Formatting for Kindle: Lessons Learned

Alright, so I think I figured out solutions to all the formatting hurdles that were thwarting me yesterday and today.

A cluster of these problems ended up revolving around trying to follow all the directions from Kindle’s simplified formatting guide–turns out some of these will just make your day an impossible maze of hellishness. So here’s a quick list of modifications to this guide, accurate as of Dec 18, 2011:

  1. Under “Paragraphs”–there will be no automatic indenting (at least from every previewer I looked at), so ignore the line about that. Don’t use tab or the spacebar to indent your paragraphs–you’ll end up having to delete a bunch of ugly extra spaces, like I did. Instead, use the ruler–and I suggest moving it over only about two hatchmarks. If you take it over the usual five, it seems unnaturally large in the kindle formatting.
  2. If, like me, you ended up with extra spaces you don’t want, use Word’s handy Find and Replace function to get rid of them. For me this meant typing in five spaces under “find,” nothing under “replace,” then hitting “replace all.” This worked well–and thank goodness, because it would have taken me all day to manually delete every indented paragraph.
  3. Under “Guide Items”–ignore the capitalization they show you for TOC, Start, etc–insert all your bookmarks in all lower case or else it doesn’t seem to consistently read the guide right when you convert (i.e. toc, start, cover).
  4. Finally, after trying to follow all the directions about Using Mobipocket creator and the Kindle Previewer, and consistently have Mobipocket creator not recognize my freakin’ table of contents no matter how I bookmarked it in Word, I got desperate and simply uploaded my book as a filtered html to kdp. When I did that, it recognized my table of contents and the start point of the book, something it consistently refused to do when I uploaded it as an already converted PRC file. Granted, my book is in a relatively simple format: a 29 chapter novel with only two images–one for the cover, one for the author page, so that’s a caveat to keep in mind. But you might try this shortcut first (rather than after 6 hours of wasted time, like I did), to see if it will work for you.

Alright, so that’s that. Please note that I’m no techno-genius, so if you are savvy with html, you may find it preferable to just go in and format everything directly with tags. I just wanted to try to turn the last day and a half of massive frustration into some helpful pointers so I could convince myself there was something redeemable about that chunk of time  ; )

About Noelle Ryan

Avid reader, writer, animal adorer, art appreciator, and snark enthusiast. Author of the Valkanas Clan series (Mirror is the first book in this series). Mother claimed first complete sentence was "Mom, I'm going to be a writer when I grow up."

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