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Thursday, September 1, 2011

E-Book Conversions

Please welcome guest blogger Nancy J. Cohen

I’ve just successfully converted my backlist futuristic romance title, Keeper of the Rings, and uploaded it to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. How did I manage the formatting? I’ll share my insights with you, with credit due to other authors whose advice helped me along the way and is incorporated here. This discussion does not touch upon cover design or editorial input that you might require. We’re assuming your work is edited, you have a great cover, and you’re ready to format your work for submission to the different e-book sites.

Let’s also assume you know how to do basic operations in Word. Hereafter, when you write your initial document, do not use Tabs. Instead, use Paragraph, Special, indent first line 0.5. This will make things a lot simpler. Otherwise, you’ll have to go through and select all, indent the first line as above, and then eliminate all tabs. So here’s your checklist of formatting steps to prepare your work for digital conversion:

  1. Save one copy of your file under a different name for Kindle and Nook conversions, and another copy for Smashwords. Save these two files as a Word Doc. If you have Office 10, save them as a doc file, not docx. Remember to keep your original work separate from these two files.

  1. Single Space the entire document

  1. Times New Roman 12pt font

  1. Paragraph special indent first line 0.5

  1. Eliminate all tabs

  1. Use one space between sentences. If you’ve used two spaces, select all and do a search and replace. Put two spaces in the search box and one space in the replace box.

  1. Remove section breaks (Look for paragraph symbol to reveal codes in Word; also remove any extra spaces before paragraph symbol)

  1. Remove headers and footers and page numbers

  1. For space breaks, use 3 returns. On the center line, do this: <><><> (look on your keyboard; it’s shift key-comma; shift key-period, repeat two more times). Another author suggested this; I suspect it’s because asterisks may get overlooked during the formatting process. Anyway, this is more distinctive.

  1. Chapter breaks for Kindle and Nook: Do two returns at the end of a chapter then a page break. Begin chapter heading six lines down on the new page and center it. Space down two more returns from the chapter title to begin text.

  1. Chapter breaks for Smashwords: Do two returns at the end of a chapter then a page break. Do not space down the chapter title; center it at the top of the new page. Again, do two returns between the chapter title and the text.

  1. Prepare front matter, copyright page, story blurb, and add any additional material, i.e. About the Author, Glossary, Author’s Note, etc.

  1. For a backlist title, the copyright date is the date of original publication

  1. Smashwords requires special wording on the copyright page. Please read their Style Guide.

Sign up for premium status at Smashwords. If you don’t already have one, buy the Premium ISBN number for $9.95. Then go to your Dashboard after your book is accepted and select the Distribution Channel Manager and scroll down. Under your book title, you’ll see a table showing retailers and buttons for you to select the distributor or to opt out. If you plan to upload to Nook and Kindle yourself, opt out of these choices but leave the rest checked. Be sure to click Submit or Save Changes when you’re done.

Ready to get started? Go here:




Each of the sites offers guidelines that are clear enough to follow. If you get confused, throw out a question on your writers’ loops. Someone who has been through the process may be able to help. Be sure to follow the instructions on the sites.

Converting your books may be challenging the first time, but subsequently it will be easier and will give you a great sense of accomplishment. The goal is to get your book in front of readers. Good luck!

Nancy J. Cohen is a multi-published author who writes romance and mysteries. Her first title, Circle of Light, won the HOLT Medallion Award. After writing several romances, she switched to mysteries. Her popular Bad Hair Day series features hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA best-seller list. Her latest release, Silver Serenade, is a science fiction romance and her fifteenth book. Coming next is Shear Murder, a new Bad Hair Day mystery, in January 2012. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets.

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Keeper of the Rings

Taurin is shrouded in black when Leena first meets him, his face shaded like the night. At first she believes him to be a simple farmer, but the man exhibits skills worthy of a warrior. With his commanding presence, he’s an obvious choice to be the lovely archaeologist’s protector on her quest for a stolen sacred artifact. Curious about his mysterious background, and increasingly tempted by his tantalizing touch, Leena prays their perilous journey will be a success. She must find the missing relic, or dangerous secrets will be revealed that may forever change her world.


Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Excellent advice about formatting. Unfortunately mine is already uploaded so fingers crossed it works ok. Good post!

Melissa Alvarez said...

Great advice, Nancy!

Anonymous said...

Nancy: I'm always impressed with you wealth of knowledge and your willingness to take the time and effort to share. You've made my foray into self-publishing a whole lot easier. I feel like an expert is supporting me along the way.

Vicky Koch aka Sophia Knightly said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and excellent how-to guide. I love your new cover. Did you design it yourself? I hired eBook Prep to scan my back list books into ebook formats and am now designing the book covers with them. It's great fun to be able to create my own cover! Once I have the epub version, I'll tackle uploading to all the venues...

Cynthia Thomason said...

Nancy, thanks so much. This is one of the best, most concise and complete summaries of the process I've seen. I'm printing it out and referring to it often.
Cynthia Thomason

Allison Chase said...

Nancy, thanks so much for sharing this! You make it sound easy and not nearly as daunting as I thought it would be. I'll be saving this for future reference.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

I'm glad you're all finding this info to be helpful. Vicky, if you're talking about Keeper of the Rings cover, I had Kimberly Killion design it. That backlist title I uploaded myself, though, using these steps. Good luck with your backlist titles and everyone else with your epub efforts. Keep these formatting tips in mind also when you're writing new works.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Nancy, for taking something mind boggling and breaking it down into comprehendable parts.

Edi Ojeda

Anonymous said...

You won't go wrong if you follow Nancy's advice on just about anything she chooses to expound on. And one of these days, after I get resettled on the West coast, I'm going to following her advice on backlist publishing. Thanks, Nancy!

Joyce Henderson said...

Oops, that anonymous is moi. I hit publish before I should. See why I always follow Nancy's lead in technical stuff? LOL

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Joyce, you can do it! Good luck with your move. It was great seeing you at the SWFRW meeting.

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks, Nancy. I found all this out after much trial and error. It's great that you put this out here, It'll save people lots of time and trouble!