Formatting

Formatting for Kindle using Word – part two

 

Okay, so you’ve got everything into a single file and you’re now ready to put it into a format that will be acceptable to Amazon for upload into their Kindle publishing platform. This is not a difficult process, but one that must be done correctly, according to Amazon’s rules. So long as you take each step in turn, you shouldn’t have a problem. It might seem complicated at first, but once you’ve done it a few times, it will be easy. So let’s get started shall we?

The first step is to change the paragraph layout. First, do a global highlight by clicking ctrl + A to highlight the entire document. This will make sure that the changes you’re about to make will be made to the entire file.  To do this, you will be making use of the Paragraph Layout box. In my version of Word, it is located along the top of the page, but yours could be different and you might have to look around to find it. It will be called, Paragraph.

Click on that and another box will open.

Enter the details into the various boxes as in my example above, then click OK. Your file will now have equal margins down either side, with the first line of each paragraph indented, and the lines spaced nicely apart from each other.

The next part only applies to those people who have put a blank line in between two paragraphs, to signify a change of character or scene etc.  If you never do this, skip to the next bit. If, like me, you like the breathing space offered by such a line space, read on.

You will find that your original blank lines have now disappeared, thanks to the global justification you just did, so you will need to refer to your original file when placing the spaces back in again. What you will be doing is putting in a slightly bigger space between two paragraphs to represent the blank line you originally put in. You have two options:

Put the extra space below the paragraph before the space, or above the one after. The choice is yours but it pays to always do it the same way to avoid confusion. I do it below the paragraph before the space, so my screenshots will indicate this. The process is called, Hanging Paragraphs and is a much neater way of putting in the blank lines than simply by hitting enter again.

Highlight the paragraph immediately before where you want the blank space to be, then click on the Paragraph box again.

You will notice that a value of 12 has now been placed in the ‘After’ box, under Spacing. If you are working with the paragraph after the space, put the 12 in the ‘Before’ box. Click OK. You will notice that the two paragraphs move slightly further apart. It looks professional, far more so than simply entering another carriage return.

Now work through the entire file, doing the same thing wherever you want a blank line between two paragraphs. Only use the blank line to indicate a change of scene, a new character’s point of view, a jump in time etc. Less is more.

CHAPTER HEADINGS

Now we move onto to your chapter headings. It is time to move them to the centre.

Highlight your chapter heading and click the Paragraph box. In the very first box, under ‘General,’  change ‘Justified’ to ‘Centred.’

Underneath that, under ‘Indentation, Special,’ change the setting to ‘None’ as in my example above. If you do not remove the ‘first line’ indent setting, your centring will be slightly off to the right.

Work through all your chapter headings the same way. If you end your book with The End, you can do the same there too. You can also do your front matter and end papers, if you want them centred. At least have your title page and dedication centred, if nothing else. What you don’t want centred, leave justified.

INSERT PAGE BREAKS

Go back to the beginning of your file. Remember I told you that a kindle book doesn’t have pages like a physical book does? Well now we have to tell it that our file has some parts that we wish to be treated as separate units, a bit like pages. What you will do is insert a page break at any appropriate point where you wish the Kindle device to treat it as a separate piece of work, aka a page.

Directly beneath your title page, on a new line, go to your Insert option. As in the first pic at the top, mine is along the top of my Word page, but yours may be part of a clickable menu list. When you find Insert, click Page Break. You will see a dotted line appear across the page, beneath your title page, in the centre of which, it should say, ‘page break.’

Do the same after each page of your front matter, your copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements etc. Then do the same at the end of each chapter, before the new chapter heading. Finally, do the same after each page of your end papers, if you have any. You don’t need to put one right at the very end of the file, as it’s the end anyway.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

This is not strictly necessary, but it does give a more professional look and feel to your Kindle book, and readers will like it. I feel it’s worth the effort of putting it in, but it’s up to you. If you don’t want to, skip this bit.

