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How to Format a Book for Amazon Publishing in Multiple Formats: A Comprehensive Guide

Publishing, Marketing, & Writing Tips

Different file types, sizes, and book formats, oh my! Catch the breakdown below!

How to Format a Book for Amazon Publishing in Multiple Formats: A Comprehensive Guide
Table of contents

Publishing a book in multiple formats is a sure way to increase your book sales each month, but it does take some effort (just like any other business). If you like leaving money on the table, you can stop reading here. 

This blog post is for people who want to take advantage of all that Amazon's KDP has to offer. We'll walk through the different formats, how to finalize your manuscript and the most common mistakes self-publishers make during the uploading process.

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Amazon KDP's Various Formatting Options

When you're self-publishing on Amazon, you have multiple options for creating a printed book or digital format (and ideally, you're doing all of the above). These options include paperback, hardcover, eBook, and audiobook formats.

Paperback

Amazon KDP's paperback book format is a popular choice for indie authors and publishers who want to offer their readers a physical copy of their book. With this option, you can choose from different trim sizes, paper types, and cover finishes to give your book a professional look and feel.

Instead of printing the books yourself or dishing out thousands of dollars to do a massive print run, Amazon will handle all the inventory management and shipping for you through their Print-on-Demand services.

Hardcover

With the hardcover option, you can choose from different cover styles, paper types, and cover finishes (like matte or glossy) to create a high-quality, durable book that will stand the test of time.

Hardcover books will incur more printing costs, sure, but they're useful for two reasons:

  1. They typically sell for a premium, so you can price them higher than your other formats.
  2. If you're strategic with your pricing, you can incentivize people to buy your "cheaper" formats by showing them what a great deal the paperback and eBook are in comparison.

eBook

eBook formatting is a no-brainer for any author or publisher looking to reach a wider audience. With Amazon KDP's eBook format, you can create a digital version of your book that can be read on any device, including smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. This format is perfect for busy readers who prefer to read on the go or who want to save space on their bookshelves.

Unlike the print versions, you'll typically pay for the file size of the book rather than being charged by page count. The book formatting for eBooks can be trickier to get right because the page breaks might be totally different than your print books, but we'll cover that later in this post.

Audiobook

Finally, Amazon KDP's audiobook format is a great option for publishers who want to offer their readers a more immersive reading experience. With this format, you can create an audio version of your book that can be listened to on any device, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Pro Tip: You don't even have to do the recording yourself! You can outsource it to other creative professionals. Amazon's ACX platform is what you'll use to connect with top narrators who can help.

Designing Your Book's Interior and Exterior

Here are some quick tips to help you format your book's interior in multiple formats:

Setting Up Front and Back Matter

The front matter is the introductory section of your book that appears before the main content. This section includes the title page, copyright page, dedication page, table of contents, and other relevant information. To set up the front matter, you can simply create a separate document in your word processing software or Google Docs, just like any other page.

Back matter goes at the end of your book and might include plugs for any other books in your series or even a page thanking the reader for taking the time to purchase your book. It's also a handy place to ask for honest book reviews to help future readers.

Pro Tip: Other platforms like Reedsy also offer automatic templates for front and back matter.

Organizing Chapters and Headings

Organizing your book's chapters and headings gives it a clear and easy-to-follow structure. Use consistent formatting for chapter titles and headings, including font size, style, and spacing. You can also use numbering or bullet points to help break up the text and make it more visually appealing. (Big blocks of text are intimidating and boring!)

Choosing Fonts

Don't be afraid to experiment with different font sizes and styles for headings, subheadings, and body text to create a more visually appealing layout. 

Pro Tip: You can also increase the size of the first letter of every chapter for a little added flair (but it's definitely not necessary). 

Incorporating Images and Graphics

Incorporating images and graphics can help break up text and add visual interest to your book's interior. Make sure to use high-quality images that are relevant to your content. You can also use captions and alt text to provide additional context for your images.

Pro Tip: Don't ever just download pictures straight off of Google unless you want to risk legal trouble. Always source your images from reputable stock photo sites or subscriptions like Canva Pro, and double-check that you have permission to use them in books that you'll be selling for profit.

