Eric Makes an Ebook: 7 – The Wrong Way to Format Your Ebook

Surprisingly, you just need a Microsoft Word Document, Google, and some patience. It's not mentally taxing, but you are going to screw it up the first eleven times. May as well get started.

I uploaded my manuscript in Amazon KDP and... it almost worked perfectly the first time! Things were generally where they should be, the words were all there, the language was  still English. Amazon has a great converter that they use to turn your word document into a mobi file. Like most things at Amazon, it is totally free.

It wasn't perfect, but it was serviceable. My next thought? Why would anyone pay to have this work done. It took an hour and I pressed one button.

Still there were a few small errors I noticed (And several other things that readers mentioned to me). But those small issues took some time to work out. Ahh so that's why. Some people pay to have the small errors ironed out.

In my opinion, nothing was so technologically complex that I needed to pay someone else to help me. I can't imagine why you would pay, for an ebook (the interior design of print books are a different matter all together).

Just to remind you, we are moving through our ebook questions and have arrived at number 8. 

Ebook Questions For Smart Beginners

  1. Who sells ebooks besides Amazon? Kobo, BN, Tolino, Apple, Smashwords and Draft2Digital; + lots of other places
  2. How much does it cost?   All companies work on consignment. So the upfront cost is free.
  3. Do I need a bank account, EIN or DBA?  Yes you need a bank account and it's easier if  you keep a separate business account.
  4. Do I need a ISBN?  Mostly not. Not for Amazon, but other top vendors do require an ISBN. Luckily, distributors such as Smashwords will give you one for free. To control my book's message, here's why I did buy ISBNs.
  5. Do I need copyright?YES you should but you don't have to. You need to read this book to understand copyright. But get legal advice if the word "contract" is mentioned.
  6. Do I have the rights to my work? You control copyright until you sign it away in a contract. Thank you founding fathers!
  7. What about previously published work? Find Contracts! Most contracts purchase First Rights for a limited period of time. So usually, you retain reprint rights.
  8. How do you format an ebook?
  9. Do I need a print book?

I am not going to take you through the entire formatting process here. Instead I'll point you to the best resource I found (that I used for all of my ebooks) and then talk about the errors I encountered. I suggest you use the Smashwords Ebook Formatting Guide, which is free here (no signup needed). I have had a great experience so far selling with Smashwords and Amazon.

I think alot of ebook publishing can be summed up in one phrase: Make Mistakes Quickly

Go through the formatting process they mention in Smashwords. Yes, it's annoying. So what? At one point you didn't understand how dialog tags worked. Now, you use them so your reader knows who is talking. "You want your readers to have a good experience, don't you?" he asked.

Use the Smashwords guide, and get your mistakes out of the way now. Or pay someone if you are in such a hurry. Some common errors or fixes for ebooks:

--An ebook is reflowable, meaning my device's page 6 is different than yours. There is no fixed format. Don't stress about: this paragraph must end on this page. Because it won't.

--Use Normal Style - Instead of formatting over the top of a style, just change normal style to format your ebook the way you want. Smashwords will explain this. It relates to the indent, the spacing, the font... kinda important stuff for the reader. Read the guide.

--Use the auto-indent to start each paragraph. Not a tab, and not 5 spaces. Use find/replace ^t to find and replace all tabs.

 


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--Use Chapter Headings to differentiate chapters and to create a meaningful table of contents.

--Insert Table Of Contents... but not MS Word TOCs - Table of contents via MS Word mess things up. Instead, you must use Insert->Bookmarks (which is super easy). Look up the full instructions in the Smashwords guide and follow the Youtube clip if you get stuck.

--Use Adobe Digital Edition (free) - This can be used to double check all ebook formats and ensure your product looks professional.

So those are some of the issues I dealt with, and there were a few more things with the cover and so on, but basically it was a hell of alot easier than I had been led to believe.

If you read and follow the Smashwords guide, you'll have learned a new skill and saved money by not having to pay for an "ebook formatting guru" every time you publish a book. And formatting skills are important, as you will see in the final post of this series: "Do I Need a Print Book?"

Ooooh... Blog Post Cliff Hanger... Watch Out America! Duh-Duh-Duhhhhhhh...

Copyright  2018  E.C. Stever  - Posts on the 7th and 21st of each month

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