Tag Archives: e-book formatting

Secret of Great Book Cover Design and Layout



In a former blog: “Becoming Your Own Publisher” the book production process, you can find lots of tips and links for your book layout, cover and formatting process.  Many new authors are complaining about the pre-print process at CreateSpace, other POD service companies or the printing company they use for larger quantities of paperbacks and books. They are suddenly confronted with fonts, typography, page and other book layout requirements. However, not only for printed books, but also for e-books it is essential to know a bit about the possibilities and rules.

To familiarize yourself with this (often) completely new field, read Joel Friedlander’s beginner

Understanding Fonts & Typography

Understanding Book Layouts and Page Margins

Joel Friedlander explains the basic building blocks that books are made of, and the typography:
type fonts and they way they are arranged on the page. He says: “There are so many tiny details
and decisions that go into formatting a book that you pretty much have to be someone who enjoys
working on that scale to appreciate book design. It may involve differences of a hundredth of an
inch one way or the other. That’s true for the decisions you make about margins, too.”
He cautions for example that “the “minimum” margin of .25″ that CreateSpace refers to is too small for most books. This margin measurement is meant to create a “safe area” so that nothing on your page is in danger of getting trimmed off.”

Michael N. Marcus explains why book margins are so important: “One of my basic rules of thumb
is that the a book’s outside margins must be large enough to comfortably fit human thumbs without
covering up any text. It’s really annoying to have to constantly re-position pages while reading
through a book.” His blog is another great reading for new author-publishers how book-layout works. He also wrote a great cautionary book “How to NOT Get Screwed by a Self-Publishing Company“.

Want to read and learn more about book design? If you are a writer working with a publisher (large or small) or if you are a small or first time publisher, these books will help you to understand the book production process and the principles of good cover and interior book design.

Book Design and Production

Basics Design Layout, 2nd edition




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Hyper Smash



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Have Your Chocolate – And Loose Weight Too



Recently I read this sentence somewhere on Twitter:

“I’m a positive writer and when that doesn’t work, I eat chocolate.”

Made me laugh, as it fit’s perfectly to me, even I am not a writer per se, more a blogger and compiler of non-fiction guide books.  E-book formatting companies often dread non-fiction as they are the hardest to convert into an appealing layout and they sometimes charge more for this kind of e-books. Well, it is more work for sure than to convert a novel due to many small chapters, all with their own headline and lots of lists, often numerous images…

Short after I read this “chocolate” sentence, I discovered a non-fiction e-book on Amazon which touted the benefits of chocolate:  How to Have Your Chocolate and Lose Weight Too!  Written by Michelle Van Otten.  Well, I was hooked and after discovering the 5-star reviews, I ordered it. 

Eat Your Chocolate...

Eat Your Chocolate…

I was up for a nice surprise.  Not only by its content, which I just scanned, as I had no time yet to read it yet, but more by the great formatting job of this e-book. One of the very few books which has a really beautiful, clean layout. Easy to read and very appealing to the eye. An amazing e-book design job!

See for yourself on Amazon:  Click on the books cover and you can “Look Inside”.  Prime Members: borrow for free from their Kindle. And if you need an affirmation for your chocolate cravings:  It is only $2.99 for Kindle.


If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are almost 600 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

Follow on Twitter: @111publishing

And don’t forget to spread the word on other social networking sites of your choice for other writers who might also enjoy this blog and find it useful. Thanks, Doris


Hyper Smash



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This Is NOT Your Book – Or Is It?

Misspelling, formatting errors, grammar flaws – are self-publisher AND publishing houses not editing anymore? Joel Friedlander wrote a great blog about the the editing process.

What readers / customers say on the Kindle Forum about these issues:

Carol Hannon says:
I, too, have discovered numerous misspelled words, punctuation, hyphenation, special character errors, and missing text in many Kindle books. And I’m not talking the little self-published books, either — I’m talking professionally published books from the major book houses. I have no idea why this is happening, but I’ve left feedback on some books’ pages about the errors. There’s no excuse for it in this electronic age. What I hope is that when these errors are fixed, if they ever are, will Amazon automatically download the revised version since our purchase is on record?

jh says:
I’ve bought a couple of books that had particularly frequent and glaring errors, hinting at poor OCR* rather than human error. Things like “1” turning up in the middle of a word instead of “l” or “I”, which a human wouldn’t accidentally type.  But yes, plenty of poorly proof-read copy in titles that aren’t by big-name authors. Though you do see that in physical books too, especially early editions. Misspellings, funky punctuation, even the old “there/their/they’re” issue…
*OCR = optical character recognition, in case anyone’s not sure what that meant. Basically a computer scanning the page of a physical book/manuscript, recognizing the letters as best it can, and digitizing it.

