I format my own ebooks using Word on my Apple computer. I’ve been publishing with Smashwords since 2009, and yes, I’ve been through the aggravation of getting rejected for their premium distribution. So today, I thought I’d share a post on how I manage to format an ebook that passes through the process. This format will also work on Amazon. I upload to Amazon and Smashwords. I let Smashwords distribute to all of the other retailers for me. So I don’t personally make an epub file, but Smashwords will make one for you, which you can download and use if you want to upload it to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or Apple yourself.
This post is intended for people who are new to ebook formatting and want to format using their Word program.
1. Before you start to format, mark down all of your words or phrases that are italicized, bold, or underlined. I like to do all of this during the editing stages.
I like to copy a paragraph that contains any words that are in italics, bold, or underlined. Then I paste all of those paragraphs into another document. I print this document out. I then highlight those words that are italicized, in bold, or underlined. In this way, I save on paperback by not printing the entire book out. You can also save the document on your computer and refer to it later when it’s time to format your ebook.
2. Nuke the entire book.
For those who don’t know what “nuke” means, it basically removes all the formatting from your document. If you’re using a Windows computer, you’ll do this in Notepad. If you’re an Apple user, you’ll use TextEdit. Open this program up. (If using TextEdit, you’ll need to open a New Document.)
Why nuke the book?
I used to bypass this option, but whenever I did, there would spots where the formatting got unclean in certain places. For example, most of the book would have no spaces between paragraphs, and suddenly, there would be a space between a paragraph. Sometimes, all of my paragraphs had spaces between them, even though I had removed spacing between paragraphs in the document. (This was most often the case.) So I learned it’s just best to nuke the document right at the beginning.
3. Copy and paste the entire document into TextEdit or Notepad.
This is how it should look if you’re in TextEdit. (I’m sure it’ll be similar in Notepad. It’s been years since I used a Windows computer, but the process is similar.)
4. Remove the formatting.
Step 1 on the Apple: In TextEdit, go to Edit. Select All. This should highlight your entire document.
Step 2 on Apple: Choose Format. Then choose Make Plain Text.
This is what you should get:
If you’re using Notepad….
It should automatically strip your formatting for you. This is what happened when I tested it on my Dell computer just now. I don’t have a screenshot since I’m doing this post on my Apple computer, but when I copied and pasted the document from Word into Notepad, all of the formatting was stripped right away.
Since I no longer use a Windows computer, if I missed something important, please let me know. I had to dust off old computer to get into Notepad to see what I had to do, and this is the process that worked for me. Newer Windows computers might be different.
5. Put the unformatted text back into Word.
Copy and paste the entire text into a NEW word document. This is what it should look like. All of the page breaks, different font sizes, different font types, any bolding, and italics have been removed. Also, nothing is centered anymore.
6. Before doing anything else, save this as a Word.doc (which is the 2004 version).
The last time I checked, Smashwords still only takes Word 2004 files. They might have changed things since then, but this will still work. Amazon takes it, too, though think they accept newer Word documents.
7. First things first, removed the tab indents if you have them.
Some people have it set up to automatically indent the first line of every paragraph. I’m old school, so I still use the tab to indent the first sentence in the paragraph. If you’re like me, this is what you do:
Go to Edit. Select All.
Then Find And Replace.
In the Find option, put ^t.
Leave the Replace option blank.
All of your tabs should highlight.
Click Replace All.
And you should get this:
8. Indent the first line of each paragraph.
Select the entire document again. Then go to the ruler at the top of the document. There’s an hourglass. When you put your cursor over it, it should say “First Line Indent”. You might need to click on the image below, you’ll see “First Line Indent” in the yellow rectangular box.
Move the top portion of the hourglass over as far as you want to indent the first line of each paragraph. Notice the black line that is going straight down the page? That is where I choose to make my indents.
Release the hourglass, and the black line will go away.
9. Next go to the front of the document and center everything in the title page.
Basically, click on the beginning of the text and “un-indent” everything on the title page. Match up the top of the hourglass with the bottom part. Then center it so it looks like this:
Set your page break to separate this from your copyright page. In case you don’t know how to do a page break, go to the top of the toolbar. Choose Insert. Then Break. Then Page Break.
