The Settings for Publishing on Kindle

Like a lot of people I struggled to find the correct format to publish my novels from Word documents to Amazon KDP – the interface to Kindle. So for those Luddites out there like me, here is what I have learned in terms of settings and also some of the mistakes I have made along the way.

I have included below the detailed, specific document settings that I used to format my Novels for KDP. These include Page Settings, Rulers, etc. and the number of Returns that I used for the Title, Copyright and Dedication Pages, and for the breaks between and within chapters.

When I get a moment I will also provide the settings that I used for Createspace and Smashwords, but those will have to wait for the moment.

Getting Started

Firstly I would wholeheartedly recommend that you read the Smashwords Style Guide. It is well worth looking at to help you. If you don’t know about Smashwords then check out their site because it is an excellent way of loading your novel once to multiple book-sellers, including ibooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and others – https://www.smashwords.com/

So here are the instructions and lessons I have learned:

Make Sure You Are Ready To Publish

I know that as an author it is really difficult to know when your masterpiece is finished, but I would urge that you do not try to self-publish until you are 100% confident that the book is the best it can be.

The process, as you will see, is potentially difficult and if you are going to use Amazon (or any other shopfront directly), plus Print on Demand (POD) e.g. through Createspace or Lulu, and are also going to submit through Smashwords, you will have numerous copies of the manuscript which are all slightly different.  Needless to say if you have to change one word e.g. because you have notice a typo, then you will need to change them all. Take it from my personal experience – YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO THAT!

In my case, following excellent advice from my new editor (contact her @BlossomYoung_Ed on Twitter), I had to re-write ‘The Master of Carn’ in its entirety in a different tense. It has in excess of 200k words and had already been published on three sites, so take it from me it was not a good thing to have to do!

I can’t stress this point enough – make sure that your manuscript is as perfect as you can make it, and that includes the cover (yet another story for another day), before you attempt to publish.

Get Organised and Back Up Your Versions

Before you start messing around with your settings please make a back-up. This is so that, in the event that everything gets out of hand, you can at least start again.

As I say above (and OK I know I keep going on about it), I have different versions of the same novels for Smashwords, Kindle and Createspace. So I have to make sure that I am rigorous in keeping my files organised. I would recommend having different folders for each version, and a very active Archive with sub-folders into which you can file old copies. Even with all of the above I still get confused by which is the latest copy.

You might also need to retain separate versions with just the first 3 chapters e.g. for submission to Agents and/or publishers, but these will generally be formatted and sent out as Word docs – Hurrah!

Sort Out Word

I have just upgraded to Word 365 and am dreading trying to make this  work for KDP, but again will share anything I learn from the experience. It might actually be easier to save the document in an older version of Word e.g. Word 97-2003, and the following are the instructions for that version of Word, not the new one.

While I am not going to provide a breakdown of everything that the Style Guide recommends as it gives chapter and verse on this and you should really have a copy, the key points about sorting out Word are provided as a simple checklist and further specific guidance is provided at the bottom:

  • Turn off Track Changes
  • Use the Show/Hide function so that you can see Page Breaks, Paragraph Breaks, etc.
  • Turn off Auto-correct and all ‘Auto’ features including Auto-format
  • Eliminate any Text Boxes
  • Select the ‘Normal’ text style – i.e. do not use ‘Headings’, ‘Subtitles’, etc
  • Select the Font Size you want – I would recommend Times New Roman size 12
  • Choose the Paragraph method you want – First Line Indent (preferable for fiction) or Block
  • Choose your Line Spacing i.e. I used single spacing with no gaps before or after
  • Apply these settings to the whole document
  • Use only paragraph returns at the end of a paragraph, never use anything else
  • I used Left Justify for the main text, but centred The Title, Author Name, Copyright Statement (yes you will need one of those), and other information on the Frontispiece and other introductory pages, e.g. the Dedication Page. For one book I centred Chapter Numbers, but for the other these were Left Justified (see below)
  • Do not use Page Breaks apart from for the Frontispiece and introductory pages and then be careful that these work correctly in the published version – if not try again

The following are the specific settings that I used for both of my books, for Chapters, Pages and Section Breaks, and the Margins, Page Sizes, Indents, etc:

For Amazon Kindle

Text – Normal; Times New Roman; Size 12

Page – Top = 2.54cm; Bottom = 2.54cm; Left = 2.54cm; Right = 2.54cm

Gutter = 0cm; Left

Paper size = 21.59cm width by 27.94cm Height

Layout – Header = 1.25cm; Footer = 1.25cm

Ruler – Right Hand Margin = 1.25cm; Left Hand Margin = 16.5cm

As mentioned above, on Kindle you don’t want Page Breaks apart from for the Title Pages, the Dedication Page and then when you start reading. So I used the following:

For the Title, Copyright and Dedication Pages

I inserted the Book Title at the very top of the first page (centred)

Then I added 4 Returns before adding ‘by Jonathan B Evans’

Then I added 1 Return and a Page Break.

After that Page Break, for the Copyright Page, I added 3 Returns, then ‘Copyright Jonathan B Evans’, (centred).

Then 4 Returns before the Copyright Statement (centred), then I added 1 Return and another Page Break.

For the Dedication Page I added 1 return after the previous Page Break, then ‘For Clare’ (centred) then 1 return and another Page Break.

For the bulk of the novel

At the top of the first page of the story proper, I added 2 returns (after the Dedication Page Break) and ‘Book 1’ (centred). If you are not using Books within your novel put ‘Chapter 1’ or it’s title at this point. Then I added 4 returns and ‘Chapter 1’ (centred).

Then after ‘Chapter 1’ I added 4 returns and started the main text.

As I said above the Chapter Headings don’t have to be centred, but with the inclusion of Books within ‘The Master of Carn’, I thought this looked better. For my second novel all Chapter Headings are Left Justified, so it really is a matter of personal preference.

Throughout the rest of the novel I inserted 5 returns after the final paragraph of the chapter and then the next Chapter Heading. As above, after every Chapter Heading I added 4 returns before starting the text for that chapter.

To insert breaks within chapters, e.g. when moving from one point of view to another,  I added 4 returns between paragraphs.

If you want to see what the finished product looks like, head over to Amazon –  http://www.amazon.com/Jonathan-B-Evans/e/B00SU1O1VU –  and the ‘Look inside’ function for each book, or you could actually buy a copy 😉

Anyway enough of the shameless plug, while you can see these settings work, you may not actually like them and that’s fine. After all it is your book, but I would recommend that, whatever format you choose, write down how you are structuring things  i.e. the number of Returns between chapters, Headings, etc. Then have it readily to hand, or stick it to your desk or monitor/laptop. You will need to be consistent right the way through the text with whatever style you choose, and a prompt certainly helped me with this process.

Finally, when you print it out for review it may look a bit weird, but DON’T PANIC! It will look fine on the Kindle even if the gaps look strange on paper.

So that’s it! Try not to be put off. It is a challenge at first, but once you have a template for one novel, you can just replicate the settings on Word and cut and paste the next one into the same format.

Sorry this explanation has been a bit long and convoluted, but hopefully this will help you to use the correct settings for an easy upload to Amazon Kindle.

Please let me know how you get on. I would like to know how useful, or not, or easy to follow, or not, this is and can amend as appropriate.

Alternatively, if something doesn’t work for you please let me know and I will try my best to help.

After all – Luddites of the world unite!

Jonathan

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