Amazon Formatting

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When it comes to formatting your eBook, we go the extra mile and actually hand code it using HTML and XML to create a *.mobi file. A *.mobi file is what Kindle uses to read eBooks. But it is also nice to have as a way to send to reviewers or as giveaway.

What do you need from the writer?

To design your story for an eBook, we need you to format a Word or Open Office document that shows how you would prefer it to appear in an eBook. Mind you, *.mobi files were designed primarily for text, so doing a picture book is difficult.

In addition to this, we will need your cover image. See the cover image section below for more information.

After receiving your document for us to format, we will calculate our fee, and send you a contract. This contract will have some information for you to fill out, which includes a blurb of your book (which you are welcome to hire us to do), several keywords you feel is associated with your book, and a list of everyone you wish to name that helped you make this book (Illustrator, Editor, Publisher, etc).

Once we receive your signed contract, we will then recreate your work into *.mobi format. Given the nature of Kindle, your story may not appear exactly as you want it. More than that, there are some best practices that we will do for your eBook to ensure the best display of your story for the Kindle reader/app.

Some best formatting options include having your book in block format, rather than aligned left. Or having a space between each paragraph and not using a tab for each paragraph. If you prefer the tab, then we remove the space between each paragraph, though we’d recommend not using tab for eBooks.

How much does it cost?

After Editing and a getting a Cover for your book, we know the last thing you want to do is spend more money. For this reason, we offer this service for as low as we can. Once you have finalized your book (whether it was edited by us or a third party), we will charge $0.50 per page of your book for formatting. If your book is 100 pages, then it’ll cost you $50. This will be reflected in your Service Agreement.

This will include properly coding your book, chapters, all your front and back matter, and your cover.

There is an additional fee for images. While your book cover is part of the stated fee, if you have images used throughout your book, we have to do additional coding to make sure the book flows correctly. The difficulty with eBooks is that a user can resize the book how they desire.

Small to medium images will cost $0.25 each.
Large images will cost $0.50 each.

You can also make use of Flourishes for your book, but for eBooks, they start at a price of $0.25 each.

How should I format my cover image?

Amazon requires that you use a JPEG image with a resolution of 2820×4500. That seems quite big, but it is necessary to cover all the different kinds of readers on the market. Ever try taking a small image and blowing it up a large size? It’s not pretty.

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100×150

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500×750

We will ensure that the file size for your cover is as low as possible, without compromising the quality, in order to reduce the download size of the *.mobi file.

If you do not have a cover image, we do provide a service for that.

Why not just upload to Amazon using Microsoft Word or Scriniver?

There are a lot of ways to upload your story to Amazon. You can format it in Microsoft Word and upload the *.doc file to Amazon. Most of the time that works. You can use programs like Scrivener, and create a *.mobi file to upload to Amazon. Most of the time that works.

The thing about Microsoft Word is that it does a lot of things behind the scenes so that what you saw on your screen is exactly what appears a printed sheet. Now it’s come a long way since the early 80s, but Microsoft Word was never designed to be used in this way. It was not meant to be formatted for an eBook. Which means that Amazon’s upload system has to convert the Word file into an eBook, and anything extra that Word puts into a file can mess up an eBook.

For example, when Chris tried to upload his first book to Amazon, Scraping By, he used Microsoft Word. He got it exactly the way he wanted, and it looked great on the screen. Once he uploaded it, and got to view it on his Kindle, it too looked great. Until he inverted the colors, and then he noticed that some of the words disappeared. Somehow, Word had changed the properties of his document so that some of the words were configured in a different way, and when the screen was inverted, the words were no longer there.

D. Savannah herself has had many fights with formatted text that originated in a Word documents, for use with website or graphics.

Again, Microsoft Word was not designed for this purpose, and can easily add extra stuff into the file that are likely invisible to you upon uploading.