Managing Footnotes, Hyperlinks, and References

Not all books need footnotes or hyperlinks, but if you do use them, make sure they're easy to read and navigate. Use consistent formatting, including font size, style, and placement. For hyperlinks, make sure they are clickable and lead to relevant content.

If you conducted any online research or referenced any outside works, you'll need to create a Citations or References page (they both mean the same thing) to avoid plagiarism. The most common citation style is APA, but what style you choose will depend on your book's category and competition. A ghostwriter or editor can help you if you get stuck.

Pro Tip: There are also tons of online citation tools like Scribbr and Grammarly that can be lifesavers when it comes to formatting citations.

Front, Back, and Spine Considerations

When designing your book cover, you'll need to consider the front, back, and spine. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Front cover: This is the most important part of your cover, as it's the first thing readers will see. Make sure your title and author name are prominently displayed, and use imagery that's relevant to your book's content and genre.
  • Back cover: Use the back cover to provide a brief synopsis of your book, as well as any endorsements or reviews. You can also include an author bio and photo.
  • Spine: The spine is often overlooked, but it's an important part of your book cover. Make sure your title and author name are clearly visible, and choose a font size and style that is easy to read. If your book cover design has issues with text outside margins, KDP may not accept your file.

Finalizing Your Book Format

Formatting can be time-consuming but stick with us. You're almost there! Here are some final considerations before uploading your book to KDP!

Page Numbers and Headers

Page numbers and headers help readers navigate through the book and find what they're searching for more quickly. Amazon's KDP platform will auto-assign page numbers for you, so you don't actually need to worry about this for your manuscript!

Headers will most often be designated by “H2” and “H3” text styles. 

Adjusting Margins and Indentation

Margins and indentation can also affect the readability and professional appearance of your book. A standard size for margins is usually around 1 inch to ensure that the text is in center alignment with the page. Indentation should be consistent throughout the book, and you can use the first-line indent option to indent the first line of each paragraph if you want to stick to tradition.

Consistent Line Spacing and Breaks

Don’t forget to check that the line spacing is consistent throughout the book and that there are no awkward breaks between paragraphs or sections. The standard options for using a word processor like Microsoft Word are usually 1.5 or 2.0 (double spacing).

Pro Tip: More spacing could increase your page count and affect your printing costs, so be intentional!

Proofreading and Checking for Errors

It's not uncommon to get to the last step in the process and realize there are some small errors, like a missing comma here or a repeating sentence there. If this happens to you, don't panic! That's exactly what final checks are for.

Taking Advantage of Preview and Proofing Tools

One of the easiest ways to proofread your book is by using the preview and proofing tools available right on Amazon's KDP platform or other free tools like Grammarly. In Kindle Create, for example, you can use the Previewer to view your book on different devices, such as Kindle e-readers, tablets, and phones. 

These tools let you view your book as it will appear on different devices and identify and fix any formatting or layout issues before you officially hit the “publish” button. 

Pro Tip: You can even order proof copies through KDP for a small cost to see and feel what your book will actually look like to readers.

Identifying and Correcting Common Errors

Here are some of the most common errors to look out for:

  • Spelling and grammar errors: Use a spell-check tool to identify and correct any spelling and grammar errors in your manuscript.
  • Inconsistent formatting: Make sure your formatting is consistent throughout the book, including font size, spacing, and margins.
  • Missing or incorrect page numbers: Check that all page numbers are present and correct and that they match the table of contents.
  • Incorrect paragraph indentation: Make sure your paragraphs are indented consistently throughout the book.
  • Incorrect use of hyphens and dashes: Use hyphens (-) for compound words and dashes (– or —) for interruptions in sentences.

Choosing the Right File Type

A quality manuscript is three things: complete, error-free, and formatted correctly. It might feel a bit like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube, but you'll use the same manuscript as the base for each book format. 

Here’s a rundown of the file types for each book format: 

File Requirements for Kindle eBooks

  • Format: MOBI (preferred by Amazon) or ePub (convertible to MOBI via Kindle Direct Publishing).
  • Image Files: JPEG or TIFF format, with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI for quality display.
  • Text Formatting: Reflowable layout is recommended. Fixed layout can be used for specialized eBooks like children’s picture books.

