Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Self Publishing Tips from Guru Lyn Horner

We know the self-publishing trend has skyrocketed in recent years and many of our members are considering it (if they haven't done so already). For those who would love more information, we're offering a series of blog posting from guru Lyn Horner, who's had resounding success in self-publishing on Amazon. Today is her first article on Formatting, step-by-step. Come back every month for the next installment.
Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Lyn!

Howdy, y’all! The gang here at As We Were Saying have asked me to post a series of blogs about self-publishing on Amazon. First of all, I recommend you read through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) support pages to find out what they require. NOTE: You can use your Amazon account ID and password to log onto the Support Home page. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to set one up.

The Support Home page  Kindle Forums offers links to Publisher Support, Ask The Community, and Voice of the Author/Publisher. Be sure to check out the KDP Select link at the top of the page.

I also suggest you read Building Your Book for Kindle. This is a 31-page printable pdf file put out by Amazon and it’s FREE! Click here for the PDF. It’s available for Mac users as well as for PC.

Okay, let’s get going. The first thing you need to know is how to format your book for the KDP platform.  KDP supports several different formats. Go here for the complete list. Since I use MS Word, I will refer to that application.

Formatting Steps:

1.       Make two backups of your book file, one on your computer and one on an external drive. I use a small, handy-to-carry thumb drive. Keep it in a safe place. Having these copies can be a life saver in case something goes wrong.

2.       Open one copy of your book file in MS Word. If you store your book as separate documents for each chapter as I do, you need to combine them into one big file. I work chapter by chapter, making the necessary format changes in each one before pasting it to the end of my combined document. If you prefer to combine all chapters first, that’s up to you. Experiment and see what works best for you.

3.       Remove page numbers. Kindle books are reflowable (viewable with different font sizes); page numbers are unnecessary and would cause problems. Headers with the book title, chap. number and your last name, such as you would include on hard copy submissions to editors, are also unnecessary. Take them out.

4.       Important: Never use your tab key to indent paragraphs. The KDP conversion process automatically indents each paragraph. If you use tabs to indent paragraphs, you will end up with uneven indents in your uploaded book. To remove tabs, type one tab at the top of your document, select and copy it to your clipboard. Open Find/Replace under the Edit menu. Paste the tab you copied into the Find box. (Word won’t let you type a tab in there.) Leave the Replace box empty; click Replace All. This will remove all tabs from your document. Again, you can do this chapter by chapter, or you can combine all chapters first and then remove the tabs. You will need to replace the tabs you removed, using the following method.

Open the Format dropdown menu, click paragraph, then click the Indents and Spacing tab. Next, go to the Indentation area and set your first line indent width under “Special”.  Set the indent width at 0.5″ (this is standard). Click the okay button. WORD will now automatically indent each new paragraph for you. This does not cause problems with the Kindle conversion. I use this method and my indents look perfect on the Kindle Previewer. (I’ll explain the Previewer in a later post.) In future, set up the indent width at the beginning of each chapter.

5.       Your font style must change sizes easily on a variety of readers. Times New Roman 12 pt. seems to work best. That’s what I always use for my books.

6.       Get rid of all the double spacing we’ve always been told to use for editors and agents. This means double line spacing and double spaces after each sentence (also unnecessary for editor submissions nowadays.)

7.       Remove underlining if you use it to indicate italics. I tried to use the Find and Replace feature under the Edit menu, as B. V. Larson suggests, but could not make it work. So I searched each chapter as I worked and removed the underlining, replacing it with italics. Obviously this takes some time.

8.       When combining chapters, add a page break at the end of each chapter. If you don’t, your chapter will all run together in the uploaded book. That doesn’t look good.

9.       Indicate scene breaks within a chapter, and POV changes if you wish, with one blank line followed by a line with three or four asterisk (* * * *) signs centered, with a space between each. Then add another blank line. If you prefer, you can use hash marks or some other small symbol.

10.    If you use slang or foreign words in your book, they may be underlined in red. I once read that such lines could show up on converted text. I’m not sure this is true, but to be safe, when I finish a chapter, I select the whole document, then go to the Spelling & Grammar feature under the Tools Menu and turn off the spell checking option. All the squiggly red lines disappear.

11.    You don’t need to add copyright data at the beginning of your book. You will be asked to enter your publishing rights during the upload process.

12.    Save your combined text file as a regular Word document first to be safe (in case you need to go in and make changes later.) Then choose “Save As” and save the file again, choosing “Web Page, Filtered” as your file type. You have now converted it to an .HTM file. No, I did not forget the “L”! HTM is the way it appears, why I have no clue. My computer geek son says it means the same thing. Some apps just leave off the “L”.

That’s all for now. Next time, I’ll talk about Kindlegen & the Kindle Previewer. ╩╝Til then, happy writing!

Come back the end of September for the next self-publishing installment from Lyn Horner!
Breaking news: Lyn Horner's DASHING DRUID is a winner in the Romance Through The Ages contest, sponsored by the Hearts Through History RWA Chapter. Congrats, Lyn!! Find the announcement here:


Lyn Horner said...

Susie, I want to thank you and all your fellow authors for having me here on As We Were Saying. It's my pleasure to share what I've learned, through trial and error, about publishing with Amazon. I hope your readers will find some of my tips helpful.

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing your expertise. What a wealth of information. I am copying it for future use. Right now I need a manual just to get around MS Word 2010!

Lyn Horner said...

Ruby, you're braver than I am. I'm clinging to my Word 2003 because I don't want to slog through learning 2010. No doubt I'll have to bite the bullet soon, but I'm putting it off as long as possible.

SusieSheehey said...

Thanks so much, Lyn! Can't wait for the next one!

Lyn Horner said...

My pleasure, Susie! I'll get going on the next one soon.

CJ Jackson said...

Great tips, Susie! Many people take for granted the importance of formatting. And these are great rules to remind ourselves of. Thanks!

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