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E-book Formatting

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Philip Overby, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I realize this can be something that I could probably Google or watch a Youtube video about, but I was wondering if any of you have experience with formatting e-books, especially for Amazon. If so, did you find it difficult or is it something you can pick up fairly quickly?

    Also, just curious, but do people usually use one space or two spaces after a period? I know I've seen two spaces a lot, but I've to do one space also. I'm not sure how the formatting works out in that regard. I imagine double spacing the manuscript is standard.
     
    Legendary Sidekick likes this.
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I did the formatting of the beta version of Enar's Vacation myself and then converted it to a .mobi file using Calibre. It worked reasonably well and came out without any major flaws.
    The one issue I have with it is that I seem to cram more lines onto a page than most other ebooks I've downloaded from Amazon. I'm on 21 lines per page while other books seem to be at 17. I'm sure I can tweak this somewhere, but I haven't wanted to fix it badly enough yet to figure it out.
    The drawback is that my pages look a bit heavier to read. It's more of a wall of text than the amazon books I've read. I'll get this figured out before I release the book, same as I'll figure out hyper links and references etc as well.

    Also, I only use one space after a full stop. I only came across the idea of adding two spaces just recently - like in the last handful of years or so - and it's always seemed weird and convoluted to me. It's more of a typography rule than anything to do with grammar I'd say.
     
  3. risu

    risu Troubadour

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    I'd read once that the double space was for monospaced fonts, but most formatting isn't done in monospaced anymore. According to Wikipedia, a single space in books has been used since the 1950's.

    Sentence spacing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    If you know HTML, then you shouldn't have much issue with formatting an ebook. The ePub is pretty much HTML in disguise. I use a combination of Sigil and Calibre to do mine, and haven't had any problems so far. A while back, I came across this article.

    Ebook Formatting the Easy Way | Cameron Chapman

    I use yWriter to do my writing so my process is a bit easier. I just export as HTML and import it into Calibre, then export to ePub, make it look fancy with small caps and no indents at the beginning of each chapter, and then export it to mobi.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Double space is a holdover from typewriter days. Use single space and save your editor a step.

    For most of us, ebook formatting is multi-step but straightforward. If you start getting fancy, with embedded pictures, poems, etc., it can be trickier. Basically, everything you add means an additional proofreading pass. You will want to make sure to test on every reader platform you can. There are always little niggles, such as what Srvtnsse mentioned, and dealing with those can take a surprising amount of time.

    To quote one of my favorite aphorisms: 90% of the project takes 90% of the time, and the other 10% takes the other 90%.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Phil:

    Get the free Style Guide from Smashwords. If you follow the formatting they set forth in there, for how to prepare your Word document, you'll be in good shape.
     
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Thanks everyone for the comments. I know I probably good have Google all this, but it's good to hear what has worked for you and different methods. I've been messing around with Kindle Previewer, as it allows you to see what it would look like on a variety of devices. So I think that will be helpful for sure.

    Also, when you all say double space, you are talking about after a period or you're talking about spacing? Because I've been reading several books recently where I see two spaces after a period.
     
  7. risu

    risu Troubadour

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    For me, I was talking about the white space after a period.
     
  8. Uffda

    Uffda Scribe

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    I usually just follow the Smashwords guide for uploads to KDP. Works just as well.
     
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  9. Uffda

    Uffda Scribe

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    Oh, and one space after a period!
     
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  10. AndrewMelvin

    AndrewMelvin Scribe

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    I have a lot of experience in editing/design, which gave me an advantage, but I found formatting fairly straightforward, if time-consuming - it's really a case of taking your time and checking it again and again. Smashwords' guide is very helpful.

    As others have said, it is always, always one space after a period.
     
    Philip Overby likes this.
  11. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    OK, so I need some suggestions. Please help! I used what Amazon suggested and just formatted my ebook using what they said. And then when I look at it on the Amazon Previewer it looks fine. But when I used a MOBI converter and put it on my Kindle, it looks all screwed up. Should I just trust the Amazon Previewer and what it looks like on there or should I finagle it more?

    If anyone doesn't mind looking at my formatting, I'd owe you a huge favor. (Don't have to read the manuscript, just let me know if everything looks OK.)

    You can message me here or PM me. I was hoping to release this on May 15th, so I know this is last minute, but any additional help is much appreciated.
     
  12. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Well crap, I went ahead and published it. I'm assuming not many people will find it until I start promoting it though, so I think I have time to resubmit it if there are any major problems.
     
  13. risu

    risu Troubadour

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    I have my kindle and my phone on me, if you wanted to send it to [email protected]. Or if you tell me what the title is, I'll go buy it and tell you what it looks like when downloaded. :)
     
    Philip Overby likes this.
  14. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    It's called The Unicorn-Eater by Philip Overby. I guess it won't be live for another 12 hours or so, but yes, if you could check it out and make sure it doesn't look all wonky, that would be great. Also if it does look wonky, can I delete it off the Amazon store and basically "start over?" I definitely don't want the formatting to be all weird, but I thought if I uploaded it, that would be the best way to see. When I look at it on the Amazon Previewer it looks fine though.
     
  15. risu

    risu Troubadour

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    The title is slightly off-centered on my phone, but otherwise it looks fine. I'm charging my kindle now.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  16. risu

    risu Troubadour

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    Same slight off-centered title on my Kindle, but it's not as noticeable there. Oh, and you seem to be missing a space on this line:

    "It's disrespectful,"Katzia said.
     
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    OK, thanks so much! I was reading through it and I think it mostly looked fine except for like you said. The title looks weird and the stuff at the beginning looks kind of weird. I've also noticed that most other Kindle books I'm seeing look single-spaced. Is that true? Should I go back and single-space it?

    Edit: I decided to go back and do single-space and messed with the centering some. Hopefully it turns out better. I re-submitted it and I'll see what it looks like once it goes live again. And thanks for catching that spacing thing.

    What are the chances that a crapload of people download the screwed-up version while it waits for the new one to go up? :)
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
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