Most distribution services / aggregators and online retailers ask you to upload a completed book file that is appropriately formatted, and vary widely in the types of files they accept.
Fortunately, many e-publishing services accept a Word document and automatically convert it to the appropriate format, but you still must go through an “unformatting” process for best results. All major services offer step-by-step guidelines for formatting your Word documents before you upload them for conversion. Here an example:
Guidelines for formatting and converting preparation.
Do NOT include any of the following:
- Page numbers (some devices will allocate page numbers to the eBook based on the preferences of the device owner, but eBook files do not have universal page numbers)
- Headers and Footers
- Borders, background colors or background images – not recommended, as these can look make the text faint or indistinct on grey scale e-reading devices
- Fancy drop-caps at the start of each chapter
- Different text colors– see above
- Multi-column layouts – just use a single column
- Text Boxes – These can be included but bear in mind that the box may break if the text within runs onto the next page. This can happen if someone is viewing the book with a large font size, and therefore as less text on each ‘page’ or screen view
- References to specific eBook retailers such as Amazon or Apple, as the retailers do not allow promotion of competitors in products listed on their websites.
What’s the Difference between Formatting and Converting of Your Book:
“Too many authors’ books are only converted – and not formatted.” Formatting and converting e-book files are two different things. Formatting is when a designer polishes your manuscript to professional standards for both, print and e-book formats.
Conversion is an automated process of changing files from one format into another, without editing or styling. It’s often easy to convert files with software, but the resulting file will most likely look unprofessional, or even appear unreadable, if not formatted appropriately before.
This is How the Formatting Process Works:
PublishGreen explains what goes into creating an e-book: “When we make an eBook, we take your manuscript, break it down to its most basic parts, then rebuild it from the ground up using eBook-specific code, similar to what is used to create a website. Here is a look at the steps we take when creating your eBook:
- First, create a copy of your manuscript text.
- Strip out any headers, footers, endnotes, footnotes, page numbers, etc. that interrupt the flow of text.
- Extract all the raw text from the manuscript.
- Reformat the raw content using eBook-specific HTML (code) to recreate the style and design elements seen in print (ie. bold, italics, underlines, chapter headers, drop caps, etc.).
- Create the structure of the eBook by inserting prefaces, parts, chapters, sections, etc. that will reflect appropriate page breaks and table of contents hierarchy when viewed on a device.
- Re-create bulleted and numbered lists, using HTML.
- Insert and hyperlink footnotes so readers can zip back and forth between the text and the corresponding note.
- Code hyperlinks for any outside websites that appear within the text.
- Insert images using specific code that tells the eReader how to display the image.
- Create a metadata file that will provide the device or software with pertinent information about the book, such as title and author.
- Create a hyperlinked table of contents that will be accessible in the navigation function of each eReader.
- Create eReader-specific title and copyright pages.
- Adjust the CSS (another type of code) of the file to reflect any universal styling that will apply to the entire eBook.
- Convert the HTML (the eBook’s source code) to EPUB and MOBI formats (the actual file type recognized by eReaders).
- Test the files on each major eReading device.
- Make changes to the source code (now that we can actually see what all the code looks like on the eReader!), convert to MOBI and EPUB, and re-test as necessary.”
You can create an e-book in the .ibooks format by using Apple’s free iBooks Author software. The advantage of this software is that it allows you to easily create multimedia e-books optimized for tablets. However, there are drawbacks. Apple has restricted the sale of any e-book created through the iBooks Author tool to Apple’s iBookstore. You may not sell your iBooks anywhere else. iBooks can be read only on their iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac and iPad. However there are ways to transfer them to your PC as well – as shown on YouTube .