Making Your Own Ebook Part Eight – How to clean the formatting in your Word file

Now that you know how set up a clean template for your Ebook how do you apply it?

If you have NOT written your story

This is the easiest situation to handle and it just takes a little preparation to make things work really well. The sequence is straightforward.

  1. Create a new document for the book. This makes sure that there are no Manual Styles already in place. If you are using existing document the best approach before adding Styles is to clear all previous Manual Styles before you begin but it is generally easier to start with
  2. Create the framework for the book as described in the previous posts…
  3. … Or use the template you created in the earlier exercises
  4. Start writing…

If you have already written your story…

If you have already written your story then the word-processor file will probably be full of formatting, some of it invisible to you, which can mess up your output. You have two options:

  1. Go through a clean-up process for your existing file.
  2. Take a drastic step and strip out all the existing formatting and create styles for each paragraph and character style used in the book. Step 2 may not be too “drastic” if you don’t have a lot of formatting as it can be quick to reformat Chapter headings etc. once the Style is in place.
    You can strip out all formatting by copying and pasting all the text from Word to “Notepad”, or another plain text processor (You can get these free on the Web and I will post the links for the best FREE versions at the end of this series). This will strip out ALL the formatting – including Bold & Italics. Then copy & paste the text from the “notepad” file back into a new Word document using your Ebook template styles. This is actually the best way to do the clean-up as no styles will remain in the plain text file.

We will deal with each of these solutions separately but with both solutions you will need to make visible all the usually invisible formatting marks in your document. We went through this in an earlier Post where we showed how to use “File / Options / Display / Show all formatting features” to reveal all formatting marks. Do this before you start the clean-up so that you can see the marks and take appropriate action. You can turn them off later if they are in your way.

When we receive Word files from clients, to create either Ebooks or Print Books, we go through the processes below in order to get a clean file to work with. If we don’t do the clean-up we generally get problems at a later stage when converting to EPUB or MOBI so a clean-up is always the first step for us.

Tools: Find and Replace

If you have not had to use the Find & Replace function before it is easily started in Word using the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl h” or by clicking on the “Replace” icon in the top right corner of the Ribbon.

Word 24 - Replace function

Once open, the Replace dialogue looks like this:

Word 25 - Replace Dialogue Screen

There are many possible searches and I will go through some of them in detail as we go through the clean-up process.

How to clean an existing file:

  • Make a backup copy of you file before you start just in case anything goes wrong.
  • Remove Justification
  • Turn off Hyphenation
  • Remove headers and page numbering: There are no page numbers in Ebooks and if you have them they may appear in inappropriate places. You need to remove them completely.
  • Remove columns – they don’t work in Ebooks
  • Remove text boxes ‑ they don’t work in Ebooks
  • Check for and deal with any special characters. Don’t use an oddball font to get special characters. If you can’t find them in Times New Roman and Arial/Helvetica then your Ebook reader will probably have problems in finding them too and will display something incorrect.
  • Make sure that any bullet lists or numbered lists are based on the Built-in styles within Word and do not use “inserted” symbols for Bullets or manually inserted numbers. These can give unpredictable results

For the next few parts of the process the “Find & Replace tool is the quickest way to make changes. You will find the “Paragraph Mark”, “Tabs” and “Manual Line returns” in the “Special” menu at the bottom of the Dialog box:

