How To Format Your E-Book (the Non Migraine-Inducing Way)

6 Sep

***This post has since been succeeded by My New and Improved, Even Easier Way to Format Your E-book (the Non-Migraine Inducing Way). Please click here to read it.*** 

While I’ve already blogged about publishing my e-books, I kinda skimmed over the nuts and bolts of formatting. But as I’m in a generous mood this morning and I feel your continued e-book formatting pain, here by popular demand is a more detailed post about how to format your e-book like I did.

If you haven’t yet dipped a toe into the wonderful world of e-book self-publishing or you don’t plan to, you might still have heard a whisper about how UTTERLY ANNOYING AND STRESSFUL it is to format your MS Word manuscript in preparation for upload to Smashwords or Amazon’s Digital Text Platform. (It might have been more of a blood-curdling scream, if you’ve been reading about my e-book experiences.) And if you have dipped a toe or even a leg into it, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The thing is there is easy money to be made in e-books, if you can stomach the crappy bit at the beginning where you actually have to make the thing. One author I read about recently, Joe Konrath, is making around $500 a day – a DAY! – selling e-books, and it’s such a versatile market (you can sell full-length books, novellas, short stories, even your blog) that it would be a shame if something like paragraph indents put you off getting involved. And if even if you have no interest in making money [kindly picture me looking very skeptical indeed] just think of all the readers you can potentially reach.

A disclaimer before we begin: this is just what I did to format my e-book. It was simple and it worked. But my book was also simple: just text, no fancy photos or graphs. I even scrapped my table of contents. If you have fancy photos or graphs then… well, good luck with that. The rest of you, carry on.

There’s No Page

If you learn one thing from this entire post, let it be this: in e-books, there is no page. This is the hardest thing for would-be e-book publishers to get their heads around, and I understand. It was hard for me too. Back when I worked in OfficeLand, seeing as much as a one sentence business letter go in the post incorrectly formatted made me come out in hives (and don’t even get me started on badly addressed envelopes) and dismantling all my careful print edition formatting didn’t feel any better. But once you make your peace with it, this whole process becomes a lot easier.

In the words of Smashwords.com’s Style Guide:

“Ebooks are different from print books, so do not attempt to make your ebook look like an exact facsimile of print book, otherwise you’ll only frustrate yourself by creating a poorly formatted, unreadable ebook. With print, you control the layout.  The words appear on the printed page exactly where you want them to appear. With ebooks, there is no “page.”  By giving up the control of the printed page, you and your readers gain much more in return. Page numbers are irrelevant.  Your book will look different on every e-reading device.  Your text will shape shift and reflow. Most e-reading devices and e-reading applications allow your reader to customize the fonts, font sizes and line spacing. Your customers will modify how your book looks on-screen to suit their personal reading preference and environment. By transforming your books into digital form, you open up exciting possibilities for how readers can enjoy them. At Smashwords, our motto is “your book, your way,” and this means a reader should be able to consume your book however works best for them, even if that means they like to read 18 point Helvetica with blue fonts, lime background color, and triple spaced lines.”

By way of demonstration:

A word about page breaks: use them if you absolutely must, but why do you need to? A chapter heading will let the reader know they’ve started a new one, and the rest of your text doesn’t need them because the “page” on your reader’s e-reading device will have nothing in common with your “page”. It’ll just end up looking messy and filled with blank space. The key to this is the word flow. Let your text flow.

Step 1: Get Rid of the ‘X’

Smashwords only supports MS Word files that end in .doc. If you have a newer version of MS Word, your file will end in .docx by default, but you can change that. When using the ‘Save As’ function, hit the drop down menu labelled ‘Format’ and select ‘Word 97-2004 .doc.’ Continue to save as normal. I recommend you work from a copy and not your original, in case anything goes wrong. Don’t say you weren’t warned…

Step 2: Prepare Your Manuscript

I’m going to assume that you’re working either from a manuscript you intended to submit (double-spaced, new chapters starting on their own page, Courier or Times New Roman) or from the interior file of your POD book (fancy font, chapter headings, blank pages). Whatever you’re working from, you need to prepare it now for its life as a e-book.

