Step-By-Step Self Publishing on Kindle: Book Formatting

BC Brown Books Kindle Self Publishing Book Formatting

We’ve covered how to establish a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and how to set your product pricing and royalties in the Getting Started post and we’ve talked in more detail about the individual product details in the Book Basics post. With all that great information, you’re ready to go, right? Except…wait, what is your product?

If you’re reading this I’m to assume you’ve written a book.The question remains: have you formatted it for upload? Book formatting isn’t as simple as uploading a Word document. Don’t despair however. It isn’t hard either. With a few easy steps you can make sure your book is professional quality when your reader opens their Kindle and sees your work.

Preparation for publication

Many writers choose to write in chapters which affords editing ease and also reorganization. Like many other authors, I don’t write in a linear fashion, instead relying on a mixture of plotting and scene “stitching” that often has me jumping from place to place in a novel. Doing so would be impossible to keep in one text document, no matter the format, so I keep each scene or chapter in separate documents that can be readily accessed.

When it comes to prepping your novel formatting, you need to put your edited document in a single file from start to finish, front cover to back cover. A lot of writers find that the successful conversion format is a Word document that has been saved as an HTML document. You can do that using the “Save As” command in Word. Doing this will keep any embedded files in the document fixed in their proper spot. No one wants a weird chapter heading illustration jumping about in the final document upload. In this same regard considering any columns or tables in the document formatted as text or graphic images. (Be advised: if you are unfamiliar with graphics programs, stick with the text format or work with someone who has design knowledge.)

Kindle books following their own page formatting, especially as readers come in different shapes and sizes, so be sure to remove any page numbers or references to page numbers. Footnotes (if necessary) should be replaced with hyperlinks that navigate readers to another section of your document like an End Notes page. If writing non-fiction, hyperlinks embedded directly in your text is very useful since Kindle includes basic web function. If you use this feature however I’d warn readers somewhere at the book’s front matter that navigating away to the websites may slow their device.

Acceptable formats

KDP accepts the following file formats for upload:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc)
  • Adobe (.pdf)
  • HTML (.htm or .html)
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Zipped HTML (.zip) – useful for HTML documents with images
  • Mobi (.mobi or .prc) – Mobipocket file

Word and Adobe seem to be the most commonly used file formats, although Mac Pages is up and coming. Plain text (.txt) once uploaded allows you to preview the document before saving. Amazon does recommend you upload the work in a single HTML file. If unfamiliar with that process, you can use the “Save As” function and choose the HTML format. When using Plain Text, remember that Kindle will automatically re-size and re-order the text. Amazon recommends using little formatting in text files and even using as few hard returns, or hard line breaks, as possible. In my experience, I shy away from using PDF. Amazon does not guarantee the conversion quality of PDFs.

Graphics and images

For most writers this will primarily concern cover art and back cover art. However there are a number of authors who choose to include graphics within the book itself. Fantasy is a prime example. Many authors will upload a chapter heading graphic, such as a House coat of arms or a themed graphic.

Kindle will allow the following graphic formats:

  • Joint Photographic Experts Group or JPEG
  • Bitmap or BMP
  • Graphic Interchange Format or GIF
  • Portable Networks Graphic or PNG

Cover images however can only be in TIFF or JPEG format.

Always remember rights when selecting art and illustrations for your book. Some authors will use images found on the internet, but I caution against that. Unless you have downloaded the content with a full rights release from a reliable source, stick to images you’ve created or purchased (again examining the usage rights you are entitled to). Remember that just because you’ve purchased artwork does not mean you have full use of it.

Basic image formatting guidelines
  • Imagines larger than 450 by 550 pixels will be resized
  • Image files must be 64kb or smaller with aspect ratio of 9 to 11
  • Increase an image’s sharpness slightly but not too much
  • For a full-page image on Kindle, resize it to 450px by 550px

Book covers

Well, what is there to say about this except…your book needs one. Unless you have some considerable skill in graphic design, you should hire a professional cover designer. I know many of you are thinking But I can’t afford that! No fear, there are dozens of professional cover art sites with stock cover arts you can use. I particularly enjoy SelfPub Book Covers. Inexpensive, a large portfolio you can select by genre or surf by artist, and they pull the cover art out of rotation once it is purchased, guaranteeing you a unique cover.

