So you have written a book, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, you are super proud of it. And why shouldn't you be? It took time, knowledge and creativity to make. You are eager to publish it on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform and make some money. However, while in most cases you can just import a file from Microsoft Word and publish it just fine, other times you need to do a bit of formatting.
Why not take the time to properly format your Kindle book and make it easy to read for your potential customer. You are proud of the content, be proud of how it looks!
Kindle books are essentially just simple HTML and CSS pages. For the purposes of this guide, I am going to assume you finished your book and already know how to use the Kindle Direct Publishing site. You do not need to have basic knowledge of HTML, but you will have basic knowledge after this guide. Kindle is made in the simplest of simple HTML and some CSS.
If you use Open Office or Microsoft Word to write your book, they should transfer onto the Kindle just fine, however some of the formatting may not work in the transfer. It is best to transfer your book over to a plain text and reformatting it by hand. I recommend Notepad or Notepad 2, but you cannot just paste all your text in there at once. You have to paste it from Word in sections.
Start your text off with:
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"
Place the closing tag </html> at the end of the document. This denotes it as an HTML document via a DOCTYPE. There are different kinds, but this is the usual one.
Between your HTML DOCTYPE tags, type:
<title>My New Book</title>
This is where you place the title of your book. This will not show up on your document, it just tells the Kindle what the title of the book is. Place the <body> tag after your </head> and that is where you place the text of your book. Be sure to do the </body> closing tag after you have formatted all your book text at the end of the document, before the </html> closing tag, not after.
To make a title page, you can either use the cover creator that the Kindle book platform has created to create a picture cover or use the header tag. You can use both a cover and have a title page if you would like.
<h1 style=”text-align: center”>My Centered Title</h1>
That above code will make your title big, bold and centered on the page. If you want to put your name or a subtitle below it, just copy and paste it below your title and change the value of the header tag (the 'h1'). Header tags go from 1 to 6, with 1 being the biggest and 6 being the smallest.
People often get tricked up creating a title page as the Kindle does not recognize inserted breaks or white spaces. You need to use a special tag that will insert a page break. You will want to use this to create a page new page after your title page or your text will just creep up there.
Use the above tag when you want to start a new page, whether it is after your title page or just after the end of a chapter.
Now you are finally ready to start placing text from your book. For every paragraph of you book, start it with the tag <p> and close it with the </p> tag. This signifies it is a paragraph and will use the appropriate spaces. The kindle automatically indents it for you when you use this tag as well.
I know, this seems like a lot of work if you have a long book, but it pays off with a clean formatted beautiful book.
If you really need to add whitespace between a paragraph, but do not want to start a new page with the page break tag, use something like:
<p height="40">some text from your book</p>
This will add space between paragraphs. If you want to play with the value go for it. You can save your book as booktitle.html in Notepad, then click on it to preview it online to see how much space it creates.
If you need to use Italics, use the <em>text</em> tag.
If you need to bold some text, use the <strong>text</strong> tag.
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While fiction books will not need images, informative ebooks or other nonfiction books will probably want some images. To insert an image, sue the tag:
<img src=”name.jpg” alt=”My Name”>
However, you will need to make a new folder on your desktop to place your text file and the image in. You need to keep the image and the text file in the same folder to have it show up.
However, you cannot upload folders to the Kindle Publishing platform. You have you .zip the folder. To do this, right click on the folder on your desktop and choose the 'Add to archive' option. You have to have a program like Winzip or Winrar installed. This will zip the folder so you can upload it to the publisher platform.
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That is about it for formatting a book to publish on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. It is important to remember to not get too fancy with the formatting. Kindle users want to read your text to be entertained or informed. They do not want to be annoyed by too many spaces, images, or whatnot.
As they say, KISS or Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Once you upload it, you can preview it to find any quirks. Find the problem in your text file and fix it. Make sure you have all your closing tags (the ones with the '</'). Without those, the formatting will not work or will not know where to stop.
Enjoy and good luck!