Showing posts with label formatting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label formatting. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 18

How To Format A Word Document For Amazon's KDP Publishing Program

How To Format A Word Document For Amazon's KDP Publishing Program

As anyone who has successfully published a book will tell you, formatting your MS Word document correctly is the key to a successful, low-stress, experience.

One of the best explanations of how to format your Word document in preparation for publishing is in Zoe Winter's book Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming An Indie Author, but if you don't have it, this video by Connie Neal has some great tips: Formatting a Word 2010 Document for KDP.

I agree with Passive Guy's comment on the video:
In the demonstration, Connie applied some styles, then manually centered the text. PG would probably modify the style so it includes a centered text format. Very easy to do.

Rather than using one of Word’s style sets, PG uses a set of styles he has developed for all of Mrs. PG’s books. When he receives a new manuscript, he applies the styles he’s developed to that book. If he wants a different look for the new book, he can modify the styles or add other elements.

He usually begins by formatting the CreateSpace printed copy, always using section breaks instead of page breaks, then uses the result for conversion to ebook formats. It’s not the only way to do it, but it seems to him to be the most efficient.
Another great resource for formatting is Mark Coker's Smashwords Style Guide. I know, I know, we're talking about formatting your Word document for publishing through Amazon's KDP program, but the basics of formatting are the same regardless of where you're uploading to.

The key, I think, is to "go nuclear" and strip out all formatting from your document and then put it back in, making sure that the only formatting you use in your finished document, the one that's going to be uploaded to Amazon, are paragraph styles. I strip out the formatting by copying the entire text of the manuscript and pasting it into a text file like Notepad (on the PC), copying that text, then opening up a new Word file and pasting the text from Notepad file into it. (Clear as mud?) Sounds like a lot of work, but it's worth it to be sure you've stripped out every last pesky pit of formatting.

Stripping out all formatting will also strip out italics so I've taken to indicating italics in my manuscripts by putting "_" on the left side of a word. For instance, "She _loved chocolate" equals "She loved chocolate". Then I just do a global search and italicize all words that have an underscore as their first character. After that I remove all underscores and there you have it. (This article, Find and Replace Using Wildcards, is terrific)

I imagine there's a far more simple and elegant way of doing the same thing, and if any of you folks have discovered it, please do let me know! :-)

Other articles you might like:
- Lyla Sinclair's 8 Secrets Of Successful Romance Writing
- Indie Books: What Price Is Right?
- Writing Resources

Tuesday, July 17

How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Joe Konrath has just written an excellent blog post called Zero Sum. I'm going to blog tomorrow about what he says about the race to the bottom but what I'd like to talk about now is this statement of his:
They [writers] need 100 sales a day at $2.99 to live very well.
My reaction: Yes! 100 sales a day seems doable. Sortof. So, here it is, six things you need to do in order to sell 100 books a day:

1) Write a lot of good stories
This point, though obvious, bears restating. Part of putting out a good book is making sure it has been edited, proofed and professionally formatted. (Joe mentions that he uses for formatting his books.)

Even if unedited, unproofed and poorly formatted books will sell--we've all read ebooks like this--at the very least making sure your books look professional will give you a competitive advantage.

2) Have a great product description and a professional cover
This is self-explanatory. Joe recommends Carl Graves.

One thing I've found helpful in writing a product description is Nathan Bransford's advice for writing queries. Nathan gives a helpful paint/write-by-number formula for doing this that got me started and, often, getting something half-decent on the page, something you can work with, is half the battle.

3) Price your book right
It's devilishly hard to determine what is a good price for a book. Joe writes, "Currently I'm $3.99 for novels, $2.99 for novellas (over 10k words) and story collections, and 99 cents for short stories. But this isn't set in stone."

How ebooks should be priced is a hotly debated issue. One thing I will say is, given the changes in Amazon's ranking algorithm, it's not worth pricing any novel-length work below $2.99. How high you want to go is up to you.

4) Promote your books 
Have free giveaways to encourage reviews, write guest posts to announce sales, sell your books on different platforms, and so on. Those are a few of the things things you can do to promote your books. Here are some things Joe recommends not bothering with:
1. Advertising. It doesn't work on me, so I don't use it on other people. That's a cardinal rule of mine. I only use something or believe it works if I do it as a consumer.

2. Social media. Occasional tweets of Facebook announcements are fine. At most, once a week. Maybe once a day if you have a new release, but end it after a few days. Otherwise people get sick of you.

3. Publicity. I've already blogged that getting my name in the press doesn't lead to sales. You probably don't need a publicist.

4. Spamming. I have a newsletter, and use it a few times a year. I don't use it everytime I upload something new to Kindle. And I don't pimp my work on other peoples' blog or forums unless invited to do so, or there's a section for it.
Joe ends by writing:
I want to end this blog entry by telling writers: Don't Be Afraid. Yes, the future will be different. Yes, things will change. But there will always be a need for storytellers, and if you hold onto your rights, you'll be in a good position to exploit those rights no matter what the future holds.
I think this is an exciting time to be a writer. New possibilities for sales and distribution are opening up, writers are getting the lion's share of the royalties on most of their book sales and as a group we're starting to think more like business people and are taking charge of our careers. Go us!

Remember, in order to write a lot of good books we have to follow Heinlein's first rule: Writer's write. I hope you all have a productive day. Cheers!

Related reading:
- Kobo's Self-Publishing Portal: Report From A Beta Tester
- Query Tracker: Keep Track Of Your Stories
- 10 Reasons Why Stories Get Rejected