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If You’re Going to Format Your Own E-Book, Make Sure to Cheat

We’ve been discussing the formatting side of being a self-published author this week. Which makes this Writing Rule our last installment on the subject.

Then we’re moving onto less tedious topics.

Thank everything for that.

If I sound less than enthusiastic about book formatting, that’s because I am. It’s not always horrible, mind you. But it is a very time-consuming act with so many details to take into consideration – many of which can and do go inexplicably wrong.

I’m sure that Microsoft could explain why certain aspects don’t seem to work out as promised. But in all my formatting years, I haven’t yet figured them out. I only know how go back and recheck everything four or five times until they finally behave.

That’s why I wrote this in Tuesday’s writing Definition:

It would be abjectly inaccurate to label this step as the most time-consuming part of the “becoming an author” process. Obviously, writing and editing a story or nonfiction piece takes months and months, if not a few years. But formatting might very well be the most irritating part. And it definitely is the most tedious.

That’s also why, on Innovative Editing’s Facebook page yesterday, I gave a piece of advice. It essentially amounted to this: Pick out a few of your favorite movies before you get formatting your print book-to-be.

Because it’s probably going to take that long to sort everything out.

Now, note that's true for formatting a print book.

Fortunately, e-books are a lot easier to deal with. You’ll probably only need one movie length to put your electronic copy together...

Maybe even less than that if you don’t get distracted along the way! And if you take today’s Writing Rule-clad advice down below.


Starting with a pre-formatted e-book template is easier.

E-books are less tedious to put together than print books for a variety of reasons. But there are still rules and guidelines you’ll want to follow depending on the exact platform you want to publish yours on.

While most e-book templates will be able to read well enough across Amazon’s Kindle devices, Barnes & Nobles’ Nook, Apple’s iPad, various smartphones, etc., you probably do want to figure out the main publishing platform you want to sell off of, and then work from there.


There’s always some small little differences involved. Because, you know, it can’t be completely easy.

Heaven forbid.

If you download a pre-formatted e-book template from or – both of which you’ll have to set up free accounts for, it should be fairly self-explanatory.

You copy and paste each actual chapter of your document into each designated chapter segment of the template. That’s just about it.

For the record, you’ll probably want to keep the font at Times New Roman, Font 12, while you’re at it. It’s more difficult to get cutesy with e-book fonts since the human eye processes paper print and online print differently.

Also, make sure not to mess with the pre-formatted chapter headers they give you. Those will be directly connected to the Table of Contents at the very beginning of the document. And they should automatically update as you go along.

If they don’t, just right click on the chapter headers after everything is said and done, and select “Update Field.” You should be good to go from there!

Or, to simplify your e-book formatting life even more, check out Draft2Digital. It’s not 100% free, admittedly, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s worth looking into.

It not only helps you format your e-books but also distributes them to various channels. Hence the name.

If that sounds like the hassle-free e-book formatting existence you’re really looking for… You can check it out right here.

And good luck regardless!

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