Formatting and the Indie Author

Formatting and the Indie Author

If you read the reviews on sales sites like Amazon Kindle, you’ll see a great many complaints about poor formatting on the sales pages of some authors – as off-putting to the reader as poor writing and construction.

We publish our books on four sites. We use CreateSpace for our paperbacks and Amazon Kindle, Kobo and Nook for our eBooks. We tend to juggle our titles around where eBooks are concerned. All of our books are currently available on Amazon. Some titles on Kindle   Unlimited as well.

A few of our books are available on Kobo and Nook.

We get most of our sales on Amazon. We sell on Kobo, with some of our titles doing better than others. We rarely sell on Nook, though we like a presence there.

I’ll come back to CreateSpace in a future blog.

When we decided to go Indie with our books, I was completely puzzled by the practicalities of formatting. I’d heard horror stories of people getting it wrong and – not being a computer whizz-kid – was rather intimidated.

The solution came in a branch of W.H. Smith’s in Darlington, where, by sheer chance, I discovered a copy of a book called “How to Publish Your Own eBook” by Nik Rawlinson. It has been a Godsend, and I still refer to it today. I supplemented this with a book called “CreateSpace and Kindle – a Self-Publishing Masterclass” by Rick Smith.

I’ve read several others since but find these two books indispensable for the absolute beginner. I should stress here and now that I don’t personally know these two authors and I’m certainly not on any sort of commission. I just think they’re terrific if you’ve never published an eBook before.

All of the eBook sites publish in a different way. I actually think putting books on Kobo is a lot easier than loading them on to Amazon. So easy you don’t even really need a guidebook. I’m not wild about the way Nook loads eBooks, by far the worst of the three. There are other eBook sites but I haven’t used them. If you have experiences of them then please do comment.

I think a lot of bad formatting on Amazon etc. happens because people just try to put a Word document straight on the site. In fact, Amazon positively encourages this, particularly if you’ve produced a CreateSpace version first. Sometimes, when I’d downloaded and tested on our Kindle, it works. More often it doesn’t and the text is all over the place.

Now, I write on Word and then load my book on to Sigil, then Calibre, to produce a formatted version which I then upload on to the Amazon Kindle site etc. This seems to work for me. I know that the more technologically minded use Scrivener, InDesign, Quark Xpress, etc. Again, I’d welcome any thoughts on these, they are beyond my knowledge.

If anyone knows an easier way to format without any errors, I’m open to advice.

More on writing and publishing for the Indie author next week.


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