Santo de Vaca says:
@Carol Hannon: I bought a book with some really terrible formatting issues. In the physical book the first letter of each chapter was elaborately drawn and this didn’t transfer well to the electronic version. They fixed it a few weeks after publication and I had the option of downloading a fixed version of the book, which I did. I’m not sure if this is the norm or not for corrections.

Granny Daisy says:
As an avid reader, I often find errors in print and kindle books. Even in established authors you find misspelled or miss used words, or incomplete sentences. I am beginning to think publishers are saving money by not paying proof readers.

J. Robertson says:
I have found spelling and grammar errors in many paper books as well. So I think its all about the proof reading being done.  I have downloaded several “free” books, unfortunately, they were not free of misspellings , missing words, and other errors. I just overlook them since they didn’t cost me anything. I haven’t had that problem with the books I’ve paid for. Guess the old saying is true, ” You get what you pay for”!

What do you think as an author?  Should a book be free of grammar and spelling errors, professionally edited and formatted? Well I guess it is a non-brain-er for every author who wants to be seen as a professional and who has already invested months or years into the manuscript.



Hyper Smash


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Ebook Errors: How to Avoid 5 Common Problems

 Rain clouds at sunset

A white paper is highlighting common formatting errors that frequently pop up for publishers when transferring their titles to digital. The focus of the report was a solution list for five common problems in e-book formatting. The problems were:

  • Headers with Hyphens
  • Strange Characters Inserted into e-Books
  • Chapter titles, Headers, and Sub-Headers Separated on Different e-Book Pages
  • Unsightly Indentation, and Random Blank Pages in the e-Book
  • Overall e-Book Aesthetics

For example, the report states that the problem of sloppy indentation and blank pages are often caused when converting EPUBs from Microsoft Word. Many users of Word use “Tab” to indent paragraphs and “Enter” to insert line breaks, rather than using Word’s formatting styles. The solution: if hand-coding an e-book, one should apply styles to the document (in Word or InDesign) before converting the file to EPUB.

The report also outlined the various contributing factors that lead to errors, which would persist as long as e-books “remain second class citizens in the production workflow,” meaning that print workflow still dictates e-book workflow at the traditional publishing houses. Creating a single XML file at the outset of production would address many of the e-book errors currently plaguing publishers.

Vook’s white paper can be read here


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Why e-Books often Look so Ugly

Many e-books I downloaded are riddled with typographical and formatting errors, the result of the process that translates the files publishers use to print physical books. Another reason is that authors are trying to DIY their e-book formatting instead of using a professional formatting company – who charge often only between a hundred or two-hundred dollars for a fiction book.

The problems range from strange gaps in the middle of a sentence to hyphens that are inserted in inappropriate places and the odd period is missing, not to mention all the typs that are a result of not using a professional editing service. E-books today are where the web was in its early years.  These mistakes, both distract and detract from the reading experience, and readers get the impression that no one is paying attention to the quality of e-books. Try a Google search for “Kindle typos”, it will yield more than a million hits.

Part of the problem is that some formats do not have a way to ensure that blocks of computer code remains intact and properly formatted.The better ePub format is based on the XML and CSS standards and is used in millions of web pages and allows for far more control over layouts than is currently possible with the .mobi file format.

The best course, if you want a nicely formatted Kindle book that provides a pleasant reading experience, is to create an HTML file with CSS and then carefully manipulate that code to get the display you want. Or hire an e-book formatter or conversion company.

Hopefully, as e-book readers get more popular, they will become more sophisticated, bringing in e-book designers that understand a changing world of digital publishing and creating beautiful books with layout design and fonts that are so important in publishing as we know it from paper books. Your readers may very well notice the difference.


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