Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I Can't Get my Kindle Novel to Format how I Want

Publishing an enovel on Kindle is quick and easy if you know how. Here are some hints and tips on epublishing that I picked up when publishing my novels on Amazon’s Kindle store and Smashwords.

Epublishing a Novel Made Easy

How To Publish An Ebook On A Budget - An Author's Guide to the Free Yet Professional Way to Get Your Writing Up For Sale on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble NOOK, Smashwords and moreFirst of all, make sure the novel is exactly how you want. And this means no typos, no grammatical errors, no flabby paragraphs and no stereotypical characters. The main body of the novel is the most important aspect of epublishing. The first three chapters are even more crucial, as Kindle enables the shopper to upload the first ten percent of the book free. If this fails to grab the reader, then the Amazon customer is unlikely to buy the kindle book.

Formatting the Novel for Kindle

With a shiny, perfect masterpiece at your disposal, it is time to share it with the world, and how exciting is that! But first, here are some tips to take the headache out of formatting a Kindle novel.

Save the novel on Word. It is a good all-round format that can easily be translated by most devices. It must be noted that there are different formats you can save you novel on, but when it comes to Word, there are really two types: Word 2003 XML and Word 1997-2003. Other formats such as PDF file, HTML and a formatting tool known as Mobipocket are available to be used, but from my own personal experience, I have found that none of these format well on the Kindle and I have experienced bugs and all sorts of problems with them (forgive me if you haven’t had this experience.)

Publishing a Kindle Novel

As previously mentioned, there are really two types of word, one more advanced than the other. The XML version has more add-ons and therefore supersedes the other, but Amazon recommends saving the document as the earlier version. Doing this is easy. If you open the document where you novel is saved and click on the “office button” graphic on the upper left of your screen, a drop down menu gives you the option of how to save your novel. Click on save as “Word 1997-2003” and the system will save this version as an additional file. You will notice that the file will end with the suffix .doc. (not .docx, which is the XML version). Of course, if you have already completed your novel on the earlier version of Word, there is no need to do this.

Common Formatting Errors with Kindle

A note of caution here. If you have saved your novel as an XML and then save it as the earlier version, and then notice some formatting issues, for instance, the new paragraphs are not indented enough, and then you correct this issue on the earlier version of the Word file, you might find this problem persists when you view the book on Amazon’s pseudo-Kindle previewer (to be explained in a moment). This is because as mentioned before, the XML supersedes this earlier version of word, and some commands cannot be computed. The only solution is to delete the .doc file, correct this issue on the XML file and save it again as a .doc.

The Perfect Kindle Novel

Kindle recommends the following to be avoided either because they will cause formatting problems or will not translate onto the Kindle device:
  • Bullet points.
  • Dropped caps (Big fancy capitals at the beginning of each chapter.)
  • Fancy fonts.
  • Fancy graphics.
Again, make sure these issues are dealt with if working on the XML file before saving it as Word 1997-2003. Bold, italics and headings are fine.

Step by Step Guide to Kindle Formatting

Now you have saved your novel as a .doc (not .docx) it is time to format.

Go through the novel and backspace any superfluous spaces, particularly at the end of each chapter. Insert a page break at the end of every chapter, or you may find consecutive chapters running one after the other on the Kindle previewer. This might be painstaking work, but it is worth it. You will need a title page, copyright matter, and perhaps other elements, such as a dedication page a contents page and backmatter. In all cases, begin the font at the top of the page rather than in the middle. Centre the wording on the page.

Use a basic font, such as Times New Roman or Aerial. I use 12 or 10 point. It doesn’t really matter, as the Kindle device enables the reader to magnify the font one, two or three times the size anyway. Some fancy fonts may not translate on the Kindle.

Inserting Bookmarks to your Novel

Bookmarks can be inserted into the novel to enable the reader to jump to any chapter without having to scroll through the novel to the chapter desired. Bookmarks are really hyperlinks that provide shortcuts just like a link, only within a document. This requires a little explaining, so I have dedicated a separate article on how to insert bookmarks into an enovel, as well as inserting a table to format a list of chapters.

You don’t need to insert page numbers on an ebook, as the Kindle will do this automatically, and having two separate systems of page numbering can be distracting for the reader.

Uploading the Enovel

With everything ready, it is time to upload the novel. Sign into your account on DTP Amazon and navigate to “upload your book file.” (You will need to fill in the other boxes, book title, description. keywords, and book cover but these matters have been covered in other articles on this blog.)

How to Write and Publish Your Own eBook in as Little as 7 DaysNavigate to the box “upload you book file.” Browse to the file you want and click on the novel. Uploading may take a minute or two. Once the novel has been uploaded, you can view it on a pseudo-Kindle previewer (mentioned earlier). This enables you to see how the novel looks. I click on every page to make sure there are no unwanted spaces, chapters running after another or unwanted formatting problems. It may be necessary to correct the original file and upload again if such a formatting problem shows up.

If all is well, click on save and continue, which moves on to matters of pricing and royalties,which is pretty self-explanatory. The novel will take around 2 to 3 days to show up on the Amazon Kindle store. You can upload a free Kindle for PC previewer (not the same as the pseudo-Kindle previewer on DTP Amazon). You can then send yourself a free sample of your own book and see it how it really looks, colour and all. If the pseudo Kindle previewer shows no problems, neither should the Kindle for PC.

My step by step guide on formatting your kindle book with pictures may compliment this guide.
Plus an UPDATE: Learn how to make the table of contents of your Kindle book to go live by converting your book into an Epub before uploading onto KDP.

Links to my Other Writing Sites

Practical advice on completing a novel
Secrets of writing crime fiction
What won't help your books to sell
Books on writing novels
Basic guide on using Callibre for Epub conversion

1 comment:

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