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Kindle Publishing Best Practices

By Expert Author: Thomas Ward

Kindle Publishing Best Practices
The Amazon Kindle, and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, have created tremendous opportunities for writers to publish their work. Instead of wasting years trying to get the attention of a major publishing house, they can sell their work directly through the Kindle store. But, there is still an obstacle in the way of success - formatting.
Bad formatting of your Kindle eBook is nearly guaranteed to generate negative reviews from readers and formatting problems can easily sneak into your ebook. Unlike publishing PDF ebooks, what you see in your word processor is not necessarily what you will get when you upload your book to the KDP system. There are also a few invisible formatting steps that will make your eBook work like Kindle readers expect it to perform.
To get you moving on the path of Kindle publishing success, here is a short list of best practices for formatting your eBook for the Amazon Kindle:
• Remove Document Headers and Footers
• Include a Click-able Table of Contents
• Bookmark The Table of Contents and First Page
• Use Formatting Styles in your Word Processor
• Start Chapters on a New Page
• Avoid "Special" Formatting
• Always Proof Read Before Publishing
Remove Document Headers and Footers
The Kindle format does not allow headers and footers in an ebook. If you have them in the document you upload for publication the best case scenario is that they will be stripped out. The worst case is that they will cause massive formatting issues for your ebook. The easiest solution is to simply turn them off. The same goes for page numbering. Turn them off.
Include a Click-able Table of Contents
Readers appreciate a table of contents on any book long enough to contain multiple chapters. The exception is works of fiction. Many Kindle devices, like the Kindle Fire, have touch screens. Making your table of contents entries click-able allows readers to easily navigate around your eBook and access the content they are most interested in reading.
When adding a table of contents, do not include page numbers and restrict entries to chapters. Pages are a fluid concept in Kindle ebooks and will change based on the font size users select and the screen size of the device. Limiting the entries to chapters only will keep your table of contents from getting cluttered.
Bookmark The Table of Contents and First Page
Kindle readers and Kindle software apps allow readers to jump to the cover, the table of contents, and the beginning of the content. Those spots in your eBook are identified using bookmarks. The KDP platform will add the cover bookmark when they convert your eBook for publication and add the cover graphic you provide. Add a bookmark labeled "TOC" just before your table of contents and another labeled "Start" just before the title of your first chapter. Then the KDP system will know where to send readers when they navigate through your ebook.
Use Formatting Styles in your Word Processor
Microsoft Word, Open Office, and other modern word processors allow you to control the look of your document using styles. If you are not using styles to format your documents, start now. Instead of manually adjusting the font styles, sizes, and other attributes one-by-one through the whole document, styles let you make changes to the whole document in one place.
Chapter titles should always be labeled as "Heading 1". The Kindle publishing system will automatically detect the text labeled as "Heading 1" and identify it as a new chapter. Readers will be able to jump through your eBook chapter-by-chapter and you will be able to use your word processor's automatic table of contents tools as well.
Start Chapters on a New Page
Add a page break before each chapter. This helps to create a clear separation between chapters and readers expect it. You can add this page break using the style settings. Just edit the "Heading 1" style and select "add page break before." Your document will automatically update itself and add a page break before every chapter title (see how handy those styles are?)
Avoid "Special" Formatting
The Kindle eBook format is very minimalist to ensure a good user experience across a wide range of devices. Special characters, bullets, special fonts, tabs, and tables do not translate well. Stick to the basics like bold, italics, indents, and underlines for consistent results.
Always Proof Read Before Publishing
Even if you follow every best practice when formatting your ebook, errors can (and do) creep in during the conversion process. Amazon provides a preview tool for publishers to review a converted eBook before publishing. You can also download a copy of the converted eBook to your own Kindle device or one of the many Kindle apps available. Review your entire ebook. Look for strange formatting. Click every link in your table of contents and make sure it goes to the right spot. Use the navigation tools to jump around your eBook and make sure they take you to the right spots.
Fix problems in your main document, upload the new version to the KDP system and review the revised files. Repeat the process until you find no more problems. Then, you are ready to publish your eBook and share it with the world.
Conclusion
If you follow these best practices, you will create an eBook that functions the way Kindle owners expect it to work. Then, they will be focused on the content of your words and not distracted by formatting errors. With a little time and effort, your book can look every bit as professional as the latest blockbuster from the big New York publishing houses.

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