10. Look through your copyright page to see if it’s the way you want it to look.
You no longer have to use a Smashwords copyright notice. You can put in whatever copyright information you want.
Here’s an example of what I use:
This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and also represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher.
TITLE OF YOUR BOOK
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2018 YOUR NAME
Book Cover Design by: GIVE CREDIT TO WHOEVER DID YOUR COVER.
IF YOU DID YOUR OWN COVER, MENTION THE SITE YOU BOUGHT THE STOCK PHOTOS FROM, SUCH AS DREAMSTIME OR SHUTTERSTOCK, ETC. THAT MIGHT LOOK LIKE “Cover Photo images Dreamstime.com and iStockphoto.com. All rights reserved – used with permission.”
This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without expressed written consent of the publisher/author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
YOU CAN ADD YOUR WEBSITE IF YOU WISH
If you want to use a Smashwords copyright for your Smashwords version, here’s a sample of what I use:
TITLE OF YOUR BOOK – Smashwords Edition
Published by YOUR NAME at Smashwords
Copyright © 2018 by YOUR NAME
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Smashwords Edition, License Notes: This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
GIVE CREDIT TO THE COVER ARTIST OR TELL WHERE YOU PURCHASED YOUR STOCK PHOTOS.
YOU CAN ADD YOUR WEBSITE IF YOU WISH.
11. Then put in the Table of Contents (using Apple’s Word program).
“Do I really need one?” you might ask. I’ve been dinged from Amazon AND Smashwords for not having one. So I strongly encourage you to put one in. Some authors do this at the end of the book. I do mine in the front.
Put in a page break after the copyright page.
Now to get to the Table of Contents.
First, type all of the links you’re going to make. Start with “Table of Contents”, then move down to all the chapters, then add links to any back matter you want to add. Here’s an example:
You’ll notice that my Table of Contents isn’t centered. Right now, it’s indented. Move the top of the hourglass to “un-indent” the Table of Contents. You can do this quickly by highlighting the entire Table of Contents like this:
Now move the top portion of the hourglass over to the left so it matches up with the bottom half.
Now center the Table of Contents.
Now, put your mouse’s cursor at the beginning of “Table of Contents”. Go to Insert. Then Bookmark.
After you click Bookmark, you’ll get a pop up box. I put in TOC in the box. Then I click “Add” at the bottom of the box.
Now to hyperlink this bookmark. Highlight “Table of Contents”. Go to Insert. Hyperlink.
Now toward the center are three options: Web Page, Document, E-Mail Address. You want to pick Document.
Then move your mouse further down to Anchor. To the right, is the option “Locate”. Click that button. This box will pop up:
Choose Bookmarks. Select TOC. Then click OK.
This is what you should get:
Click OK. And you’ll get this:
Now you know the process of creating a bookmark and a hyperlink. If you put your mouse over “Table of Contents”, you’ll see “TOC” pop up in a yellow box. That means you did it right.
I won’t go through this whole process again in this post. But I will highlight what to do with chapter one so you know how to link up everything in this list under the Table of Contents.
12. Time to do the chapters.
After you do a page break, to to Chapter One.
Un-indent “Chapter One”. Center it. Then make a bookmark. I put “C1” in the box for Chapter One, but you can name it whatever you want. We will hyperlink this later.
13. Un-indenting and centering stuff you want to in the chapters.
You will notice I have a ~~~ after my author note. I will un-indent it and then center it. I will also un-indent “October 1819”, but I won’t center it. You can un-indent the first paragraph of your text that starts each chapter if you want.
When you have a division between scenes like a ***, you can un-ident this and then center it. Since I already discussed how to un-indent and center something, I won’t repeat myself.
14. Make page breaks between every chapter.
15. Make sure each chapter has a Bookmark inserted so you can hyperlink to it later.
16. Make sure you are mindful of your scene breaks during this whole thing. Un-indent and center each scene break that happens within the chapter.
