I have spent the best part of today getting my head around formatting my forthcoming release Forbidden Colours for eReaders. Oh the pain, I would rather be sticking pins in my eyes! I have neck ache, back ache and am in urgent need of wine – which, I have promised myself will be my reward when I finally beat this spawn of the devil!
I followed the same process I used when I formatted my debut novel All Tomorrow’s Parties but, for whatever reason, this time, the computer says ‘no’ and has been saying ‘no’ for the past 4 hours. The problem is the different formats do not talk to each other! So I have to convert ( or in my case create a mess of) my book in different ways.
I have no option than to go nuclear. Smashwords has a rather helpful style guide ( link below), which shows exactly how to ‘go nuclear’. For now it’s more a question of time needed to press the button and un format to reformat. Oh the pressures of the modern world my friends!
So that I never, and I mean NEVER find myself in this situation again, I’ve put together a few quick top tips to all things eBookish. It is not a definitive guide by any stretch of the imagination – that is not what it is. Hopefully the tips below will help you and eliminate the need for you to go nuclear too!
- There are three main eBook formats that are widely used – PDF, EPUB and MOBI. The formats are driven by the device on which they are to be viewed, so naturally they don’t all use the same platforms – that would be too simple!
- Most eBooks are what’s called ‘flowable’ – allowing the reader to choose different size fonts. Therefore keep it simple with your fonts. Fancy fonts do not fare well when converted.
- Do not include page numbers. As helpful as they may be for you, they are pointless on e Readers. Devices usually tell the reader how far along a book they are e g. 20%, 30% etc. If you have a table of content at the front with page numbers it’s irrelevant.
- Headers and footers are a no no, take them out. They just confuse everything!
- Separate paragraphs with only a single return not more, they do not convert well and your work will look disjointed with great big gaps everywhere.
- The best thing I have discovered is the ‘non print characters’ button (see image below). It shows all of the extra formatting that’s contained within your document – things you had no idea were there, such as extra spaces, extra returns, line breaks etc. It means you can strip out all of the unnecessary added extras which will hamper your file conversion.
- A nifty thing that is very straight forward is to add hyperlinks to your table of contents. This is very simple and very effective It allows the readers to go directly to different chapters as if by magic! For full details tap it into a search engine, there are some super tutorials out there.
The non character formatting button – A revelation!
- The Smashwords style guide is a great free resource that can help you a lot Click here
So after everything how did I fare?
Let’s just say the Chateuxneuf du pape is going down a treat!
Have you had any formatting nightmares? Please comment below & let me know that I’m not alone!!