Page Layout and Presentation

So, you’re thinking of writing, or you already have. Your document file is your work of art and you’re proud of it right? Have you ever thought of what it will look like say, on a kindle, or on a Kobo tablet, a Hudl perhaps. Do you think it will look the same as the file you sent over? Guess again……………….

When you send your pristine word file over to kindle, they basically meatgrind it to their formatting, what that does is take away some of the things you have specifically entered into your word file such as Italics, certain fonts, and lets say, no spacing before or after speech lines.

Now, I use word 2007 which auto saves in .docx file format, that’s fine for kindle, but for smashwords I can only save in .doc file format so I have to convert my file. I also “write to print” which means I don’t write to epublish, but style my pages, alignments, fonts, etc to fit a real book, not a virtual one.

There seems to be no standard when it comes to formatting our work, some authors write with speech in line, some with segregation but I’ll tell you the basics that I write by, and the template saved to word for my stories.

I use Century Schoolbook font, it is clear, crisp and looks as good enlarged as it does made smaller therefore easy to read for most people. You can use different fonts AS LONG AS YOU EMBED THEM IN YOUR FILE. I use font size 11 though I have seen authors use 10.5, purely for the word count per line average, which is eleven, by the way.

I write my books using the JUSTIFIED text, simply because it makes the most effective use of space, keeps your page count down, which in turn keeps the published price of your book down to produce. When reading, it also looks far more presentable than half and quarter lines ending all over the place. I have a bit of OCD when it comes to my book presentation, it has to look as pretty on the inside as the cover does on the outside.

Little tip : You’ve published your ebook on kindle right? Have you ever thought of buying your own book, to see what your readers get for their money?

You accomplish two things by doing this. You get to see what others see, despite you thinking it was perfect when you sent it and blaming kindle for the now different looking document, that’s the eye-opener for you to find out how to correct it. Secondly, in buying your own book, you’ll improve it’s sales ratings and hence, push it up the kindle chart ;’)

Now, if you’re like me and new to all this editing milarkey, you’ll be looking a little baffled as to how to fix what the kindle formatting did to your work of art. Read on………………

If I could tell you one secret it would be this, go search kindle for Smashwords Style Guide For Dummies and buy it when you find it, it will tell you how to change your word file so that kindle accepts it AS YOU WANT IT TO LOOK. It can be quite drastic, and DON’T USE YOUR ORIGINAL FILE to practice on, copy and paste, then rename the pasted file so that if you mess it up, you still have your original.

It has taken me several attempts to get Salby Damned looking spotless on Kindle, but now it does ;’). It is trial and error and each time you try, download a sample so that you can see what readers see when they send their hard earned cash to you for your work. One of the things indie authors struggle on the most, is getting their work to look like a professional author’s. That’s crucial to raising the standard for people like us, something I have a rapidly growing passion about and have spent the last few weeks learning and practising tirelessly. I have yet to format the Smashwords version of the book which is next on my chop list 🙂 If you have any questions about the above, please feel free to ask, I will do my very best to answer them for you though I stress, I am no expert in this area either.

9 thoughts on “Page Layout and Presentation

    1. Hi, yes of course, please do. It can be a mine field even when the story is written so I tend to blog about things that I have learnt as I go along in the hope that it might be of some use to others like me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on echoesofthepen and commented:
    With so many bloggers presently taking advantage of the many new self-publishing opportunities now available, I thought it appropriate to reblog this post by another author I discovered by way of my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group. In addition to being the author of Selby Damned, a well received thriller, Ian D. Moore is also a prolific book reviewer. This post however provides some useful and indeed essential formatting and presentation tips and information for anyone undertaking the publication of an eBook…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll find that Microsoft Word is a very useful tool once you master it. I set up a template for all writing now, so that I don’t have to faff about with it afterwards. As long as you set the page parameters to begin with, it should format it for you as you write. I prefer a smaller indent to the standard 1.25cm as this makes reading on kindle or mobile much better but different writers have their preferences. As for the font used, again, people have their preferences but Century Schoolbook is the recommended one, clear, concise in all sizes. If I can assist you further by passing on what I know and use, by all means give me a shout, I know how frustrating it can be.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. I appreciate that. I must admit that I tend to use Times New Roman so will certainly look at the font you recommend. I have so far uploaded my novel onto Amazon as a Word document as I found trying HTML a bit of a disaster; it looked fine when I checked it before pressing publish but parts went peculiar once it was ‘live’. I could never get to the bottom of why, but uploading as a Word document doesn’t produce such inexplicable alterations. The only frustration for me is that lines that I don’t want to indent, for example the first line of a new chapter or paragraph within a chapter that denotes a shift in time, although with a 0 indent on my Word version, converts to an indent equivalent to a couple of letters on the Amazon version. These things could send me mad 🙂


  2. Being a newbie to self-publishing, before I attempted to publish a short story on Amazon a few weeks ago, I downloaded their free eBook, Building Your Book For Kindle. For me, it worked out very well re formatting by following their instructions. I also downloaded, CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass to use in the near future when I publish a full-length novel. I hope it works out as well.


    1. Hi and thanks for taking the time to respond. I hope that some of the information in the post will be of use to you, I tend to write things as I learn them myself. It really depends upon which platform you want to sell your book, createspace formatting won’t work on smashwords for instance, that requires the smashwords formatting system applied. In general, once you become confident using word, it can all be done using that program and pages set with the correct parameters and fonts etc as standard. Having written my first book, I didn’t know anything about these different formats when I attempted to publish, needless to say, the initial results were pretty horrific. Now, having learned a huge amount, I think I’ve finally managed to publish the book to kindle, and createspace as well as keeping the print on demand format for paperback for use with completely novel, a cheap and effective way to produce your own paperbacks if you so choose. Self-publishing can be quite daunting, hence my posts with the view to helping others overcome the hurdles I have encountered so far. Here’s wishing you all the very best with the full novel, I do hope it is smooth sailing.

      Liked by 1 person

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