Get rid of all the front and back matter: title pages, copyright notice, table of contents, chapter title pages, index – anything that isn’t the actual text of your book or a chapter heading. Lose the page numbers, headers and footers. Next, close it all up so that there’s no blank pages, and new chapters start right below the previous one.

Finally, select all text (Edit -> Select All) and change it to:

  • ‘Normal’ paragraph style
  • Left-aligned
  • Pt 12 sized text
  • Single line spacing
  • A simple font, like Times New Roman, Arial or Book Antiqua.

Forget about having tables, columns, text boxes or footnotes. If you have these in your book you’re going to need to figure something else out, or spend a week studying Smashwords’ Style Guide and following every one of its recommendations.

It will be easier to envision what your e-book will look like if you set your MS Word ‘View’ to something like ‘Web’ or ‘Outline.’ DO NOT view it in ‘Print Layout’ as this will mess with your head and confuse you with the idea of actual pages.

Step 3: Activate Show/Hide and Go Tab Hunting

It is extremely important the you do NOT use tabs to delineate the beginning of your paragraphs. Instead, use the automatic paragraph indent feature as shown in the image below.

Word’s Show/Hide feature is designated by the “¶” mark in the toolbar. Click it. If you’ve correctly used indents, the beginning of your paragraphs will be marked with nothing and the end of them by one of these “¶” marks. If you’ve used a tab, it’ll show an arrow pointing right at the start. Go through your document until you have eliminated ALL tabs/arrows indicating such.

Step 4: Really Close It Up

In Step 2 we closed everything up so that we had removed all blank pages and had each chapter starting on the same page as the one before it had ended. But now we’re going to really close it up.

Listen to me VERY carefully: under no circumstances should you have more than 3-4 empty lines anywhere in your e-book. Did you listen? Trust me, this will be difficult to implement. You’ll really, really, really want to leave some after your copyright notice, or after the last line of each chapter, but you need to be strong! Don’t do it. When you press Return to make a blank line, you’ll get a little “¶” mark as you do at the end of each paragraph. Make sure you have no more than 4 of these together anywhere in your book.

Step 5: Make Chapter Headings

Once you’ve done this, make your chapter headings. KEEP IT SIMPLE. I made mine all caps and in bold. Do not use a different font or a different font size if you can resist it. Remember: the simpler the better.

This is what the bit in between your chapters should look like:

This is what the bit in between your chapters should NOT look like:

Step 6: Add Your Sparkly New Front Matter

What goes at the front of your e-book is not the same as what goes at the front of your print edition. You should have the title, your name and then your copyright notice. We’re going to use a Smashwords copyright notice and license note for this example but you can just modify as need be. NB: This is required for Smashwords upload, and it’s the only thing I’ll let you centre.

MY BOOK’S TITLE
by Soon To Famous Author, i.e. Me
Smashwords Edition | Copyright 2010 My Name

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.  This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.  If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy.  Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
http://www.mywebsiteURL.com
http://www.mysmashwordsprofilepage.com

Step 7: Add Your Sparkly New End Matter

Smashwords recommends that you type ‘###’ and centre it beneath your last line to mark the end of your book. You can leave it like this if you like, but it’s a wasted opportunity. Instead, write a little author bio for yourself and list your website or blog, Twitter username, Facebook page and whatever else you want. And remember – this is an e-book; you can insert hyperlinks. (Use Word’s Insert -> Hyperlinks function.) Then if someone is reading your book on, say, an iPad, they can click onto your blog immediately after finishing your book to see what else you got.

And they all lived happily ever after.
THE END
###
About the Author
Up until recently, E-Book Author was drinking copious amounts of coffee and working on her second novel. However after spending a weekend attempting to format this e-book correctly, she had to be transferred to a secure mental health facility for the safety of people around her. She’s currently considering embellishing her experiences there á la James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. Her agent thinks she’s onto something… Oh, wait. That should have been on something.
Find out more on http://www.amillionlittleformattingerrors.com.

