Anyone who is new to the self-pubbing world may be unaware of how different your book may look in e-book format vs. how you designed it to look initially. So, I wrote this article to show some of the differences we come up against in e-books vs. print.
In print versions of a book we can do almost anything. We can make the book look just like you have it in your head or in your Word document.
But unfortunately that’s not the case with e-books. The most important thing to remember when considering e-publishing is the e-reading devices are stupid. No, I’m not saying they’re terrible or bad devices. What I mean is that they have serious limits in their software that make them unable to understand certain things that we all take for granted. And consequently there are things you can do in print that you can’t do in e-books…yet.
Fonts are a huge issue for most e-reading devices, even Kindle and Nook. If a book has really cool fonts for the title page and chapter headings, or even standard symbols like ©, ®, ™ these can all be misinterpreted by the e-reading device’s software to come out like this ?!?@~#. So, in order to make sure that your book is readable on all devices it’s necessary during the formatting process to “dumb down” anything that might throw off the look of the finished product. That means that part of the formatting I provide is to convert what you’ve written into something that will always translate in any e-reader. So, the cool fonts have to go. Everything is converted to Times New Roman because TNR always works.
Size does matter. The e-book restrictions also require that we keep size variation in fonts to a minimum. So body text is usually 12 point TNR and Chapter Headings are Bold 14 point TNR.
Pictures are great, but they have limits too. In a print book you can have text next to pictures, and pictures overlaid with text, picture that fill the whole page, etc. Think about print cookbooks. Pictures and words are living happily together right next to each other on the same page.
In e-books we have to limit the text to being above and/or below a picture. Never next to it, otherwise the e-reader will compress the text or push it all to the next page. Distorted pictures can also be the result. Another thing to be aware of, and this goes mostly for .epub file types that go to publishers like Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, the pictures have to be within certain dimensions, otherwise they’ll distort and look terrible. So they may look a little smaller in your e-book version than they would in the print version.
These are just some of the limits, but they are the most jarring to authors who are expecting their e-book to look just as it did in the Word doc that they spent so much time making. I completely understand that feeling since I had to learn it the hard way a few years ago for my own cookbook, …And He Can Cook! I had months of work invested in my eye catching fonts and graphics embedding. I finished the print version and it looked great. I was so jazzed that I wanted to get it into e-book format as well.
Then I had a bucket of cold water dumped on my head when I learned of all the things I’d have to change to get it published on Smashwords, then later Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It felt like I’d have to start from scratch, disassemble my book, my baby, then rebuild it. So that’s what I did. Because I knew what the most important thing is about writing a book, any book.
To have it read by others!
So that’s what I want any author who is new to self-publishing to understand if they’re concerned about losing any of the dazzle-factor of their work. The best thing you can do is to make sure your book is readable by as many people as possible, that it’s as clean and professional looking as possible. And just as important, is that your book meets all requirements by the various publishing sites so that it is FOR SALE.
My recommendation for any author who doesn’t want to just throw away their awesome fonts and dazzling graphics work is to have your book formatted for both e-book and print on Createspace. Both of which I can take care of for you. That way you get the benefit of having your cake and eating it too:)
If you have any questions about this article feel free to contact me. I enjoy answering questions because I want you to have as much information as you can so that you’ll be successful in this new self-publishing world.