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Now that you’ve given some thought to what you hope to accomplish by self-publishing, it’s time to consider formats. I find that this area is often the most confusing for my clients. If you have a question about e-book formats, please let me know in the comments.
If you aren’t familiar with the way e-reader devices work, there are some basics you need to be aware of before you make your book available in these formats.
Imagine for a moment that you have never seen a Kindle or a Nook before. You’re holding it in your hand for the first time. You’re painfully aware that it doesn’t feel nearly as cozy as a real book, yet you’re a bit excited at the possibilities the technology brings you.
In your mind, an invisible switch flips. It’s not a book. It’s electronic. So it must work like a computer. Maybe the book file is kind of like a Word document or a PDF.
The difference I want to highlight today is that there are no typical page breaks. A book is divided into chapters, not pages. E-reader devices are smart. They use files that automatically adapt to their own settings and size. This means control over fonts and sizes for the reader. It also means that it is harder for you to dictate where the content breaks from one page to the other, because that break may happen at a different place in the text depending on how a particular person has their device set.
You need to keep this in mind if you plan to include images, or if it matters to you where the content breaks. You can achieve breaks, but you will likely end up with empty space at the same time.
Confused? I realize you may be. There are many other differences, but this is one of the most basic. E-readers open up a world of possibilities, and it will be much easier for you as a writer if you have more understanding of the devices themselves.
If you’re a bit techy and thinking that I’m ignoring the possibilities of fixed layout and expanding options available with KF8 and other advances in formats, please just bear with me. I’m writing this for non-techy self-publishing authors who may even try the formatting themselves and want their books to be available on a wide range of devices (even older models).
I’m going to give you a little homework for the weekend:
Go to a store that sells Kindle, Nook, iPad, and a variety of e-reader devices. (Think Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and the like). Spend some time there with the demo models. Make yourself familiar with these devices. If there is a knowledgeable salesperson available, ask questions. Try changing the font size (if you are able to do so), and see how this affects where the content breaks on the pages.
If you already own one type of e-reader device, spend some time looking at the others. The more you understand about how people will read your book and the different experiences they will have based on the device they use, the better.
For those of you who subscribe via e-mail, you may have noticed the post delivery being erratic over the past few days. I apologize for that! Feedburner seems to be having one of it’s glitchy moments. I will be transferring to another service within the next week or so, so you should see an improvement. Don’t worry all subscribers will be transferred, so you won’t need to do a thing!
During the month of October, we’re chatting about everything self-publishing—design, branding, marketing, formats—you name it! Pulling questions from Design by Insight clients, Re:Write Conference attendees, and you, we’ll take a look at what can often be a confusing and potentially overwhelming subject. Have a question you would like me to answer? Leave it in the comments!
Miss a day? Visit the main post for links to each day.