Formatting a Manuscript for KDP

We interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you—well, okay, there isn’t really any ‘we’. And regularly scheduled broadcast is hardly the way I would describe a blog post. But just the same, I wanted to take a break from what I was going to post in order to address some of the services I’ve encountered offering “Kindle and Createspace” formatting, for the low price of $100!

Don’t do it. Please. Services like these are essentially cons, unless they’re bundled with some sort of proofreading or other service, and even then I’d be wary. Amazon and most other sites (including Smashwords) make their submission services as simple as possible. Even Smashwords, which many authors consider to be the hardest site to submit to (since the work you submit has to meet the guidelines of several retailers at once), should only take a few hours at most.

During my time as a ghostwriter, I was asked to format for KDP (Amazon’s author site) for just about everything I wrote. Wanna know how I did it? I used Microsoft Word, and a couple keyboard shortcuts. Here you are:

Ctrl+enter at the end of a chapter

Adds a page break that converts to the .mobi format

Ctrl+h (Find and Replace). Find: ^p (every line break), replace with: ^p ^t

Since I’m too lazy to set up auto-indent before I write my chapters, performing this on the manuscript will add an indent every time there’s a line break. The one drawback is that I have to go back and delete some of the extra indents.

Ctrl+k

Adds a hyperlink that you can use to link to a bookmark on the document, for setting up a table of contents. Bookmarks can be created by going to ‘Insert’ at the top bar, and over to links.

Here’s a list of supplementary pages you may want to add (everything except for the final page should go at the start of your novel, in the same order as listed):

1. Title page. This should usually be your name in small font with the full-size title beneath.

2. Standard disclaimer. This should be a statement claiming that everything in your book is fiction (unless it’s a non-fiction title). For fiction novels, this is absolutely essential. An example disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. (from The Book Designer)

3. Table of contents (for bonus points, use ctrl+k and bookmarks to make the table of contents usable for Kindle)

4. Dedication. You can use a quote, write a quote, or simply say ‘This novel is dedicated to x.’ This page is, of course, totally optional.

5. Acknowledgements. Similar to a dedication in some ways; the acknowledgements page is where you mention any editors, cover designers, beta readers… Really anyone who helped you get to the finish line. Again, totally optional.

6. Final page (after the end of the novel). You can thank your reader, tell them where to find you on social media, or whatever else.

In Conclusion

The truth is, most readers won’t care if the novel you offer on Amazon consists of a single title page and then the novel. The rest of this can add a professional appearance, but it’s far from necessary. And none of these steps or shortcuts should take you the kind of time that would justify paying someone else $100 to do it for you.

If the formatting isn’t quite right, Amazon has a program that will search for errors and point them out to you within a few minutes. It even seems to find spelling errors. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Otherwise, be sure to like the post and follow my blog! Happy writing!

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