Five Tips to Kindle-Ize Your Book (Guest Post from Elmore Hammes)

Back in May, Amazon announced that sales of digital books for the Kindle electronic reader have surpassed sales of print books. It is clear that e-books – regardless of whether or not they actually replace printed books – are here to stay and a significant part of the market. So how does an independent author take advantage of that? Well, it’s fairly simple – and can be quite affordable as well.

Since Amazon is the largest market at this point, it makes sense to start off with a Kindle edition of your book. And through their no-cost self-publishing platform an author can earn from 35% to 70% of the selling price of their books.

There are a few things the author can do to ensure the Kindle edition is well-received by the reader, from a formatting perspective. This can prevent negative reviews (and even refunds) based on how the book looks on their Kindle, which can really hurt sales. Here are five tips that should help authors new to the Kindle platform avoid major missteps:

  1. Make a new copy of your interior manuscript specific for the Kindle. While more advanced users will want to create their own converted file to load, most authors will be able to get an acceptable file for loading and conversion with a Word document with a few modifications.
  2. Forget all the fancy stuff. Most e-readers have limited font selections. If you go with a clean and simple presentation, it will generally transfer better to various e-reading platforms. Go with a common font such as Garamond or Times New Roman throughout the book.
  3. Blank lines and spaces tend to get removed in conversion to e-book formats, so make sure you use appropriate page break commands rather than blanks lines to get to a new page, and use appropriate indenting and paragraph spacing as needed to separate sections of text within chapters.
  4. If your book has a Table of Contents, make it dynamic, with hyperlinks instead of page numbers. (Page numbers are irrelevant to an e-reader, as what text is on a given screen can change based on the user’s own display settings. For similar reasons, your e-book file doesn’t need headers or footers.)
  5. If you don’t have a Kindle, download the free Kindle for PC application from Amazon. Preview your entire book using that (yes, look at every single screen page), as it better simulates the Kindle reading experience than the preview inside the publishing platform. Modify the original source as needed and review again. Repeat as necessary until the book looks perfect. This can be a tiresome and repetitive process, but is crucial in getting the best final product to your reader.

These are basic guidelines that should help prevent your book looking like it was just thrown at the Kindle platform without any concern for how it would actually look on a Kindle reader. There are certainly more advanced modifications that can take it from an acceptable presentation to professional appearance. These generally require creating the upload PRC file rather than relying on the Kindle Direct Publishing site to perform the conversion. There are several free utilities out there – I use MobiPocket Creator – as well as various sites with tips on how to use those to create Kindle files. Authors wishing more complete control over the appearance of their Kindle edition would be advised to investigate those or seek professional assistance.

[Professional assistance such as Elmore himself, who takes Kindle formatting clients and is too nice to shamelessly self-promote. His contact info is below. -The Whine Seller]

A final, very important note: just because it is fairly simple to put a book out there for Kindle, don’t make the mistake of not taking the time to do it right, and not just the formatting. It is equally important to have your book edited prior to publication. If you can’t pay an editor, at least have a fellow author or capable friend go through it for you. Your readers and your muse will thank you for it.

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Guest Blogger Elmore Hammes is an independent author with several novels available in paperback and e-book editions through Amazon and most major bookstores. He is also a self-publishing consultant, offering editing, formatting and e-book conversion services. He can be contacted at