Here are five ebook formatting Tips

By: Meena Chauhan

Ebooks are the fastest growing segment of the book publishing industry. Each year, more and more new and established authors digitally publish their fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenplays and scripts in ebook form.

One of the most common hurdles authors face is how to make their ebook readable on as many different ebook reading platforms and devices as possible. There's the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader, the Apple iPhone and iPOD Touch, just for starters.

Here are five ebook self publishing and formatting tips to help make your book as successful as possible:

1. The Page is Dead - In traditional print publishing, the notion of the "page" is critical. All your pages have numbers, and these page numbers are probably referenced either in your table of contents or your index. for more ebooks, the notion of the page is turned upside down, literally. All ebook readers have a different idea of what constitutes a page, because they may have different screen heights and widths, or the number of pages may change based on whether your reader is holding their iPhone vertically or horizontally. The number of pages may also change if the reader increases the font size or changes the font style, or chooses to read your book with double line spacing instead of single spacing. So bottom line, try to avoid page numbers, especially for long form narrative. If you MUST include page numbers, then limit your ebook outputs to PDF files, because PDFs do a good job of maintaining formatting (even though PDFs are a horrible e-reading format).

2. Keep the formatting simple - Readers buy your books for the words and stories, not the formatting. Complicated formatting can get in the way of the reader consuming the words in your book. You want to make sure your book is optimized to be read as plain text, which is how most e-readers display your book.

3. Avoid common bad formatting habits - Print publishing is very forgiving, because as long as your manuscript looks the way you want it to look on-screen, it usually prints out fine. Ebooks are less forgiving. Some of the most common ebook formatting mistakes include: Using tabs or spaces instead of Word's indent feature; using multiple paragraph returns to designate page breaks (creates blank pages in your ebook); and using multiple body text styles instead of just "normal" text (creates inconsistent looking text).

4. Publish your book in as many ebook formats as possible - It's impossible to predict which ereading device or platform your reader will use to read your book. They might read it online over a web browser, they might download to their home computer to print it, they may read it on their Kindle, or maybe they want to read it on their iPhone or Blackberry. for visit might also want to read the same book on multiple devices simultaneously. Therefore, you should publish in multiple ebook formats so the reader can read your book their way. Popular formats include HTML (readable on web browsers), .txt (Plain text, readable on nearly everything), PDF (good for books for which strict formatting is essential to reading enjoyment [picture books, books with charts, graphs, tables of contents and indexes]), epub (an open industry ebook format used by more and more e-reading devices and applications), and .mobi (used by the Kindle).

5. Avoid DRM - DRM, or "digital rights management," refers to schemes that seek to prevent illegal copying or pirating of a digital work, like an ebook or music. Customers hate DRM, because DRM treats them like a criminal and prevents them from enjoying your book in the way they want to enjoy it. Don't use DRM with your ebook. Market research shows that DRM cannot prevent piracy, and it just angers your customers. In fact, research shows that books without DRM outsell books with DRM.

Mark Coker is founder of Smashwords, an ebook self-publishing service. Smashwords provides multiple social media-enabled tools to help authors publish, promote and sell their ebooks on the Internet. Authors simply upload their finished manuscript as a Microsoft Word file, and then Smashwords automatically converts it into multiple DRM-free ebook formats, ready for immediate sale online. Authors set the price and sampling privileges, and receive up to 85% of the net sales proceeds.

Mark is author of The Smashwords Style Guide, a free ebook that provides ebook formatting tips, and The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, which provides Smashwords authors tips on how to promote and market their ebooks. Mark is also co-author, with his wife, of Boob Tube, a novel that explores the dark side of Hollywood celebrity.

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