Formatting an E-Book in 2014

Think of this as a disinterested public service message to all my fellow authors and small pressers and indie publishers. If you’re like me, you stumble your way through the e-book formatting process, reaching for Google every time you hit a fork in the road. Sometimes this works out well: the how-to article you find is 1) fairly recent, 2) authoritative, and 3) is confirmed by others on the Internet. Sometimes, though, you only get one or two of those criteria. And then what? You can waste a lot of time only to find out that the world has moved on.

Guido Henkel’s how-to guide for formatting an e-book (Take Pride in Your E-Book Formatting) clearly passes the test for 2) and 3). The nine-part series, while somewhat daunting at first blush, is authoritative on its face. The comments section sings the praises, as do many links from other authors around the web.

But…the timeliness of the series is in question. This came out in early 2011. Three years ago! Three years on the Internet is like nine years in real life – and in the world of the Kindle and its ilk, three years is probably more like thirty. Did they even have Kindles in 2011? Did they look the same? Did they act the same?

Is a web series from 2011 still relevant?

Well, I recently formatted The Promotion for the Kindle, following Henkel step by step. (It’s easier and quicker than it seems – don’t let the length scare you off, you save a LOT of time doing it this way.) And readers, I’m here to announce, that as of March 2014, it works like a dream. In fact it worked so well I went back to The Race and reformatted that one as well.

Bravo, Guido Henkel! Many thanks. (And a note to 2017 readers: you’re on your own!)

UPDATE: Guido Henkel stopped by the comments section for this post and offered up an explanation for his continued relevance that I wholeheartedly agree with. (In a forehead-smacking, but-of-course kind of way, as I mention…)

You can check out my own efforts at self-publishing by visiting my newly released Amazon.com author page. See anything wrong? Anything I could be doing better? Let me know in the comments or at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com!

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3 thoughts on “Formatting an E-Book in 2014

  1. Jacke,
    Thank you so much for your kind comments. I am glad you found the tutorial helpful. The reason it still works after all these years is for two reasons, I suppose. The first is that eBook readers have not evolved all that much over the past years. While on the surface they have become very fancy, the bottom line is that a novel remains a novel and doesn’t need a lot of frills, which brings me to the second reason, the fact that my tutorial builds upon a solid code foundation that is supported by all devices. It is useless to use the latest gimmicks in a book when 80% of the market don’t support them and will turn your final book into mush as a result.

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  2. But of course! I should have figured that out from the beginnings of your series, where you advocate for the use of a solid html foundation in creating the e-books. While I viewed using html as a way to make sure the end product would not be misinterpreted by the device (as other formatting wizardry might), I can also see how it leads to continued relevance. I’ll take your word for it that eBook readers haven’t changed that much – but it makes perfect sense, given that they are basically tied to html code. The basic building blocks of the code (the ones used by novels) haven’t changed, and probably won’t ever change much. 2017, here we come! Thanks for the comment – and thanks again for your helpful series!

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