Step 7. Creating a Kindle e-book
You have finished writing and editing your book now it is time to lay the text and graphics out and publish it.
How do I find someone to format and lay the book and cover out?
Designing and or formatting your book is key to the project. Just like with finding an illustrator or editor, finding a graphic designer or layout/format person is the same. Ask around, Google CreateSpace or Kindle InDesign book layout person or go to the on-line sites like Fiverr, UpWork, 99Designs. You might also contact your local community college. They all have design programs with students ready for a project. You can also do it yourself, it isn’t all that hard and once you get the publishing bug you can create all kinds of books.
Some tips for working with an illustrator or graphic designer
• You need to give your illustrator or designer directions on where to go and what to make. To really help them along, show them samples of what you like and also what you don’t like. You can easily search sites like Fiverr or the stockphoto/illustration sites and fine tons of examples. Download them and pass them on to your illustrator. Go to Amazon and look at book covers and access the “Look Inside” feature to review inside design. Screen capture or give your designer the names of the books you like. The more they know the better and easier the project will go.
• Be very clear on the goals and tasks for your book. What is the look and feel of the book? How many illustrations, charts and graphics do you have. Charts and graphics can take 1-2 hours each to make so you want to know you have the correct person. Check with your designer, how many rounds of changes can you do for the price you are paying. With your illustrator, who owns the rights to the images? Can you reuse the images; these are all important questions?
• I like to have people close so that I can sit with them and go over the project. I know so much is done remotely now but if you can meet face to face or video chat to video chat you can clarify a project much faster and clearer. Facebook video, Zoom.us, Skype all work great for having a conference call. Zoom and Skype both have screen share and this can be very helpful when working with your designer.
7. Creating a Kindle e-book
Book are created in two parts, the inside where the content is and the cover. We need to make both.
A Kindle e-book is kind of like a large text document. Most authors in-fact just use MS-Word to write their book and also to format it for Kindle/Amazon. The key to a successful Kindle book is to keep the formatting simple and not to over design. Don’t get fancy with all kinds of design ideas. Stay away from tabbed charts and overly formatted files. Kindles are simple documents, think web page from 1996. Generally, for fonts use either Arial or Times Roman. The reader can change the font to whatever is in their Reader. You can also add images and live http web links to your book. Charts can be a real pain so make them a graphic instead of using the table feature of Word. If you have images with captions, make the captions part of the graphic itself not part of the text. Otherwise they will end up on different pages. Kindle files expand and shrink to fit the device the reader is using. On a smart phone the screen is small, on a tablet it can be big. The document flows to fit the shape.
Most authors use MS-Word to format their books, but you can also use other word processing application such as Google Doc, Pages, or Scrivner.
My best advice for a clean, workable book is to start with a clean document. Most books are written in bits and pieces, often on several different computers. The MS-Word file tends to get filled with lots of junky formatting. Before starting to shape your book, take your existing document, save it as a text file and strip out all the old formatting. Copy this new cleaned text file into a new MS-Word doc and work from that. Use styles and global formatting from the Format pull down menu to format your document. Insert graphics instead of copying and pasting them into your document.
There are several excellent books on formatting your Kindle file on Amazon. If you pick a freelancer just be sure they have formatted Kindle books before.
A pretty good book for setting up and formatting your Kindle document is, Word to Kindle by Aaron Shepard available at Amazon
The Kindle works great on books that are all text or text and a few images. If you have a heavily designed book like a cookbook or how-to-book, a children’s picture book. Or a book with a lot of images and captions and columns and such then the traditional Kindle will not work well, especially if you try to duplicate that in the e-book file. For that kind of book Kindle has a fantastic application called Kindle Kid Creator that can take the pdf for that book and convert it to a mobi file for Kindle. They also have one for Comic books and Graphic Novels, and for Educational Text books. The file doesn’t have the fluid flow that a Kindle book, the pages are fixed, but it does a great job of converting each page into a Kindle page. And it is really fast. I highly recommend it.
