They say you learn something new every day, and I tend to agree. Today, I learned something new that is worth sharing with anyone who is considering publishing their own work via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
If you have ever published an eBook via KDP, you are probably familiar with that moment of frustration you experience when you realize that the Word document you so carefully edited and formatted has not rendered properly in Kindle format.
When I published my poetry collection last year, I spent hours flipping back and forth between my original Word document and the converted Kindle file, fixing one formatting error after another. I then had to re-publish the book with the new, updated version of my Word document. I am still not happy with the results, but I eventually just got sick of messing with it!
As I near the final editing phase on the “Papers” project I have been working on these past few weeks, my dread of the conversion process seems to increase exponentially with each passing day. This morning, as I was worrying over how to re-format an auto-formatted outline, I finally threw my hands up and headed over to Google to see if I could find someone who knew the “correct” way to render an outline in Word in order to keep it from turning into a garbled mess when the time comes to convert to a Kindle file.
And that’s when I stumbled across this KDP “Help” page (for information on the topic at hand, scroll down to question number nine toward the bottom of the page.) I’ve included an excerpt of their text here:
Question: Why doesn’t the conversion look exactly like the Microsoft Word Document?
Answer: The initial formatting you’ve chosen in Word may be altered slightly to conform to Kindle device specifications. For optimum readability on the Kindle device, it is best to save your Word (.doc) file as “Web Page – filtered” or “HTML – filtered”.
“Aha!” I thought. So you can convert your Word document into an editable file that will show you your formatting errors prior to actually publishing to Kindle! Score!
I then followed the instructions and did a test run with my document to see what would happen with my outline in the conversion. I was pleasantly surprised that the outline turned out great. However, I did notice a TON of weird formatting issues that would have created a lot of unnecessary work for me in a few weeks once I got to the publishing phase of this project. The really awesome thing is, I can now fix those errors right in the “web page” file so they do not ever make it to the Kindle file. This will save me SO much time later!
My new plan is to do as much of my editing as possible in Word and then convert it to a “web page” prior to importing the document into Kindle. Of course, I haven’t yet attempted this part of the process in real life, so there is a good chance I will run into some obstacles along the way. If I do, I will report back and update this post. If you have personally attempted this yourself, please share your experience (with helpful tips, recommendations, and warnings as applicable) in the comments below.