Upload and preview

With these few tips you are well on your way to formatting your book properly and uploading it into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). All that is left is to try the upload and preview the document, from start to finish, to make sure there aren’t any discernible issues. If there are, identify them and go back to your document to double check. Then simply repeat. Do this as many times as possible ensure your upload is a professional quality as possible. Keep in mind that people will not only judge you on your writing and marketing abilities, they will also judge your work on its quality of appearance.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane                           

Shannyn Schroeder – A Good Time – Novel Spotlight

Independent authors do a ton of work promoting their works. Today, I’m happy to promote a fellow writer and introduce my readers (And we all know there are a small army of you, aren’t there?) to someone they may not have heard of before now.
So, without further ado…
Shannyn Schroeder’s
A GOOD TIME
He’s got game, but can she play for keeps?
A passionate free spirit and a sweet-talking playboy sound like a match made in heaven—until life gets in the way of all the fun and games…


Indy Adams values her freedom above all else. She works hard to support herself, moonlighting as a waitress while she fights for her first big sale in the Chicago real estate market. The last thing she needs is to be tied down, so she doesn’t think twice about declining her philandering boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Besides, she just landed a new client, a wealthy lothario—exactly the kind of guy who would understand her no-strings approach…



Handsome, rich, and charitable, most women jump at the chance to even talk to video game developer Griffin Walker, let alone date him. So he can’t understand why Indy wants nothing more than a few steamy nights together. Despite his romantic track record, Griffin longs for real love—complete with a home and family—and he wants it with Indy. But a blessing in disguise may lead them both to a life they never expected, and give Griffin a chance to show Indy that it’s okay to want more than a good time…

  

Forty minutes later, racing to get to her appointment, Indy felt a little panicked.

“I hope the man who invented pantyhose died a slow and painful death,” she cursed. It must’ve been a man, she thought as sweat snaked down her back and nylon suffocated her thighs. The damn air-conditioning on the car stopped working, and she hadn’t planned to fix it yet since fall had supposedly arrived. Unfortunately, the Chicago weather didn’t agree.

The remnants of her hangover made her regret the decision.

She whipped into the circle drive of the first mansion and saw Griffin’s silver Jaguar already parked. Double damn. She parked behind him and got out. Her ten-year-old Taurus sagged sadly behind the Jaguar.

I am so out of my league.

She tugged at the collar of her blouse. Her skirt skimmed the backs of her knees, reminding her of church clothes. At least she was ready if the heat really did kill her.

Griffin still sat in his car. The Winnetka house stood in front of her with a gorgeous wide, pillared front porch. Selling a house in the wealthy Chicago suburb would be her first.

Looking back at the Jag, she couldn’t quite reconcile the image of Griffin hanging out, drinking beer at his friend’s bar with the millionaire video-game developer. Indy threw back her shoulders and faked confidence as best she knew how.

She paused en route to his car. The door swung open and Griffin unfolded himself from behind the steering wheel. He wasn’t just good-looking; he was drool-worthy.

His perfectly styled dark hair slicked back from his face. His jaw was surprisingly smooth. He usually sported a dark five-o’clock shadow, and she’d figured it had been intentional.

He spoke into his Bluetooth headset for another moment, acknowledging her with a slight wave of his hand. His finely tailored suit revealed a fit body: broad shoulders and trim waist. He shed his suit coat and rolled his sleeves in concession to the heat, which should’ve made him look relaxed, but his face was solemn. She preferred him in jeans and a worn T-shirt, drinking a beer at O’Leary’s.

Ending the call, he tossed the Bluetooth in the car before closing the door. Indy approached with her hand extended. “Mr. Walker, nice to see you again. I’m sorry I’m late.”

He grasped her hand and tugged playfully. “Call me Griffin. I’m not looking for a dog and pony show, Indy.”

She liked the way her name rolled off his tongue. “I’m simply greeting you the same way I’d greet any client.”

He removed his sunglasses and made no attempt to hide his appraisal of her. She’d been scrutinized by worse. His expression held a hint of laughter. After raking his gaze over her, top to bottom, he smiled. Small lines fanned from eyes nearly as dark as his hair. The act removed the stiff businessman, and he became a drinking buddy. “I’m not any client. We’ve known each other for months. We’re friends.”

Her tense muscles relaxed a fraction. Their previous encounters had paved the way for a friendly acquaintance. He followed her to the house. Even in her two-and-a half-inch heels, she had to look up to meet his eyes.

As she opened the door, chilly air brushed over her heated skin and caused a shiver. “Would you like a tour, or just want to wander?”

