Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tip O'Day #385 - What Not to Leave Out

Guest blogger Katie Jennings on “The Importance of Proper eBook Formatting and Content!”

Alright guys, so if there’s one thing we can all be sure of it’s that the publishing world as we know it has been dramatically altered in the last few years thanks to the advent of the eBook. Kindles, Nooks, iPads, Android tablets, etc are the latest craze and according to all the stats out there, if there’s one thing that people are buying more of, it’s eBooks.

This is EXCELLENT news for us as authors. Now we no longer have to rely on things like traditional publishing, print shops, and inordinate expenses to get a book on paper and bound professionally…in fact, if we want, we don’t have to even consider print books at all. Now, I still think that print books are fun so I encourage Indie authors to still pursue this route (especially since CreateSpace will do it dirt cheap), but maybe it’s time we focus the majority of our attention not on our print books, but on our eBooks.

I have four published novels with a fifth on the way, and I can tell you honestly that my sales ratio of print books to eBooks is unbelievable. As in, basically the only people who buy my books in print are my family and friends. My Kindle books, however…well, that’s a much different story.

I realize now that I was making them WAY too simple. The book itself is all in there, each chapter reading just as it would in the print book. But I left out so much more that I could have included, things that would not only make my Kindle book interactive, but also market me as an author AND help me sell more books. So you can marvel at my pitiable oversight, here are some of the things I originally left out of my Kindle books (some of them are very sad, but trust me I’ve learned):

1. A cool graphic for my book title/author name
2. A dedication
3. Table of Contents (not super important, but can be helpful in an eBook!)
4. The generic copyright page with clickable hyperlinks to my website and social media pages
5. A list of my previous works with a few customer reviews
6. About the author (Omg, sad, right?)
7. Cool graphics to accompany my chapter titles
8. Interesting section spacer graphics between sections in a chapter
9. Unique bold or italics to start off the text in a chapter or a new section of the book
10. A sneak peek of an upcoming new release (the cover and an excerpt), perhaps to the sequel of the book. Even using an excerpt from a different book entirely would be better than nothing.
11. And lastly, reviews of the book itself. Send out Advanced Review Copies of your book and get some reviews to include with your eBook. Readers love to hear what other people think before they commit to purchasing.

So here’s the thing: I was so worried about making my eBook as easy to read and simple as possible, that I missed out on all the cool stuff I could have added. I was worried that if I made it too complicated that the eBook wouldn’t format correctly and it would look awful and no one would want to read it. So while my eBooks read very well with very few formatting mistakes, they are also boring to look at (hopefully not boring to read, but that’s another story). Perhaps some readers prefer eBooks without all of the flair, but c’mon, it really does improve the look of the eBook and gives it that professional edge that we are all striving for.

So here’s what I did for my upcoming new release. This time I was committed to getting it right, so I actually hired a professional to format my eBook for me. Did you even know that there are professionals who do that? I didn’t. But I was referred to a great small company by a fellow author and their price was extremely reasonable, so I said hey, why not?

Wow, let me just say right now that it was so worth it. First off, it was nice not to have to fight with the formatting myself, but they were also the ones who suggested I include most of the fun things I mentioned above. So if you’re feeling lost and having technical difficulties getting your eBook to look just right, consider reaching out to someone who knows what they’re doing (even if it’s just a friend who’s very tech-savvy). Especially because an eBook file will look different on various eReaders, so you have to make sure it formats correctly on all of them. This is something the pros can do, and it will make the difference between your eBook looking drab or fabulous when a reader downloads it to read.

Make your eBooks phenomenal, guys. Give readers the most bang for their buck, and in the end they will greatly appreciate a properly formatted eBook. And as the publishing industry continues to evolve in favor of eBooks, you want yours to stand out as more and more people catch on to all of the possibilities available with eReaders and eBooks.

Katie Jennings is the bestselling author of The Dryad Quartet, a YA fantasy series. She has a new family saga/romantic suspense novel, When Empires Fall, available now on Amazon. You can learn more about her and her books at her website. The company she used (which she highly recommends) can be found at http://www.blueharvestcreative.com/

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog, Katie! We are so glad you loved our tips and it was a pleasure to design your ebook!