Ebook Formatting: How to Create Complex, Full-Color Ebooks

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Creating an ebook isn’t as hard as it sounds. You don’t need to compose a query letter, secure a literary agent, or cut through miles of a traditional publisher’s red tape before the book is released to the world. You can create an ebook from the comfort of your officeor couchwith the right tools, information, and help from the experts. Here’s are some ebook formatting tips:

Simple Ebook Format: Standard, Reflowable Ebooks

If your ebook is text-heavy (think fiction and creative non-fiction) your book can be converted to standard EPUB and MOBI for Kindle ebook formats. Reflowable ebooks are completely fluid and paginated according to the app being used to read it and the reader’s custom settings. You can’t do anything fancy like make text flow around images, but in text-heavy ebooks this isn’t considered an issue. For most, overdoing the ebook formatting and layout will hurt rather than help.

For Your Complex Ebook Format: Fixed-Layout Ebooks

If you’re creating a complex book like a children’s book, cookbook, or textbook, you’re better off delivering it in a fixed-layout format, so that every element of your book will stay in place exactly how you designed it. Your bullet points, photos, text boxes, image placement, and other fine-tuned details won’t budge. Enhancements like zooming and interactivity can also be programmed in. Fixed-layout ebooks are created in EPUB and KF8 for Amazon’s Kindle tablets.

Learn the Difference Between EPUB3 and Kindle Fire 8

Authors of complex books should know about EPUB3, the latest version of EPUB, based on the latest HTML5 standard. EPUB3 is used in fixed-layout ebooks to include video, audio, and interactivity. Additions like these can make your ebook stand out. Kindle Fire 8 (KF8) doesn’t allow for interactivity and requires you to build your book in HTML and then convert it using KindleGen.

Hire a Professional

Working with the right book design professional can take the pressure off you and make your ebook shine. Professionals are conversant in the latest versions of design programs like Adobe InDesign, and they can code your book so that its ebook formatting smoothly translates onto multiple devices. Conduct interviews and weigh what each has to offer for the price (get a detailed cost estimate in advance). Ask for samples of previous work and compare them to what you’ve been envisioning. If they’re the right fit, don’t micromanage. Use their expertise to your advantage and let the ideas flow.

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Carla King

Carla King is an adventure travel author and technology journalist who has been self-publishing since 1994. She is the founder of Misadventures Media, a small press specializing in adventure travel books, and Author Friendly, a service that provides affordable publication planning, coaching, formatting, editing, design, and social media setup for independent authors. Her Self-Publishing Boot Camp educational series of books and workshops have helped authors make good publishing decisions since 2010. Find out more at AuthorFriendly.com.