One of the most rewarding parts of writing a book is publishing it.
After all those exhausting nights, hair pulling moments, and endless pots of coffee… There’s nothing better than seeing your efforts come to fruition.
For those of you taking the self-publishing route, I’m sure you are considering uploading to Amazon. But doing so isn’t as simple as it seems. Did you know that your manuscript needs to be in one of Amazon’s very own publishing formats?
This may sound like a “Duh!” moment, but stop and think about how you composed your document. Did you use MS Word? Or how about Google Docs? These are two of the most popular writing platforms available, and neither one can directly export to Amazon.
So what gives?
How can you ensure that your brain child has a successful Amazon launch?
Let’s take a look at four ways to format your eBook for Amazon!
Using Kindle Create to Format Your eBook
Now, Amazon has its very own formatting app with Kindle Create. Kindle Create is Amazon’s latest attempt to make life easier for novice or first-time self-publishers. It’s an all-encompassing tool that allows you to use templates, alter typeset, and file format.
Seems pretty convenient right?
That’s because it was designed to be. With KDP’s acquisition of Createspace, Amazon needed to find a way to cater to the masses. And this is part of that answer. But what can Kindle Create actually do?
Kindle Create can definitely help with your document layout and formatting through their pre-built templates. Simply upload your document and adjust your layout as you see fit. After your document is set just the way you want it, hit publish. The app then creates a .kdf file for you to use to upload to KDP.
But… This app is far from perfect. As a matter of fact, it can get downright restrictive.
You see, the Kindle Create platform can only export to a .kpf file. What does that mean for you? It means you’d better love Amazon because that’s the only place your manuscript can go. Kindle Create only converts your files into a format that is used exclusively by Amazon.
If you’re looking to use other platforms such as Kobo or Apple Books, forget it. Or get ready to download more software (such as Calibre and its KPF-conversion plugin) and learn how to convert file formats. That’s because other platforms don’t use Amazon exclusive formats, but universal formats such as ePub.
Another drawback of the Kindle Create app is it’s not a word processor. This means that your document had better be perfect before you even upload it into Kindle Create. And if you are like me and your editing process ends only after publication… This could pose an issue.
Finally, the Create platform is still technically in Beta — which means bugs and coding errors. Now to Amazon’s credit, their team has been squashing these bugs as they arise. But the program is still far from perfect.
So, if you’re wondering if there’s a better way to format, you’re in luck.
Vellum: Formatting Made Easy for Macs
Vellum is the premier eBook formatting and layout tool for Mac users — bar none.
Now, as stated above, this is only for Mac Users. If you’re a PC person, there’s another great option for you below this.
In order to start using Vellum, you need to first have your manuscript in a .docx format. This is made simple for Mac users as the top word processors on Mac can all save as .docx. And just like Kindle Create, Vellum has very limited word processing capabilities, so make sure that you’re uploading a final edited draft.
But what it lacks in word processing power, Vellum more than makes up in formatting and layout options. It can supply you with the power to fully customize your book’s setup. From headings to block quotes to ornamental breaks, choose the options that best fit what you’re looking for.
Confused on where to start? Vellum’s premade templates come in many different styles that cater to the nature of your writing. Simply select your theme and you’re on your way.
One of the biggest advantages Vellum has is its ability to help you create box sets. Box sets can be a major weapon in any series author’s arsenal. Just use the “volume” element within Vellum to create stunning box sets.
Another awesome feature Vellum has is its device previews. Ever wonder what your eBook would look like on any specific reader? Well, Vellum has got you covered. All you need to do is select which device you would like to preview, and Vellum produces it.
But Vellum’s most useful feature may just be its formatting options. Vellum makes it so easy for you. Choose your publishing platform, and Vellum ensures that your manuscript becomes directly ready for publishing on that platform! And… if you’re looking to create print books as well, Vellum can do that too.
Vellum does have two major drawbacks though.
- It’s for Mac users only.
- The price. Vellum is not a cheap software, with its licenses costing up to $249.99
But with thousands of authors making the Vellum choice, it’s easy to see that Vellum is well worth it.
Scrivener: An Author’s One Stop Shop for Writing and Formatting
If I had to recommend just one program for an author’s creative process, Scrivener would be the one.
Seriously. (And unlike Vellum, Scrivener is available for PC as well as Mac.)
Scrivener just does it all — starting at square one. Scrivener’s planning platform is second to none. It has wonderful outlining features (“scrivenings”) that allow you to combine multiple documents and ideas, and a virtual corkboard you can use to drag/drop your scenes or notes!
And all of these cool options are made easy because…Scrivener has its own fully functional word processor. That’s right. No more need for MS Word or importing your document. Everything can be accomplished right inside the application. (It also comes with a spell and grammar checker, but I’d still stick with a tool such as Grammarly for that.)
As far as templates go, Scrivener is a great provider. Are you writing a book? Script for a podcast? Academic thesis? Well, Scrivener has templates for all of these and much more! There’s a reason it’s one of the most talked about writing platforms out there.
And it makes formatting your book a breeze. When you’ve finished creating your masterpiece, Scrivener gives you the option of exporting into a huge variety of formats including Kindle, ePub, and PDF. This makes your life easy whether you’re looking to publish strictly to Amazon, spread out to other publishers, or even create print versions.
Like Vellum, this is a paid platform. But the cost is substantially less. For only $45, you can own this awesome product. And here are some Scrivener coupons and promo codes to help you find a good deal.
Upwork: Hire a Pro
Here’s the deal. Not all of us are computer application savvy. And that’s ok. There is a way around this.
Hire a professional formatter.
There are people out there who specialize in formatting books for self-publishing. Upwork is one place to find them, and it couldn’t be simpler.
- Head over to Upwork.com.
- Type “book formatter” into the search bar on the home page.
- Select your freelancer.
However, there are a few tips I would use when selecting your freelancer.
- Take a look at their job success rating
You want to find a professional with a great success rating. Get the most for your money.
- Connect with your hire and fully explain your expectations.
Nothing worse than paying somebody to do the wrong job. Communicate with them, and let your hire know exactly what you need.
- Be realistic about your own expectations.
Are you looking for someone to help you prepare your book’s format? Or someone to do that after they’ve proofread, edited, and redrafted your work? Go in knowing what you realistically expect to come out with. And never forget to communicate!
What’s the best formatting option for you?
Wondering what might be the best option for you? Well, that all depends.
What exactly is it you need? If you’re looking to strictly publish on Amazon and looking to do it cheap, maybe Kindle Create is right for you. But if you need a little more oomph from your platform, Vellum or Scrivener are quality choices.
And if you just want to pass the buck, hire a pro. No shame in that.
But whatever you choose, be sure to analyze your needs and your potential gains.
Remember to have your book professionally edited before you self-publish. Start with Book Editing Associates. They’ve been matchmaking writers and editors for decades.