Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I thought today I’d offer some tips and encouragement for those of you preparing to format an ebook for self-publishing.

Ebook formatting is usually done in Word (unless you have a program like InDesign that can create epub and other formats for you) which makes it simple. However, there are a few things you want to watch out for:

No hard line returns unless you are ending a paragraph. Either remove them all or be prepared for weird formatting in your ebook.

No extra spaces at the end of sentences. If you’re uploading to Smashwords, you’ll get an error message. Those also need to be removed.

Watch your line spacing - single is best.

Since the font size can be changed by the reader, you need to think of your ebook as one long scroll rather than a physical book - don’t try to guess where pages will end or begin.

For that same reason, no page numbers in your table of contents.

Go easy on graphics.

Taking care of those things before you begin formatting will save you hours of frustration!

If you’re still beating your head against the keyboard, let me know, as I do formating for both ebook and print book form HERE. Believe me, I’ve seen just about every weird formatting issue out there!

Don’t let ebook formatting get the best of you.

And do I dare tell you about Word’s weird way of including ghost formatting in documents? Fun!

37 comments:

Ciara said...

I think the first time you format a book it can be a little overwhelming, but then you get the hang of it. Great tips!

Yvonne's World of Poetry said...

Some great tips Diane, am hoping to get a Kindle for Christmas .

Yvonne.

shelly said...

Yup. I'm working on the paperback and the Kindle formetting. Amen to all that.

Hugs and chocolate.

Laura Marcella said...

I can imagine formatting for ebooks can be frustrating sometimes. Good tips!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great tips! Formatting sounds like the most boring part of self publishing. :P

Talli Roland said...

These are great tips - really helpful! Formatting a book the first time can be quite daunting.

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, these are great tips! It will come in hand for me in the future.

Anne Gallagher said...

Great tips, but I was told 1.5 line spacing was the way to go. Maybe that's why my formatting is sometimes wonky. But not always. It could just be ghosts in the machine.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I was frustrated to tears the first time I tried publishing on Smashwords until I finally figured it out. Now I've learned some patience with their uber busy site.

Southpaw said...

I've not done Smashwords yet. They've talk about somewtime in the future letting us upload an epub rather and a doc - that's what I'm waiting for.

Karen Walker said...

So glad there are people like you I can let do these kinds of things for me, Diane.
Karen

Tyrean Martinson said...

I've been working on this in a separate word document since I have a tendency to format my writing a certain way automatically. I have to cut, paste, and go through it line by line to make sure that I don't have extra returns, extra line spacing, etc.
Thanks for the tips!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - gosh some really useful tips there - I'd be cringing with fear and insecurity if I was formatting an ebook - one day I will probably get there ..

Cheers Hilary

Steven said...

Great tips! I think every writer needs to know about ebook formatting, since it's so different from print.

D.G. Hudson said...

Yes, do tell us about the weird formatting of Word, which I use a lot. And, thanks for sharing those tips.

Johanna Garth said...

Great tips! As always :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Ciara, it does get easier.

Stina, that's why I do it for so many people.

Anne, with some formats, that ends up being two full spaces, thus the wonky.

Tyrean, that's what it takes.

Steven, very different.

DG, it's the ghost formatting that does it every time.

moonduster said...

Thanks for the tips! I will keep them in mind when I publish my book of short stories.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know I would be beating my head on the keyboard. Word and I do not get along.

Melissa Bradley said...

Thanks for these tips. You've given me a good resource here. I have most definitely banged my head on the keyboard.

Jemi Fraser said...

Our family motto is "technology hates me" - I'm not looking forward to this part of the process :P

Ella said...

Thank you for these tips! Sounds like there is some kinks to work out..never fails, when it comes to formatting!

Thank you so much :D

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Don't let technology beat you!

L.G. Keltner said...

Thanks for the info! I'll be trying this myself sometime soon, and I need all the advice I can get! Thanks for the follow and for signing up for my blogfest. I'm following back!

Heather Gardner said...

This...is frightening.

I'll be sure to save this post in case I ever get the opportunity!

Thanks for the info.
Heather

Nancy Thompson said...

I'm glad, for now, that I have someone else to do all this for me. I'm hopeless with technology.

Laura Eno said...

Great tips here. Keeping it simple is the key.
I've never tried to add graphics. That would be scary territory for me.

Carol Kilgore said...

I am sure I could do this. However, this is exactly the kind of thing that makes me crazy. So I pay someone to do it for me. For me, it's well worth the cost. It keeps me sane :)

I applaud those writers who do their own.

Jeff Hargett said...

Just out of curiosity... "No extra spaces at the end of sentences." Does that mean all sentences or just sentences at the end of paragraphs? I have a Word macro that changes all space+CRLF to CRLF, but wonder if I also need one to change space+space to just one space. (I know, I'm old school on two spaces between sentences.)

Donna Hole said...

Awesome tips; good to keep in mind for submitting to agents and publishers.

.......dhole

Gossip_Grl said...

Some great tips on formatting for self publishing. I've been looking at a few of the sites, Lulu in particular. Thanks for sharing.

michelle said...

As it stands, technology and I are not on very good terms...
Now you've got me worried... it sounds complicated!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Ooh, I've heard some nightmare stories about that. Thanks for the tips!

David P. King said...

I'm bookmarking this post for later. I need all the info I can get if I end up doing the self-pub route. Thanks for this! :)

DL Hammons said...

UGH!! Formatting is my arch-enemy! :)

randi lee said...

Always such great advice :) I'm planning on e-pubbing my NaNo project, so I shall be returning to this post for reference!

Donna Shields said...

Great tips Diane! They'll certainly help me when I'm finished with one that I'll be self-publishing.