Step 8: Upload Your Book

Follow instructions on your chosen e-book publisher website to complete this step.

I recommend that you publish your e-book on BOTH Smashwords and Amazon’s Digital Text Platform, to cover all bases and thus take best advantage of the e-book market. (Remember to set the same price on both.) If you do this your book will be available on Amazon Kindle store (US and UK), Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble’s e-book store, Sony E-Reader store and others.

Step 9: Upload Your Cover Image

Smashwords offers a lot of technical information about the required size, shape and quality of your cover image; I say ignore it. (I had to, as I didn’t have a clue what they were on about anyway.) Instead, follow Catherine’s Hit and Miss But Ultimately Simpler Way of Uploading Your Cover Image:

  1. Get a JPEG of your book cover
  2. Upload it
  3. If it doesn’t upload, re-size it and try again
  4. Repeat as required.

If you don’t already have a print edition, chances are you won’t have a cover image. (Unless you’ve been doing some serious visualization/vision board work.) Covers are just as important to e-books as they are to print editions; they give you a big clue about what level of quality you can expect to get in the book behind them. If all else fails, consider making something in MS Word or whatever word processing program you use, then save that as a PDF, then save the PDF as a JPEG. It won’t be a high resolution and it’s really the poor man’s way of doing things, but it’s better than nothing.

Step 10: Check Your Book

DO NOT skip this step. I did and I paid dearly for it, first time round.

First, download Abobe Digital Editions – it’s free – and then your own book in EPUB format from Smashwords. Study every page to make sure everything is okay. Then download the free Kindle application (click here for PC or here for Mac) and the appropriate version, and study that too. Only when you’re sure everything is a-okay should you start to publicize the fact that you have an e-book for sale. But once you do…

CONGRATS! You have an e-book for sale.

Troubleshooting

According to Smashwords, the top 5 formatting errors are:

  1. Improper indents. Don’t use tabs.
  2. Repeating paragraph returns. No more than four empty lines together, and as few as possible.
  3. Improper paragraph separation. I haven’t mentioned using the block paragraph style here because as a reader it makes my blood boil, but use either it OR first line indent. Using both equals disaster.
  4. Font and style mistakes. Use the same, simple font throughout, no more than 2 or 3 font sizes and nothing bigger than pt 16.
  5. Copyright notice mistakes. Don’t forget to include it, as above.

It took me a few tries to get my e-book right, and I found that the mistakes I was making included:

  • Using page breaks. Be ruthless; get rid of them*
  • Using font sizes that were too large for chapter headings
  • Not having all my text set to ‘Normal’ paragraph style.
  • Not having my paragraph spacing set to ‘O’ between paragraphs, or not having the box checked for ‘Don’t insert extra space after paragraphs.’

I also experienced a bug that is associated with MS Word for Mac that inserted a paragraph break after each period. If this happens to you, send yourself the document by email, open and re-save it on a PC and upload again from that PC.

If All Else Fails…

You may not even want to attempt to do the steps above, or maybe you want more advanced formatting like a linked table of contents or embedded images, but you don’t have the patience for it. In that case, consider contacting Smashwords founder Mark Croker (via the website) who has a list of Smashwords users willing to format your e-book for you for around $25 per hour.

Remember: this is a very basic approach to formatting your e-book. For more advanced formatting, study the Style Guide. And prepare for some migraines…

*In January 2010 I uploaded a new and improved e-book edition of Mousetrapped (removing some typos, errors, etc.) and decided to be brave and include page breaks using Word’s Insert -> Page Breaks function. But I used it extremely sparingly: I only inserted a page break after the end of each chapter which meant that in a 65,000 word or so book I had a total of sixteen. If you’re publishing fiction where you might have 40+ short chapters or more, I wouldn’t bother. But I think it is nice that e-readers start each of my chapters now on a fresh page.

Click here to read more about my e-book experiences.

