eBooks: Should You Go the DIY Route?

Can you get by with templates?
Nov | 12 | 2013

Never before has it been easier to publish your own material. This is especially true via Amazon Kindle Direct. It’s brain-dead simple to publish just about whatever you want.

But should you?

Using simple formatting is fine, but many eBooks don’t even get that right. They are littered with misplaced carriages, typos, weird fonts, indexes that don’t work, spacing issues, incorrect page numbers, and generally poor formatting. It takes about one second to find a book review that calls out poor Kindle formatting. Here’s one.

I wanted to mention the Kindle formatting.

It’s really bad.

For example, the book has an index. That’s nice. But, the index isn’t linked to the actual pages, so it’s just a list of words. Not much point to that. You can use Kindle’s search feature, but come on, just make the index work like it should.

Some tables, like Table 13.1 “How Big is the National Debt?” are painful to read. Some words are cutoff, and the table spans a page break, meaning you have to repeatedly page forwards to read the entries and backwards to read the column headings.

At the end of each chapter is a section entitled “The Bottom Line” which gives a quite bulleted summary of the chapter. It’s nice, but the formatting is horrible. The left quarter of the page is whitespace, making the lines short and tiring to read.

Speaking of whitespace, the spacing is bizarre throughout the text, with large blocks of vertical whitespace appearing for no good reason.

Poor formatting may very well lead to poor reviews and decreased sales.

Is saving a few dollars worth risking lower sales and bad reviews?

Sure, there are eBook templates out there, but what if there’s some type of problem and your book looks awful on an eReader?

Brass Tacks

Do yourself a favor. Work with professionals. Sure, they cost more, but shouldn’t your book appear as clean as possible? Is saving a few dollars worth risking lower sales and bad reviews?

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