This month, time was spent fine tuning e-Book formats for both Smashwords and Kindle. The major issue always seems to revolve around line feeds, or lack there of, as the programs that convert the text often “eat” line feeds. Simply applying line feeds in the base Word documents is never enough to preserve the formatting in front material or around chapter headings. I used two approaches for Smashwords and Kindle that I’ll outline here.
First, I’d like to thank Cheryl Anne Gardner for her post on Smashwords formatting that can be found here: http://podpeep.blogspot.com/2010/08/fuzzy-after-vacation-thoughts-on-final.html. Her research/solution to use the spacing formatting for paragraphs in Word was spot on, and worked perfectly. Both the ePub and Kindle versions of the Smashwords output looked very nice after applying 12, 18 and 24 pt paragraph spacing where necessary. Front matter and chapter headings looked respectable, and I also found that page breaks between chapters, which I prefer, were honored by the Smashwords meta-grinder. I also followed the Smashwords style guide very diligently, also using their recommendations for setting up table of contents links, which I also like to see in all the e-Books I read. The end result was a much better product than I’d previously achieved.
Kindle formatting was a little more involved, and I’ll outline my steps for getting decent looking documents there as well. First, I highly recommend using Mobipocket Creator. Google and download it before you even start prepping your Kindle documents.
I started with my base Smashwords document, changing the Licensing wording slightly before using the Import feature in Mobipocket to create my html file. I then added the cover and metadata information, but there is one more step to take before letting Mobipocket build the Kindle file, which involves a little html editing. I recommend getting an html editor since attempting to do this with notepad is an exercise in frustration. I use Seamonkey, but again, a Google search will locate many free html editors for download.
What you’re looking to do is make sure your breaks are present, and this often requires adding <br> tags where you need them. I also like to enhance the chapter headings with white/black reverse text, and I also think dropcaps could easily be applied as well. Also, check to make sure the html page breaks are present, although I have found that Mobipocket does convert Word page breaks into proper html breaks. Once you are satisfied with the html, use the Mobipocket Build utility. Proof the output .prc file using the Kindle application for the PC, and repeat the above steps until you are satisfied with the results. From there, follow the upload instructions from Amazon, using your final .prc file as the source, and you’ll have a nicely formatted Kindle product.
Anyway, I hope the above helps any aspiring e-Book publishers out there. I can address questions or comments in any replies to this post.