Click to buy my e-book Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida on Amazon Kindle (US), Amazon Kindle (UK) or Smashwords.com. Prices start at $2.39.

63 Responses to “How To Format Your E-Book (the Non Migraine-Inducing Way)”

  1. Mr Uku September 6, 2010 at 15:59 #

    Brilliantly useful stuff.
    I was thinking about the page thing only last night. As a reader, I find it annoying that chapters sometimes start almost, but not quite, at the bottom of a page. But it makes sense when you consider that every e-reader is different.
    I think there’s much new stuff to get used to, for readers and writers alike.

    • catherineryanhoward September 6, 2010 at 16:05 #

      Thank you!
      I know what you mean re: the page thing. A lot of ebook publishers (individuals – self-pubbers) don’t own ereaders and/or have never used them, and therefore can’t understand what is meant by there being no page. The only way to ensure your book will look minimally weird (is that a phrase? it is now!) is to keep all the text together and flowing, so that when your reader changes it to pt 20 or whatever, it won’t make the eyes bleed. But this is really hard to do when you’re looking at a Word doc and you really REALLY want to hit that space bar! :-)

      • Lina April 26, 2014 at 01:12 #

        I loved your way of formatting. My book turned out great. But now I am wondering if I can put my e pub on two different sites. I have my new e pub on Google Play already, but would also like to put it on Smashwords. Please tell me what you think.

  2. Talli Roland September 6, 2010 at 17:39 #

    One word: ugh.

    This whole post makes me want to curl up in the corner and beat my head against the wall! You’ve laid it out so clearly and thoroughly but… I just can’t picture myself having the mental stamina to deal with this! Kudos to anyone who does!

    • catherineryanhoward September 6, 2010 at 18:32 #

      Haha! The longer version actually includes me banging my head off a wall… ;-)

      It is SO annoying. If someone comes up with an ebook service that preps your ms for free they’ll definitely succeed… It’s such a headache!

  3. Geoffrey Fox September 13, 2010 at 09:06 #

    Thank you! I’ve got my p.o.d. almost ready to go (just waiting for final author’s proof) with a great cover (for print, don’t know how it’ll work in e-format), and will now have to do all this formatting. Kindle recommends uploading in html. I wonder how I’m going to convert. Oh, well, I’ll figure it out. Loved your light touch and wit. Best of luck and sales.

    • catherineryanhoward September 13, 2010 at 10:41 #

      Thanks very much Geoffrey!

      When I uploaded to DTP (for Kindle) I actually did it in PDF which worked but wasn’t perfect.

      The easiest thing to do for HTML is to do as above in a Word document, and then save it as HTML. (Therefore Word does the converting for you.)

      There’s some helpful articles in the ‘Community’ section of DTP.

  4. Cynthia Briggs September 17, 2010 at 21:41 #

    Hey Catherine! Great article! It’s difficult to switch from a book with lots of “pretty” stuff in it to one so bare bones as with the e-books.

    I’d appreciate your opinion on my cookbooks. Neither of them have lots of pictures, but I’ve got quotes at the end of each chapter, cutsie header designs and LOTS of page breaks. I guess I’m wondering how well a cookbook/recipe book will do on an electronic device. I can delete all the cutsie stuff as recommended. But, do people actually go to an electronic device to get a recipe? I’m probably thinking in the dark ages, altho I don’t want to go through the agony of converting and then not have any interest out there…

    The Amazon techs told me cookbooks were surprisingly popular on digital…I’d like your opinion.

    Thanks so much!
    Cynthia Briggs

    • catherineryanhoward September 18, 2010 at 00:03 #

      Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

      Now, your cookbooks. Here’s the thing: I am by absolutely no means an expert, so please keep in mind that any advice I give you is just my personal opinion and carries very little weight! Best to get at least a couple of more opinions and not just rely on me! ;-) But I do know from talking other people in the ebook world that cookbooks ARE popular, although it’s impossible to measure just how much, or decide in advance whether or not it’s worth going to all that trouble, as you said, and then there being no interest.