  • Remove extra paragraph returns using Find & Replace:Word 27 - Double Para Mark ReplaceTo insert the paragraph symbols in the Find or Replace boxes, use “Special / Paragraph Mark“. Do this twice for the Find box and once for the “Replace with” box. Make sure there are no spaces before or after the symbols then click on “Replace All”.
    You may have to click Replace All several times to remove all repeated paragraph marks.
  • When you have deleted all the double “Paragraph” markers you can create and apply Styles to make spaces between paragraphs.
  • You also need to search for unneeded spaces before and after paragraph marks as these can cause display problems on some readers. To remove spaces after the Paragraph Mark – keep the previous Find open; delete the second Paragraph Mark in the Find box and replace with a space. Just hit the spacebar for this. Then hit Replace All. Repeat as needed.
  • Remove Leading spaces, remove the space after the single Paragraph Mark in the Find box and put a space in front of the mark. Then hit Replace All. Repeat as needed.
  • Remove manual line breaks. Use the Find & Replace function as described above but click on “Line Break” in the drop-down menu to insert the symbol in the Find Box. Place a Paragraph Mark in the Replace box. Hit Replace All. Repeat as needed.
  • Remove page breaks and create your chapter breaks by setting up a style with “Page break before” ticked in the Paragraph style
  • Remove all tabs: TABS do not work properly in Ebook files. They can cause skipped lines, compressed text, font size changes and other strange problems. You have to create styles to give the needed indents.
    Use the same Find & Replace function as before but click on the tab symbol to place it in the Find box. This time leave the Replace box blank but make sure there are no spaces there before hitting the Replace All key. Again, repeat the Replace All as needed until no Tabs are found.
  • Remove extra spaces between words, sentences, and before and after paragraph returns. Lots of people use a double space before each new sentence (it used to look good on typed letters) but E-readers justify text by spreading out the spaces between words so extra spaces between sentences can look very strange. Extra spaces at the beginning of paragraphs will give uneven results and extra spaces at the ends of paragraphs can cause blank pages.
    Use the same find & Replace function but this time with two spaces in the Find box and a single space in the Replace box. Hit Replace All until no more double spaces are found.
  • Get all the commas and inverted commas, around dialogue etc., turned in the right direction. You can do this by replacing all occurrences of “ with “. That means search for “Double Inverted Commas” and replace with “Double Inverted Commas”. This process should change all “Double Inverted Commas” to “Smart quotes” and get them the right way round. You will still have to check them when you do your proofreading in case spaces between characters have messed things up.
    Using the Find & Replace function you just type the commas into the Find box and Replace Box before hitting the Replace All button.
  • Do the same process for single quotes!
  • Only use hyphens to hyphenate words. If you want a text separator you need to use the “n-dash” but you need to have a space before and after ( ‑ ) (space n-dash space). If you have no spaces around the dash you can have line break problems.
    You may not have used the n-dash ( – ) before. Its name is an old printing term and refers to the width of the space taken up by the lower-case letter n in a standard set of type. In Word you can insert an n-dash using the key combination “Ctrl+Shift+-” (this is the minus sign on the top line of numbers not the Numeric keypad. (You can also insert it using the ASCII combination Alt+0150 on the numeric keypad.)
    When changing hyphens to n-dashes in the “Replace” dialogue you can find the n-dash in the “Special” menu at the bottom of the box: Just make sure that you place the cursor in the replace box before clicking on Special / En Dash. That will insert the dash in the find box.

Word 26 - n-dash in Replace Dialogue

  • Don’t use the “M-dash” in Ebooks. You may find it easier during writing to use a double hyphen and then go back using the Find & Replace function to change to n-dashes.
  • Un-centre “centred” text and create a new style to centre text and get what you need.
  • Create a style for scene dividers or section breaks: I use 3 or 5 asterisks with a 16 pt space above and below.
  • Create styles for special layouts such as lists, block quotes, centred text, etc.
  • Create styles for Bold, Italic, Underlining, Hyperlinks, etc.
    If you are used to blogging, using WordPress for example, you may know that you can get a good result using “Ctrl B” or Ctrl I” to apply those styles. But that doesn’t work well for E-books. For Ebooks you can either create specific character styles for Bold, Italic and Bold-Italic. OR you can built-in styles “Strong”, “Emphasis” or “Intense Emphasis” to get the same effects. When you do this the Ebook conversion software will create a specific style in the CSS file which will help to make sure that the text is displayed with your chosen style on the E-reader.
  • You also need to use the proper ellipse character NOT three full-stops (periods) in a row … This can confuse E-readers and split lines unexpectedly as the reader will interpret as three “Full Stops (Periods)”.
    You can use the Find & Replace function to make the change. Type three Full Stops (Periods) into the Find box and place an ellipsis in the Replace box and click Replace All.
    One of the reasons that many people use three dots instead of the proper ellipsis symbol is that it is not clear where to get the symbol. All you have to do is: Click at the position in the document where you want the ellipsis to appear and press “ALT + CTRL + . ” on the keyboard.
  • Use Fonts that are available in E-readers:
    One problem we often see is where the writer uses a font that is not one of the built-in fonts that are installed on Ebook readers. The reader will do its best to display the closest font match, with unpredictable results. The problem occurs when the font is “defined” by the word processor. Then it cannot be changed in the Ebook reader’s choice of display fonts.
  • Don’t “define” the line spacing in your Word document. If you do this it will probably override the definition in your reader… again with undesirable results.
  • If you decide to have graphics, illustrations or photos in your book you may already have discovered that it is hard to tell how and where these will appear when you convert to a Kindle or EPUB file. There are numerous reasons for the unpredictable results and the best way to get them to appear correctly is to get into the HTML/XML file and modify them manually so that their size is defined as either a percentage (of the unknown device screen width) or in Ems.
    I will do a separate post about Images sometime in the future.
  • When you do a clean-up of a file you will always need to proofread it again afterwards!

