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Critique Partners and Groups

My advice, find a critique partner or group, preferably with writers who are more accomplished than you. Critique partners are invaluable and I highly recommend them to all writers––especially newbies.

So now you’re done and all the time you’ve spent writing and polishing your book is about to pay off. Don’t let hidden coding from all of those changes destroy your masterpiece. Below are some more formatting tips. Remember, the internet has changed the book industry. Ebooks rule, so make sure your formatting works. Whether you use designers or self-pub your own books, the magic comes from a clean format. If you don’t have a clean manuscript, HTML and Javascript can transform your story to a digital drama mess.

Follow these formatting steps and your wonderful words will flow off the pages just as you intended.

16) Hyperlinks

When you create an ebook, web addresses become clickable hyperlinks in HTML and Javascript readers. Use hyperlinks judiciously. People have short attention spans, so if you give your reader too many chances to read something else, you’ll lose them. Even if your hyperlink isn’t live in your ebook format, the reader will still have information they need to visit your link.

17) Designating chapter breaks, page breaks, and section breaks

WHAT EVERY AUTHOR NEVER KNEW About Pushing Send Part 2If you insert page breaks into your Word document (Insert: Break: [choose one]), the PDF and .RTF versions will honor them, but these commands will be lost in most other formats, which strip page breaks and section breaks. Loss of page breaks is okay in an ebook, because you can’t predict the font size or screen size the reader is using, and you want to have continuous re-flowable text anyway. The worst thing that will happen is paragraphs may become artificially too close or too separated.

If you use paragraph breaks, be sure to enter a paragraph return or two before and after the break so that when the break disappears in some formats, your paragraphs don’t smash together.

18) Remove all section breaks from your document

For some reason, section breaks create unnecessary blank space in your ebook. If you want to separate chapters, insert a consistent number of paragraph returns (maybe three or four), or use a combination of a couple paragraph returns, followed by centered text characters  like this: * * * * followed by a couple more paragraph returns and possibly chapter headings if you have them. Do not use solid separator bars.

The general rule for formatting is “simpler is better.” DO NOT use a long series (more than four or five) of paragraph returns anywhere in your book to try to arrange words on a page, or to designate page breaks, because not only will this cause your book to be rejected from most catalogues, it’ll also create a lot of awful looking blank space in your ebook.

19) Working With Images

If you have images, they should be embedded in your Word file, usually via the Insert: Picture File option. If the images are critical to your book, then when you publish your book uncheck the checkbox option for “Plain Text” because photos and charts don’t translate into plain text. If the images are a nice-to-have but not a need-to-have, then go ahead an allow the Plain Text option.

Do not use floating images (If you can click on the image and drag it, it’s floating) because your image may appear in unpredictable places after the conversion.

Images work best if you keep them small. If your current image runs the length of a 6 inch wide page, it may not display properly on the smaller screens of some reading devices. Restrict images to widths of 500 pixels. Before you import images into your manuscript, use a photo editing tool such as Photoshop, pic monkey, or Canva to reduce the dimensions and file size.

20) Text Justification

Text converts most cleanly if it’s all left justified. Centered text works well, especially for your title and copyright page. But don’t use Word’s “Justify” command, which attempts to spread your words evenly from margin to margin without leaving spaces at the end of each line. The PDF conversion can sometimes look odd for justified text. If you love justified text, then go ahead and try it––the results may still be acceptable to you.

21) Different Font Sizes

Minimize font size variation in your book, otherwise your book will look ugly. Some of the best-looking books on eReaders use 12pt for the body text and 14pt for the book title on the cover page, and for headings. If you must use different font sizes, minimize the range of their variance. For example, if you normal body text is 12 point, don’t use a 20 point header. We recommend you keep your largest font size to 14. Dramatic variations in font sizes can cause unwelcome glitches in some of the conversions, such as causing the large point text to bleed onto the smaller point text. Most ebook formats support multiple font sizes, but Javascript online readers make everything the same font size (though it has other great online reading qualities so you’ll want to offer it to your readers).

22) Style formatting and symbols

Italics, underlines, strikethroughs and symbols (such as é î ® © Ω ∑) translate moderately well into most formats. Headers and footers generally remain in PDF and RTF versions but disappear in other versions. Remove headers and footers and definitely remove auto-page numbering because it can trigger a text-box error.

For margins, try to format your book to adhere to Word’s standard margins for printing, otherwise your PDF and RTF files won’t print well or present well on screen. Authors often ask if they should format for American-style pages (8.5 X11 inch) or A9. About 60% of eReader customers are American, so it’s really up to you.

Final Important notes !!!

Front matter is what publishers call the stuff that goes on the first and second page of your book. If you add too much testimonial content to the front of your book, it can actually decrease readership because the reader doesn’t want to have to flip multiple pages to start reading.

Most authors who add blurbs put them at the very front of the book, before the Title & Copyright page. If your book has received rave reviews from readers, consider adding a couple short snippets on the first page, so readers who sample your book will feel more inclined to purchase it. These should be real, honest reviews.

The End

Most authors end their book with a period and give the reader nothing more. Don’t squander this opportunity. If your reader makes it to the end of your book, reward them! First, add a ### centered on the next line to signify the end or simply say The End. But consider adding a personal message too. Put yourself into the mind of your reader. They just finished your book. They loved it. They want to read more of your material. This is an opportunity to connect with them.

Now you know…


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