Not Tech-Savvy? Four Easy Steps To Format Your Ebook For Smashwords And Amazon Kindle

by
King Samuel Benson

Before we talk about how you can format your ebook to
suit the various eReaders, I want to assume that you have already finished
writing and editing your book. That you already know and understand all the
pre-publishing tasks, and that you already have a publishing plan. Otherwise
you’ll only be reading this article for theorical knowledge.


While there’s nothing really wrong in that, you’re not
helping yourself. If you’re beginning to spend thinking energy on
pre-publication issues like editing and formatting, you’re sucking out your
creative energy. I advice you to save your energy and expend it on the actual
process of writing and finishing your book first.

That’s the hardest part. You can spend hours, days,
months or even years thinking about how you’ll be able to format your ebook so
it looks great when converted and read on an eReader but if you never actually
complete the writing process, none of your musing will blossom to fruition.

If you’re still reading this right now, I’m assuming you
have already completed the prerequisites. Just in case you’ve forgotten, I’m
listing them below:

1) You understand this whole publishing business.
2) You have a well-thought out
writing-publishing-marketing plan.
3) You have the whole concept of your book – fiction:
character development, plot, sequels (if there are going to be any);
nonfiction: lesson or general idea.
4) With your concept you’ve written and completed a
great, well-edited book.

Well done!

Now you’re ready to format, convert and distribute to
retail stores.

So back to the topic of this article, how do you format
your book if you’re not tech-savvy? I’m going to list and explain the process in four
easy-to-grasp steps.

1) Choose a Word Processor:
I could’ve said it doesn’t matter the kind of word
processor you use but it does matter. Since almost all ebook publishers demand
your manuscript must be in Microsoft Word, that is going to be the subject of
our discussion.

Now many experts insist that, before creating a new
document for your ebook, you make certain changes to your page setup like
adding indents, modifying your gutter positions, line spacing before and after
paragraphs, and lots of other actions that are enough to make the process seem
preposterous. While it is okay to make those changes, it is really unnecessary.


2) Remove All Formatting:
Maybe I should rather say, don’t add any formatting.

If you do not understand your Ms-Word page setup, then do
not tamper, I repeat, do not tamper with it. If you have already done that,
then go back and restore it to default.

No indents, no tabs, no page breaks, no page number, no
header and footer. No unusual font type, no text style, no beautifully flowing
characters. During conversion, many of those formats will be truncated or
modified and after conversion your ebook will contain jargons and look jumbled
and amateurish on an eReader. Reading experience will become poor. Readers who
paid money to buy your ebook or spent their precious time to read it will not
be happy. Don’t spoil your readers’ enjoyment in an attempt to make your ebook
look fanciful. You’ll lose potential fans and destroy any chance of future
purchases.

Type your book like you would on a simple text editor.
Let your sentences fill a page and flow to the next page, and just continue
typing. Use fixed spaces – like three or four strikes on the Enter key – to
separate new chapters, copyright information, preface, acknowledgements or
something similar.

By default, every new page on Ms-Word is set to align
‘left’. Don’t change it unless you really have to.

3) Save Your New Document:
Of course that’s only normal!

That’s probably what you just thought. If you are
uploading your new ebook to Smashwords, then all you have to do is save your
work in the .doc extension and upload it! Yes, that’s only normal. Smashwords
will handle the task of converting your new ebook into all the major ebook
formats.

If you’re uploading to KDP, it’s a bit different. You’ll
need to save your work with the .html or .htm extension. The Kindle has a
different format for its books. Call it .mobi, .prc, .pcr, whatever you wish.
They are all different names for the same thing.

To get the best from your Kindle conversion, you need to
have a basic understanding of HTML coding. Why? Because Kindle books are
basically web pages. Once you understand that, you can do anything. You can
ignore the rules (No, I don’t mean the terms and conditions for publishing on
Kindle). You can add new formats and/or images because you know what will
display properly and what won’t.

After saving your work with the .html extension, you can
take it to an html editor and do further editing to remove several unnecessary
Word add-on codes. Then you can preview it to see how it would look like when
published.

Usually I don’t write Kindle books on Word; I do them
directly on html editors. There are a number of free html editors. Two of which
I use – Kompozer and PageBreeze. Kompozer is completely free (as at this time).
PageBreeze is paid but also has a free version. They are both very good and
easy to use. It’s easy to download them. Just do a Google search of either of
both and you’ll come up with download links in the search results.

Wait! Wait! So you have no knowledge of HTMLs? Don’t
falter out yet; you can still publish a very good book on Kindle without
knowing html. Just save your ebook as .html/.htm and upload it. Or easier
still, use the same .doc file you uploaded to Smashwords. So long as you
followed my instructions and removed all formatting from your ebook, and as
long as your ebook does not contain spelling or punctuation errors, your ebook
will appear error-free and easy to read when converted for the Kindle.

4) After Publication, Download a Copy:
Your upload is successful. The interior design checker on
your publishing platform has not detected any error. Your ebook is now live.
But you’re not done yet. There’s still one more task. Go and download the first
copy of your ebook. Read it. Is it what you really wanted? If you followed my
instructions to the letter, there shouldn’t be any error. But not always. If
you do find errors, they’ll be mostly spelling and punctuation errors. In such
cases, go back to the original .doc file you uploaded. It should still be on
your computer. 
Check the section of the book where you found the error on your
eReader. You should also find the error on the .doc file. Correct it, and
upload again.

So there you go.

Summary:
Use Microsoft Word to type your manuscript. Do nothing to
your page setup. Remove all formatting; just let your sentences flow. Tap the
Enter key multiple times to separate title, copyright information, chapters and
the rest. Depending on how you arrange your paragraphs and chapters, your ebook
will look attractive. When you finish your ebook, save and upload to your
preferred publishing platform. After conversion and publication, download/buy a
copy and read it to check for errors.

It’s really that simple.

If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to share
it with your friends. They may benefit from it as well.

King Samuel Benson is an ebook editor, a poet and a
freelance writer. He is featured as an expert author on EzineArticles.com, one
of the biggest article directory on the ‘net. 

He is the author of ‘Why You Are
Not Wealthy’ and he is currently working on a new fiction titled ‘2018’ which
will be released in September. 

Try out his editing and formatting services.
Find King Samuel Benson at: 
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