There are many other things that you can search for and check, depending on the formatting and fonts in your document, and you can use the Find & Replace tool for these. Explore the function and you can see that you can search for fonts & styles, use Wildcards, etc. to make your clean-up easier.

Next time we are going to cover the “Drastic Option” of stripping out all the formatting and replacing it with Styles. We will use the Find & Replace tool again but this time in a very different way!

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor


David Cronin


After over 30 years as a senior executive across the cable, telecommunications and cable television industries, David Cronin founded the Indie Publishing company Moyhill in 2004. Already involved with computers since the mid 1970s he quickly made the transition to book designer and publisher and the first book that Moyhill published in 2004, The Red Tailed Hawk, in Spanish won best digital print book in the UK that year.

Since then Moyhill has set up authors as their own publishers and has formatted several award winning novels and non-fiction titles.  It is essentially a one-man operation and this enables a one-to-one relationship with authors throughout the entire process.

After this series has been completed next week David will be holding a Q&A session via the blog for those authors who have read the series but still have questions.

If after that you feel you need more assistance to give your book a final polished format then you can contact him direct on

Making your Own Ebook Part Seven – Finishing the Framework for the book

Now that you know how to set up the basics we can go through setting up the rest of the framework for the main pages so that you have a complete basic template to use for your E-books. Once you have a template all you will need to do is to replace the text and save under a different name and you are nearly ready to go.

Last time, we put in place one Chapter header and a Table of Contents. The TOC was set to display anything formatted with the Heading 1 Style. The next step is to put in place a few more chapters and then we can put in the “Front Matter” of Titles, Copyright page, etc. and do some final formatting before creating the Ebook.

If you are planning to do a number of books then you can save the final “blank” document as a template and use it as the basis for more books.

Adding new chapters

You can use Ctrl-Alt-Shift (combined) + “S” key to make the Styles list appear on the right of the page.

Now that we have the chapter style set up (Heading 1) it is easy to create new chapters. Simply type the chapter name in a new paragraph at the end of the previous chapter and click on the “Heading 1” style to format the title. Remember to keep the cursor in the same line as the chapter title, or you can always highlight the title with the cursor before clicking on Heading 1” This will format the heading and force it to start on a new page.

In my test file I have created 4 chapters and before I format the headings it looks like this…

Word 12 - Adding New Chapters 1Then I click the mouse in the first of the new chapter headings…

Word 13 - Adding New Chapters 2

 I then complete the rest of the Chapter headings and can update the table of contents. Before updating I have:

Word 14 - Adding New Chapters 3

Update the Table of content

Now we can update the Table of Contents

Word 15 - Update TOC

Add the rest of the pages

Now we can add the Title page, Copyright page and Acknowledgements page to complete the basic framework. As you probably don’t want these page headings to appear in your Table of contents it is best to set up a couple of additional styles. And remember that you can always add these manually to the TOC later if you change your mind.

The first thing I want is the Title page and in this example we will put in the Title, a Subtitle and the Author’s name:

There are built-in styles in Word for “Title” and “Subtitle” but if you don’t like these it is easy to modify these to create a style to suit YOUR taste – but stick to the basic font types and only mess with the size and spacing. In my test file I have modified “Title” and “Subtitle” and have added a new Style, “Author”.