      If I was you, I would go ahead and produce a book. Maybe you could send out a “tester” first, maybe a small collection centered around a theme or something, and price it really cheap, like $0.99. This would take less time to format and would help you test the market before you go ahead and sink a lot of time into formatting a full length recipe book. And when it comes time to do that, you could attempt it yourself or hire someone else to convert it for you. I’d lose the header designs but keep the pictures – people want them in recipe books – and the quotes, as that’s probably what will make your book stand out, but I do think it’s worth doing.

      But remember… that’s just my personal opinion!! Best of luck whatever you decide to do and do come back and let me know how you got on.

      Thanks,
      Catherine

      • Cynthia Briggs September 18, 2010 at 21:41 #

        Hey Girl! You are on it! Thanks for your reply.

        Funny thing, but I have a 38-page cookbook all set to go in print (even have a cover completed) so converting it into e-book (for digital device) would be a cinch. As you said a good test case.

        Glad to hear you think I should keep the quotes as they do add a nice touch to the “apple” themed book.

        Will keep you posted. Thanks again.
        CB

    • Jim Burk January 22, 2014 at 21:45 #

      I’ve been writing a series of historical novels and made up my mind to go digital about five years ago. In that time the world changed to make it much easier. Originally I did everything in MS Word, which was fine. However, I discovered “Scrivener” from a company called Literature and Latte. Scrivener provides wonderful planning tools and the ability to save or “compile” in ePub format. This means you can examine your final product without ever uploading.

  5. Jacqueline T Lynch October 15, 2010 at 15:36 #

    This was extremely helpful. Thanks.

  6. Maria Staal December 22, 2010 at 16:19 #

    Hi Catherine,
    Thank you so much for pointing out this post to me! I went to bed last night in a panic that I would never manage to format my book as ebook (after spending most of the day getting it wrong), but this morning I followed the steps in this post and it worked like a charm! :)
    I have now uploaded my book to Kindle and Smashwords will soon follow.
    I love your blog and your ‘Mouse trapped’ book sounds really interesting!
    Thank you, again!! :)

  7. Roger C. Parker January 6, 2011 at 16:56 #

    Dear Catherine:
    This is a great post that will benefit many.

    Glad I discovered it through Penny Sansevieri’s newsletter.

    Thanks for the info!
    Roger

    • catherineryanhoward January 6, 2011 at 17:24 #

      Thank you Roger! Glad you found it helpful. I know it really only works for straight forward e-books but that’s what most self-publishers (in my experience, anyway) are trying to get out there.

      And thanks to Penny for including me in her newsletter – didn’t know until now!
      :-)

  8. tahliaN February 14, 2011 at 01:57 #

    Thanks for this, if my agent can’t find a publisher for my YA fantasy, lethal Inheritance, I plan to do an ebook, so this will come in very handy. It’s much appreciated.

  9. Dianne Greenlay February 19, 2011 at 21:04 #

    Catherine, your advice on how-to publish an ebook is one of the most clear and concise that I’ve read (and I’ve read a LOT!)My novel, “Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest” is presently available in soft cover and ebook published by iUniverse, as I was (still am??) technologically challenged in a big way and I did not have enough computer skills to attempt such a thing several months ago but now! – Now I am ready to do so and I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. Because of your entertaining blog posts ( I love your style), I have purchased Mousetrapped on my ereader and can’t wait to read it! Keep up the wonderful posts!

    • Laura May 5, 2011 at 17:53 #

      Hi Catherine!
      This is an amazing article. I am just thinking of converting my files for Smashwords and this will be a great help.
      My question though is this, I have already uploaded to Kindle and B&N’s Nook, but was thinking to use Smashwords to get it on Sony e-reader and the Apple i Store. I believe that both devices allow ePub format (which I already have). What is the benefit of uploading to Smashwords if I can (seemingly) upload to at least these 4 devices myself?
      Thanks for your advice as always!
      Laura

      • catherineryanhoward May 5, 2011 at 18:58 #

        You’re welcome! Glad you found it useful.

