Hello SErs. Harmony here. As promised earlier, here is the third installment in the post series dedicated to taking a step-by-step look at how to get your finished manuscript from your computer and on sale on Amazon in both ebook and paperback.
If you’d like to take a look back at the planned outline in that post, then here’s the shortlink: https://wp.me/p7OGru-29c. And here’s the link to Part 1: https://wp.me/p7OGru-29t. Finally, here’s the link to Part 2: https://wp.me/p7OGru-29J. To make it easy to browse back and forth, I’ve set all links to open in new tabs. As this series progresses, I will update the links for you so that each post includes links to all past posts in the series.
So, here’s Part Three: How to Format for eBook
First up, here is a list of the accepted formats that Amazon allows for uploading ready for ebook conversion:
- Microsoft Word (Doc/DocX)
- Kindle Create (KPF)
- HTML (Zip, HTM, HTML)
- Rich Text Format (RTF)
- Plain Text (TXT)
- Adobe (PDF)
Please note: Not all of these formats result in a good-looking ebook.
In my experience, the best (and easiest) results come from uploading a ready-made MOBI or an ePub, and failing either of those, from uploading a Word Doc ready for conversion online.
When I posted my outline post for this series, a publisher very kindly messaged a fellow author to advise me that: “I upload to KDP all the time. Their preference is a high resolution PDF and they aren’t using mobi anymore.”
Upon checking this out, I find the following from Amazon on PDFs: “We accept PDF files, but they can contain embedded formatting and/or images that don’t convert well to eBooks.” And they do still accept MOBI files, so I’m not sure if this is a difference for mainstream publishers as opposed to indie publishers or not. However, at the time of writing this, the above list is current and correct.
Amazon do seem to have a habit of changing things frequently without sending out any notifications. But, even if things have changed by the time you come to uploading your book, this article (and its counterparts) do at least give you the nuts and bolts so that you are not completely in the dark.
If you’ve already taken care of your formatting (section breaks, etc.), then this next step will prove much easier than if you haven’t. If you haven’t, you need to do that now.
As mentioned in Part 1, Vellum is the easiest and quickest conversion software tool you can use. However, even if you use this, I would strongly recommend inserting section breaks for each chapter end so that Vellum can easily recognise your chapters after you’ve imported your Word file.
[As Joan mentioned in the comments for part 1, unfortunately Vellum is only available for Mac users. Hopefully, they will release a PC version too.]
Before you can upload to KDP, you need front and back matter, as well as a Table of Contents (TOC), in addition to your finished manuscript.
Top Tip: A TOC has to go at the front of the book ALWAYS, not ever the back.
Scrivener and Vellum will auto-generate a TOC for you. If you’re working solely in Word, then that process becomes much more convoluted, and you will need to follow the steps in Word section below.
Scrivener will take care of front matter for you. Vellum will also recognise front matter, but may need some tweaking, depending upon your manuscipt layout. If you’re working in Word only, this is where your section breaks settings are of vital importance, so that you don’t end up with your front matter listed in your contents nor page numbers on the front pages (which don’t want them).
If you’re compiling in Srivener, see below:
For working in Scrivener, the best information I can give you is to visit Literature and Latte, where you will find a wealth of tutorials, help, and support for working with Scrivener. You can find them HERE. While this is great software for writers, it does require a lot of learning, and instructions for navigating this software go far beyond the scope of this post.
If you’re going to work solely in MS Word, see below;
Back in June 2018, I wrote a comprehensive post on how to convert from Word into a book. You can find that detailed post HERE, as I mentioned in the last post.
Once you’ve taken care of all of that, you can now concetrate on making a TOC.
Top Tip: Once you’ve started, you cannot make any further changes to your text. If you do, you will have to delete and re-format all your chapter anchors. This is because any text changes will move other text, and thus your anchors will point to the wrong place. Believe me, you don’t want the extra work!
So, you have your book title page, your copyright page, any relevent dedication, acknowledgements, etc., pages in the front matter. Now you need a contents page. So, if you don’t have one already, go ahead and make a section break for a new section after the final frontis page.
Type ‘contents’, and then below, list each chapter.
Next, go to each chapter start and insert a bookmark over the chapter heading …
In the dialogue box, type the name you want for your bookmark (for example: part one, chapter one, chapter 1, 1, one, etc.). Please note: you cannot have spaces in the name, so instead, you need to type out ‘part one’ as ‘part_one’. When you’re ready, click on add.
Do this for each and every chapter.
Now go to your contents list.
Highlight the first line and insert a hyperlink:
In the dialogue box, you want to set the link to within the document rather than to a web page. For the anchor, you select ‘locate’ and then navigate to the relevant bookmark. Select the bookmark. Make sure the ‘link to’ matches the ‘display’ and ‘anchor’. Click ‘OK’ and your first linked TOC is made. Repeat this process for each and every chapter listed.
You want to finish up with something that looks like this:
After this you need to test your links. Click on the first hyperlink. Word should now take you to the first chapter. If it doesn’t, your anchor is in the wrong place and you will need to delete and start this process over again for each errant chapter link. Check every link within the document.
Now you’re ready to convert or upload your book.
If you’re converting using Calibre, see below:
Once you have your Word Doc ready for conversion, you can use a free software program called Calibre. You will find detailed instructions in an old post of mine on this topic HERE, again as I mentioned in my last post.
If you’re converting using Amazon’s online converter, see below:
Repeat all the steps required for working solely in Word. Upload your Doc/DocX file to the KDP dashboard (more on that in future posts), and Amazon will convert the file for you. Use Amazon’s online previewer to make sure the finished ebook looks good and has a working TOC at the front of the book.
You can find tips and guidlines for uploading your ebook on Amazon’s help pages: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200634390.
That’s it from me for today. I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and I’ll see you all again on Monday, February 17th, where we’ll be taking a look at how to format your manuscript for paperback printing.
©Harmony Kent 2020
(If you're reading this post on or after February 17th, 2020, then here's the link for Part 4 in the How to Publish with KDP series: https://wp.me/p7OGru-2eS. Please note, the link won't work until February 17th, 2020.)