The Table of Contents, or TOC for short, is placed immediately before your first chapter, and is a list of every chapter and page of interest in your book. Here you will list your chapter headings, your About the Author, your Coming Soon, etc. It enables the reader to go anywhere within the Kindle book by way of a simple click, rather than by scrolling through. I have been led to believe that some E-readers put a version of a TOC in automatically, but as with everything connected with my writing, I like to be in control.

The TOC consists of two parts; the list of contents, and the ‘back to top,’ at the end of each separate section. It is relatively straightforward, but there is a lot of highlighting and clicking involved. Before you start, make sure you will not be disturbed for half an hour as to get something wrong here will infuriate your readers. If they want to go to chapter seven, they don’t want to find themselves at chapter ten because you weren’t paying attention.

Place your TOC immediately before your first chapter heading, your Chapter One, after the preceding page break. Title it, Table of Contents, or simply, Contents. Then list your chapters by name, Chapter One, Chapter Two etc. If you have named your chapters, keep them as Chapter One, Two, Three etc in the TOC. After your chapters, list your About the Author and Coming Soon, and any Acknowledgements etc you may have as end papers. Put another page break after it.

Now comes the tedious bit. What you have to do is make each of the entries within your TOC into a clickable link. Those links will then take the readers to the right places within your file. This is achieved by using Bookmarks and Hyperlinks. You start by highlighting your chapter heading. Then click ‘Insert’ and navigate to ‘Bookmark.’

A box will appear, like this:

Before you begin, click ‘Hidden Bookmarks’ and see if anything appears within the box. If so, highlight and delete everything. If not, great. Highlight your chapter heading, then enter the name of the bookmark, in this case, something along the lines of ‘chap1’ will do fine. There should be no spaces within the name. Click ‘Add.’

Navigate to Chapter Two and scroll back to just above the page break and enter, ‘back to top.’

Move to Chapter Two and highlight it. Enter a bookmark, ‘chap2’ or something similar.

Go through the whole file, making sure to enter your ‘back to top’ at the end of each chapter, just above the page breaks. Put them also at the bottom of each of your endpapers. Your endpapers can have bookmarks that tell you what they are, as in my example above. ‘Soon,’ About,’ etc.

At the very end of the file, put another ‘back to top.’

Go back to your TOC.

Highlight the title of your TOC and enter a bookmark ‘refTOC’ or simply ‘TOC’ will do.

Now you will link those bookmarks to your TOC, creating clickable links. Highlight the first entry of your TOC, Chapter One. Navigate to ‘Insert,’ then click ‘Link.’

Clicking Link will produce a further box.

You should see all of your carefully entered bookmarks listed. First, make sure to click ‘Place in this document’ down the left hand side. Scroll to your ‘chap1’ bookmark and click it. Then click OK. You should notice the first entry in your TOC has now turned blue, indicating that it is now a clickable link.

Now work through your TOC, highlighting each entry in turn and linking it with the correct bookmark. When you’ve finished, each entry in your TOC should be blue, indicating they’re all clickable links.

You now need to make the links that allow readers to go back to the beginning of the document. This is where you will make all of those ‘back to top’ entries into links.

Go the end of Chapter One and highlight ‘back to top.’ Open the ‘Link’ box and link it with the bookmark titled, ‘TOC’ or ‘refTOC’ or whatever you called it. When you click ‘OK’ you should see the ‘back to top’ go blue.

Work through the entire file, making all the ‘back to top’ entries into links in the same way.

All that’s left for you to do now is to check each TOC link works properly and takes you to the right place. Once you’re satisfied, you’re done.

 

Congratulations, you’ve just formatted your own Kindle book. Now go to Amazon, upload it, and crow to your friends about how clever you are.

 

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Parting ways with Smashwords

dead-end-98934_640

 

Today marks the ending of a relationship that has been good. It’s like breaking up with a boyfriend you’ve become comfortable with, and although you feel sad, you suddenly realise that now you can take more notice of all those other fish that people say are in the sea. They are there too.