        Well, as I only have an Irish address I can’t upload directly to Nook and I wouldn’t really bother now at this stage as I’m on B&N through Smashwords. The thing with Smashwords is that you should definitely do it even if only for iBooks and Sony. It doesn’t matter if your book is available already in that format; you need to get listed in the store as the majority of sales are happenstance, ie people just searching for books on their devices. Just make sure you set the same. After you upload as well you can uncheck any formats you don’t want so if you’re already on B&N you can uncheck that box. HOWEVER this limits format options for Smashwords.com customers. Basically I’d upload wherever I can – it can’t hurt!

  10. Tara Benwell May 8, 2011 at 03:02 #

    I found this resource extremely helpful, but I’ve spent hours trying to format my novel for the Kindle based on these instructions and still cannot get it to format nicely. Does anyone have a sample of what the paragraph tags should look like in HTML in order to look right? Would anyone be willing to send me a few paragraphs of code to show me how yours looks? Or, if anyone can recommend someone who will format for a fee, please let me know. Thanks, Tara.
    @tarabenwell

    • catherineryanhoward May 8, 2011 at 11:15 #

      Hi Tara,

      I’m not sure going into the HTML is going to help here – formatting your book for Kindle conversion is much more straightforward then uploading to Smashwords in that even if you do it half right it should look okay on KDP, so I’d go back and scrub your formatting so you can go back to the start and try again. I say this because chances are it’s a tiny error and if it is and you pay someone else to format it for you, you’re paying through the nose for something you don’t really need.

      I believe that on KDP’s help pages (in “Community”) they have info on HTML tags and what they should look like, and failing that Smashwords keeps a list of people willing to convert your document for something like $30 an hour. Check out their FAQ page for info and how to get it.

      Good luck!

      • juliette nolan April 24, 2013 at 00:51 #

        Catherine, you are an absolute star. I have been avoiding formatting for too long but now that I have ironed my socks and tidied out the garden shed, alphabetised my nail polish collection and hoovered out my fluff drawer, I recognise that there is nothing for it but to grapple with this Formatting Monster and put it in it’s place. This post will be my bible. I have called you my GoTo Woman in a blog post on the subject. Hope you don’t mind. Honestly the title involves nothing more than just breathing in and out and continuing to guide us explorers through the caverns of self printing. All hail Catherine’s non migraine inducing guide to formatting. Cheers doll, you’re a star!

  11. Ruth October 31, 2011 at 02:27 #

    This is great! Thank you!

    As an old-school book designer that’s been out of the loop for a long time, let me tell you, this is exactly how you should electronically submit a manuscript to your designer. All one document, no tabs or spaces for paragraph indents, use the paragraph function! Please, please, please do NOT submit fifteen files, one for each chapter. (Pounding head against desk at the thought of once again being forced to flow 15 files together — then discovering that they’re also in different fonts, different formats and different sizes…)

    And my friends, please proofread your manuscripts. Reins is not the same as reigns, no matter that it’s spelled correctly. To, too and two are not interchangeable and my pet peeve — affect vs effect.

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  13. exchange September 6, 2012 at 22:38 #

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on problem.

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  14. ambertesia December 3, 2012 at 14:53 #

    Reblogged this on Writer. Editor. Culture vulture and commented:
    Brilliant post. Merci beacoup Catherine! X

  15. bacalao February 11, 2013 at 19:43 #

    It’s in reality a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  16. juliette nolan April 24, 2013 at 00:53 #

    Reblogged this on The Self Publishing Challenge.

  17. Sally Chippendale May 22, 2013 at 07:48 #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have so much red pen on my first draft I decided to do a complete re-write instead of fixing the errors/stinking pile of crap that is my book. Three paragraphs in I decided to google “how to format e-books” and arrived here. I’m so pleased I’ve read this first because I’m tab happy and also insert page breaks between paragraphs. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  18. randytudy2013 June 26, 2013 at 07:51 #

    This is just very timely as I am just about to finish my first ebook. Thanks for the tips and reminders.

