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, 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 ( 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.


Legal Eagles
A few recent self-published books that focus on resourceful attorneys pursuing justice.
Through the ages, the works of playwrights, novelists, and filmmakers, from Shakespeare to Steven Spielberg, have gleefully skewered lawyers. In Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, the first movie in the popular franchise, a discerning dinosaur chomps on a particularly sleazy attorney, delighting fans worldwide. But depictions of heroic lawyers also remain plentiful, particularly on TV, in classic series (Perry Mason) and more ...
Shelf Space: Atomic Books
We talk to the store's co-owner Benn Ray
Baltimore’s Atomic Books opened in 1992 as a home for the extreme publications, zines, underground comics, and books that other bookstores wouldn’t carry. When owner Scott Huffines closed the store in 2000, Benn Ray and Rachel Whang, longtime friends of Huffines and fans of Atomic Books, decided to reopen it, with Huffines’ blessing, at a new location in their neighborhood ...
Meghan March
A former corporate lawyer is now a big name in indie romance
A corporate lawyer by training, “unapologetically sexy romance” writer Meghan March started writing as a hobby until one book about the advantages of indie publishing changed everything. The USA Today bestselling author of the Beneath series has recently released a spinoff of her Dirty Billionaire series. March is a relatively recent recruit to the field of self-publishing but enjoys the ...