File Requirements for Print Books

  • Format: PDF, ensuring all fonts are embedded, and the file is set to the correct trim size.
  • Images: High-resolution (300 DPI or higher), embedded within the PDF file.
  • Bleed Settings: If your design goes to the edge of the page, extend the design 0.125 inches beyond the trim size to create a bleed.

File Requirements for Audiobooks

  • Format: Most platforms accept MP3 files. Some also accept WAV files.
  • Bit Rate: At least 192 kbps or higher for quality audio.
  • File Size: Each file typically represents a chapter and should be under 170 MB for MP3 and 500 MB for WAV.
  • Sound Quality: Clear, noise-free recording, often requiring professional editing and mastering.

Publishing Your Book on Amazon

You’ll publish your book directly through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform with their step-by-step instructions, but here's the gist:

Navigating the KDP Dashboard

The KDP dashboard is where you'll manage your book and track its sales. Once you log in through your Amazon customer account or create a new account, you'll be taken to your bookshelf. Here, you can see all the books you've already published or are in the process of publishing. From here, you can create a new book or edit an existing one.

Setting Up Your Publishing Account

Even if you already have a personal Amazon consumer account, you'll need to fill out all the details of your publishing account to get paid. This includes your bank and tax information. Altogether, this step shouldn't take more than 5-10min. Then, once your account is set up, you can start publishing your new book.

Understanding Royalties and Pricing

Amazon offers two royalty options:

  • 35%
  • 70%

The 35% option is available for books priced under $2.99, while the 70% option is available for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. When setting the price for your book, you should consider the royalty rate and the competition. 

You can also use the KDP pricing calculator to help you determine the best price for your book.

Common Mistakes with Uploading to Amazon

If your book isn't accepted right away or if you run into any snags during the uploading process, it doesn't mean you're doomed, that you won't make any royalties or any other self-limiting belief that might pop up. These snags happen to the best of us! 

It's like riding a bike. You've just got to get back on and keep trying. We promise it'll be worth it.

Here are some common mistakes with uploading to Amazon (and what to do about them): 

Incorrect File Format and Layout Issues

One of the most common mistakes is uploading a manuscript that's not in a compatible format for Amazon KDP. This can be as quick of a fix as simply "saving" your file in a different file extension type.

Pro Tip: In most cases, Amazon’s publishing preview will tell you exactly what’s wrong with your file and what page the error can be found on. 

Overlooking Metadata and Book Details

Metadata includes things like the title, author name, and book description. This information shouldn't have any spelling errors or content errors (like accidentally using the book description for a different book). 

Another mistake to avoid is selecting inappropriate categories and keywords. This can affect the visibility of your book on Amazon and make it harder for readers to find it.

Neglecting Quality Control and Previewing

Skipping the final review can be tempting if you're eager to start seeing book sales and royalty checks, but it's never worth it. Formatting errors can give readers a poor reader experience, and someone WILL leave you a bad review because of it.

Pro Tip: Take your time and do right by your readers. That's our golden rule around here.

Additional Resources and Tips

Let's talk about some quick resources and tips that might help you in a pinch:

Using Templates and Guides

One of the easiest ways to format your book correctly is to use templates and guides that are available online. Reedsy is pre-populated with some that can be especially useful for shorter books.

Pssssttt...Stay tuned for other templates and resources under the "Learn" tab of our home page.

Seeking Professional Formatting Services

If you don't have the time or the expertise to format your book yourself, you can always seek out professional book formatting services.

These services can help you stick to Amazon's publishing guidelines and publish your book in a fraction of the time it would take to do everything yourself. They can also help you with other aspects of the publishing process, like book outlines for future books and editing/proofreading.

Anyone Can Self-Publish a Book AND Make Money from It

The process of publication used to be expensive, time-consuming, and nearly impossible for someone who wasn't already an established author with years of experience and a handful of awards under their belt. That's no longer the case!

Nowadays, creating a free Amazon account gives you the power to turn your ideas into steady income. Just ask Katrina, who had a million reasons not to start her self-publishing journey, including grief, loss, and health problems.

Or ask Travis, who knows a thing or two about the struggle with procrastination.

These two didn't have any dreams to write or publish anything! They just wanted a change in their lives. Making money with Amazon was the answer they needed, and they haven't looked back since. 

It all started with just one little webinar. Come see what we're all about!

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