A few days ago, I published my ninth novel, A.W.O.L, a sci fi romance. All my previous eight novels have been published in both paperback and e-book formats, and this new one is no different. For the last eight books, I have used multiple publishing platforms, to increase my visibility around as many sites as possible, and this new books is no different. For the last eight books I have used Smashwords as one of e-book publishing platforms, but this new book is very different.

Smashwords have always been one of my favourite publishing sites, because of their distribution, which has always been pretty fantastic. The trouble with Amazon, is that although most people buy from there, Amazon only make ebooks for the Kindle. Not everyone uses a Kindle. Some folks use iPads, iPhones, Palm readers, Nooks and loads of other e-reader devices. For these other e-reader devices, you need sites that produce e-books in the appropriate formats for these e-reader devices to use. There are loads of sites that sell e-books for all these other e-reader devices. iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, Diesel and many others, and Smashwords distributes your book to many of these. Up until recently, they were the only one who had such a wide distribution.

Many authors hate Smashwords, and are quite happy to vocalise their hatred. The upload process, what Smashwords calls ‘the meatgrinder’ is unnecessarily difficult, and any deviation from an extremely strict formatting process, results in refusal of your file. They do produce a free book to guide you through their formatting process, and if followed very strictly, upload should go without a problem. There is zero margin for error or creative expression in your formatting though, which is another annoying thing.

Smashwords also insist you list them as your publisher on your copyright page, which is one of the main things everyone hates about them. Not content with taking a cut of your royalties, they also require to be your publisher.

Up until now, I have never had any problems uploading to Smashwords. It has always gone through first time and I’ve been perplexed as to why so many other authors all say they have so many problems. I now fully understand all those other authors, and join them in their hatred.

My Word subscription ran out, and I could not afford the £80 needed to renew it, so I used Kingsoft Writer to format A.W.O.L and uploaded to Lulu, Createspace and Amazon KDP without a problem. I always do two formats for ebook, one for KDP and one for Smashwords, as they require totally different formatting, and this time was the same. When I tried to upload the file to Smashwords however, it refused it, saying that the file was an application/KSWPS file with a .doc extension. Not only do I not have the first clue what a KSWPS file is, I’ve no idea how to change it. So I paid for renewal of Word, which meant I could not pay the rent that week, and opened the file in Word, and saved it again from there, renaming it completely. Smashwords still refused to accept it. I then copied the document into a fresh word document, and totally reformatted from scratch, entirely in Word, saved from Word and renamed again. Smashwords still refused to accept it.

smashwords capture

I got in touch with their support, and heard from a guy called Kevin, who asked me to send him my content and cover shot files, which I did. He then said they uploaded fine when he tried, but they won’t when I try. He finally admitted that he hasn’t a clue why this is happening.

Having ranted about this on my facebook page, someone gave me a link to a page called Draft2Digital, which is an ebook publishing platform who distribute to iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. With nothing to lose, I took a look and uploaded the book, which was accepted straight away and is now for sale at those three outlets. It seems that the only way Smashwords distribution is better, is because they also distribute to Sony ebooks and Diesel.  Pfffffft……….!

Draft2Digital will do your title page, copyright page, table of contents and end papers for you (about the author, other works by etc) if you haven’t done them yourself, and there is no style guide you have to follow, and no demands for them to be listed as your publisher. Just upload your formatted file and away you go. They are also trying to secure distribution with several other well known ebook sites, so they will soon have a distribution network to beat all others.

I have sold a few books at Smashwords, but not so many that I’m not prepared to leave when there’s a better service available. My book has been available through Draft2Digital for just a couple of days, and already there’s been a sale. I’m happy with them so far and have no intention of fighting with Smashwords anymore.

The eight books that are already up at Smashwords can stay there, but I will not be using them again in the future. This has put me off them for good. I will use Draft2Digital for my future books and will recommend them to everyone. If Smashwords wants to get back into favour with authors, they need to shake themselves up. Their meatgrinder is too hard to navigate, the demand for listing as publisher is just wrong, and the famous lack of support is just not acceptable. Sites like Draft2Digital show how easy it is to provide a service without making the process difficult, and more publishing sites like them will pop up as time goes on.

