The Book Layout -Part 2 - EBooks
So, we now know some basics about Print books, but what about Ebook layout??
Thanks to the super popular e-reading devices flooding the market today, print is not the only format a self-publisher need worry about.
Ebooks are completely different from their paper-bound counterparts when formatting and layout are concerned. In some ways though, Ebooks can be easier to format, however due to the variety of readers on the market, you may have to create various different layouts.
In the Ebook world, you have two popular formats Epub and Kindle/MobiPocket. (these are not the only formats, they are just the most common.) It is recommended that you format your ebook for both of these if you wish to reach a wide variety of devices.
Thankfully formatting for Epub and MobiPocket is pretty easy can be done with MicrosoftWord and the help of some free programs you can find online.
My favorite program for creating Kindle files is:
This easy to use creator takes your word document and turns it into PRC file. This file can be directly uploaded to the Amazon DTP site.
For Epub there are quite a few options out there. I use Ecub 1.11 right now, but a simple Google search will bring up plenty of options.
To show you a little of what goes into ebook formatting (it’s really pretty easy) I’m going to run quickly though the steps using MobiPocket creator, to make a Kindle-ready ebook.
Step 1 -Layout your Word document as you would if you wanted to create a PDF.
*Don’t worry about adjusting page sizes; use your standard 8.5x11 page size with 1 inch margins.
*Make sure you use page breaks between chapters and initial cover pages.
*Do not use fancy fonts. Times Roman and Arial are standard. Do not use excessively large font sizes either. 10pt-14pt is standard.
*Never use page numbers in Ebooks. Due to the compression of page size to accommodate the smaller screen, your page numbers will become oddly placed and will not represent the actual page the reader is seeing.
Page 1 should be your cover image. Insert the image and size it and center it so it takes up the whole page.
Page 2 would be a title and published by page.
Page 3 Copyright info.
Page 4 Acknowledgements.
Page 5 Optional title page.
Page 6 Start of book. (Make sure you use page breaks between chapters.)
Page… About the author & upcoming books.
Step 2 – Save your document as a “Filtered” HTML/Web Page.
*Mobi Pocket creator states it can use standard formats for conversion, however, I have found this is the easiest way to make it look like your original document. Trust me on this and save yourself the headache.
*There is a difference between saving as HTML/Web and “Filtered” HTMl/Web. You want Filtered.
Step 3 – Upload your HTML file into Mobi Pocket Creator, add your Cover Image, and convert.
*It would be a good idea to brush up on some basic HTML formatting language. It’s not necessary but it will come in handy if you want to have chapter titles and a Table of Contents in your book. See Mobi Pocket FAQ for details on that.
Step 4 – Once you have uploaded and converted your file you can upload it to the Amazon DTP page. Here you will be given a chance to preview your work before publishing.
*One trick I like to use is to download the Kindle for PC program. This is a free program that will read your PRC file. It’s a good idea to check your work here before uploading it to DTP.
If done correctly, you can have a clean-formatted Kindle-ready file in under 2 hours. As I said, it is a lot easier than the print formatting. Unfortunately though Kindle files are only read by Amazon kindle, so you will still have to create another format for the next e-reader you want to make your book available on.
There is an indie site Smashwords.com that will format your ebook for a wide variety of readers; however, it requires you to adhere to their specific formatting guidelines.
To list your book with their site, they will take a small cut from your sales but it can be worth it. I highly recommend using this site if you are new to e-publishing as it will help you get your book on Apple, Nook, Kobo, Sony, and Kindle. You can find information on the site and their formatting guidelines here.
After all of that I hope I haven’t scared you off of self-publishing. It can be a huge headache at times but in the end, I think it is worth it. You will have a product that you created all on your own. That’s something to be proud of.