During the past five months, I've been formatting ebooks for self-published authors and independent publishers, so I thought it was time to pass along some of the tried and true lessons that I've learned in the process.
I think the main (number one) thing that I've learned and try to pass along to my clients is that an ebook is a different animal from a printed book. In most cases, an ebook is not just an electronic version of the printed book. Some formatting that works in a printed book won't work in an ebook. For instance, page numbering and page breaks are different for the two separate mediums.
Do not use more than one page break between chapters. While a blank page might look nice in a printed book, readers of e-books get annoyed if they have to scroll through too many blank pages to get to the next chapter.
Keep it simple fits well with ebook formatting. One of the things that I hear from authors is, "What happened to all of my pretty fonts?" Well, the software for some ereaders won't support all of those "pretty" fonts, and they might very well default to something like this. So, it's best to use a standard system font like Times New Roman. Even if it isn't the most exciting or visually appealing font, it will be the most readable font on almost any ereader.
Lastly, some of the auto-formatting functions in MS Word will also get scrambled by some ereader software; e.g. stay away from tabs and separate text boxes to offset portions of the content. You could end up with disappearing content and big white gaps in the book where the extra text box was supposed to be.
Photographs are another form of content that I'm asked about frequently. Most of the ereaders now support color or black and white photos, but be mindful that the photos need to be saved in .jpeg format. Also, most ereaders (and ebook distributors) will have a file-size limit, so photographs need to be sized-down to web/screen resolution of either 72 or 96 dpi and shouldn't exceed the size (in inches) of your page layout. This will keep your manuscript from being larger than 5MB, which is the limit for most ereaders.
That's all for today, but there is more to come in a future blog posts.
If you're a self-published author or independent publisher in need of affordable print or ebook formatting, please visit design.lkcampbell.com for more information.