Thursday, March 10, 2011

Formatting for Kindle


Well, I don’t know how it works for Nook but I’ve discovered what it takes to get a book properly formatted for Kindle. I had to learn the hard way!

First of all, I had to figure out how to use Mobipocket a FREE download that comes with a creator and reader. It seems easy - unless you’re a computer dumbie like me.

It took me a bit to discover that, when you click on “blank document” to get started, it’s NOT asking for the document at first but a folder where it’s supposed to go. I had to go through my computer to discover it created THREE files:

    My eBooks
    My Kindle Content
    My Publications

Once I figured that out, it began to make more sense. The next thing I learned was that once I had downloaded the Kindle application for PC (another FREE download) it GAVE me a Kindle version of the English Oxford Dictionary!

Anyhow, once I found where the Mobipocket creator put the ebook I wanted to published, I was able to read the entire thing!

And, howdy, did I find errors!!!!!

The fun was trying to find where and what they were.

I quickly learned a number of things:

    If you had colors other than automatic or black in your mss that you deleted - but didn’t delete everything, you’ll get a whole lot of material in that color.

    If you did not end italics or underlining properly, it will cause entire following pages to show those scripts.

A major problem is that MW Works Word Processor will only show where colors were not completely removed. That means going to your “View” icon on the Tool Bar and clicking on the ¶ All Characters icon. Once you’ve done that, you can review your document to find all the little things you left on your document that shouldn’t be there.

And some aren’t that easy to find!!!

    You might’ve left a space before the ¶ or return and that might cause problems with the next paragraph indentation.

    Or the might show up that means everything following will be red!

But, where do you find things like where your italics or underlining left off that caused entire pages to show up in italics? For that, I had to save the MSWord document as a rich text or Wordpad file. Once you’ve done that, it will show you where the cursor changes from / to  |. You have to make sure you’ve completely ended your italics and that takes a bit of figuring out. And remember, Wordpad doesn’t have the View option. So, after you’ve reviewed your WordPad document, you copy it to a new MWWord template and you should have a clean copy.

The only way to know will be to go back to Mobipocket, upload your book, and re-read it.

I may be wrong but, I wonder how many bad reviews of ebooks comes from the fact that those of us who publish them do not go to the extra effort to ensure our product is professional?

Now, I just wish to heck I could figure out how to download a complete copy of my ebook on Nook?


  1. I followed you here from Nathan Bransford's site. Thanks for your comments -- they look really helpful. I plan to put something on Amazon for Kindle in about a month, have no idea what I'm doing, and just bookmarked your website. I have no colors or fancy fonts, but I do have some italics.

    Good luck!

  2. Try this. Create the book in Microsoft Word (not Works!). No headers or footers, no section breaks. Page breaks are ok. Remove any odd formatting. Keep it clean and simple. (But Italic and Bold are ok. Headers and automatically generated TOC without page numbers, also ok.) Save a copy as .html. Then do a print preview and look for any problems. Fix 'em. (Probably have to turn on the display of all formatting marks to catch some errors.) Upload to the Kindle site and see if it is happy. (I think there is a preview option there for use after an accepted upload, but I am not sure.) Should work fine for straight text. If any illustrations, that might call for additional steps.

  3. I was thinking the same thing as researchguy - Works? Wow. (Pls don't take that the wrong way; it's just that it's been quite a while since I've seen anybody using Works.)

    Have you checked out Guido Henkel's site? He's done a tutorial on this very thing, in about 7 or 8 (long) posts.

    Depending on level of experience using computers, his guide may be too much, but who knows? It might be worth looking into.

    This is the first installment of the guide.

  4. Thanks for sharing the tips! I've been thinking about jumping into this kindle hubbub lately, but haven't researched a thing about it as of yet. So this is very helpful for the newbie! When will you be posting a link for the book on kindle?


  5. Just read your post and it shows me that I seriously need to be sure and check before publishing my small first e-book on Kindle.
    By the sound of it, and I'm a technit much like you seem to be, I will be stumbling and fumbling, but I'll get there. I can always come back here and read what you did again.
    I'm using Scrivener to write the ms in. It gives me the possibility to export to just about any format I need, so that might need a different approach from you MS Works thing.
    Well, I'll see when I get there.
    Anyway thanks for the information.