By HappyLady
3 years ago

Making eBooks

Notes for eBook Making Jacky Hughes
2017 Jacky Hughes All rights reserved


Everybody seems to be writing eBooks so why shouldn’t you? It’s simple. You can self–publish and start selling almost as soon as your manuscript is written. There is nothing to be afraid of. It is all a matter of knowing how to create a document with the right headings. I’m sure you already know how to do that on your word processor.
The rest is easy. You will soon progress to making eBooks to sell in the marketplace.

What is an eBook?

An eBook is a book that can be:
bought or given away online.
downloaded to read offline
readable on an eReader
Usually contains “reflowable” (sometimes called “flowable”) text

You were probably happy until you reached the word “reflowable.” Let’s explain that.

If you understand how reflowable text works you will be able to understand eBook formatting.

Reflowable text

It’s simple. Reflowable text is text you can adjust to suit yourself. That is what you do when you use an eReader like Kindle or Nook or well, just about any eReader there is.

Understanding what eReaders do

The reader can change just about everything but the text of your book on their eReader.

They can alter the font, font size and page size and the colour of the background.

If you understand reflowable text eBook making is easy

There is no point in spending time on complicated formatting if people will probably change it anyway.

Just so you fully get the point about reflowable text

The best way to understand reflowable text is to use an eReader. You can even do that for free.

Download Calibre and import a free eBook, then play around with the software to see what you can do with the eBook format.


How reflowable text affects your published eBook

To move forwards in our understanding of how to format an eBook we need to consider what effect reflowable text has on the published book.

Imagine your book published with page numbers. In a paper or hardback or even a PDF (which is another kind of eBook,) the pages are fixed. Page 1 stays where it is all the time and page 2 and so on. That isn’t true of an eBook.

When you use an eReader to read an eBook all sorts of changes can be made. You can alters the size of the text, the line spacing or the size of the page.

Therefore the page numbers are irrelevant because the changes made in the eReader alter the number of pages in the book.

The exception to the rule

The only way you could stop this from happening is if you published your book using fixed formatting. For many people that might destroy the pleasure of using an eReader. If you really need the pages where you hope they ended up you will have to use that kind of formatting, but most of the time it isn’t necessary.

Get out of print book mode

Generally, writing a successful eBook means you have to stop thinking the way you think about a print book.

Alter your thinking

It is time to stop thinking about eBooks as print books that appear on an eReader. Once you separate your thinking from print book mode the way you format an eBook becomes easier to understand.

Get into blog post mentality

Think about how you would create a blog post. In a way, an eBook is a bit like a series of blog posts strung together. Where do people read blog posts? On the Internet.

The pages on an eReader are similar to Internet web pages.

Think about how you read Internet blogs and webpages

Now think about how you read a web page or blog post. There is nothing more irritating than a blog post with a lot of irrelevant detail at the start. You probably skip any detail in the first paragraph and home in on the information.

You want to get to the actual blog post quickly. You haven’t got time to read how the writer eats fish every day and has seven cats. If the writer spends too long telling you you pass on by and search for a different blog by a different writer.
That affects how an eBook is formatted and structured.

The format for an eBook

There are two things that affect how an eBook is formatted and structured.

The need to use direct formatting – if you really must have the reader find page 1 where you want page 1 to be and so on.

The need to get your reader reading the main text of your book quickly

Most of the time you won’t need to think about direct formatting and can concentrate on drawing your reader in and getting them reading as fast as you cal.

Ebooks are best with a very simple structure

The good news is that this makes structuring and formatting your eBook very simple. It’s easy. Stop trying to write a print book. Forget all the hassle of working out where the pages should land and getting the numbering right. Ebook writing is a different and a lot faster.

Use seperate files if you really want a print book

The key is to stop thinking of your eBook as a print book uploaded to the Internet.

If you want to see why take a look at some of the books that appear on Google search. If a print book is uploaded to the Internet as it stands then it looks funny and it difficult to read.

But you also want to make a print book?

If you want to publish your book in print as well as eBook form then you need to make separate files for each kind of book.

You can, of course, copy and paste the text from one file to another. However, the formatting is not the same.

Let’s just go over that again.
Files for your print and files for your eBook
Use different files for your eBook and your print book.

Your print book will use fixed formatting. The reader has to accept the size of book, the kind of font and font size and so on that you have chosen for them. You can include page numbers and things like that because they will always stay in the same place.

Don't bother with the unneccessary

Your eBook is going to contain reflowable text. There is no point including formatting that will change once it is on someone's eReader. In addition to this, the front and back matter in a print and eBook are structured differently. A lot of stuff that goes at the front of a print book goes to the back of an eBook.

Now think about this logically

You need to create your eBook first.

