8 things to remember when formatting e-books

If you are a self-publisher, chances are at some point you will need to format an e-book. While it would be nice if the manuscript file you’ve been working on for months would magically transfer over to e-book format and look great, it isn’t really possible. At some point, you’re going to have to do some formatting. Here are some of the key things you need to remember when it comes to e-book formatting.

  • E-books don’t have pages. Your book will look different on each platform. It all depends on what kind of e-reader people are using and how they’ve set it up to display the text. This means the concept of ‘proper’ pages like in a printed book goes a little bit out of the window.
  • Be careful with page breaks. This relates to the point above. E-books don’t have pages in the proper sense, and too many page breaks can end up looking awkward on an e-reader screen.
  • Make sure you make a new version of your manuscript file for formatting purposes, and keep a back-up copy. You don’t want to take the risk of turning the whole thing into a disaster if you should have a serious formatting mishap.
  • Don’t have your word processing programme set to ‘print layout’, as the separate pages will make it harder to determine what your e-book will actually look like.
  • Get rid of as much of the blank space as possible. Even though it might feel wrong not to leave blank space at some points in the book, resist the urge.
  • Follow the guidelines on the publishing platforms you’re using. They’re there for a reason
  • Check it before you publish it properly. You can use tools such as the Kindle application for PC or Mac to check your Amazon e-book, and Adobe Digital Editions for Smashwords epub files.
  • There are people out there who will format your e-book for you for a fee. If you have been driven insane by trying to format your e-book or really aren’t sure how to go about it, hire someone to do it for you. Whatever you do, don’t publish the book without someone formatting it first.


Self-published e-books continue market growth

Those of us who self-publish our own e-books are sure to be pleased with the recent news that our presence in the digital market continues to grow.

Self-published e-books are now thought to take up around 12% of the digital publishing market – and in some genres, the figure is even higher. For instance, in the crime category, the figure is thought to be as high as 20%.

This is good news for those of us who are passionate about independent publishing and work hard to make sure our books have just as much chance of success as those that are traditionally published.

The figures above come from research carried out by Bowker Market Research. The study also found that people who buy self-published books are much more likely to read every day than people who don’t. And, if you are wondering which demographic is most likely to buy a self-published e-book, it seems that the answer is women aged over 45, who account for more than a third of the total.

What do you think about these findings? You can read more about the story here.

New pilot schemes for e-book lending

It was announced just over a week ago that libraries in the UK could be lending e-books by as early as this summer. Pilot schemes are set to be introduced to look into the issue of e-book lending patterns, and it is hoped that more libraries will become involved later on in the year.

This is happening in response to the Sieghart Review, which came to the conclusion that readers should be able to borrow e-books in an effort to secure the future of libraries. Another interesting point to come out of this is that it has been recommended that people should be able to borrow the e-books remotely.

You can find out more about this news here. What do you think about borrowing e-books from libraries?

Too Close for Comfort featured by Apple Breakout Books

breakoutbooks example march 5 ukI’ve just received an email to let me know that my début book, Too Close for Comfort, has been selected by Apple as one of their Breakout Books for 2013. Despite being released two years ago, the book continues to be hugely successful in Apple’s iBookstore.

The Breakout Books feature has been celebrated since its launch, and has been covered recently in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

“The criteria for inclusion is largely customer-driven – selected titles exhibit strong reviews and ratings, and have shown exceptional sales performance.”

The Breakout Books feature is right at the top of Apple’s iBookstore and is featured heavily on iTunes. For Apple to be celebrating independent authors in such a prominent way just goes to show – yet again – the dominance independent authors are now enjoying over the traditional publishing market.

It’s hugely encouraging to see yet another of the world’s largest bookstores coming out in support of independent authors and I think this marks the beginning of what is going to be another massively successful year for independent publishers.

tcfc-newOh, and seeing as we’re on the subject… I thought now might be a good time to announce that April will see the release of the third edition of Too Close for Comfort, a new-and-improved anniversary edition, celebrating two years since its explosive emergence into the market which spawned my life as I now know it. There’s even a brand new book cover which forms part of the new cover styles for the Knight & Culverhouse series. A celebratory anniversary edition of Guilty as Sin will be released in the summer.

Learn more about this Breakout Books promotion at the Smashwords Blog.

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Barnes & Noble suffers e-reader losses

Barnes & Noble, the largest bookseller in the US, has recently announced that it has suffered losses in the arm of its business that includes sales of its e-readers and e-books. The company has significantly invested in this part of its business in recent years and so the figures are sure to be disappointing – especially as they include sales from over the holiday period.

There is even suggestion that the company might start to withdraw from certain aspects of this side of its business, and focus more on building deals with other tablet produces over content they control rather than focusing on their own Nook tablet.

One of the reasons given for the losses suffered is that while tablet sales grew over the holiday period, people chose to go with other providers – Barnes & Noble have found it difficult to extend their market outside of their existing customers. With this in mind, a renewed focus on content rather than physical devices seems to make sense, although what action the company is planning to take is not yet clear.

In the meantime, you can read more about this story here and here.