Lets’s look at the process for setting up The Main Title. You can use the same process to set up the other styles once you know the routine.

Open your word file and go to the first page. Type in your “Title, Subtitle and Author’s name so that they appear as three separate lines. In case they have appeared in another style, and you need to reset them, use the mouse to highlight the three lines and click on “Clear all” at the top of your styles list. This will set them all to “Normal”.

Word 16 - Clear All

 Left click in the title of the book than Right click on the style “Title” and click on “Modify”. The built-in “Title” style in Word has an underline and is “Left Aligned”. Also, it has little space above & below so I went into “Modify/Format/Paragraph” set the Alignment to Centered and the spacing to 30 above and 30 below.

Word 19 - Modify Title Style 1

 I don’t want the underline so I went into “Modify/Format/Borders” and clicked on “None” to remove the border. Then Click on OK, and again to exit the dialogue box. We now have the title in a reasonable format.

If you have a subtitle for the book you can use the built-in style also and then modify it. I used 16pt Arial, Centered, with 30 pt space below.

We don’t have a built in style for “Author” so I created a new style called “Author” and another called “Centered”.

To set up a new style, click on the first of the icons at the bottom of the styles list: If you hover the mouse pointer over the icon it will show “New Style”.

Word 17 - New style

 When you click on “New Style” you get the usual “Modify” dialogue and can alter as needed. For “Author” I made it 16pt, centred, with 30 pt above in the paragraph spacing.

Word 21 - Settings for Author style

Using the same technique I created another style called “centered” and the only change I made on that was to center the text. This is a useful style to have in the body of the book for things like quotes etc.. In this case I used it to center the “by” line on the title page. If you have been following along you should now have something that looks like this:

Word 22 - Title page

 You may want to add other info on the title page, such as the Publisher identity, so just use the same approach to create what you need. Don’t be concerned about trying to put the publisher name at the bottom of the page as that will not work. Just put some spacing above it using the “paragraph spacing” settings in the modify dialogue.

If you look at my example above you will see that all the “Formatting Marks” are shown and there are no Paragraph marks between the lines. ALL the spacing is achieved inside the style.

If the text does not look the way you want it to be you can always change it. Right-click the name in the Style gallery and choose “Modify”. Make your changes and click OK. All text formatted with that style will change automatically to match the new settings.

Note: One point to note here is that we have NOT used Heading styles on the Title Page. This is deliberate. If we used Heading styles for some of the lines these might appear in the Table of contents (TOC) and we don’t really want that. I recommend using Heading Styles only for items that you want to see in the TOC.

Copyright page

You can now use the same techniques to create a new page for the Copyright info. When you create the page it looks better to have it appear as a separate page so you need to edit the Paragraph style, Line & Page breaks, for the top line to tell it to start on a new page.

Contents Page Formatting

The same approach goes for the Contents page, Just format the top line to get it to start on a new page and make the Table of Contents Title “Bold”. At this stage it is best to leave the rest of the contents alone as the E-reader will format it to show the list as hyperlinks.

Acknowledgements and / or dedication, Foreword, Preface, Prologue

Same process here and if you want the item to appear in the TOC format the header for the page as “Header 1”.

You should now have a series of pages like this:

Word 23 - Testfile


When it comes to the body of the text in the manuscript, there are generally only two options that are used to indicate the start of a new paragraph.

  1. Indent the first line OR
  2. Don’t indent, but leave a space between paragraphs.

There is a tendency today to both indent AND create extra space between paragraphs and this can cause some confusion when paragraph spacing is used to indicate the beginning of a new train of thought, e.g. The best option is to choose either 1. or 2., but not both. Number 1. is the more traditional approach, and still works well so that is the approach I usually recommend.

To add to the confusion, the default behavior is different for Kindle and EPUB. The Kindle automatically indents each paragraph, and must be told when not to, and the EPUB default is leave space between paragraphs.

So how do you create a solution that works for both?

What I do is to set the “Normal” style to have an indent and create a new style, based on “Normal” called “No Indent” and simply set the indent to zero. Then at the beginnings of chapters and where there is a “Scene change” in the text I apply the “No Indent” Style.

