Preparing Your Manuscript for Kindle

 

Preparing a book for Kindle is generally quite straightforward. The Kindle platform is one of the most forgiving of all the eReading devices and tends to make a reasonable job of most manuscripts. However, there are frequently issues where a manuscript which looks perfect on the author’s computer, emerges from the Kindle conversion process looking like it’s been typed by a three-year-old. The problems are often with the hidden control codes embedded by the author’s word processing software. Those invisible little nuggets of magic which make one’s manuscript look so nice on the screen can often cause chaos with the conversion software. Tabs, headers, footnotes, page numbers, page breaks, these are all irrelevant to an eBook but the little codes that told your computer where to place them are still there when Kindle tries to display your book to the end user. A good conversion will identify and strip these out before they reach the Kindle machinery.


Although having your book available on Amazon’s stores as a Kindle version is important, just as important is ensuring you have Kindle-compatible versions for your own use. Obviously, Amazon are not so keen on this option as it potentially costs them sales but then it is your book and your project. When one has paperback versions of a book, using them for your own marketing activities is easy, you just keep a box of books in the back of your car. With Kindle, it’s not so easy. Although it’s still the world’s most popular eReader, Amazon tries to keep a stranglehold on the content. If an author wants to send a Kindle version to a reviewer, it may seem simple, you just buy a copy of your own book and gift it to the person concerned. However, apart from the waste of money, that way can cause massive problems with Amazon’s review rules.


Amazon are very clear about who can and cannot review a book and since their ‘Fake Review’ debacle, these rules have become quite Draconian. Should they suspect the author is offering inducements in return for a review, they will remove the review. If they suspect an author is continually trying to cheat their systems they will remove the book from sale completely. Offering a free book in return for a review may seem like normal business practice for most people, Amazon however often seems to have a view that this is inducement. For this reason, authors are advised to refrain from gifting a book via Amazon’s systems and to send a Kindle compatible version directly to the reviewer. Not only does this avoid the possibility of incurring penalties or possible de-listing but it is also cheaper!