First of all I want to thank all of my twitter friends for helping me so much in the process. Some I will mention below but Steve Umstead (author of Gabriel's Redemption -BUY IT) and Karen DeLabar (one half of Have Coffee… Will Write) were extremely helpful in testing the formatting and Everett Powers (author of The Mighty T -BUY IT) answered my call to include an ad (for free) within my book. Many others showed support in so many other ways. I could devote a whole "First of all I would like to thank the academy" blog, but I will not.
Formatting For Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Goodreads
The Following Steps are if you are planning on formatting to E-Pub(Nook) or Mobi (Kindle). Smashwords has another set of formatting criteria which I will cover a bit later.
THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE ASSUMING THAT YOU USED MICROSOFT WORD AND PLANNING TO UPLOAD TO AMAZON.COM AND/OR BARNES & NOBLE. IF YOU DID NOT I CAN NOT SAY HOW HELPFUL THE FOLLOWING WILL BE
First of all I started with Sophia Martin's fantastic blog on Formatting
There were a few things that weren't all that clear and it took a little trial and error, her notes on em-dashes (—) were especially helpful (alt codes to make symbols like the em-dash and the ellipses, …, can be found here)
Her notes on using the find/replace were a little off for my version of word. Here are some extra instructions for my situation:
Sophia Said: -NEED MORE HELP WITH THIS STEP? SEE Guido Henkel's Guide Part VI
In your Word doc:
*NOTE: ≥ and ≤ have replaced > and < as I don't know how to make them show up properly 1. Find/Replace: In Find box, type ≤i≥Ctr + i≤/i≥ and in Replace box, put ≤i≥^&≤/i≥ . Replace all. (This preserves any italics you've got in your document for later--if you don't do this step, you'll lose all italic formatting.)
So apparently I am a moron. I actually typed in ≤i≥Ctr + i≤/i≥
This doesn’t work. Your find and replace window should look like this:
Original Italic Text:
Looks Like This
New Italic Text:
≤i≥Looks Like This≤/i≥
Now working in Notepad.
4. Find/Replace all em-dashes with –
Select an em-dash from your document and copy it, paste it in the Find box, then manually type the two hyphens in the Replace box
I am going to play with fire and use a single — (Alt – 0151) instead.
Once I got into the J-Edit stuff I got really rather lost but perhaps because I was attempting to do more than Sophia was doing when she wrote her blog.
Change from "Keep Dialog" to "Regular Expressions" under the Settings Column
In an attempt to better understand some of the things Sophia was talking about I went to her source, Guido Henkel (Author of the Jason Dark Series) and the author of Take Pride in Your E-Book Formatting, a nine part series on formatting your e-book. It sounds daunting however it is well worth the read as you will better figure out how to do a few things that he may not specifically mention.
Just be forewarned there may be a few things that Guido says that you may disagree with, he has a fairly strong opinion on all things e-book related so don't let it turn you off. For example he says never use a word processor to write with, I saw balderdash! (yes I just said balderdash), we will learn later why you should when we want to format for Smashwords (another entity that he strongly advises against using that I feel strongly the other way for but this is not the time or place). I would just go through this exercise for this time and figure out how to most effectively use your program for your next story.
So effectively you can skip part I and part II. Part III talks about what to use to create your html file. I used J-Edit (download here) for text editing and Calibre (download here) for file conversion.
Thus you can skip onto Part IV. This is where the understanding of what you are doing is key. If your book has minimal formatting you can likely copy and paste his examples but if yours has things like centered text that aren't titles and image page breaks and other fancy stuff it's good to know the nuts and bolts.
Part V More details on the background
Part VI gets into the nitty gritty of what you need to do. It talks about cleaning up your data and formatting special characters, I personally did this while on Sophia's steps above and did it in Notepad using the "Nuclear Method" (that's where you copy and paste from word into a simple text editor like notepad not wordpad)
Part VII has the header information that you need to use to properly format. Some personal notes here. I added a few more "p classes" by copying and pasting existing ones.
