A Not-So-Short Rant
Reader first, author second
I absolutely love my ereaders, a Kindle 3 and a Kindle Fire—both are used every single day. In fact, because of my vision, print books are beyond me and I can only read on my Kindles. So, from the perspective of someone who only reads ebooks, I learned a thing or two about writing them.
Amazon has a nifty feature called Look Inside that enables a reader to get an idea whether or not to buy the book. But if you have pages and pages of copyright material, dedication, acknowledgements, maybe an author’s note, reviews of that and previous books, you’re not letting the reader get to the story before they give up and go away. Here’s a suggestion:
- Title page
- Praise (maybe three brief snippets)
- Table of Contents
- Author’s Notes
- Other books out
- More Praise
- Author Bio
If you format the book in this manner, then your reader can actually read a few pages and maybe even the first chapter of your book. You want to hook your reader and you aren’t going to do that with anything other than your outstanding story.
A paragraph might not look all that long in a print book or a manuscript — 10 or 12 lines of 12 point text — but that same paragraph will be five or six pages long on my Kindle. Authors, please give your readers’ eyes a break! I use medium-large type size on the K3, and even larger on the Fire. About 160 words is all that will fit on a page. Yes, this paragraph is too long to comfortably read on a Kindle with a larger than standard size typeface.
Contrary to what we hear, poorly edited books come from every class of publisher, from NY to the self-pubs. You can’t tell by the publisher whether or not the grammar will be correct and the typos will be caught. Same with copy errors. I’ve read Big Six books where the hero’s eye color changes, or they ride a horse five hundred miles in a day, or they pump their own gas in Oregon.
Then there are the reissues. I just read a book that was originally published by Dorchester. It was a mess. If I saw an ‘m,’ it was probably supposed to be a ‘th.’ The contractions were all weird and I think a couple pages were missing (can’t know that for sure, but there was a definite continuity break). Someone scanned that puppy and just chunked it into KDP without proofreading — and unfortunately that’s a frequent occurrence. No matter where the book was previously published, please run it by a proofreader before uploading.
I listen to books when my eyes get too tired to read, and if you only space once after a period, there’s hardly any break in the speech at all. Please use two spaces so there’s a pause between sentences. Please. I'm begging you.
Also, you don’t know where the line break will be — it depends on both the ereader and the size of type. Because of that, em dashes can make the ereader display one word at a time, especially if you’re using long words. Consider this line:
“...Obediah’s constitution—unnecessary refreshments...”
That will definitely look wonky on an ereader. Placing a space before and after the em dash will improve the display, and also create a pause when the reader uses text-to-speech.
End of Rant
My first four books were published before I bought my Kindles, so they have the old-fashioned formatting. I’m going to redo them all. The last book and my short stories have the new format and display much better. And you know what? They look better in print, too. So there you have it.
Yep, two commenters will be drawn and will receive winner's choice of any two of these Kindle books:
Drawing will be held June 7 at 9pm Pacific time.
♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥
Where the Old West really happened!
Where the Old West really happened!
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