Bye bye Smashwords, you suck cock.  I won’t miss you, and I’m happy with all the other services that are available now.

UPDATE – April 3rd

Today I got another email from Kevin, saying that the only thing he can suggest is to try uploading via Firefox, even though I hate it.  If it still won’t work, then he said “it obviously wasn’t meant to be.” So I very reluctantly downloaded Firefox (I detest it with a passion) and tried the upload. The file uploaded without a problem, just to make me look like a twit. Apart from not liking my title being all capitals, and making me change it to Awol (with initial capital only), it uploaded smoothly and is now in the queue for pro catalogue review.

I will wait until it is safely accepted in the pro catalogue before deciding whether to delete it from Draft2Digital, as it might cause a problem with the distribution. D2D distributes to B&N, Kobo and iTunes, and so does Smashwords, so the fact that the book is already at those locations with D2D might cause a hiccup that Smashwords doesn’t like.

Formatting for e-book – Amazon Kindle

Many people find the process of formatting their manuscript, a little daunting.  A lot of people pay someone to do it for them but that is not necessary at all.  Once you get everything into a routine, you can format a full length novel in a couple of hours.

There are many different sites that allow you to upload your e-book file, and most have their own formatting rules. For this reason, this blog will focus entirely on Amazon Kindle.

The first thing to do, is not to panic.  It seems daunting but it isn’t really that hard.  You just need to go through the steps in order and make sure you don’t miss any out.

Formatting for e-books is way easier than formatting for paperbacks, believe me.  I fought with one particular aspect of paperback formatting every single time I released a new novel and it wasn’t until I released my sixth novel that I finally found out how to avoid this problem.

The most important thing to remember, is that an e-book is not a paperback.  Sounds obvious I know but as you format your e-book, you may think everything looks weird and you will have to avoid the temptation to try and make it look like a paperback.  Kindles, and all e-reading devices, display your e-book as one long continuous file, without separate pages like paperbacks have.

Once your manuscript has been edited to your satisfaction, you will need to typeset it.  This is where you choose whether to indent your paragraphs, or do the block style, whether to bold your chapter headings or not and other such stylistic things.  I won’t go into detail about how to set out paragraphs/chapter headings etc, as that would make this blog prohibitively long.

Amazon Kindle likes your e-book file to be set out as justified text.  Justified is where both right and left margins are straight. The photo below shows what I mean.

justified text

 

Set out all of your chapters in this way, and centre your chapter headings.

Next, get your front matter together.  Front matter is the title page, copyright page, dedication etc.  Set it out as you wish it to look, I usually centre the front matter but it’s a personal preference thing.  Do the same with any end papers (coming soon, about the author etc).

Amazon Kindle requires your sections to be separated by page breaks.  You need to insert a page break at the end of each page of your front matter, at the end of each chapter, and between any end papers.

Amazon Kindle also requires your e-book file to have a linked table of contents, TOC for short.  A TOC is the bit at the front that says Chapter 1, Chapter 2 etc.  Remember not to put page numbers in your TOC, just the chapter headings.  This is done so that readers can click and go straight to whatever chapter they want without having to scroll through the previous chapters.

Type your TOC as you wish it to look.  Title it, Table of Contents and then type your chapter headings underneath.

Next, go to the start of your first chapter.  I call my chapters by number but no matter whether you’ve called it Chapter 1 or anything else, go there and highlight the chapter heading.

Click ‘insert’ and then click ‘bookmark’ (I always use Word but whatever word processing system you use, find the ‘insert’ option and click it, then click ‘bookmark.’

A box will pop up, asking you to name the new bookmark.  Name it the same as your chapter heading, making sure you avoid putting spaces in the name.  Click ‘add’ and the box will disappear.

insert bookmark

Do the same for every chapter heading, naming each new bookmark the same as the chapter it bookmarks.

Also bookmark any end papers.

Next, go to your TOC and highlight its heading and bookmark it, naming it – refTOC.

Then, go through and put ‘back to top’ at the very end of each chapter, underneath the last line of text and above the page break.  This will allow readers to go straight back to the start of your book, without having to scroll back up through the whole document.

