Friday, May 8, 2015

I Love Formatting E-books

As you already know, I've recently gone through the Witch Hollow Series, rewriting them and improving the formatting. 
And it turns out I love formatting books. Do you know how to format your e-book? I think there's a lot of free info on the Internet, and lots of books about formatting on Amazon, but I have learned everything myself, because that's the best way for me. And now I want to share some of my knowledge with you.

Here's what an e-book should include:
1. A cover,
2. A first page,
3. Table of Contents (TOC),
4. The Text,
5. About the Author Section,
6. Other books by the Author Section,
7. Links.

1. The Cover
Here are mines.

Covers are one of my most favorite parts of publishing. I love thinking about what to put on the cover, what scene it should represent, who will be the center character. I have sketched each of my covers and find them very beautiful and harmonious with the storyline. Always remember that a professional cover is very important. Sometimes I look at a cover on Amazon and wonder if the author was high on something bad when picking that terrible cover. Each of my covers has cost me $50. Not a lot, right? So don't tell me you can't afford a good cover. If I could, then you can, too!

2. The first page
Let me explain what I mean with the first page. These are mine:

They are the first pages of the paperbacks (I've made them also for the e-books), and they look beautiful. I prefer the first page to be a JPEG with the title, the author name, and the number of the volume if it's a series. You can add other things too, like the year and copyright sign, but try to be curt. Don't overdo the first page.You need to photoshop the JPEG, then click Insert in your MS Word Doc, find your JPEG from your computer, and insert it on the first page of the doc file.

3. Table of Contents (TOC)
Always include a TOC in your e-book. Some authors place it at the beginning, others at the end. While I think that the TOC should be at the beginning of the e-book, I am seriously considering to take it to the end. The reason is the sample download. Amazon lets anyone download a sample of the book for free. The sample includes the first 10% of the book, and the authors want to give the reader as much text as possible. TOC in the beginning means 2 pages fewer in the sample. This is a way to let the reader get more attached to the characters and the story and eventually buy the book.
TOC should be clickable and not manually made. If you do it the wrong way, write down every chapter title, then try to link it to the chapters in the text, you'll end up frustrated, or maybe even traumatized. Instead, open your MS Word doc (mine is Word 2013), go to References, and click on the Table of Contents, then click on the Table 1.
E-books do not need page numbers in TOC, so at the end of the Table of Contents box, click on the Customize button and unclick the Show page numbers.
But MS Word will not build a TOC for you if you neglect the formatting. Create a TOC only after you finish  formatting the text.

4. The Text
A right formatting is very important. Don't do this manually. When I say manually, I mean making the chapters bold, centering some parts of the text, making some words italic. This is not the right way to do formatting. Here's the right way:
Open your final text (I say final because the formatting should be done after everything else is ready, i.e. editing, proofreading, title chapters), and  let's format it.
Click on HOME (marked with red),  then on the small button on the right (again marked with red) and you have the Styles box. Click on Clear all and don't panic. it's OK.
First, the chapters. In order to have a clickable TOC, you need to format your chapters just this one time. Click on Heading 3, go to Modify, and choose how you want your chapters to look., i.e. the font, the size, spacing. You can give the Style a name, like Heading 3, Chapters. Make the chapters Bold.
And so, you just created a Style for your chapters. Now click on the chapter title in your book, then click on the Heading 3, and your chapter will be formatted automatically. Do this for all the chapter titles. Now, when you create a TOC, the chapter titles will automatically appear in your TOC.
If you later decide to change a chapter title, do it in your text, then right click on the TOC and choose Update TOC.
Because I have a first page that is a picture, I don't need to format the book title and the author name, but if you don't want that first page, you'll need to format also Heading 1 and 2 the same way you formatted Heading 3.

Now the Text. Before formatting the text find the words that are in Italics and highlight them. In the Style box find Normal Text and click on it. Now click on Modify and choose the font, the size, the alignment. Go to Format, click on the Paragraph, and choose the spacing.
Your words in Italic should still be there, but if your italics have turned into plain text during the text formatting, find the highlighted words and turn them back into Italics. This is why I told you to highlight them, to be able to find them without having to read the whole text again, word by word. After you turn the highlighted words into Italics, don't forget to delete the highlights, because they are visible in the e-book.

5. About the Author
Just a couple of sentences. Don't tell your whole life here. Don't underestimate yourself, don't call yourself an aspiring author, a self-published amateur, or any other name. Tell the reader something interesting. I'm not a native speaker, and in my bio I tell about it. I think that's all. If you have awards, you can tell about them, just don't say you've taken the first price at the local competition of "Write, Cook, and Run a mile with your legs tied up together." Also, don't lie. Don't call yourself a bestselling author if all you have done is giving away a couple of thousands of your books for free. That doesn't make the book a bestseller. Remember bestseller means selling the best, not giving away. I've seen a few authors do this, and it's off-putting. Work harder and eventually you will be a bestselling author.

6. Other books by the Author
If this is your first book, you don't need this section. But if you have 2+ books, include their links. You can mention the genres under each of the titles, but again, make it curt. No long texts here.
To make the book title clickable, go to Insert (or right click on the word you want to make clickable), then click on the Hyperlink. The Insert Hyperlink box will open. In the top left corner click on the Existing File or Web page, then insert the book's URL into the Address bar. Then click OK. If you want to change the hyperlink or delete it, just right click on it and choose Edit Hyperlink or Remove Hyperlink.

7. Links
This section is for your social presence. If you have Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Instagram, put the links here. Here is how the section looks in my book:
As you can see all the social page titles are clickable. Write down the words, right-click on them, find Hyperlink and make them clickable, just like in the Section 6.

Congratulations, your book is ready to be... no, not published, but checked. If you're reading this then I suppose you're a self-published author and know what KDP is. Log into your account, go to the bookshelf and start a New Title. Upload your book and stop there. Click on the preview and check your book via the previewer. Don't be lazy and check every page. Also check the TOC, click on the chapters and see if they take to the right place.
If you have a Kindle or Kindle app, download a Preview File, send it to your Kindle and check it.
How to send your book to your Kindle before publishing it:
1. Download the preview mobi file. It will appear in your computer, most probably in the Downloads folder.
2.Connect the Kindle to your computer with the USB wire,
3. Cut and paste the mobi file into your Kindle folder.
3. Send the mobi file to your Kindle via email.
If you have registered your Kindle with Amazon, then you have a separate Kindle email. Log into your Amazon account, go to Manage your devices, scroll down and you'll find your Kindle name and the email. Any file emailed to this email account will appear in your Kindle. First time Amazon will tell you you have received an email and will ask you to verify the account. Do it in the Manage your devices and verify the email. You'll have to do this only once. Connect to Wi-Fi on your Kindle and the mobi of your book will appear in your kindle. Check all the pages and the links.

Ta-dam!!! Your book is ready.
Do you think this was too complicated? No, right? What? You think this was hard? OK, send me your finished manuscript and I will format it for you. The price? Free of charge, my dear fellow writer. Absolutely free of charge. Yes, that's how much I love formatting. It's fun! :)))
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