Kindle Formatting for Self-Publishing Authors – Is My Book Supposed to Look Like That?!

You’re stoked that your book is finally available for sale in the Amazon Kindle Store. You’re impressed by Amazon’s royalty agreements. Then you see your book on your brand new Kindle…

Amazon Kindle Edition
Why does it look like that?! That is not how the book looks when it is printed!

It makes sense that self-publishing authors (especially those who don’t regularly read books on a Kindle device or app) might expect the Kindle format to look just like the physical version. After all, a lot of time was put into formatting your book for print.  However, it is important to understand how these two versions differ and why. Once you have a better understanding of how the formatting benefits the reader, you will appreciate your new Kindle Edition in all it’s simplicity.

  • Limited Fonts – Because the Kindle device supports only a limited number of fonts, the fanciness is cut here. So, if you used many uncommon fonts in your book, you can expect the fonts to be changed when you have your Kindle Edition created.
  • Minimal Formatting – Readers view Kindle files on the device itself, wireless phones, and computers. In order for the files to be easy for all users to read, it is necessary to eliminate excess formatting.  Simplicity is key to versatility, and Kindle is no exception.
  • Images and Text Wrapping – Images show differently on a Kindle device than on the apps.  The main difference is that the Kindle device is black and white only, while the apps will show the images in color.  The other difference users will experience is the size of the images, due to differences in screen size.  These things will also affect whether or not text appears around the image or if it is bumped to the next page.
  • No Need For an Index – If your print format contains an index, you should know that adding an index to a Kindle file is akin to adding one to a website. Who needs an index when there are search engines? The same is true for Kindle.  Kindle users can easily search on the device or app by the keyword or phrase and find every location where it exists within the book.

A Kindle book will never look exactly like a print book and that’s a good thing!  Kindle books are designed to be read with ease on a Kindle device or app.  Reading a book on a Kindle can take a bit of getting used to, not only because of the minimal formatting but also the different feel of “turning” and bookmarking pages and making notes.  Regular Kindle users are used to these things and adding superfluous formatting will only make it harder to the user to read.

Self-publishing authors can experience a great deal of success from Kindle sales alone — especially with their attractive royalty agreements. However, you must have correct expectations of the Kindle Edition — including how it’s formatted and why that’s beneficial to the reader.  Once you do, you will be able to recognize Kindle as the priceless gem that it is.

Are you a self-publishing author looking to get your book on Kindle?

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6 thoughts on “Kindle Formatting for Self-Publishing Authors – Is My Book Supposed to Look Like That?!

  1. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I’m quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  2. Hello all, I only want for my book to have capital letters where they should be and small letters where they should be. I did not have any fancy formatting or images for my book. I made it as plain as I could due to financial constraints. I am just trying to understand why it is all caps after the first paragraph. Thanks.

  3. Yes, it can be easy as a DIY project, but beware of the results. I always recommend my clients have their books professionally formatted, whether for POD or e-book. Formatting does not have to cost a lot of money and makes all of the difference in the look of the book.

    1. Hi, Patricia:

      That’s excellent advice! It’s a shame that so many authors don’t see the importance of professionally formatted Kindle books. Granted, Kindle books are relatively stripped down as far as formatting is concerned, but that doesn’t mean that these files should be uploaded with no regard to how it looks..

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