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Nov
18

How To Format Your EBooks For Amazon Kindle

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If you’re not using Amazon Kindle already to establish yourself as a trusted author, you really should be.  It’s a great way to build authority and brand yourself as an expert.  The only downside of Kindle is that it’s a little bit tough to get the formatting just right.

Now I’ve written other blogposts about the power of Kindle and the its benefits – remember there are authors who’ve literally sold millions of Kindle books, one who hit the headlines a few months back – over a million copies in 1 year at only 99cents. Not much I hear you say, but that guy netted over $330,000 and just think about the viral exposure he got –what do you think will happen the next time he publishes a book on Kindle? Its not rocket science, so get involved ……

The easiest way to do it is to upload the document directly to Kindle Direct Publishing.  The site is kdp.amazon.com.  Once this is done correctly, your book can be viewed on Kindle devices and any device with a Kindle app.  This includes PC’s, Macs, Androids, Blackberry phones, iPhones, and iPads.

Formats Kindle Accepts

Kindle will accept several different formats:

– Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx)

– ePub (.epub)

– Plain text (.txt)

– HTML (.htm, .html or .zip)

– Adobe PDF (.pdf)

– Rich Text Format (.rft)

– MobiPocket (.mobi or .prc)

While lots of folks naturally choose to upload Microsoft Word documents directly to Kindle, I’d advise against this.  The reason is that there’s extra coding in Word documents that the Kindle reader can’t handle.  What this code will do is mess up your formatting completely.  Your graphics will be screwed up and your fonts misaligned. 

I recommend using Rich Text (.rft) or plain text (.txt) because neither have any extra code that can make things difficult for the Kindle reader.

Images In Your Books

Pictures have to be in .jpg format.  They should be aligned in the center only.  Don’t copy and paste them into your document; they should be inserted directly.  Currently, the Kindle device itself only shows images in grayscale, but devices with Kindle apps can show full color.

Other Formatting Considerations

– No headers or footers

– No bullet points

– No strange characters that the device might not be able to read

 – Bold, italics and indentations are alright

– Add a page break at the end of each chapter or they’ll all run together

– Use ‘indent’ under Paragraph Settings instead of tab key if you want to indent

I suggest making the table of contents at the very end of your Kindle formatting.  The reason is that the page numbers will be different than those of your original document.  It looks pretty weird to have an incorrect table of contents, so do this as a last step and make sure it’s right.

Before you upload, you should also scroll through the book slowly one last time looking for anything funny.  Be on the lookout in particular for funny page breaks or tabs that you forgot to take out.

Using MobiPocket Creator

Another option that makes formatting a heck of a lot easier is to use MobiPocket Creator.  This is a free program you can get from MobiPocket.com that converts HTML files into .prc, which is an eBook format.  It turns your HTML file directly into Kindle-ready eBooks, which means one more step (converting .doc file to HTML, then HTML to .prc) but eliminates a lot of the formatting hassles.

Once you publish your first Kindle eBook, you’ll get a feel for which files work best for you.  Just don’t get frustrated if you have to do a little re-formatting.  It becomes second nature after a while.  And if you’re going to be publishing a lot (which you should be!), it’s well worth it to download MobiPocket Creator because it makes it much easier.

Toby & Sam Russell

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