Now you have to link those chapter headings, to your TOC so that when readers click on the contents list, they will go to the right place.  For this, you will work entirely with your TOC.

In your TOC, highlight your first chapter heading, ‘chapter 1’ or whatever.

Right click and choose ‘hyperlink’

hyperlink

Choose ‘place in this document’

You will then see your list of bookmarks that you just made.  Choose the one for chapter 1 and click ‘okay’

place in doc

Hightlight your second chapter heading, chapter 2 or whatever and do the same.

Do this for each of the chapter headings within your contents list.

Next, scroll through to where you’ve typed ‘back to top’ at the end of each chapter.

Highlight ‘back to top’

right click and choose ‘hyperlink’

Choose, ‘place in this document’

Again, your list of bookmarks will be there.  Choose the one you named refTOC and click ‘okay’

Go through and do this for every ‘back to top’

Check your TOC works by clicking on the links and make sure you go to the right places.

That’s basically it.  You should now be able to upload your e-book file straight to Amazon Kindle.  It’s a really simple procedure and once you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll see how straight forward it is.  Good luck with that manuscript.

Acts of Life – new space opera adventure coming soon

I have a new page here, all about my new novel, Acts of Life which will be available mid June.  The big edits have now been completed and there are just a few bits and bobs to check before it can be formatted, ready for upload.  Meanwhile, my cover art genius, JL Stratton is working on the cover.  All will be revealed in time.

This is the novel I wrote in twenty days during NaNoWriMo, November 2012.

Click here to read about Acts of Life, starring Jake Elloway.

First of my brand new space opera series to be out soon

I’ve been away from blogging for a while (yeah I know you didn’t even notice I was gone) due to the demands of editing and formatting.

Now that The Lilean Chronicles series is complete, I have the first volume in a brand new space opera series coming out very shortly.  I’ve recently completed the final edits and spent several hours yesterday formatting for smashwords, KDP and then battled with the paperback formatting.  Formatting for paperback always gives me grey hairs but as I do more and more, I get to win the battle more quickly each time.

It’s those damn headers and footers; I  hate them and they hate me.

I’ve found out through trial and error that it’s all down to where you have section breaks and where you have page breaks.  I put all the front matter (title page, copyright notice, dedication) as one complete section with page breaks between the pages and a section break at the end.  Then I put all the chapters as a second complete section, with page breaks at the end of each chapter and a section break after THE END.  Any endpapers (coming soon etc) goes as a third seperate section.

Headers and footers are only required in the actual chapters.  You don’t have page numbers or the book title at the top of the page for instance, on the front matter or the end papers.  I’ve always found that Word keeps putting headers and footers on my front matter when I put it on the chapter section, but then when I remove them from the front matter, they also disappear from the chapters, ARGH..!

Then I happened to find out that the headers and footers have ‘same as previous’ on them by default, which means Word automatically makes them the same as the previous section.  So, if you want them in the chapters, Word will also put them in the previous section (the front matter) because it defaults to ‘same as previous’ all the time.

With me so far?

What you have to do is turn off the ‘same as previous’ thing and then it will just put the headers and footers in the current section.

You must also make sure that the page numbering is also set to start at number 1 (it defaults to 2 sometimes) and that you unclick ‘continue from last section’ and then click ‘number first page’.

It all sounds very complicated and it is, far too bloody complicated but I am determined to get this.  It only took me a couple of hours battling this time.  Hopefully when I release my NaNoWriMo novel in July, I’ll get it right first try.

Now that the formatting is done I just have to wait for my cover art guy to do his bit, although I just found out he has the flu so he may not be well enough to do this one.  I plan to publish within the next two weeks so if he isn’t well enough I’ll be doing it myself.  Thankfully he’s taught me so much over the last four books that I feel pretty confident I can do a front cover without a problem.  I’ve been doing digital fan art for ages and this particular cover is a simple design; just one complete photo with text for the title and author name.

I hope he’s recovered by July as my NaNoWriMo novel cover is quite a complicated one..!