If you plan to indent paragraphs this HAS to be done in the style definition, NOT WITH TABS or SPACES! Just go into the “Normal” style and modify it:

Next time

We will go through what has to be done if you have already written and formatted your text and need to fix it!

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

The Ebook Doctor — Part Three – Anatomy of an Ebook

When you know what an Ebook and E-reader really are, and how they work together, you can learn how to create files that will work properly for your customer/reader.

This post is split into two Sections. The first covers the principles and some useful tools for examining Ebooks. In the in the second Section we will take a detailed look inside the Ebook file.

In later posts we will get to the decision point on the format to use, the problems commonly found in Ebooks, and how to avoid them. And finally a step-by-step guide on how to get a good result.

Inside the Ebook?

Looking at the Anatomy of an Ebook will give you a feel for the overall structure of an Ebook and will give you a better perspective on why formatting your manuscript in very specific ways will help your file pass the import tests for Amazon, and other big book retailers — and make it readable on a much wider range of devices.


Simply put, the Ebook is a ‘packaged’ website, and an E-reader is a hand-held web browser.

The Ebook contains a series of connected web pages which can be displayed using a browser. The pages are stored inside a “Package” or “Container” file: MOBI/AZW (Kindle) or EPUB being the most common.


Although there are many Ebook formats out there, in practical terms there are only three that you need to think about when deciding on the format for your Ebook. These are EPUB, MOBI and PDF.

If your book contains mainly narrative text, and has only a small amount of formatting, then EPUB and MOBI are the most important formats for you. If you are producing a non-fiction book which has a more complex structure then a PDF files may be a better option for presenting the book.

MOBI is the core structure used by Amazon for their Kindle Ebook files. And, since Amazon is probably the biggest bookseller in the world, we all think of creating a MOBI/Kindle compatible file first. In reality, most professional designers will create an EPUB file first and then, when that file is ‘clean’, and passes all tests, it is converted into a MOBI file before uploading to Amazon. This makes the open EPUB structure the most important to look at in detail.

I will come back to the PDF format later, as a special case, because there are some difficulties when marketing PDFs through Amazon.


The EPUB package is really a ZIP file and if you change its extension “.epub” to “.zip”, the EPUB file becomes a true ZIP file which can be unZipped so that you can look inside and edit the files directly.

If you work on a MAC you can rename to “.sit” and you can extract in the usual way.

Unfortunately, you cannot just Zip the files again and change the extension back to .epub to re-create the EPUB file. Some of the files in the EPUB package cannot be compressed and you need some special ‘Tools’ to make the new file properly.

If you need to extract and re-compress EPUB files one great utility which does this is called eCanCrusher, from This is FREE to download and use and is a simple application designed to convert an EPUB folder into a compressed .epub file or vice versa. It needs no installation. To convert, you just drag/drop an EPUB folder or an .epub file onto the eCanCrusher application icon.

There is a version for both Windows and MAC at this link:


An Amazon MOBI files is a more complicated beast because there may be multiple formats inside the same ‘Package’. Amazon’s compilers will add the original source file, usually an EPUB, to the database. If you have worked with both EPUB and MOBI files you may have noticed that a Kindle book can be quite large compared to the EPUB file of the same book.

Cracking open a Kindle file is more complex than working with an EPUB but if you need to do so you can use KindleUnpack (formerly MobiUnpack) to unpack and inspect the contents of DRM-free Kindle Books or MOBI files. You can then modify the content as needed and rebuild the original with Kindlegen.

The program is Open Source and you can get it here…

And you can get more info here…

…but beware, disassembling and re-assembling a Kindle file may not get you back to an acceptable file. Also, if files contain DRM (Digital Rights Management) you will not be able to open them in the same way. You can find out more about the MOBI structure here…

As an aside – surveys of sales of files with and without DRM show very clearly that files WITHOUT DRM sell much better. The complexity of managing files with DRM is off-putting and many customers avoid them for this reason.

We will come back to the details of editing inside an Ebook package later but at this point it is best to just note that it is really better to get the structure and formatting set up correctly inside your Word Processor so you don’t have to crack open the final package later.

