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Luis
10-25-2011, 01:35 AM
Last weekend I published my book as a kindle ebook on Amazon.com. It looks beautiful, but the experience was full of pitfalls. Maybe it’s just scarier to publish in the same month as Halloween. I really did naively think that I would just be able to upload my files and it would appear on Amazon. Why not? I’ve been writing the book for years and it looks perfect as a Word document. But there were things I was seriously unaware of.

The first thing wrong: For the last 12 years I used the space button to indent every first sentence of every paragraph. It looked great, until I uploaded my files and previewed my book for the kindle. Every first sentence, in every paragraph of my 283 page novel, was not indented! I’ll be honest, I considered publishing it like that, but after not finding ONE book whose paragraphs were not indented, I had to find a cure.

I tried to use the “indent” button on Word to move the first sentence of each paragraph. I was ready to indent each and every one, but it moved the entire paragraph not just the first sentence. Thank God I have Microsoft Publisher; it allowed me to indent the first line without affecting the whole paragraph. I did not have to spend weeks changing, and probably screwing up, every paragraph in my book. The “select all” button allowed me to change every paragraph with one press of a button. Publisher saved the day!
The second thing that went wrong: When I created my pages I used the “Enter” button to end my chapters and continued writing on the next page. Apparently I've spent years writting in a fool’s paradise.

In order for your pages to look right on the kindle, you must use page breaks after the title page, copyright page, dedication page, chapter page (if any), and after the end of every chapter.
The third thing that went wrong: Spelling errors! After editing the book 22 times I still found spelling errors. I was editing up to the last minute. My wife’s read it 4 times, and she missed stuff too. I can only hope it’s perfect.

I'm convinced that the only thing you can do with this is to keep re-editing and give it to a trusted friend to read. Someone else MUST read it. There is always someone. limited.
Last but not least: When you “look inside this book” on Amazon, the text of my book is green! I called Amazon’s tech support to learn how to change it to black. The support rep told me that I used color text and I must change my text to black. Yes, I did use some red text, but I changed it all to black BEFORE I published it on Amazon.

I'm still trying to correct this so if anyone has any ideas I'd appreciate the help. The rep said she has never seen anyone’s text come out green before. I looks weird but kind of cool at the same time. My wife keeps reminding me it’s good luck because it is the color of money.

These are all the things that went wrong when I published my book on the kindle. I wanted to share my mistakes with you in the hopes you’ll be better prepared than I was. But don’t worry Amazon’s instructions are great and easy to follow. I just wanted to give some of you advanced warning, hope it helps.

Wish me luck, I am about to publish my book in paperback!

Luis
my blog: http://www.writerinwind.blogspot.com (http://www.writerinwind.blogspot.com)
my website: http://www.fantasiesonine.weebly.com (http://www.fantasiesonine.weebly.com)

Old Hack
10-25-2011, 01:42 AM
Luis, I've edited your post in order to enlarge the font: the one you chose was so tiny I couldn't even read it. You'd be better off sticking to the default settings in future.

Right. Now that's done, I'll read your post.

Medievalist
10-25-2011, 02:19 AM
Don't use spaces or tabs to indent your paragraphs.

Use the Ruler in whatever word processor you use; the top triangle of the Ruler may be dragged to indent the top line of every paragraph.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/indent-paragraphs-HP010016528.aspx#BM1

ResearchGuy
10-25-2011, 02:22 AM
. . . if anyone has any ideas I'd appreciate the help.. . .
For future projects, learn to use Word's paragraph and heading styles and section breaks. Get a good self-teaching book on Word, or take a class.

The first thing I have to do when setting up a book using files prepared by writers who are inexperienced with Word's formatting features is to copy the entire content and paste it into a new file as unformatted text, to get rid of many of their mistakes, and then laboriously to clean out the rest of the mistakes (tabs or spaces to indent paragraphs, redundant spaces, redundant paragraph returns) and to add what is needed (headings, section breaks, italics, and so on).

--Ken

J. Tanner
10-25-2011, 02:55 AM
The first thing I have to do when setting up a book using files prepared by writers who are inexperienced with Word's formatting features is to copy the entire content and paste it into a new file as unformatted text, to get rid of many of their mistakes, and then laboriously to clean out the rest of the mistakes (tabs or spaces to indent paragraphs, redundant spaces, redundant paragraph returns) and to add what is needed (headings, section breaks, italics, and so on).


This invariably ends up being the best starting point regardless of how well you think you've done in making Word play nice.

The one additional trick that saves a lot of time is learning the format find/replace tools. That way you can mark your italic text with some plain text indicator on the [i]italic[i] like so prior to stripping all formatting that will make it easy to find and restore later in the process.

thothguard51
10-25-2011, 02:55 AM
What Ken said...

You have to remember, every key stroke is a code...

merrihiatt
10-25-2011, 03:00 AM
There is definitely a learning curve when you start formatting books yourself. I used Smashwords, CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. They each have their own set of requirements.

As Ken said, sometimes you need to cut/paste everything into an unformatted file (I cut/pasted the book into NotePad or WordPad -- can't remember which right now), when I had a hidden text box somewhere in the document. I never could find the silly thing and the meatgrinder at Smashwords kicked it back twice (I thought I had fixed the problem because I found one hidden text box, but there must have been more than one). After that little lesson, I didn't make the mistake of formatting it and then trying to use that formatted version for any other editions. Now I write it with little formatting, then save it into three separate files, then make the necessary adjustments according to each of the requirements.

Glad you got it worked out and now you'll know what to do for your next book!

Luis
10-25-2011, 03:34 AM
Thank's everybody for the good advice. Next time it'll go much smoother.

Luis

izanobu
10-25-2011, 06:03 AM
I format for Kindle using HTML, so I don't tend to run into those issues. Uploading a word doc seems to cause more headaches.

As for editing, I hire a professional copy editor (I've used two so far, both recommended to me by writers I trust). You can't catch all the mistakes, but having a pro go over it makes a world of difference. For novel-length works, it is what I would recommend, personally.

harriet47
10-25-2011, 06:49 AM
Yikes. Getting ready to upload my novel, LEGACY OF THE HIGHLANDS, to Kindle and Smashwords and the comments here about formatting are daunting. Some of the books I've downloaded from Amazon have seriously flawed formats and I don't want mine to be one of those.

shaldna
10-25-2011, 02:26 PM
The easiest way to fix this is:

ctrl+f type in the number of spaces you hit to indent into the find section, leave the replace section blank. hit 'replace all'

now, ctrl+a this will select all of your text, go to the heading styles menu (how this looks will depend on your version of word) and select the 'clear all' or 'clear all formating' button, depending on which on you have. This will remove things like tabs.

With all the text still selected, go to 'paragraph' - in the 'indent' section use the drop down box under 'special' to select 'first line' - this will automatically fill in the 'by' box to 1.27.

Click 'okay' to go back to your newly formated document.

Hope this helps.

ScottB
10-25-2011, 07:29 PM
When I uploaded a couple short story collections a few months ago, the book covers had all the colors inverted, giving it a negative effect. I re-saved the image file and it displayed correctly this time. I think there are just kinks sometimes that you have to be prepared to deal with, but as ResearchGuy said, you probably want to start clean by wiping formatting clean and then following your distributor's guidelines for getting the best results for their upload system.