Wednesday night I was at a complete loss as to what to write for my Thursday blog post. I jumped on Twitter to see what you guys were interested in and Gus kindly offered me this suggestion.
Although I’m not a trained book formatter, I do come across formatting often in my work as an author assistant. Formatting an ebook (or a print book) is one step most do not think of when they initially set out on the path to publishing. Getting an editor and a great cover design are big steps in publishing that I am very vocal about authors seeking before publishing their work, and book formatting is another key I don’t mention enough.
Why is book formatting so important?
Book formatting and layout prepares the text of your book, the meat of your work, for each shape it will take. If you plan on publishing in print and ebook, you will need different formats. If you plan on publishing on Amazon for Kindle and on Barnes & Noble for Nook, you will need different formats. Having the right format allows your work to be viewed easily by the reader. Just imagine if you opened up an ebook on your Kindle and in between each line of text was a strand of random letters! Would you keep reading the ebook? No. This is why it is key to get your book formatting and layout correct.
How do I know which formats I need for my book?
The first step in figuring out which formats you’ll need for you book is picking where you want to publish and if you want to produce print books, ebooks or both.
- If you are creating print books you will need a print layout.
- If you are creating an ebook you may need one or both of the following formats
- .Epub (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords)
- .Mobi or .KF8 (Amazon)
In my personal opinion authors should take advantage of all formats they can publish in. By having a print version, a .mobi (Kindle) version, an .epub (Nook) version, and a audiobook authors can reach a wider audience in both sales and marketing. For example if you only have your book in .mobi (Kindle) format you might miss out on connecting with a book blogger for a review on Amazon because the reviewer only accepts paper books.
Although I think authors should publish in as many ways as possible, budget and time may only allow for one format at a time. If that is the case, start with an Amazon ebook. Numerous studies show Amazon currently has the largest share of the ebook market. Once you have your .mobi ebook move on to print, .epub, and audiobook.
How can I get my book formatted properly?
Although authors can attempt to learn formatting there are many rules one must learn, legal issues with fonts one would have to resolve, and the greatest potential for error, so I highly suggest against this option. In this growing world of ebook marketing there are now two ways I would recommend authors get their books formatted.
- If you are tight for a budget and/or love to do as much as you can yourself, try a service like Book Design Templates. (Affiliate link notice: I work with this company and receive a commission on sales made through this link. However, I would not recommend this service without knowing it is excellent. I also have used this service before myself and loved it.) With Book Design Templates you can purchase a print template for as little as $37 or an ebook template for only $27. And if you want to knock out both formats you can save a bunch and buy a combo pack for only $47. These templates are designed by award-winning book designer, Joel Friedlander and meet all the standards your book needs to pass muster while also being incredible beautiful. The templates are easy to use if you know how to copy and paste and allow you to format your book quickly with no stress. Plus if you want to add in some bonus features or have the team convert your manuscript for you they offer all that on their services page.
- If you are looking for a custom design for your book, I’d recommend hiring an expert. Here are a few experts to get you started:
- Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer
- Sabrina Ricci, Digital Pubbing Ebooks
- Alicia Kat Vancil, Kat Girl Studios
- Mallory Rock, Mallory Rock
Once you select the method that works best for you, get your book formatted and onto shelves (both physical and digital!)
Well Gus, I hope this answered your question on which ebook format to pick for your book! (I think I may have expanded a bit on the original question 😉 ).
How about you? What formats is your book in? Did you hire someone to format your book? Did you format your book on your own?
Bobbi Parish-Logie says
I got a lot of great info from this post, Kate. I especially appreciated the referral to good designers. I already have one for my novel but my non-fiction book still needs some love. Thanks Kate! ~ Bobbi
Kate Tilton (Froze8) says
Thanks for leaving a comment Bobbi! I’m really glad you found this article helpful! 🙂
I have met some fabulous designers over the years and getting to work with Book Design Templates has allowed me to learn even more about formatting than I ever expected. I hope you find the perfect designer for your non-fiction book!
Melissa Robles says
Great post Kate! I have come across with books with poor formatting and it’s such a shame because it really distracts a lot from the plot and all.
Kate Tilton (Froze8) says
Thank you Melissa! It is such a same to see a book be put down by readers because of formatting errors. Yet for many people it is very hard to learn how to format correctly for all the platforms and devices. This is why I strongly recommend authors use Book Design Templates or hire a pro designer so they do not lose readers and sales.
JJ Bach says
Good stuff! I might suggest a couple other hard pieces of this puzzle. #1, ebook readers like Kindle have only a few fonts onboard. So if you write your ebook in a “rarish” font, you may get a different looking ebook when viewed on a Kindle as the Kindle may not have the font you wrote with. You can embed fonts, which solves one problem but brings up others (e.g. bigger file size). #2, if you are doing a book with images, be aware of the large difference in cost between a full color paper book and a black and white paper book. #3 if you are doing both ebook and paper book, do the paper images at 300dpi and then do a second version of each image at 72dpi that also complies with the 127 kb image file size for Kindle. #4 Love love love the Kindle Previewer. This is a free app that Amazon offers. You can download and install it on your desk/lap top and use it to view your WIP. Very handy.
Write more than one book! The second one is so much easier after all the stress you have to learn and go through with the first one!
Kate Tilton (Froze8) says
Great tips JJ!
This is why I am such a fan of the templates from Book Design Templates. It breaks down all those tricks you need to know with fonts and makes it easy to authors to format their books without having to worry about a thing. 🙂
Will Van Stone Jr says
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought as I’ve been writing Innocence Lost. Unfortunately, the one thing I hadn’t yet considered was the possible legal issues with the font I want to use for my cover and chapter numbers – luckily the creator gives his consent to use his fonts for either private or commercial, as long as you don’t try claiming you made them. I was so happy to see that.
Kate Tilton says
Yes! Fonts is one thing many people forget about. Luckily there are many fonts out there that authors can use without any issue, but it is certainly wise to check as you have.
BC Brown says
As usual excellent advice! This article was perfect timing for me.
I’ve worked with a formatter previously, exchanging editorial services for his format services, and he handled all the headache. But with my new general fiction novel, Karaoke Jane, coming out, I find I’m in need of a formatter. Thank you for recommending services so I’ll have less headache while doing it myself.
Kate Tilton says
Aw I’m so pleased to hear that, BC! Formatting can be tricky and it is something very important in the publishing process. I hope these resources help you find the right formatting option for you!