Top Tips for Avoiding Errors in Kindle Ebook Conversions

by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

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Since Amazon has added Kindle Fire to the Kindle e-reader family of devices, Kindle ebook conversion has become more complicated.

Actually, what has become more complicated is how well ebooks look on these different devices.

(Kindle ebook formatting issues do not only plague self-published authors. I was sent for review the hardcover and Kindle versions of a new book by major publisher Penguin. I stopped reading the Kindle ebook because the formatting was so poor and switched to the hardcover, which was beautifully formatted.)

While KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) offers instructions for how to upload a Word document into KDP and produce a Kindle ebook, the advice of people in the know explain that this does not produce the best formatted Kindle ebook.

Taking this advice, I had been creating the text in html and then using the conversion software Calibre to create a Kindle format.

Then came the day that, after re-uploading some of my Kindle ebooks, I started getting negative book reviews about formatting issues.

I emailed back and forth to KDP. Finally I learned that KDP no longer supports third-party conversion software such as Calibre and instead requires the use of its own conversion software — KindleGen.

Meanwhile, my Miller Mosaic business partner Yael K. Miller researched on the web for answers to our new formatting issues.

Then Yael created a very detailed instruction document for me to follow to create four documents for each ebook: an html of the actual text, a table of contents html, a table of contents ncx, and an opf. (These are the kind of docs that one extra semi-colon or one missing semi-colon can create a major formatting issue.)

Now after I painstakingly create these documents, I combine these four docs with the cover photo and KindleGen. Next I check the resulting Kindle format ebook on Kindle Previewer. Then I go back and forth fixing errors in the html text doc that now crop up in the Kindle Previewer.

How my experience can help you:

While I am not recommending every author should figure out how to create the documents needed for a Kindle ebook that will look good on all the current Kindle e-readers, I am going to share here tips to help your manuscript in its conversion process.

Here are the Word options in my experience that cause the most errors in my ebooks (the errors come out as junk symbols in the ebook) and need to be converted into html characters:

  • Quotation marks — both double quotes and single quotes
  • Apostrophes, such as in Class of ‘63
  • Ellipses (…) in a sentence or at the end of a sentence
  • Dashes (—) in a sentence

While I could take care of many of these errors with “find and replace,” some errors still remained. And that is where the time-consuming back and forth checking of the resulting Kindle ebook format came into play.

In the future I am going to be very careful how I use the above Word options in order to reduce the possible formatting errors. And if you are writing a fiction or non-fiction ebook, you might want to consider how you are using these Word options.

In conclusion, I hope this information will save you time and frustration when converting your ebook to a well-formatted Kindle ebook.

And if you want a well-formatted Kindle ebook for the various Kindle e-readers and do NOT want to tackle the conversion yourself, email me at pzmiller@millermosaicllc.com to ask how we can help you.

© 2012 Miller Mosaic LLC

Phyllis Zimbler Miller has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com

She is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. A new nonfiction ebook of hers is the book publishing and marketing ebook TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON and her newest fiction ebook is the cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE: A REBECCA STONE MYSTERY.

Click here to visit her Amazon author page at amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller

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