With other programs, such as Scrivener or Calibre, I hear good things about them, but they take what you have and try to auto-generate the code. In this way, it is superior to Microsoft Word, and it should for the most part work, but it is far from perfect. Because it auto-generates the code, it is possible for it to mess up and not get the coding right.

I’m not saying Microsoft Word or Scrivener will fail every time. You may never experience a problem with either of those solutions. But all it takes is one time to mess up, and that can cost you a good review. The way Amazon does things, a bad review can bury you deep in their store.

What you need is a system that will check and double check the file itself, to make sure that when you get it, it’s precisely what you need. Here at M.E.S., Chris is the one who codes the file, and then checks it to make sure everything is exactly what it needs to be. Then D. Savannah checks the file, just to make sure there is nothing that Chris missed.

We hand code, so we have more control over what the final product looks like.

Couldn’t I just hand code my own eBook?

Yes, you can. There are guides online to do it. It would help if you know HTML and XML. It is not that hard, but it is tedious. You have to create several files in very specific ways, and then compile them together. You have to make sure every paragraph is coded, and anything special is also properly coded.

To learn how to code, and to actually do it, can be time consuming. We are able to do it, because we understand HTML and XML and have streamlined the process. We save you the time it would take to do it yourself, so you can focus on other things related to your book release, such as marketing.

Can you include page numbers or specialized font?

You technically can, but you shouldn’t. The way an eReader works, any book can be resized and use whatever font comes with that particular reader. Since the size of words can change, it can relatively increase, or decrease, the total number of pages of your book. So any page numbers you have would be useless. More than that, the page number wouldn’t always appear on the bottom of the page.

You may desire to use a special font for your book. The font may not be available for the eReader. Even if the font is available, a reader may dislike that they are forced to use a font that they don’t particularly like, and stop reading your book. This is why it is best to let the reader decide how to display your book.

If I make changes to my story (or find errors) after you format my eBook, can you still update it?

Yes. That’s not too difficult to do.

If, for instance, after you release your book, you find that you need to add something (or take away something), we would be able to take the file and edit the parts you need us to. However, we will only edit 1% of the book within the first 45 days after giving you the file. If your book is 200 pages, then we will only change up to two pages worth before charging you.

Why 1%? This 45-day offer is only meant for touch-ups. When we say two pages worth, we’re actually counting total words. For us, we measure a page as 300 words. So two pages worth, is 600 words. If we are only doing minor corrections here and there, then you will most likely not reach 600 words. Anything more than that, we are basically doing a rewrite of your eBook.

Whether we are removing words, or adding words, it counts towards this total. Any HTML coding that we need to add (or take away) will count towards this total.

If you discover a mistake we made, you have up to 30 days to let us know, and we will correct it free of charge, nor will it count towards the 600 words touch-ups. We recommend that you thoroughly look through the file when you first get it to verify it is exactly what you want.

How does editing my book and formatting it into an eBook work?

If you get one of our package deals that will give you a discount on some of services that are bundled together, we will edit your book and give back to you first. Then you send it back to us, for us to format it for an eBook.

During this process, you will receive two Service Agreements. The first Service Agreement will be related to the editing process. You can read more about that here. Once you have received your manuscript back, you will have 60 days to make changes to your story and submit it to us, again. You need to make sure that your story appears exactly as you want it to be appear in your eBook.

When you submit your story for the formatting portion, we will send you the Second Service Agreement. This will quote you a price based on the finalized design and the discount that is part of your package. You will need to give a down payment for us to begin formatting your work. Once it is complete, we will send you back your files once we receive the remainder of the payment.

If your package had any other services attached, such as Second Round Edits, will also have a Service Agreement for those, once we receive your manuscript. You will also have 60 days to return your manuscript to be eligible for the discounts.

Failure to turn in your manuscript within 60 days will result in a forfeit of the package deal you were to be eligible for. However, if you remain in communication with us during that 60 day period, we may allow a one-time 30 day extension.

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