  19. josois August 18, 2013 at 01:36 #

    I’ve been looking around for how to format my debut book correctly as an e-book before it comes out sometime early this fall. It seemed very daunting trying to format it by myself, but you really simplified the process, so thank you for such helpful posts! Even though I’m not planning on publishing on Smashwords a lot of your advice I’m assuming should carry over regardless of the avenue you go about self-publishing. I could sure use your expertise on self-publishing in my own blog ;)

  20. RaeLynn Fry October 9, 2013 at 16:18 #

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! You make it so easy to convert into the ebook format. :) I’m bookmarking this post!

  21. Susanne Lakin December 11, 2013 at 05:01 #

    Catherine, thanks so much for this clear, comprehensive explanation. I format all my ebooks and many of my clients’ and do pretty much what you do, and follow the Smashwords guide, which is terrific. I’ve bookmarked this and will forward many times, I’m sure, to clients again and again. I appreciate the time you took to go over all this. It really is easy once you do it, and I now format my novels in about fifteen minutes. They’re ready to upload from there.

  22. RV March 28, 2014 at 02:13 #

    I come from a print background & couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t wrap my head around formatting an ebook, which is supposedly “easier” than laying out a print book. This (and the related post) are hands-down *the most helpful* ebook articles I have read. Oh my goodness, thank you.

  23. focalbreeze May 14, 2014 at 14:32 #

    Reblogged this on Focal Breeze.

  24. Jonas June 30, 2014 at 17:22 #

    Thank you for this guide and all the useful information that you provide. I especially found the information regarding Smashwords to be very useful.

  25. Chris Atkins July 21, 2014 at 15:51 #

    Enormously helpful, thank you.

  26. D.R.Sylvester July 29, 2014 at 12:33 #

    Thanks! Just stumbled across this and it’s been a great help, especially the bit about those pesky tabs.

    Cheers.

  27. Ben August 11, 2014 at 00:02 #

    Hi– In your article you said to get rid of the table of contents. Does this mean the reader just has to go in blind with ebooks? KDP suggests adding an ‘active’ TOC within the ebook. Do you suggest doing this too and how?

    • catherineryanhoward August 11, 2014 at 13:06 #

      I meant your print table of contents, which will have page numbers that are utterly irrelevant to your e-book.

      Do create an active TOC with hyperlinks/bookmarks.

  28. Bprep4 September 14, 2014 at 07:23 #

    Reblogged this on Holiday Window Painting and commented:
    This helped me see where I needed to reformat or rather unformat my manuscript. It is an older post, but very, very helpful.Read more if you are working with an eBook and are at a dead end for answers.

  29. RnLebanon Raingam September 30, 2014 at 18:16 #

    This has helped me in perfecting my skills. Now I’m ready to start my ebook formatting business :) Thanks a lot!!!

  30. Christina L. Rozelle November 4, 2014 at 21:59 #

    Reblogged this on A Spark in the Dark and commented:
    This is the hell I am living right now, yes. :-P

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweet, Tweet: Twitter & Writers « Catherine, Caffeinated - September 13, 2010

    [...] posted anything. I checked my incoming links and found that Jane Friedman had included my How To Format Your E-Book, the Non-Migraine Way post in her Best Tweets for Writers list this week. This is a big deal for me. I follow Jane on [...]

  2. Publishing An E-Book: A Checklist « Catherine, Caffeinated - February 4, 2011

    [...] For a simple, straight-forward book, you can use my How To Format Your E-Book (the Non-Migraine Inducing Way). [...]

  3. Kindle Nail Your Novel now on sale! « Nail Your Novel - February 14, 2011

    [...] I happened upon this blog post by Cath Ryan Howard of the blog Catherine, Caffeinated: How to format your e-book without the migraine. She made it look so simple I thought I’d have a go. She also references the Smashwords Style [...]

