10 Easy Things You Can Do Now To Prepare Your Manuscript For Publishing As An Ebook
By Jack Dunigan
Before you do too much formatting, consider these preliminary steps in Microsoft Word to make your life easier when it comes time to self-publish your ebook. This is NOT a comprehensive guide for formatting your ebook, but I’ll show you where to get that information for free and don’t fret; it’s easier than you think!
1. Prepare a cover. Check with the publishing platform (see the links below) for their formatting guidelines. For example, Kindle wants a .jpg file at least 1000 pixels long on the longest side with a height/width ratio of 1.6.
2. Set Word to show all the formatting marks. In Word 2010, go to File -> Options -> Display. Click on the “Show All Formatting Marks” box. Your manuscript will become littered with hundreds of little marks. This will allow you to see what formatting cues will influence the ebook platform.
3. Choose either paragraph indents or a blank line between paragraphs but NOT BOTH. Fiction usually uses indented paragraphs while non-fiction uses no indents and a blank line.
4. For indents, remove any paragraph indents you may have created using the space bar or the tab key. It causes weird things to happen in an ebook. Then change the paragraph style in Word’s File tab located in the Home menu bar’s Paragraph section. In the lower right corner click on the down arrow. Set the Indentation to between 0.25 and 0.5 in the “First Line” box.
5. If you used the enter key to insert a blank line between paragraphs remove them. Using the paragraph tool again and set the “spacing after” setting to your preferred spacing. 10 pts is about right for most books.
6. Next, remove all Headers, Footers and page numbers. Ebooks don’t have them.
7. Set all your chapter titles to the “Heading 1” style. You will use this to set up a Table of Contents.
8. Insert page breaks at the end of every chapter. Do not use the enter key for spacing. Since ebooks do not have page numbers you will use internal hyperlinks to set the Table of Contents.
9. Move much of your book’s front matter to the back. In Kindle’s free sample, you want readers to experience your book, not the preface, foreword, or acknowledgements. Give them more of the book. Make it easier for them to decide to buy. Remaining front matter should include:
a. The title and your name on the first page terminated by a page break.
b. The publisher’s name, if there is one, copyright info, and a link to your website followed by another page break.
c. A dedication, if you have one, then another page break.
d. The Table of Contents, then another page break.
e. Your chapters. See #7.
At the end of the book, finish with acknowledgements, a link to your website, and any other info to connect the reader to you including Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to ask for a review.
10. If you used the “paste” function to put in images, take them out. Use Insert -> Pictures instead.
11. If you’ve used font size to emphasize text remove it. It won’t work and will only confuse the ebook platform.
Now you’re ready to copyedit and convert the file. Each publishing platform has its own formatting requirements. Use these free resources to find precisely what each requires.
Nookpress’s formatting guide (Nookpress registered users only to access it but it is free.)
It really is much simpler now than it used to be. Take your time, proceed methodically, and in a short time your book will be ready.
Bio – Jack Dunigan, a trainer and consultant for business and non-profit leaders, has been writing and publishing for nearly 40 years. He lives in Florida with Sue, his wife of 42 years, and Chumley, a fuzzy white Cairn Terrier of 7 years. www.JackDunigan.com and www.ThePracticalLeader.com