After she asked, she looked at the décor and cringed. The owners hadn’t wanted photos of the interior posted online. Now she knew why. Everything was white.

Griffin’s phone rang. He checked the screen and ignored it.

“You can take that if you need to,” she offered. “I can wait.” She wanted to have a few minutes to cool her body.

He stood in the middle of the foyer and turned in a slow circle. “No, I’ve seen enough. Where to next?”

Indy’s stomach flipped. “You don’t want to see other rooms?” she asked carefully.

His eyes locked on hers. “No.”

“I realize the color scheme . . . or lack of one might be a turn-off, but that’s paint and carpet.”

“What else do you have?”

She fumbled with the clasp on her portfolio and pulled two listings from the pocket. “Here are the other two I told you about. We can go to whichever you like next.”

“Let’s try this one.” He tapped the top page.

“Okay. Follow me.” She exited the house. Excitement and optimism seeped from her pores like sweat. She’d hoped for a quick sale.

The next two showings went the same. Griffin walked in, looked briefly, and left. In the driveway of the third house, she said, “Maybe if you tell me a little more about what you do want, I won’t waste your time looking at houses that don’t work.”

His broad, charming smile creased at the sides of his mouth and showed the hint of dimples. “You showed me exactly what I asked for. I’ll know it when I see it.”

“Okay. I’ll keep you posted if I find other listings that might suit you.” Disappointment gripped her.

“How about dinner?”

“Excuse me?”

“Can I take you out to dinner?”

She pulled her lips into a firm businesslike smile. So much for friendly acquaintance. “I’m involved with someone, and I don’t date clients.”

So what if Richard had started out as a client. He’d bought before their first date.

He stepped closer, picked up her left hand, and looked pointedly at her ring finger. “We already covered that I’m more than a client; we’re friends.”

“We might be friends if you’d stop flirting with me.”

“Flirting is something we both excel at. Besides, how serious could your involvement with your married boyfriend be?”

Quinn and her big mouth. She’d definitely have a talk with her little sister. She bit her tongue for a second and thought of Richard. “There’s enough seriousness in life without me adding to it.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, she feared she’d given him ample ammunition.

She tugged her hand from his grasp and twitched at his thumb’s caress across her knuckles. Little jolts of pleasure shimmied up her arm. Damn, she hated the effect of charming men. No matter how hard she tried, she wasn’t immune. He released her hand and moved to his car without another word. His phone rang as he drove off with his engine purring.

Kind of like her nerves.

Griffin had all the markings of a rich playboy. He was charming and arrogant, and women swooned at the sight of him. But she wanted only one thing from Griffin Walker: a big, fat commission.

A block from the last house, she pulled over. The itchy pantyhose drove her crazy. She opened the door and looked up and down the street. Not a soul in sight. Reaching under her skirt, she tugged the nylon from her body. Once she dragged it to her thighs, she sat on the edge of the driver’s seat and rolled the pantyhose down. A slight breeze kissed her skin and she sighed.

Just as she pulled them off and stood barefoot on the street, a revved engine caught her attention. The silver Jaguar pulled up beside her. Could the day get any worse?

“Everything okay?” Griffin asked through the open window.

“Yeah.” She balled the nylons into her fist and stifled a laugh. She didn’t care enough to be embarrassed, but she scrambled for an excuse.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing. I pulled over to take a call.”

“With no phone?” His gaze raked down her body again and stopped at her bare feet. “And no shoes?”

She sighed and held out her pantyhose. “You caught me. I couldn’t wait to get out of my pantyhose. The heat was strangling me.”

His laugh echoed on the empty street and relief washed over her. Her own smile followed. If Richard had caught her stripping off her pantyhose on the street, he’d be mortified.

“Next time, leave them at home. Your legs are sexier without them.”

“Flirting will get you nowhere,” she said and leaned against the door. Even to her own ears, her remark sounded hollow. The air-conditioning tickled her arms and she repressed a shiver.

One eyebrow rose above his sunglasses. “When something interests me, I go after it.”

“Even if it’s unattainable?”

“Nothing is unattainable.”

She straightened. “We’ll see.”

He slid his glasses to the top of his head. Dark brown eyes bore into her and no longer held amusement. “Be warned. I always get my way.”

He pulled away. She wanted to be pissed, tried to feel indignant and angry, but failed. She would do whatever was necessary to make Griffin Walker happy.

