I am in the last stages of publishing my third eBook in the Religion and Spirituality category: There Are No Molecules in God, Book One: God is One.
Right now, I am separating my source document into three, individually formatted editions, the Kindle edition, the Nook edition and the Smashwords edition. This is a new approach for me, since, in the past, I published the first two eBooks as a single formatted edition on all three sites — okay, so I’m a slow learner.
After seeing how poorly this method worked on different eReader devices, I decided to play to the strengths of the individual publishing systems by dropping the one-size-fits-all approach, and formatting each edition exactly as each publishing system recommends. It takes a lot longer, but I’m betting that the last products will be far more satisfying for all concerned.
I formatted the first edition for Smashwords since their requirements were far more demanding because they were working to meet the formatting needs of a host of different eReaders, especially Apple’s iPad tablet and the Sony line. I’m still not sure of how effectively the Smashwords “Meatgrinder” technology accomplishes all this.
Consequently, Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide, designed to create an eBook worthy of inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog, distributed to all the major eBook retailers, worldwide, makes many demands of the would-be author/self-publisher. There are the specified paragraph indents, the precise number of hard paragraph returns, the proper way to separate paragraphs, the rigid font size and style specifications, the particular requirements for the copyright page, and so on, and so on. All told, more than thirty tips on how to format my book to meet all the requirements of all Smashwords’ retailer partners.
Once I’ve exhausted every effort to follow each Smashwords instruction to the letter, I move on to formatting the Kindle edition, which requires a substantial overhaul of the Smashwords format. Both require saving the book’s content in the MS Word .doc format; both allow paragraph indentations, bold characters, italics and headings; both recommend avoiding bullet points and page headers and footers.
Kindle suggests a page break at the end of each chapter; Smashwords forbids it, suggesting instead, no more than four hard paragraph returns. Both recommend a manual proofreading after a preliminary automatic spellcheck and grammar sweep to ensure a professional manuscript, free of typos.
Regarding the front matter (Title page, Copyright page, Dedication page, Acknowledgments page and Preface, Introduction or Prologue), the Title page should be centered, with title on top and the author name underneath. Kindle then requires a page break before moving on to the Copyright page. On the Copyright page, I center-align my copyright information, then block paragraph the copyright data about my source for scriptural quotations in my book. Finally, I center the cover art copyright and design credit before applying the page break and moving on to the Dedication page. (If the book needs an Acknowledgments page, I place it before the Dedication page and separate both with a page break.) After adding a page break at the end of the Dedication page, I begin my Introduction to this book, instead of a Preface or Prologue, because the nature of this book’s contents begs a longer, more detailed explanation.
Prior to all of this, of course, I’ve formatted the text in the source document; but, even so, I’ll have to go back over the contents to re-configure it to meet certain Kindle requirements. (For example, Smashwords wanted “single” line spacing; Kindle prefers 1.5 line spacing.)
With regard to creation of the back matter (Appendices, Bibliography, About the Author, etc.), I pick this up from the source document, instituting a page break after each.
After I accomplish all of this, I’ll save the document in the manner prescribed by Kindle, then use the suggested MobiPocket Creator software according to the step-by-step instructions provided to convert my file into the eBook Kindle wants.
After previewing the results to see how it will look on the various Kindle devices, I will upload the .prc file, and, if all goes well, the book will go on sale at the Kindle Store 24 to 48 hours later.
After that, on to my Nook Edition.