On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Friday, August 3, 2012

How to Publish an E-Book: Part Two

This series discusses how you can format, e-publish, and sell a book on Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Noble (Nook).

There are several platforms you can use for e-publishing your book, but you first need to format your Word document so that it can be translated. This is what I'll talk about today.

Open your Word document and save a new copy in an RTF format. This needs to be a single document with all of your chapters, NOT multiple single-chapter documents. You can keep the standard page layout, or for fun you can reformat your paper size to “A5” (5.83” x 8.27”) simply to get a better visual idea of what your text may look like on Kindle. However you have your page layout, you want to make sure that your margin markers (the triangles on your top ruler) are not past the white areas of the ruler – if they are, when the document is translated the words may extend beyond the reader screen, and therefore not be able to be read.

Once you have your margins, remove all hard (tab) indents, and all hard returns except at the ends of paragraphs. If you want to visualize where they are in your manuscript to make it easier to find them, turn on the "view formatting marks" option. If you don't know where this option is, hit the F1 key and type in "format symbols" or "format marks" to find out how to display them. Do the indents through the ruler at the top of the page -- move the top triangle over about half an inch.

Select all the text in your document and make it 12 point, justified (instead of ragged right edges), and single spaced (or 1.15 spaced).

Use the same boring serif font for all of your text -- Times New Roman or Garamond. Don't use tricky symbols or fancy formatting (anything beyond bold, italics, and centering text), since e-book conversion programs cannot reliably translate these.

Also, make sure that you don't have a blank line between paragraphs, either through two hard returns or through the automatic formatting if you have Word 2007. To take these out of Word 2007, first make sure all your text is still selected, then under the Home key at the top, look under the "Paragraph" section. The fifth box with lines shows a box with two arrows pointing up and down. Hit that one. At the bottom of this arrow hit the "remove space from..." tab.

You will not need headers and footers either. Eliminate these from your document. (NOTE: just leaving in blank lines in the header or footer is not sufficient -- get rid of these in the formatting).

Next, you'll need to format each chapter. For each chapter heading line, remove that indent on the ruler above the document so that it is flush with the left side. Then, center "Chapter One" or "1" or whatever you're using for your chapter headings, and make it "20 point" and "bold" (or other formatting if you desire). Do a hard return after this. Your text starts on the next line.

(NOTE: for all centering, including in your text body, always eliminate the indent on the ruler so that the line is flush left). If you want to have something like a fancy chapter heading with graphics or a squiggle, you can save this as a jpeg and embed it at the beginning of each chapter. Don’t forget to check the preview before publishing.

At the end of each chapter, insert a page break. Do this even if your text ends on the last line of the page and your adding the page break adds a blank page to your manuscript. Remember, the formatting YOU see is not the formatting the Kindle user sees. At the end of the final chapter, put in a hard return, then center ~THE END~ in 16 point text.

If you have offset passages of your text -- for example a letter that your heroine reads -- center this text and italicize it, or otherwise format it so that it looks good to you. Again, no fancy fonts.

Here is a summary checklist for your document:

File saved in RTF format.
Margin tabs within white space of ruler.
No hard tabs.
No hard returns except at the ends of paragraphs.
No blank lines after paragraphs.
Font is 12 point Serif font (Times New Roman or Garamond).
Justified text.
No headers or footers.
Chapter heading tab is flush left.
Chapter heading is centered, 20 point, and bold.
Hard page break goes after the end of each chapter.
Right after the last chapter, drop a line or two and center “~The End~” in 16 point font.
If back matter is present, put in a hard page break after “The End” and start new section.


Next week I'll discuss charts, diagrams, tables, illustrations, and formatting a professional table of contents.

Copyright 2012 by Amy Deardon. All rights reserved.

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