A Question of Formatting

So the one thing I have learned very quickly about self-publishing is that there is no one format that works for all channels when launching your book on either paperback or eBook. However, if you get it wrong, it has a major impact on the look and readability of your book, and potentially the response from your readers.

Readers don’t want to figure out the formatting; they get frustrated by page breaks in the wrong spots, and blank pages, or worse, text that is ever-changing in font and style throughout an eBook or paperback. I have learned to become pernickety about how my books are formatted, and I’m still not sure I always get it right. I spend hours launching a draft, checking it page by page, and then re-doing it again, until I’m satisfied.

Then, there are the picture or illustrated books. Now that is a completely different story. It is actually easier to publish in a paperback format, as you can save any file to PDF and voila, you’re done. But… putting these illustrations alongside their text into a kindle or ePub file is another story, and a whole art form unto itself. However, I personally would not want to get this wrong. Firstly, most illustrated books are aimed at younger readers, and attracting and keeping their attention is important to a book’s success. Illustrations that don’t format well with the text of a book, is the first failure in my personal view, and will ultimately lead to disinterest from younger minds and imaginations.

I tried multiple free Internet sites to convert my books, and most of them failed miserably. In the end, I hired someone from Fiverr.com to help me with my quest, and despite the small cost, it was well worth it to know that my book would look the way I wanted it to on an eReader device.

Smashwords will quickly convert most word documents into a good Kindle (.mobi) file suitable for Kindle. If pictures are involved, it may not work as well, but generally the files if checked can be amended (just be aware it may take a few goes). Again, however, I strongly recommend hiring the services of someone who knows their formatting, especially if your book has illustrations or diagrams, to ensure that you get the best effect for your readers.

Formatting is not something to take lightly. The key simple rules I follow for any book are:

1. Chapters should start on a new page.
2. Paragraphs should be clearly defined.
3. The font should be consistent in style and size.
4. Remove blank pages (where possible).
5. Keep it simple (this is the best way to keep it compatible for all eReader devices).

As always please reach out to me if you have any questions or need further information on your publishing journey!

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