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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to Publish on Kindle Part Three

Today I'll be going over putting the final touches into formatting your manuscript for Kindle: the cover image, front matter, back matter, and illustrations. Actually, let me take these in reverse order, from easiest to most difficult.

ILLUSTRATIONS: The DTP of the Kindle does not do illustrations well. One or two may be fine, but the more and more complex they are, the iffier the results. Also, the Kindle only displays in black and white. I'd suggest that you either get rid of the illustrations, or use the HTML platform to format your book.

BACK MATTER: This includes things like an author's note, resources for more study, historical context, citations, or anything else that belongs after the main text is finished. To do these, simply format as you did the body of the book: put a page break after "~The End~" and between each section, then justify and format the text. One thing to be aware of for the Kindle is that the user can alter the size of the displayed text, so you therefore don't want to have too many lines on each page unless you don't care how they might be broken. If there are different sections on one page you may want to break between each one with a page break. For example, I had a "Point/Counterpoint" page that I broke into two.

FRONT MATTER: open any book you have on your shelf to look at the front matter. Since you're doing a Kindle you don't need as many pages, but you DO need to include the important information. The first page after your cover illustration should be a title page, showing your TITLE (line break) by -or- A Novel (in italics) (line break) your name. You'll also need a year copyright date, all rights reserved notice, publisher (if you have one), and print ISBN if you have one. The formatting is similar to the body. For my title, I did A LEVER LONG ENOUGH in all bolded caps and made the first letter of each word 26 font, the other letters 24 font (remember, the DTP isn't good with fancy formatting so I couldn't do "small caps" under the format options). "A Novel" is 22 font plain, and my name Amy Deardon is 26 font plain. Next, since I have a publishing icon I did a quick image of icon plus the text for publisher, city and state, and pasted it below my name. I finished with the copyright, print ISBN, and publisher website.

The next page I did was the back cover copy of the book. One of the hardest things to do is start a book while knowing NOTHING about it except a cover image and maybe a blurb "great book!" (I see this with self-pubbed books, and gosh it annoys me!). Since there is no back cover on a Kindle book, you need to put it here.

The next page I gave my author bio and then a notice that Lever is the 2009 Pluto award winner.

The next page I put an abbreviated list of endorsements (9 of them, spread over 3 pages which I figured was enough without being annoying).

The next page I put an acknowledgement to three gentlemen who especially helped me with the accuracy of this book.

The next page I wrote, "To my family and dear friends" in centered 16 italics font.

The next page I wrote my book's quote: "Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and singlehanded I can move the world." -- Archimedes of Syracuse, 287-212 BCE

The next page is chapter one, into the body of the manuscript.

I tried to keep the front matter from being too long/tedious, yet still giving enough information that the person reading the book feels confident that this is worth his time (the author said hopefully...). For this reason I removed another 4 or so endorsements, as well as the two Kindle pages it would take for my individual thanks (husband, children, sisters, their husbands, friends etc.).

COVER ILLUSTRATION: As I mentioned, the Kindle only displays in black and white. Nevertheless, it's still a good idea to make your first page a cover image, since it looks professional. You can use any image you want, provided you have the rights or a license to use it, or it's in the free domain. Some web sites with stock photos available for free or low cost include,,, and NOTE: I haven't used any of these sites but have heard they are good.

On your cover image, make sure that your book title and author name appear prominently, just like a print book cover. You want to make sure that the image file isn't too big (straddles pages) or it won't load -- so if you try to upload your finished manuscript file with your image to amazon and it won't after about a half hour, try reducing the image file size. Your cover image should be about 3" by 5" or so, and not smaller than 500 pixels on the longest side, with a dpi resolution of 300.

The jpeg file name should contain only lower case letters with no spaces. For example, I named my cover image file aleverlongenough.jpg, and then inserted it into my Word document (look under the "insert" menu for the picture icon). I just used the regular color jpeg of my book and found that it looked fine in the preview, so it's worth a try if you only have a color image.

Finally, make sure the image is centered, and put in a page break right after it.


On Friday I'll be talking about how to set up an account and actually upload your book onto the amazon site.

NOTE: The formatting discussed in this blog entry and the previous one were largely adapted from the e-book OUT STANDING IN THE FIELD: The Indie Author’s Two-Step Guide To Publishing In the Kindle Store, by Free Press Publications. It's available free on Smashwords HERE.

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