Friday, May 11, 2012

How to Correctly Format and Upload your Novel to Kindle

   We’ve all gone through it. Uploaded our novels to Amazon Kindle only to see wrong spacing, wrong fonts, no spacing, no chapter separations and the final product looking nothing like the manuscript you uploaded on the Kindle preview. Well it took a long time but I finally got a handle on it and am going to show you how it’s done.

   Okay, let’s start with the basics. First you’ll need to put your manuscript on Microsoft WORD. I’m sure it can be uploaded to Kindle from Apple or Corel programs but I don’t have those programs so I can’t help you if your work isn’t on WORD.
    Now first, create a copy of your manuscript. Go to the top scroll down menu and save your manuscript under another name, like MYBOOKCOPY for example. Then close out the original manuscript. You should have it on disk or flash drive in case your hard drive fails, (We will use the copy in case you run into problems with reformatting)

    Most likely you have a standard double-spaced manuscript on 8x11 paper with 1 ½ inch margins. First let’s simplify the manuscript so it can be better copy-edited. I’ve found that dropping the size down to 5.5 width X 8.5 length (this is trade book size) to have the least problems down the road.  So to your toolbar, click on Page Layout, then click on size. Then scroll down to ‘more paper sizes’ and click on that. Then replace the width with 5.5 and the height with 8.5 then click on OKAY
   Then click on Margins.  Scroll to the bottom and click on custom margins. Then at Top: set it at 1 inch Bottom: set it at 1 inch. Left: 0.7 Right 0.7 then click on OKAY

   At this point your manuscript should look similar to a paperback novel. Now click on HOME on the toolbar, go to the far right and click on Select, then Select All. That should highlight you entire text in blue. Once that happens, go to the center of the toolbar where the Paragraph section is. Click on that tiny box with the arrow next to it. That will bring up a box. Now, I must tell you that this is how I format my novels so they look like any novel you pick up in a store. If you are writing some tech manual with blocks and columns you may have to play around with this to get what you want (another reason why we always work with a copy)

   Okay so, under the Alignment dropdown, click on Justified. The go down to Special and click on First Line, then under BY you are choosing the indentation amount of every first paragraph in your book. Default is 5 but I have found that to be too much when read on a Kindle so I use 3. Then down to Line Spacing. From the dropdown, click on Single. then click on OK.
Next make sure at the end of every chapter you go to INSERT on the HOME toolbar and click on Page Break following the end of the last paragraph of each chapter. Also make sure you do it following the title page, the declaration page, and any other page where you don’t want the text connected to the text of the following page.

    Here where the fun begins. Make sure you are on the HOME toolbar and on the Paragraph section used earlier you will see a box that looks like a backwards P Click on that box. You will notice there are now those backward P at the end of every paragraph. If you see a line of dots before a word, with the exception of the ones surrounding PAGE BREAK……..Delete them and any arrow you see. The dots and arrows are indicators of where the text doesn’t match the format you’ve established, and will screw up your text when uploaded.

   Here is another important issue. If you want to create spaces between--say your heading chapter and the first sentence of that chapter, you will need to go to Page Layout on the toolbar, click on Breaks then on the dropdown menu scroll down to Continuous and click on that for each space you wish to create. For example: After the word Chapter One you hit ENTER on your keyboard then go to Page layout-then Continuous and click on that. This will also need to be done to create a space between your jump cuts (this is where you put in a space to jump to another character or to denote time has passed.) otherwise each paragraph will be directly below regardless of the spaces you inserted in your original text.

   When you are sure everything is the way you want it, click on the backward P again to turn it off. The click on SAVE
   Moving right along, the next step is to download a mobipocket creator. This is usually free, simple to use and necessary if you want your manuscript to come out looking the way you want it to.

   After downloading, click on the mobipocket icon then under Import from an existing file, click on MS Word document. At the choose a file box click on browse and go to your manuscript, click on it (remember to use the copy NOT the original) and mobipocket will import the document, convert it to HTML and place it in your Publications files. Then at the top of the mobipocket toolbar click on Build. This will open another box, there too click on BUILD and that will complete the process.
    Now you are ready to upload your manuscript to Kindle.

   Now this is very important. When you reach the part on Kindle where you upload your manuscript REMEMBER you will find the properly formatted document in Publications  (the file to use is the one with a little book shaped icon next to it) Don’t use the one in Documents. If you upload the one from Documents you will have wasted your time and it will come out like crap.      
    Fortunately you can reload it if your first attempt somehow goes wrong

   Now that it’s done, take the time to review you book in the Kindle Preview to make sure it turned out the way you wanted it to but don’t be overly picky or you’ll drive yourself nuts. There may be some small errors here and there but unless it’s really troublesome or screws up the story you’re better off leaving it alone  For example in my book When Long Term Marriages Suddenly Go Horribly Wrong there is a sentence that should be indented. It is at the beginning of a chapter and it annoyed the hell out of me but no matter how many times I went back and tried to fix it, it did not indent. So I learned to live with it. 

   One last note, if this helped you successfully upload your manuscript to Kindle please sample one of my books by clicking on the slide show at the top of the page and support your fellow indie authors. Please feel free to forward to anyone you think could use this information.