright page should be different for each format as far as reflecting the platform you are uploading it to: “Smashwords Edition” for a Smashwords ebook, “Kindle Edition” for a Kindle ebook, etc.
b.      Make sure you are using your ebook ISBN, not your printed book ISBN
3.       Page>Page Layout
a.       Margins: 1”
b.      Paper Size: Letter
4.       Justificaton
a.       Left justify the body of the text
b.      Center your title and copyright page
                                                              i.      Change your © to read copyright, as some converters may not be able to read the code correctly, and will put a question mark in its place.
5.       Font
a.       Body: 12pt Times New roman
b.      Title, chapter titles: 14pt Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, etc.
6.       Paragraph Formatting You can choose whether to keep your indented paragraphs (auto indented, never with the tab key) or you can choose block-style paragraphs where there is no indent, and there is a space between paragraphs. Both look equally well on an ereader. However, if you’re going to do the block style, don’t use a return to create the space, use Page Layout>Spacing. Set either the before or after (not both) at 6 pt minimum and 10 pt maximum. Never use both types of paragraph formatting together. It looks really strange.
a.       Block Style Paragraph
                                                               i.      Home>Paragraph
1.       Alignment: Left
2.       Indentation: 0 on all
3.       Spacing: Before: 0, After: 10, Line Spacing: Single (or 1.5 max)
4.       When formatting a poem, for example, for this style change the spacing to 0, and change the indentation to .5 - .75 to center the poem.
b.      Indent Style Paragraph
                                                               i.      Home>Paragraph
1.       Alignment: Left
2.       Indentation: 0 on all
3.       Spacing: 0 on all, Line Spacing: Single (or 1.5 max)
4.       Tabs>Default Tab Stops: .25 or .3, Alignment: Left, Leader: None
5.       When formatting a poem, for example, for this style change the indentation to .5 - .75 on left and right to center the poem.
7.       To Separate 2 paragraphs, simply return twice or use something such as **** or ­­^^^^
8.       To Separate 2 chapters, use 4 returns (more, and you risk leaving blank pages, definitely 8 is max)
9.       Remove all headers and footers
10.   At the end of your ebook, feel free to link to other versions of your book, or to other titles you have available, including your website, blog, FB, Twitter, etc.
So, now you’ve formatted your print book, and your ebook. What next? Well, now it’s time to publish. But, we’ll save that for next time. :o)
Use the links below for further and more comprehensive instructions on formatting for your ebook. And, as always, have a happy week!


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