Testing the converted files is another very important step and if we go through a couple of cycles of “Convert file – Test – Correct original –Convert again – Test again” until we get the right result there should be no need to crack open the Ebook file. More on this later too.

Converting from Word Processor to Ebook

The purpose of the Ebook format is to display the book content so that it looks like pages in a traditional printed book. When we create the book content on a Word Processor, the file that is saved is not always in a format that can be displayed in a web browser (Depends on your word processor) so it needs to be converted into the language used to create web pages ‑ HTML / XML / XHTML.

When you convert a Word Processor file into an Ebook the conversion translates the text into individual XHTML files for each chapter, or section, and puts together a list of those files and a set of instructions to the E-reader to tell it the order in which to display the pages.

We also need to tell the E-reader the formatting to use when the text is displayed. Websites use ‘Cascading Style Sheets’ (CSS) to describe the way the type should look on the screen — the font, the position of text on the screen and whether it is bold or italic, the spacing before and after paragraphs, etc. CSS also controls the position of graphic elements like photos and illustrations. All the formatting that you impose on your book text has to be translated to CSS file if it is to look the way you want it to, so you need to take a lot of care to make sure that the way you format your manuscript inside your Word Processor is easy to translate accurately to CSS.

The important point here is not that you have to learn how to write HTML or to create a CSS file, but to know that if you format your original text in specific ways the conversion process will work seamlessly and your final Ebook will look like you want it to, and will pass the acceptance tests of the Ebook retailers.


The Epub standards have been around for a long time and most of the devices in the market are designed to use the EPUB Version 2 standard, first published in 2007. However a new standard has been available since 2011, EPUB Version 3. V3 is quite sophisticated and can use fonts in a different way from the earlier versions but most Ebooks are still produced using Version 2 because of the vast number of older E-readers still in the market that only support V2 and do not support all the functions built into V3.

In the next instalment we take a more detailed look inside the Ebook.

©DavidCronin 2015

Other posts in the series.


The Ebook Doctor – Making your own Ebooks by David Cronin – Part One.

Over the coming weeks David Cronin will be giving a step by step guide to formatting your Ebook for both Mobi and Epub.  Although Moyhill is a Self-publishing company we are also aware that many authors wish to do the entire process themselves and we have always been very happy to assist those with that level of commitment.  Our philosophy is that the better all Ebooks look and read the more credibility Indie publishing will achieve.  It benefits our own authors if the reading public and critics have a healthy respect for self-published books.

Part One.

Now that we can see vigorous growth in the Ebook market even more of us ‘closet writers’ are going to come out and publish our own books without the ‘help’ of either Mainstream publishers or Self-publishing support services. With so many new books hitting the market it is even more important today to make each book stand out from the crowd.

We can be forgiven for believing that all we have to do to create an Ebook is to write the text and then click a few keys and ‘Hey Presto’ we have an Ebook for sale on Amazon.

In the most literal sense this is true. But will the Ebook look good, and will it ever sell? The answer is YES, but you need to take a step back and take a little time to learn a bit about how your Word Processor and Ebook conversion software can help you turn your manuscript into a good looking Ebook that will sell.

It’s a bit like cooking a meal. If you have all the right, perfect, ingredients you can produce a meal worthy of a Michelin Star ‑ or a hash. When you use the software tools to create an Ebook it is the equivalent of taking all the ingredients, in an un-prepared state, and boiling them in a big pot for an hour or so. If soup was your intent then maybe you might get lucky and get something edible… but is this a reasonable way to treat your carefully selected ingredients – your Manuscript?

The message that you will hear me repeat very often is about Quality. You need to step back for a moment and read the recipe, or even a few ‘cookery books’, before sending your ‘Dish’ out into the world for critique.

How long did you spend writing your book, carefully crafting and re-crafting sentences, characters and book structure? A little more time spent on the final presentation is well worthwhile if you are going to make an impact.

IN this short series of articles I will show you the steps that you need to take to make your Ebook look good and pass through the “gateways” of the big Ebook retailers.

The Cover and the ‘Blurb’ ‑ The psychology of selling a book

In print publishing, it is the Cover that always makes the first impact on the prospective customer, then the ‘Blurb’ that appears on the back cover of the book. The importance of both the Cover and the Blurb have not changed in the Ebook world. These are still your most important marketing tools.