Kindle Direct Publishing
Kindle Kid Creator
Kindle Formatting Guidelines for Inside Your Book
Basic Guidelines for Kindle Books
• Keep your formatting simple
• Produce a clean, basic document
• Use Paragraph Formatting for global layout and spacing
• Work in a standard 8.5 x 11” document
General Formatting Guidelines
• Avoid tabs and spaces for indenting paragraphs
• Use Paragraph Formatting to adjust indents
• No headers or footers
• No page numbers
• Do not use Returns between paragraphs
• Use Space Before and Space After for spaces between paragraphs
• Use Page Breaks between chapters
• Insert images “from file” do not paste
• Format Chapter Heads with MS-Word style features. Use H1 Head and H2 Subheads
• 12 points for text, 14-18 points for heads
• Use Arial/Helvetica, Times Roman or Georgia for fonts
Type Style Guidelines
• Bold, italic or underline use format font menu, the format palette or the tool bar
• Turn charts and graphics into artwork
• Add live http web links to your book
• Every Kindle is a different size. Pick an image that works in the middle.
• Use color rgb images
• Author pays for download, be efficient with images sizes
• Avoid charts and tables, turn them into .gif graphics
Image Size Guidelines
• Amazon recommends a picture ratio of 9:11
• Pictures 900 x 1100 pixels, 9:11, old standard was 600 x 800 pixels, 3:4
• Kindle Fire HD 8.9 display 1920 x 1200, 16:10
• At 72 dpi 12.5” x 15.77” inches
• At 300 dpi 3” x 3.66” inches
• Kindle processes, .gif, .png, .bmp, jpeg files
• Kindle book format supports .jpeg and .gif
• 300dpi or 72dpi or 96dpi image resolution
• Up to 5mb per image, I find this way to big, keep under a megabyte
Bottom Line for Picture Sizes
• Pictures 900 x 1100 pixels, 9:11
Old standard 600 x 800 pixels, 3:4
300dpi or 72dpi, gif format
At 72dpi, 12.5” x 15.75”
At 300dpi, 3” x 3.66”
.gif or jpg format
When complete you will save your book as an html file. This is done from the MS-Word Save As Menu. Be sure to download the Kindle Preview tool from KDPDirect and run your html file through it. It will show you how your book looks on a Kindle on several devices. They also have this tool on the Kindle upload page and you can use it there after your book is uploaded but before being published. It is very helpful. You can upload your book, review it, make changes and then upload another version till you are comfortable with it.
Kindle Cover Guidelines:
• Longest side must be minimum of 1000 pixels, shortest side 625 pixels, or 13.8” x 8.7” at 72 dpi and rgb jpg format.
• I like building covers at 6” x 9” at 300dpi or 1800 pixels x 2700 pixels
For your e-book Kindle cover you will need to create a separate jpg file with just the front cover. No back cover. This file should be a jpg document.
Kindle has an on-line Cover Creator tool on the Kindle upload page that you can use if you don’t have one created. Canva.com also has some great free Kindle templates that you can use to make a cover. PowerPoint can also work well to create a cover, set your page size to 6” x 9” and export the file as a jpg.
I have an entire course on how to layout your Kindle ebook. Step by Step, including making the cover and working with images. Easy Kindle Books, click here
Once your book has been laid out for print or formatted for Kindle it is time to have a final proof reading done. Make sure everything is good.
• Kindle, https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
• Kindle Help, tons of info here, https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help
• Aaron Shepard has a variety of books on creating Kindle books, they are all pretty good. A good place to start, From Word to Kindle: Self Publishing Your Kindle Book with Microsoft Word, or Tips on Formatting Your Document So Your Ebook Won't Look Terrible, http://amzn.to/2C6QTJ5
To Find Book Cover Ideas
A. Review books on Amazon and in store for covers that you like, they can be used for inspiration and to guide the cover designer.
B. Find a local freelance designer to design and layout out your cover.
C. Test several ideas and titles with associates. Facebook is a great place to test different cover options. Upload a graphic with covers A, B and C. Ask people to chose.
D. If you are going to publish your book on Amazon then reduce your cover to thumbnail size, around 1.5" wide and be sure it is readable. If you are going to print at a local quick print shop have a mock-up made for review.
We do judge books by their covers. Your reader should know at a glance what your book is about. I follow the “Don’t Make Me Think” philosophy of usability author Steve Kruge. Your book cover should have a title and if you need to give more clarity a subtitle. Subtitles are a great way to add in some important keywords and description to your title. Also add your author name to the cover. To help with design and layout ideas look at similar books in your market. Amazon is the perfect place to do this. Google book cover designs in the Google Image Search and your genre and you will see hundreds of cover ideas.There are many services that can help you produce a compelling cover. You can contact a local graphic designer, use on-line services like 99Designs.com and Fiverr.com, Go to Canva.com and access their templates and most of the book publishing sites offer design and editing packages.