Formatting Your eBook

After countless hours, weeks, months, maybe even years of perfecting a novel, the next and final step for many self-published authors is to upload their Word document to Amazon’s automated eBook conversion service.

typingIf you’ve experienced using the uploader, you’ll know it often results in errors. Here are a few I’ve encountered in commercially available self-published eBooks:

  • Paragraph indents almost halfway across the screen
  • Chapters not separated
  • Incorrectly linked table of contents
  • Section dividers replaced with the words “MISSING SYMBOL”
  • Chapter headings inconsistently formatted
  • Double line spacing

So why does this happen? Afterall, it’s just words isn’t it?

typesettingWord processing software such as Word and Open Writer relies on quite a lot of code to display text as intended by the writer. Automatic conversion services such as Amazon’s then need to strip away any excess code and then re-encode the document to its own format – so, plenty of room for error behind the scenes.

It’s frustrating as a reader to be presented with a badly formatted eBook. It puts a barrier between yourself and the world the author wants to immerse you in. It takes you out of the tale and destroys the illusion the writer worked hard to create. It’s also likely to prevent someone from buying any of your books in the future.

If you’ve taken the time to write the best story you can, please take the time to present it professionally – don’t just upload your document to Amazon and hope for the best. Take the time to manually convert your eBook and retain full control over your craft, and your readers will thank you.