Each "p class" can have any or all of the following elements:
I define a paragraph as the part of text between
text-indent: 0.0em; How far the first line of the paragraph is indented, generally set to 1.5, set to 0.0 or delete altogether for paragraphs you don't want indented
font-weight: bold; Do not use Italic here, instead as mentioned before surround your italicized text with text not sure about underline however. Also note that text isn't suitable for text either.
font-size: 1em; This is a multiplier of the base text size. As you can vary text size in the reader this will vary with it. If the text size on the reader is set at 10 then if this is set at 1.5 the text size on the reader will be 15
margin-top:5em; This is the number of lines above the paragraph
margin-bottom:2em; This is the number of lines below the paragraph
text-align: center; Just remove if the setting is left, avoid justify didn't try right, it may work.
When making new "p classes" give them a name that will remind you of what they are however avoid using "Chapter" in any form in the name as later you will need that specific one for creating a table of contents (ToC). The ToC is a bit of a limiting factor in my opinion on formatting but a worthwhile one.
One note on centering you must use both the p class="centered" and span.centered as different formats will ignore one over the other
Part VIII This is the fun stuff adding pictures however use them sparingly and don't bother with a front cover as it will be added in the next step. I also found out that some readers do not display images. I used a lightning bolt to mark breaks, the Kobo and Nook didn't show it for some reason. I opted to use two different versions, one for E-Pub and one for Mobi where the Mobi had the imagary and the E-Pub did not. Just make sure that the final product won't look incomplete without the images.
This is a good time to check your html file. In windows explorer/chrome etc search the file for & if there is an error with formatting you will likely find it doing that. Also try with ; although hopefully you have a few of those that should be there (if not you may want to do some semi-colon research :D)
Before you complete the next part download the desktop versions of Kindle and Nook (if you don't own either). I would also suggest finding someone who one one of each to have a quick look at the product before you submit it. Don't worry about other formats because the upcoming Smashwords formatting will take care of other formats. If you are uploading to venues other than the ones I did (Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, attempted Barnes & Noble but decided to forgo the hassles of a US bank account) you will have to defer to their instructions.
Part IX This is where Calibre comes into play. It's a little frustrating that you find out about some of your formatting issues at this step as you have to repeat Part IX until you get it right. First thing I (should have) did was made sure that I had my Synopsis somewhere other than just written into the comments in calibre. Follow all of his steps to the letter then check the formatting, if it is wrong wipe it off, fix the mistakes and start again.
In the end you will have a folder with your name on it, inside that another folder with the name of your book then a few files. The only ones you need to worry about are:
Your Kick Ass Book.mobi and Your Kick Ass Book.epub (The images are embedded in those files already)
FORMATTING FOR SMASHWORDS
I will write update this matter after my submission gets accepted for their premium catelogue.
I was quickly accepted into their regular catalogue. Update: After waiting a week then sending a quick e-mail to Smashwords I was placed on their premium catalogue. There is a dashboard showing how long and when books are distributed. Further detail coming in new post later this week.First of all it should be your goal to get into their premium catalogue, they distribute to EVERYBODY and although Amazon and Barnes & Noble seem to be the top bananas right now that may change. Smashwords won't take over but someone they supply to just might become the next big thing (hint: they supply to iPad) so do it right, the first time.
Here is a few things that I did.
I opened my html file in an internet explorer window and copied all of the text into notepad, then I copied it from there into word. After that I downloaded the Smashwords Style Guide. I had been scared away from it before I looked at it but I would say that it is a rather impressive peice of work and if you follow it to the letter your work should turn out. Also if you wish to retain some particular formatting that you think is necessary read this
It will likely tell you that any fancy formatting you would like to do (for instance I like to have an indent and paragraph blocks. Smashwords will automatically reject it and you will likely have to delay your inclusion in their premium catelogue to convince them to let you keep it or to redo it without. Another common thing you may have is a greater than four-line space. Same thing, just don't do it.)
In the end formatting for Smashwords was the easiest and seeing what transpires when I hit their premium catalogue I may skip Amazon next time and just go with Smashwords Upon further inspection I realized that Smashwords is having technical difficulties distributing to Amazon.
My next post will be about uploading and settings for your book at Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads, stay tuned!
Feel free to discuss anything, ask questions or leave comments.