Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun With Ebook Formatting

I say “fun” with as much sarcasm as I can muster up. Yesterday, I spent the day converting First Visions to the various ebook formats available. Easy peasy I figured. However, what turned into what I thought would be an hour project became an all day thing. I think normally this process doesn’t take this long, but I believe my Kindle file for the book LOST ITS MIND. I believe inside the file was an evil little brain that decided to ruin my Sunday. Anyway, here are a few tips I figured I’d share with fellow newbies:

  • Take some time to go over the guidelines. I suffer from a mixture of ADD and impatience which usually causes me to jump into a project and decide that I’ll learn the process as I go along. Both PubIt and Kindle Direct Publishing have simplified guidelines (Kindle also offers a free downloadable book for more detailed instructions). Smashwords has a great set of guidelines with illustrations and an active Table of Contents.
  • Get rid of tab indents. This seems like pretty much standard across the board. If you’re using Word like I did, you instead assign a first line indent of approximately 0.3 to 0.5.
  • Page breaks for most formats except Barnes and Noble’s PubIt. This was one of these annoying things I had to go back and change before converting the book for the Nook. The Nook doesn’t recognize Page Breaks in your document and instead you must remove all of them and use Section Breaks. Another difference with PubIt is the cover image guidelines. They’re a little more restricted and require the sides to be between 750 and 2000 pixels in length.
  • Read over your book after the conversion. Some important things can be lost in translation. When I did the Kindle version, a lot of my bolding disappeared.

  • No matter how much you follow the guidelines sometimes things will not work. This brings me to my Kindle nightmare. Cleared all formatting, but indents were completely wrong. In some spots the indents were fine while in others second and third lines were incorrectly indented. No tabs, no weird formatting in the spots and it was still buggy. FINALLY, I did a forum search (aren’t forums the greatest? I have no idea what we did before they existed) and found that the indenting problem could be solved by saving the Word file as a HTML document. Say what? I hadn’t come across this one yet. But sure enough it worked and the indenting issue was fixed.
Glad, this part of over (at least I hope so). BIG DAY TOMORROW! Release day for First Visions!

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