Traditionally, publishers estimated that you had a maximum of about 3 seconds for the cover to attract the customer. If the cover did not make any impact then no sale would take place. If the cover raised the customer’s interest then he/she would turn the book over and read the Blurb. If that was interesting then the customer might flick through the book to look inside. If you did not get to this point you were unlikely to get a sale.

Nothing has changed! If a potential customer spots your book on a website it is still the Cover and the “short description” of the book that will clinch the sale… or not. You have to spend a lot of time on the design of both your Cover and the description of the book if you want to entice people to buy.

A New Hurdle – Quality

In the traditional printed book business almost all books were produced by Mainstream publishing houses. They all went through the same process: editing, proofreading, professional layout and more proofreading before they were printed and then quality control processes before being distributed. The final result was very similar for all books ‑ they were clearly printed, easy to read, had few typos and there was nothing ‘physical’ that would disrupt the reader’s enjoyment of the book. Final quality was never an issue that could be used to judge a book and the average quality of books was considered to be Good or Excellent. This has changed.

If your customer is attracted by your cover, and is then drawn in by your carefully worded ‘short description’ of the book the next stage is to open the book and look inside. ‘Look Inside’ is available for most books for sale through the big Ebook distributors. What do you think happens if the potential customer looks inside? If the formatting is poor, there is no Table of Contents, the pages all run together or the book is full of odd symbols instead of the correct text… It looks like a car crash and your customer will move on and dismiss your book without ever reading a word!

Quality is rapidly becoming one of the key issues affecting sales performance. If you want to compete successfully in a market with lots of nice looking books, you have to go through the same quality checking processes as the Mainstream Publishers and make your book just as good looking.

What are the biggest concerns about digital books?

In a 2014 survey of Ebook publishers:

  • 68% said quality affected sales.
  • Less than 50% of those who read Ebooks classed the average quality of books they had read as “good” or “excellent”.
  • 97% of publishers said that editing and proofreading were ‘as important’ or ‘more important’ for Ebooks as for print books.
  • 47% of publishers are planning to use the EPUB format and 41% plan to use MOBI (not clear how many will use both!).

The survey on “Trends in the Digital Publishing Industry” was done by (Data Conversion Laboratory) and Bowker (who manage the ISBN allocations in the USA) and found that Quality was one of the biggest concerns. You can read/download the detailed results here:

Keep in mind that if selling books was easy then all you would need to do with your manuscript would be to have it photocopied, give copies to booksellers and wait for the money to roll in. We all know that this doesn’t work, and the reason is that our customers have expectations about how a book should look and feel. There is a mutual relationship that needs to develop: if we don’t satisfy their needs they will not satisfy ours, and buy the book.

The conclusion to draw from Part 1 is that you must deliver a good looking book to your customers. If we do not meet their expectations they will have no reason to buy. A great book that is badly presented will not reach its potential.

The next article will be looking at the Anatomy of an Ebook and then David will move through how to use your software to produce a better result.


Ebook Dr 1

After over 30 years as a senior executive across the cable, telecommunications and cable television industries, David Cronin founded the Indie Publishing company Moyhill in 2004. Already involved with computers since the mid 1970s he quickly made the transition to book designer and publisher and the first book that Moyhill published in 2004, The Red Tailed Hawk, in Spanish won best digital print book in the UK that year.

Since then Moyhill has set up authors as their own publishers and has formatted several award winning novels and non-fiction titles.  It is essentially a one-man operation and this enables a one-to-one relationship with authors throughout the entire process.

Since the evolvement of Ebooks it has become clear that whilst most text books are reasonably straightforward to self-publish there are final touches that are beyond either the author or the software used.  This has led to a new service that is provided. The Ebook Clinic where those problems can be corrected and the Ebook re-uploaded.  There is no charge to identify the problems and because of demand the charges are low. For example £35 to adjust a text only (without tables of photographs) book up to 70,000 words.  Over the next week or so David will be providing the information and training to enable you to format and publish your own books.  If after that you feel you need more assistance to give your book a final polished format then you can contact him direct on


©DavidCronin 2015