  4. Publishing An E-Book: A Checklist | Write Your Own E-book - February 22, 2011

    [...] For a simple, straight-forward book, you can use my How to Format your E-Book (the Non-Migraine Inducing Way). [...]

  5. 2256 and counting « Cel & Anna - March 9, 2011

    [...] prepped the manuscript for Smashwords myself, using mostly the formatting guide published by Irish writer Catherine Ryan Howard. Catherine Howard wrote a good, funny book about [...]

  6. How DAME Entered the Ether « The Naked Dame - April 7, 2011

    [...] the book for upload. It was a snap. If you’re looking to self-publish an e-book, I recommend Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog as a starting point. She has some fantastic [...]

  7. Self-Printed: The “Is My Book for You?” Quiz « Catherine, Caffeinated - April 16, 2011

    [...] the weekend finishing the formatting of Self-Printed‘s e-book, in the sense that I followed my own guidelines to the letter and uploaded the file, and am now waiting for the errors that will undoubtedly be [...]

  8. Longshot Publishing » Blog Archive » Formatting and Converting An Ebook - July 10, 2011

    [...] of all, this site How to Format Your Ebook (the non-migraine inducing way) was the most helpful. It showed me how to correctly format Microsoft Word in simple terms. I also [...]

  9. BACKPACKED WEEK: A New and Improved, Even Easier Way to Format Your E-book « Catherine, Caffeinated - September 5, 2011

    [...] did everything I usually do (as I outlined in my How To Format Your E-book the Non-Migraine Inducing Way post) and while it converted fine for Amazon KDP, Smashwords was just not happy with it – the .epub [...]

  10. REPLAY 2011: A New and Improved, Even Easier Way to Format Your E-book « Catherine, Caffeinated - December 27, 2011

    [...] did everything I usually do (as I outlined in my How To Format Your E-book the Non-Migraine Inducing Way post) and while it converted fine for Amazon KDP, Smashwords was just not happy with it – the .epub [...]

  11. Awesome Tools & Resources for Writers (Mostly Free) | Part 3: Producing & Creating – Self-Publishing – a Book30 Day Books | 30 Day Books - January 5, 2012

    [...] – The Shorter, Easier, Non-Migraine Inducing Version of Smashwords Style Guide (by Catherine Ryan Howard) http://catherineryanhoward.com/2010/09/06/how-to-format-your-e-book-the-non-migraine-inducing-way/ [...]

  12. Essential guide to eBooks for Sharing Superheroes | Word And Mouth - January 24, 2012

    [...] How To Format Your E-Book (the Non Migraine-Inducing Way), by Catherine Ryan Howard. [...]

  13. 7 eBook formatting considerations - Write Right Now - April 2, 2013

    [...] be useful here. Others have covered things in more detail, or for more specific cases, such as this useful blog article. If you have any specific questions or ideas for things I should cover in more detail myself, [...]

  14. Reviewing guides to formatting your ebook for kindle | The Self Publishing Challenge - April 24, 2013

    [...] My GoTo woman on all things self publishing/printing is Catherine Ryan Howard.  I love her no-nonsense style and she is so clear on instructions. If you haven’t already got a copy, I wholeheartedly recommend her book “Self Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide To Self Publishing” available on Amazon which is a steal at $4.99 and so packed full of wisdom and cold hard facts that you will be praising the heavens that Catherine is on this earthly plane.   Alternatively Catherine has created a really clear post on this which you can see here. [...]

  15. How To Create and Publish eBooks - November 26, 2013

    […] As your book will be read on some sort of tablet device, it’s important that you find out exactly how to format an eBook properly online. There are many guides and it’s not too difficult, so don’t […]

  16. Writer McCrankypants on formatting manuscripts | Andi Marquette - April 3, 2014

    […] Here are some links that will provide some insight (and tips) about this process. Creating an e-book Kindle Formatting Dvid Gaughran on what formatting is, some differing platforms Catherine Ryan Howard has a great walk-through […]

  17. Ebooks | Positively Human - November 5, 2014

    […] How To Format An Ebook Yourself […]

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