This is how I went about formatting and uploading Come Home Moon, my first kindle children’s book.
My first two books for children were designed for pdf but when I heard about the new kindle 8 devices that can handle colour I decided to investigate. I had already uploaded an adult book for the greyscale older kindles, mainly out of curiosity and because I had a novel doing nothing on my hard drive. It seemed very easy using Word as the source document but I had heard that the process was more problematic where images were concerned. Obviously images in an illustrated children’s book were very imporant so I had to find out how to go about it in an efficient non techy way, if I seriously wanted to sell ebooks on Amazon Kindle. If you haven’t already signed up to Amazon KDP (kindle Direct Publishing) you can start here.
Read the help pages and get familiar with everything.
I reread the help pages and thought I’d try to upload my pdf versions and see how it turned out. KDP claims it can handle Word (.doc or .docx) ePub (.epub) Plain Text (.txt) Mobipocket (.mobi or .prc) HTML (.zip, .htm, or .html) Adobe PDF (.pdf) Rich Text Format (.rtf) but with varying results. Oddly for me I was feeling pretty optimistic so I tried to upload my pdf. If it worked I’d be happy, if not what had I lost? A few minutes at most.
As I don’t yet own a kindle fire (hurry up Amazon), I downloaded the previewer ( you can do this when you’re uploading your first book so don’t worry about it now) and then I uploaded the pdf of Come Home Moon. It looked horrendous. A mashed up ghastly thing with different sized fonts, misaligned images and generally looked crap.
I had prepared the original source document in Microsoft Publisher so I could site the words and pictures exactly where I wanted them. This clearly wouldn’t work here so I turned to Word which is KDP’s recommendation.
I wouldn’t have had the energy to do this with a 100,000 word novel but Come Home Moon is about 1200 words so it wasn’t a big deal to re-type it. Copy and pasting from publisher would have brought the original formatting to the fresh document and even normalising the text doesn’t always work so I decided to start all over again. I set Word to Normal text and typed the first paragraph. With kindle you don’t need to indent your first line. Don’t do it because kindle does it for you when converting your manuscript.
I used the INSERT-PICTURE-FROM FILE command and placed my first image in the document. I inserted a page break INSERT-BREAK-PAGE BREAK.
The Page breaks weren’t really necessary because kindle users can change fonts and size the text however they want it and this will move images around. But, if you do use breaks and your readers keep the text small, say size 4 and under, you can keep the words relevant to the text. Then I repeated this throughout the manuscript. Words image, words image. I rechecked the text was Normal. To do this FORMAT-STYLES AND FORMATTING, then highlight or click on the sentence you want to check and Word will tell you if the text is Normal, centered etc.
Next thing is to centre the images. Use the centre option in styles and formatting.
I then went to the beginning of the book and typed up my front matter. (Copyright notice, author name, year, book title) I centered this. I inserted my cover image before the front matter (not forgetting a page break) to make sure it appeared in the ebook.
Now I read through several times looking for mistakes. I found quite a few so fixed them. Then I re-checked the formatting a final time and was ready to move onto the next task.
I selected the first image, clicked on Compress Picture, this brings up a window where you can select all pictures and set resolution to WEB/SCREEN. Select compress pictures and Word will do a pretty decent job of compression. You don’t have to do this if your entire document is under 50MB but from what I hear compressing your images rather than letting KDP do it on conversion gives better results.
I kept Word open and went into DOCUMENTS on my pc. I created a New Folder and named it Come Home Moon Kindle Files.
I went back to Word and ensured I had saved the document (doc.) I went back into FILE-SAVE AS and saved again as Web Page, Filtered, making sure this was saved in my newly created folder. I closed Word and right clicked on Come Home Moon Kindle Files and selected Send to Zipped Folder. Back to KDP where I uploaded the zipped folder. I clicked on Save as Draft at the bottom of the uploading page and then downloaded the file back to my pc. I opened kindle previewer FILE-OPEN BOOK, browsed for the file and opened it. I went through the pages one by one, slowly checking all was well.
Once happy I clicked on Save and Publish and then all I had to do was set the price and a few other little tasks on the upload pages.
A few hours later I got an email congratulating me on placing my book on kindle. I was able to follow a link in the email to the product page of Come Home Moon so I could copy the link to use in my promotional efforts. A nice little slice of the book was available to sample so prospective buyers could see a little of what the book has to offer.
So that was it. My first children’s book on Kindle. I’m sure there are other ways, probably better ways, to go about this but this way worked well for me, especially when taking into consideration that the book was always meant to be a straightforward pdf.
One more book to go this way and then in future I will design books in keeping with the colour loving kindles.
Come Home Moon on Smashwords