Formatting: The Final Polish

Making your e-book look wonderful

Skipping that last step of properly formatting your e-book can undermine the professionalism of an otherwise polished work. Some distributors, including Smashwords, offer various tools (both free and for a fee) for file conversion (from Microsoft Word to EPUB, for example) and formatting. A popular, well-designed, inexpensive option is Joel Friedlander’s book design templates, which you can find at bookdesigntemplates.com, for both print and e-books. All conversion and formatting needs are coded into the pre-designed templates.

Author Guido Henkel offers an in-depth, free formatting guide on his blog (GuidoHenkel.com). He also has an expanded version, Zen of Ebook Formatting, available for sale. Henkel explains: “One of the biggest challenges is to make sure your e-book displays correctly on all platforms. A lot of authors simply export their manuscripts from Word and then publish the resulting e-book file. The problem with that approach is that all word processors hide a lot of formatting specifics in order to create their WYSIWYG environment.”

Formatting one’s book, rather than simply exporting it, gives the author much more control over the final product. “It allows you to create a much cleaner e-book, but you can also make sure it is structurally sound, and you can make sure your implementation is rock solid, avoiding or working around known device glitches and problems, creating e-books that will display nicely on any device in the market,” says Henkel.

Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.

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