17. At the end of your book, you will have some kind of back matter.
In this blog post example, the first thing to show up after the chapters is “Next Book In This Series”. If you don’t have a series, then I suggest putting in a book you have that is similar to this one. If this is your first book, then I suggest mentioning the next book you’ll have out.
Be sure to set a Bookmark for everything that starts a new page in the back matter. I make a new page for the next book in my series (which I try to have on pre-order), my email list sign up and where people can find me, a list of all of my books, and my author bio (if I add one).
18. Hyperlinking to a website outside of the book.
Before we finish the Table of Contents, I’m going to show you how to do a link to other sites, like your website. The procedure is the same to any website outside the document that you want to link to, so I’m only going to show the process once.
In this example, we’ll say you want to link to your blog. Highlight the text you want to link. Then go to the toolbar. Choose Insert. Choose Hyperlink. Instead of Document, choose Web Page.
Open a new tab or window on the Internet. Type in the exact website url in the “Link to:” box. So watch for the https:// at the beginning of the url, and type in the https:// and what follows. Then click OK.
Afterward, the blog will be linked up. Click on it to make sure it works. This is tricky. If it doesn’t, type the website (exactly as it shows up on the url) again and test it again. I usually do this more than once, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get this right away.
19. Now finish up the Table of Contents
Remember all of those Bookmarks you made at the beginning of each chapter and each new page, like the Next Book In Series, Email Sign Up, and so on? Now it’s time to hyperlink to them in the Table of Contents. We’ll start with Chapter 1. Highlight it.
Go to Insert. Hyperlink. Make sure you click on “Document” in the middle of the box that pops up. We’re done hyperlinking to another website. We are now going to hyperlink to stuff within the actual book.
Go down the “Anchor” that is further down in the box. Click on “Locate”. Another box pops up, and it should look like this:
Click on the arrow that is by the word “Bookmarks”. You should see all of the Bookmarks you made in the document. You’ll notice they are in alphabetical order.
My Chapter One is C1 as a bookmark. So I choose that for Chapter One. Whatever you named the bookmark for your first chapter is that you should pick. Then click OK. You should get something that looks like this:
Notice what is in the “Link To” box at the top. Also note what is in the “Anchor” box. If this looks right, then click OK. And this is what you’ll see next.
Go through the rest of the Table of Contents to hyperlink the rest of it.
20. Now go back and italicize, put in bold, or underline your words and phrases.
Remember when I said mark down all of your italics while you edit your book? This is why. If you use any italics, or even if you bold anything, this is the stage where you put those back in.
This is also a good time to change any fonts or font sizes that you want. I keep my stuff simple. When it comes to Smashwords, I learned the simpler, the better. But you can play around with different fonts and sizes.
21. If you want to put an image into your document, this is what you can do.
In this example, let’s say you want to add the book cover for the next book in your series. Go the page. Leave about three spaces between something like “Don’t Miss the Next Book In This Series!” and the book description. So the page will look something like this:
Notice my cursor is right under “Don’t Miss the Next Book In This Series!” I left one space above it and one below it. This will make sure your cover isn’t right up against the text.
Now go to Insert. Choose Photo. Choose Picture From File…
Pick the image you want to insert. Now, don’t panic when you see how big the picture is. You can resize it. When I inserted mine, this is how large it was:
If you click on the picture, a box goes around it. Go to the top right corner of the image, hold down the button of the mouse, and move the cursor to the center. This will make it smaller. Adjust the size until you’re happy with it.
Like this is mine when all is said and done:
Yo don’t want to make them too big because the ebook will most likely be read on a eReader. In a paperback, I would make the picture larger.
Was there something I missed? Was there something I did that might confuse someone and you’d like to offer them an easier way of doing it? I tried to be thorough, but I probably missed something along the way.
Feel free to chime in. I’m not the most tech savvy person on the planet. I get by okay, and my ebooks look clean when I upload them, but I’m sure there are better ways to do this.
To those following the instructions to format your ebook: be sure to check the comments below. Someone might be able to offer you a better way of doing something than I did.