Monday, August 6, 2012

New Release: E-Book Formatting for Novelists by K.C. May

You’ve written a novel. Congratulations! Now you want to sell it as an e-book online at Amazon, Kobo or Barnes & Noble. You have three choices:

  • Upload a .doc or .rtf file and hope for the best.
  • Hire someone to format it for you.
  • Learn to format it yourself.
This guide is intended to help you do it yourself. I use Microsoft Windows exclusively. If you use a Mac, this guide may or may not help you.

This book assumes you have a comfortable, working knowledge of Windows, that you know how to download and install software, create text files and perform operations like copy/paste, search/replace and so forth.

BN buy link:

Amazon buy icon:


When I first started self-publishing my fiction, I had no idea how to format the interior so that it looked professional. I relied on the conversion tools offered by Amazon and BN to take my Word file and transform it into an ebook. Although they did an adequate job, I didn't want adequate. I wanted readers to see that I care about the presentation of the story, not just the story itself.

I downloaded a few ebook formatting programs and started playing around with them, getting a feel for how the quality of the document I fed it affected the quality of the output. Once I realized that I could control the formatting better if I used HTML, it was just a matter of figuring out the details and fine-tuning my process. I read every tip and trick I could find on the web about ebook formatting, took notes, and started keeping track of what I did so I wouldn't have to relearn for my next book.

When I checked Amazon for books on e-book formatting, I found a few but none that offered a step-by-step process. People need details: what do I look for? What do I change? How do I know what it'll look like when I'm done? Since I'm a technical writer by day, I figured this was something I could offer -- a user's guide for ebook formatting my way.

My way's not the only way by any means. In fact, I'll bet that some of the professionals who do ebook formatting turn out an ebook interior that's as clean and attractive as my books are -- or better! I'm a cheapskate by nature and rebel against paying someone else to do something I can do myself (except, of course, for yard work and house cleaning), and there are lots of people out there who agree.

Sure, some things take talent as well as skill, like cover art and writing novels. Ebook formatting isn't one of them It's just a matter of learning and following a process. If you're comfortable with your computer, you can format your own ebooks and be proud of the end product.

K.C. May
science fiction & fantasy author