Writers Boon Blog


  • Why You Must Know How to Format Your eBook

    Jason Matthews


    Why You Must Know How to Format Your eBook

    Jason Matthews is an author and self-publishing instructor. His books and video courses have helped over 100,000 writers publish on Amazon and retailers around the world. He lives in San Luis Obispo, California, and loves having his toes in the sand on a sunny day. He also has a blog for self-publishers designed to make their lives easier.

    Your ebook is live on Amazon and selling. So exciting! You’ve even heard from a thoughtful reader who took the time to email you, telling how much your book meant to her. She also mentioned a few typos and where they are. “No big deal,” she said, “just thought you might want to know.”

    Now you can’t think about anything but those typos. Once your mind becomes fixated on that, you might also decide you’d like to change a few words or add a new paragraph. Next you may want to include some images or other things that will improve your book. Maybe you realize you should have ended it with the first chapter of the sequel as a way to build buzz and generate sales.

    Funny how these ideas seem to present themselves one at a time with far more clarity than when your formatter had it. The problem is that these additional ideas tend to keep coming. Your formatter may be hard to reach, charges each time work is done, and might take days or weeks to get to it.

    Take Matters into Your Own Hands

    Fear not. If you know even a smidgen of formatting, you can handle these changes yourself and re-upload the book to Amazon. It’s all free to do and a lot easier than you might think. You won’t lose reviews and the changes will post within a few hours for new buyers. In little time you can format the ebook entirely yourself, even if you’re not computer savvy.

    When I first learned these things, I was delighted to discover how much could be accomplished for free or at little cost. Since I had a finished novel in Microsoft Word, it was time to roll up my sleeves and learn how to format it myself for Kindle. At first it felt like a daunting task, but before long I realized it wasn’t bad at all. Not only was it something I could do, it was actually pretty fun. I really enjoyed seeing how my books appeared and functioned on my Kindle, knowing I could make changes easily, anytime I wanted.

    4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When DIY Formatting

    • Some authors try to make their ebooks too fancy. Remember that ebooks are not like printed books and should not be held to the same standards of presentation. Stick to the KISS rule: keep it simple, stupid.
    • Use common fonts and sizes. Beware of drop caps to begin chapters or elaborate styles for chapter headings. Don’t embed fonts trying to create a certain feel for the reader. When retailers convert documents for their system, things don’t always come out exactly as you intended. Don’t be surprised if your book looks slightly different on different devices (e.g. Kindle vs. cell phone). Keeping things simple reduces potential frustrations after uploading.
    • Don’t forget to include contact links that enable readers to connect with you via social media or your website. Building a following is about networking and helping readers to learn more about you and your work. Make it easy for them. Have some active links in your About the Author page.
    • Take initiative and test your formatting on an actual device, like a Kindle, or a program that acts as a virtual e-reader, like Calibre or Adobe Digital Editions. These programs will show you how things look and clearly indicate what might need fixes before publishing.

    My video course on formatting shares everything I learned along the way, formatting my own books and those of authors I know. In the course, we go through an example document step by step, from the title page to the tables of contents to the very final pages. We even upload it to Amazon in real time and see how it looks and functions, something I’m sure you’ll enjoy as much as I do.

    I hope you’ll give the course and formatting a try. You might be surprised how easy and helpful it is for your career as an author.