Friday, 9 September 2011

Publishing for the Kindle - first steps

Right, well, you're going to need a few things before you can publish your opus to Amazon so your lovely audience can buy copies and download them to their Kindles.

i) A computer and an internet connection. You probably have one of those.

ii) A manuscript on said computer. Don't have one of those? If you start now, you should have one in six months, or, if you're working part-time, a year. As to the application you're using to create your masterpiece, that might be MS Word or it might be Open Office. Personally I use Open Office because it is free and good.

iii) Mobipocket Creator. Free.

iv) An Amazon account.

The first thing to do is to edit your manuscript in your word processor of choice to remove anything that won't format well on the Kindle. When you zoom in on a Kindle, it isn't like zooming in on a .pdf, where you zoom into a specific area on a page. When you zoom in on the Kindle, the page resizes itself. This means that if you have carefully formatted your manuscript so that you can print it out on A4 paper and send it out to be read in physical form, it will probably need an edit.

Get rid of page numbers - in fact all headers and footers. Any formatting you have done with soft returns, replace with section breaks. Lose tab stops and bullet points. There is a formatting guide here. Lose any bizarre fonts.

Next save your manuscript as html. Mobipocket won't read a standard Open Office (.odt) file. It will read an MS Word file (.doc), but not, it seems, if your copy of Word is as old as mine (1997). Import the resulting file into Mobipocket Creator, within which you can build and preview your ebook. If you happen to have a Kindle laying around, you can simply copy your new ebook onto your Kindle and check out how it looks there. Chances are there will be something that doesn't look quite right (remember to view at different scales).

Make a note of anything that needs changing, then go back and re-edit.

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