You can use the headings for your print book. Both the eBook and the print book can use H1 and H2, maybe even H3 but every thing else is different. Put the page numbers in first and you will spend ages taking them out to create your eBook. That is because eBooks don’t usually work with page numbers.

Make the eBook first and you save a lot of time and many headaches. You can also publish faster and follow up with the print book when you are ready. Got that?

Make your eBook file first

If you make your eBook file first you can then copy and paste into your print file. The headings will be in place and save you time as you format the pages and so on. But hang on, let’s use a little common sense. The front and back matter need to go into different places in an ebook and a print book.

Remember what we said?

In an eBook you want to get the reader reading the main content fast. In a print book they can skip the bits nobody reads anyway by turning to the first chapter. Scrolling down an eReader or Internet page to get to chapter one is somehow less visually appealing and takes more time.

Files for front and back matter

Obviously, the text will be the same for your print and your eBook. Information goes in different places.

It makes sense to make separate files for your front and back matter. That way you can use them for the kind of book you are formatting.

Again, format the print files last.

You may find you want more front and back matter in your print book, so again, it makes sense to create separate files for each section you want to include.

You will also probably add more front and back matter into your print version.

In case you don’t know we had better look at what front and back matter includes.

Front and back matter

Front and back matter includes:
the introduction,
about the author,
the contents
the index.
Sales pitch
List of titles of other books you published
Anything else not meant for the main text of your book

In a print book much of this will go at the front. The back contains your index, bibliography and maybe a sales pitch for the author’s other books. In an eBook the conventions are different. Let's look at printed book conventions first.

Print book front and end matter conventions

A print book has a fair number of pages before you get to the content.

Most of this goes to the end of an eBook.

Print book order

Pick up any print book and you will usually find a fair few pages before you get to the main text or the story. It looks professional to include the pages in the accepted order for a print book. If you self -publish print books it is a good idea to know these conventions.

The professionals can always tell

People who know about publishing can always tell a self-published book because people rarely follow the conventions correctly.

Front and back matter eBook conventions

As little front matter is included at the front of an eBook There is no hard and fast rule, but it is best to keep things simple.

Reading an eBook is similar to reading a web page. You want the information or the story to appear quickly and so a lot of preamble is irritating. There are two golden rules to follow:

Keep front matter to a minimum.
Put everything you can to the back and use as little front and back matter as you can.

Order of pages in a print book

The number of pages in your print book must be divisible by four and your left hand margin needs to be larger than the other three to accommodate the spine.

Chapters and important front and back matter goes to the right hand side of the pages.

You start numbering 1,2, 3 from the third page of the first chapter.

Chapter headings have no page number and are often half way down the page.

Front matter order in a print book

Front matter is ordered like this:

half title page
page with titles of other books in the series you have written
title page
copyright page
Ilustration list
Tables list
Chronology/ list of abbreviations
Back Matter in a print book
List of contributers
About the Author

Obviously, not every book has all of these, but most have a fair number of front pages and some of the back matter. This is fine as the reader can quickly skim through the pages without looking if they want to. Ask yourself when you last read the front or back matter of a print book?

Think of all the hassle it takes to get the formatting correct. Now consider the eBook option.

eBook formatting

Lots of front matter makes eReading difficult

If there is too much front matter in an eBook the reader loses interest as they have to make a lot of effort to scroll past to the story or book content. Think how you would react to a web page with a lot of front matter.

Ebook front and back matter page order

Title page
You can use the cover as the Title page if you want.
Copyright page
You can include the copyright notices on your title page although it is preferable to make them into a separate page.
In an eBook you can put the copyright page at the back if you prefer. It may be better placed at the back if you have a long copyright notice.
Prologue is best avoided
Foreward is best avoided
Introduction is best kept short
Hyperlinked chapters

Anything else that needs to be at the front of the book to help the reader. The general rule is if it doesn't get the reader to the main part of the book quickly you put it at the back. Sometimes it even works better to have your chapter of contents there.

Back matter includes includes:

Index (although this is not really necessary because people can use the “find” feature
Self Promotion

In other words

Get the important stuff where people will read it
You want the end matter you really want people to read to be as near to the main part of your book as you can get it. The rest must go to the back.
Cover matters

Finally, your cover is important. That goes both for print and eBooks. People buy books because of the cover. They rarely read the whole book and often only the first chapter.

This is a consideration. People reading an eBook may read more of what you have to say if it is easy to click on the contents. They may also do this as eBooks are traditionally shorter than those in print.

I made the cover for this article myself using Canva
3 years
ze2000 Interesting read. I struggle to write in English, I can write perfectly in my language though.
3 years
3 years
HappyLady English is not that easy, even for the English!
3 years