September 10, 2010

Formatting your ebook for Amazon's Kindle

My book Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend is soon ready in Kindle format through Amazon, just like Powered From Within: Stories About Running & Triathlon and A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing.

Once you know how to format your ebook properly for Amazon's Digital Text Platform, which is where you submit your ebook data and files so it can be sold and/or read on the Kindle, it is a very easy process. 

Once you have signed up for to Amazon's DTP program, you can do so here. You add a new title, and fill out all the required details. This is very straightforward (if you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me). You upload the cover photo of your book.

Then it is time to upload your book's content file. This is simple - once you know how to do it. It took me a while to figure it out and, as described in an earlier post, a website called CJ's Easy as Pie, helped a lot.

I used first Microsoft Word and then Mobipocket to convert my book's content file. (Do I need to remind you to back up those files before we get started?)

Your book's file in MS Word needs to be cleared of all formatting. (To do this select the entire file with CTRL A, then go to Formatting, then Styles and Formatting, and then Clear Formatting.)

Once that's done, there are two things that you can/must do to format your book for the Kindle: add page breaks and apply styles to the book's title, and all chapters - this process also allows you to create a clickable contents table.

As you know, page breaks are inserted via Insert, then Break, then Page Break, or CTRL Enter.

To apply styles to your book's chapters, select the text that you want, then go to Format, then Styles and Formatting, and choose a style from the right-hand page that opens up (or scroll up and down until you see Heading 1 etc.

For example, this is what I did with the 54 chapters of Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend:
That great sense of accomplishment is available to anyone
"It's really important to enjoy the journey rather than feel like it is something you have to do."

CHAPTER 1 - I applied Heading 1 to that.

That great sense of accomplishment is available to anyone - I applied Heading 3 to that line

"It's really important to enjoy the journey rather than feel like it is something you have to do." I applied Heading 8 to this line because it allowed me to have italics in the layout at the start of each chapter - I didn't want each pull-out quote of the beginning of each chapter to show up in the Table of Contents because it would too unruly.

If you like, you change the set-up of each Heading style by right-clicking on it and then choose Modify in the drop-down menu.

You need to go through your entire document, and apply the Heading styles, and insert Page Breaks between each chapter.

You can use the View, Reading layout to check it looks OK.

I applied the heading Title to the book's title and my name, though I later remove it from the table of Contents (see below).

Once you have done that, it's time to create your table of Contents. Put your cursor on the spot where you'd like the Contents to appear. Then choose Insert, then Reference, then Index and Tables.

Once you are here, click the Table of Contents tab and choose how many Heading levels you'd like to show. With Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend I applied three Headings (1, 3 and 8) but only wanted the text of Headings 1 and 3 to show up in the Contents table. So I chose under Show Levels 2, so only the first two levels are shown.

Make sure the Show Page Numbers box is NOT ticked for your ebook. Then click OK.

Check the Contents table you've just created, and remove any headings you do not want. In my case I removed the title of my book, and my name, as well as the item Also by Margreet Dietz from my Contents.

Now you're ready for Mobipocket. Download the software.

Open Mobipocket's Creator. Then upload your book's content file, as we just created, by selecting MS Word document under the Import From Existing File.

Once the content file is uploaded you will need to do two things: add a cover photo by selecting Cover Image at the left-hand side. Use Browse to find the image, upload and click Update.

Next go to Metadata (also on the left) and fill out all the required fields, then click Update.

Now you are ready to create the file you will upload to Amazon's DTP: click Build in the top of the screen. If it doesn't work, check if you have filled out all the required Metadata of your book.

Once this done, allow through the third option that shows up on your screen to see where the file with the extension .PRC is created on your computer.

Then go to Amazon, and upload this file under your book's content file. Use the Preview option to check your book looks the way it should.

Congratulations, the hardest part of this process of the DTP process is now done!

As mentioned before, CJ's Easy as Pie is a great resource, and there are plenty of others out there, either free or for sale in book form like this one. Check out self-publishing books on Amazon.

Good luck, and if you think I might be able to help you, please feel free to email me.

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