Every self-published author knows the importance of editing. But when publishing ebooks, there’s an additional element to take into account. No matter how perfect your manuscript may be grammatically, no matter how precisely each word may be spelled, no matter how immaculately each page may be formatted, you may still be thwarted.
When a file is converted to Kindle format, it undergoes all manner of changes. If you prepare the print version of your book first, preparing a print-ready PDF file, then choose CreateSpace’s default options to create an interior file suitable for Kindle, the resulting ebook will lose much of its formatting. The simple fact is that although their use is encouraged, the Kindle conversion process does not treat PDFs kindly (pun intended).
My early ebooks were all produced from PDFs in my naive innocence, and I wondered why the page breaks were lost, with one chapter sometimes running into the next; formatting was lost; text justification was scrambled; the fonts I had employed to display runes etc. were stripped away… despite the painstaking work I had put into my initial document.
With time – and many more books – comes knowledge and experience. So here are a few tips for those of you who may be preparing your first ebooks:
- Always use a .doc file, not PDF. This way you will retain the majority of your formatting.
- Remember to remove any blank pages at the front or rear of your document, between chapters, etc. Blank pages on Kindle just look like errors, so tighten up the document and eliminate the blank space. Also if you are in the habit of starting chapters half way down a printed page, bear in mind that on a Kindle display, this may push the beginning over onto the next display page, so strip away any empty lines at the beginnings of chapters. Get rid of drop capitals too, they display very weirdly on Kindle.
- Remove all headers and footers and page numbers, or there’ll be tears when they pop up right in the middle of random sentences.
- If you use specialist fonts, Kindle won’t display them, converting them to a default font instead. The only way to get around this is to insert any special text in runes or whatever as a graphic, or if their use is extensive, see the paragraph below.
If your book contains many illustrations or a lot of fancy fonts, or if the retention of the precise layout is particularly important, there is now an alternative. Amazon have now made available ‘Kindle Textbook Creator’ software, which will create a Kindle book which is the exact image of the print volume. The downside is that the cost of the resultant ebook is increased and that these ebooks will not display on the original Kindle ereader: they will only be readable on a Kindle Fire, iPad or other tablet, or a PC or Mac. Nevertheless, for certain titles, this is a godsend. I could not have produced an ebook edition of my Runes of Mann without this tool.
With all that I have learned of Kindle publishing, I have started revisiting my earlier ebooks and uploading fresh files for them, which will display much cleaner formatting, making them that bit easier to read. Aegishjalmur has already been done and today I have updated For Fear of Little Men, my collection of dark Celtic folktales. The other titles will follow suit.
If you have already purchased these ebooks, you will be able to freely download the updated version by going to the ‘My Account’ section on Amazon, choosing to manage your digital content, then instructing to download to the appropriate device.
To celebrate the reinvigorated Kindle edition of For Fear of Little Men, here’s a video of me reading a complete spooky story from the collection: Moddey Doo