Author Bio:

Shannyn Schroeder is a former English teacher, who now works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.

Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.

After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”

         So she did.

That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to professional author. She came to reading romance later than many, but lives for the happy ending because real life can be depressing. She writes contemporary romance because she enjoys the adventure of new love.

In her spare time, she loves to bake cookies and watches far too much TV, especially cop shows. She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.

Shannyn Schroeder has also released one other book entitled More than This (O’Leary’s #1) and can be found by clicking on the title’s name. 

Contact Shannyn about her work via her Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or Pinterest.

A Touch of Darkness

As authors we look for tons of avenues to exploit promote our work. We Facebook, Tweet, Linked In, Google+, Blog, Guest Blog, Host Blog, Conventioneer, Book Tour, Skywrite, trap people in grocery market checkout lines… ANYTHING to make sure the world knows about our works. Today’s post is a shameless plug for myself. It’s on my first paranormal mystery in the Abigail St. Michael Novels.

A Touch of Darkness, An Abigail St. Michael Novel
(Available in Print, Kindle, Nook, & Smashwords)

Abigail St. Michael, a former cop, has joined the recently growing ranks of metaphysicals, individuals with abilities outside that of normal human nature. When a murderer stalks her town killing children, Abbey uses her ability of touch clairvoyance to hunt him down. Her only roadblock is that her murderer seems to have his own unique talent, the ability to ‘wipe’ his victims and their surroundings of any metaphysical energy. With little physical evidence and no supernatural evidence, Abbey is forced to rely on instinct and luck to solve the case. However both Abbey’s luck and instinct seem to have taken a permanent vacation as the victims keep piling up with the killer’s escalating blood lust.

Reviews

“This evocative novel presents us with a unique way to see relationships, all the while giving us an innovative, candid eye on the seemingly normal world in which we live.” – Bibliophile (Amazon Customer Review)

“Quite a good mystery . . . a little romance . . . good characters . . . good writing style!” – fhm513 (Amazon Customer Review)

Excerpt

Du-du-du-du: You are now entering a place, another dimension, known as The Twilight Zone…
The police had speculated that Irving Schleck had been mugged and then shoved down a flight of subway stairs not far from his home. These brilliant deductions by our fine men and women in uniform were made based on the fact that Mr. Schleck was located at the bottom of the stairwell and his wallet was missing.
Astonishing.
Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary.
It helped that, while the Schleck neighborhood was generally pretty tame, some unsavory elements had begun to creep into the once nice neighborhood a little more every year.
If it walks like a duck…
Davis didn’t think it was a duck, and he called me in. Of course, the quote-end-quote real police work had led the fine detectives to a dead end in the case. Davis only had permission to call me in on a case once all the real leads were exhausted.
No, that’s not sarcasm in my voice or anything?!
I’d gotten the call on my work cell. I actually have a second that I carried for just police work. For a while, my advisory jobs had become so hectic that the calls began to outnumber my personal ones. Davis had spoken to the police chief and gotten the force to foot the bill for a company phone.
Everyone referred to it as the “Bat Signal.”
I digress.
Davis called me in and, almost a week after the incident, I walked the crime scene for the first time. I was more than a little pissed. I was even more pissed when I arrived on the crime scene amidst a light drizzle.
Rain is a problem for individuals with my unique talents. Water washes away metaphysical energy as quickly as it washes away physical evidence. A violent event can get trapped for longer but eventually time and the elements fade the energy no matter how violent the event. I mean, I’m not still picking up shit from the Manson murders or anything.
Once I arrived on the crime scene, I was doubtful I’d pick up anything left over. I told Davis my doubts. He encouraged me to try, regardless; he always encouraged me to try. It was his special talent, I guess. So I slipped off my special-made gloves.
Clothing doesn’t always protect me from seeing impressions, but the gloves were a damned sight better than my walking around bare-skinned. That would land me back in the funny farm in no time. Trust me, I know, I’d been there once already. I had once brushed up against a woman who beat her two children on a twice-daily basis. I felt her glee as she did it; her happiness as she felt their little bones crunch under her/my hands…
Oh, God…
I digress.
Davis knew my doubts, but I did my job. I slipped off my sweet Italian, designer gloves and touched everything in sight. The railing, the stairs, the curb where he’d busted his damned head, and… nothing. Nada, zip, nein – no pun intended, Mr. Schleck. There was nothing left to see. I told my ex-boss as much, but I was wrong.
There was a cat.