Formatting a manuscript for ePublishing

A few days ago, I was asked to explain my experience of ePublishing and how I went about preparing my novel to be published as an eBook. The process, as I explained, is not very complicated and can be easily accomplished in a few minutes. The snag is, of course, that the manuscript needs to be formatted correctly for an eBook before you begin the process. I thought I would share my ideas with a wider circle. So, here goes.

The most important thing you do, apart from write the text, is to format the manuscript so that it can be easily converted into an ePub file without a lot of HTML errors. I find that the easiest and best way to do this is to set up the formatting before I begin typing. Reformatting a huge manuscript after you have written it is a major headache. I know this from experience. This is what works for me:

  1. avoid all fancy formatting, styles, headers, footers, footnotes, table of contents, line breaks, page breaks, different colours and page numbering;
  2. create your cover separately as a PowerPoint JPEG but put a smaller image into the text at the beginning;
  3. set up the document before beginning typing using Word styles (this is the formatting bar at the top of your screen under the ribbon) and having this as a default setting so that all writing is done on the same template – this saves lots of hassle;
  4. have clearly defined styles: I use Heading 3 as my chapter headings so that the converter can easily pick them out to create the table of contents and my body text is written in the Normal style with a line spacing of 1.5;
  5. this is what it says under the modify button: Font: 14 pt, Bold, Line spacing: single, Space,  Before:  14 px, Keep with next, Keep lines together, Level 3, Style: Linked, Hide until used, Quick Style, Priority: 10
  6. have body text paragraphs setting up so that as you type Word automatically indents your paragraphs;
  7. I have a hanging first line of 36px;
  8. keep an eye on your use of the Enter button on your keyboard and minimize the black spaces between paragraphs and chapters;
  9. test out small texts on different e-ink devices to see what works best for you;
  10. do not use fancy fonts as they do not convert well.


A converted documented which can be read an e-ink device is basically a html document similar to the kind of page you see on a website. Text wraps around so if you press Enter or Return at the end of each line you will mess up the text.

I generally save my documents as a doc file but you can save them as HTML files and RTF files depending on the conversion program you choose.

Formatted Doc

Formatted Doc

London Book Fair: Book Discovery for Authors

The London Book Fair opened to visitors at 9 am today at Earls Court in London and was an immediate success. Who knew there were so many print publishing companies, ditigal publishers, indie publishers, publishing platforms and digital developments out there? The adjective “amazing” doesn’t even cover it.

I got to talk to so many interesting and helpful people today. I need to mention the guy I talked to at CreateSpace who gave me lots of interesting ideas on publishing and marketing my Photoshop Manual; the guy I talked to at Kobo also told me about their author site, which was something I did not know about and now I can’t wait to explore (I bought a Kobo a few months ago to sit alongside my Kindle) and a couple from a Korean company explained their new online platform for creating ebooks (more about that in a later post). I got my photo taken by a professional photographer and will be using the finished result on my website

On to the topic of what I really learned today. I actually only listened in to one whole panel discussion/seminar and that was Book Discovery for Authors which featured Andrew Rhomberg of Jellybooks, Joanna Penn a Blogger & Author and the fantastic Mark Coker of Smashwords. A couple of years ago I put the first draft of my second novel up on Smashwords and 450 people downloaded it in a weekend. Thank you people.

So, back to what I really learned today.

  • As an  author you need to have more than one book available. If somone likes a book you have written then they are going to want to read more than one.
  • If you have written more than one book, then you need to make one book permanently free to attract readers. If they like the free book then the readers will be prepared to pay for the next one. If one book is free, then readers are more likely to pay a premium for another book in the same series.
  • No one can keep up with their readers as they will finish reading one of your books faster than you can write the next one. Since you need to keep your readers interested and on your side, hook up with other writers in the same genre and promote each others books. When your reader has finished your books then they can go to theirs and stay happy until you have a new book out.
  • Have an email list, a website link, a twitter account and a facebook account and have links to all of them at the end of your book. Your readers want to stay in touch with you and you need to keep them interested in you and your writing. If you can connect with your readers then they will stay with you. Apparently, most book  recommendations are via email. This is a seriously important point.
  • Keeping in touch with your readership is vital. Send them snippets of your new novel as you are writing it to keep them interested in the book and in you.
  • Invest in really good cover design and develop a brand line. A good cover can sell a thousand copies.
  • Give your reader a reason for reading and make your book “outstanding”. If you take your reader to a higher emotional level then the reader will rate you more stars. The more stars you get on Amazon or wherever, the more people are likely to buy your books.
  • Have a good title.
  • Use pre-orders. Pre-orders are counted as sales on day one of publication and send your book high up the best seller chart.
  • Promote, promote, promote.
  • Keep writing.

Since I have to promote my own novel tomorrow, I am off to work on my synopsis.