E-Book Formatting Faux Pas

If you don’t know by now, I am a voracious reader. See the Books I’ve Read in Bed tab? I’ve read all those book this year. All of them. Don’t feel like counting? There’s 62 of them.

What’s my point? Well besides being an obvious braggart, I would like to say that I’m not really a picky reader. But I do have my peeves. I just learned that one of them, when it comes to e-books, is formatting.

Here are a couple of things I’ve seen among some of the books I’ve read recently:

  • Copyright/Dedication page bleeding into the first page of the novel
  • Chapters not starting on a new page
  • Whole chapters being in italics/bold face (for no reason, of course)
  • Odd spacing
  • Weird “raised words” (they look like exponents in math, but letters)

My question for you guys is, why does this happen? I know you can pay someone to format your novel for you, but are the above errors the result of DIYing it? I’m borderline OCD, so if my novel comes out looking like that, despite the certainly awesome content, I’ll lose my mind all over the place. As in, microscopic pieces of my mind floating throughout the atmosphere for all of eternity.

Please weigh in. Any information and all similar complaints are welcome.

29 thoughts on “E-Book Formatting Faux Pas

  1. I have no idea how that works–I was relieved to have my publisher do it for me. But I have noticed some strange formatting in e-books. The worst I encountered was where all the quotation marks came out as bizarre symbols. Took me several pages to figure out that those symbols represented quotation marks. Very jarring on the eyes.

  2. Oh, I hear you loud and clear! How about the strange symbols that appear randomly throughout the text? I keep thinking it’s a code I have to decipher by the end of the story or something like that. And I can’t get over how many writers have not clued in to the fact that spell check is there for a reason. Ah, the joys of e-reading!

  3. It is one of my biggest fears – that my book will come out in e-format looking like some of the ones I’ve read – the worst thing I’ve experienced is text that gets bigger or smaller for no apparent reason – I haven’t touched anything on the Kindle – it just happens. Also – difficulties moving around the book – no links to individual chapters – stuff like that.

    • That’s what’s going on with the book I’m currently reading! Just went to italics then bold italics for no reason. I started playing with the font settings on the Kindle to see if I accidentally tinkered with something.

      And I very much hate when there isn’t an active table of contents! Ugh!

      Thanks for stopping by! Don’t be a stranger!

  4. I’m completely OCD about formatting, too (and I see your 62 books read and raise you around 40, LOL – if I don’t read 3-4 books a week, something’s wrong with me). For all of our books, (from our small indie press that currently has 27 titles) we do our own formatting, after having spent months learning and practicing a couple years back. I also test each title on each platform before releasing it, because I’ll be danged if I’m going to release crap. Having said that, we’ve had a couple times with stupid things have snuck through…but luckily, just small things easily fixed. I sometimes think indie DIYers just rush through and don’t really check back.

    • Wow! 100+ books! Good for you! My goal was 100 for the year, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. Shucks.

      I definitely plan on checking back and I want to test the formatting before the novels go live, even though I’ll be hiring someone to format. I can barely change my header photo on here without a headache, so I imagine I can’t properly format an ebook.

      Thanks for commenting! Come again sometime!

  5. I know what you mean. Unfortunately a lot of indie books generally are put into Word for formatting the actual ebook (because they either don’t know better, or it’s suggested by the company they use–such as Smashwords). I see it a lot myself and it’s frustrating.

  6. That is absoluelty one of my fears. I’ll be diving into e-book formatting soon and I am paranoid about making it look amaturish. I’m going to do as much research into it as I can before I start the process.

  7. Just going through the process of uploading and checking the formatting on Kindle and Nook. It’s tedious and scary. Thankfully it has gone really well and my formatter is fabulous. It looks great and I am so happy to not have done it myself. On top of it she is so reasonably priced!

  8. Ebook formatting can be a huge headache. And a large part of the headache is that it can be submitted in so many different formats. I’m just amazed more ebooks don’t come out looking like gibberish. Smashwords actually demands that you submit it as a Word document and then they use their own formatting program to convert the Word document. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t use them to sell my books. Amazon accepts the book in a bunch of different formats – you can submit the .mobi file or an HTML file and I think Word too. I’ve seen some pretty bad formatting from ebooks put out by big name authors with major publishers. I think it’s really a crap shoot as to whether chapters run together or whether weird symbols show up – part of the joy of working the kinks out of a whole new system. Gutenberg probably had a few glitches in the early years too.

    • Have you read any books from Smashwords? I’ve only read a few and I can’t remember if I’ve seen any formatting issues. But there are a lot of different types of files. It’s overwhelming. I’m not looking forward to that part.

  9. EBook formatting can be a headache if you try to follow some cookie-cutter formula. Not all books are alike. Whatever you do, don’t pay someone to format your manuscript in Word, and don’t depend on Word’s version of HTML. That is a waste of time and money. Have the manuscript in HTML then convert that file for best results. An actual formatter will not allow glitches to continue. I have done up to 10 conversions of the same book to make sure that the finished ebook looks perfect. But then again I am picky and an avid reader myself. 🙂

  10. Have you come across the ones where words cut off mid-sentence and start up a couple lines down for no apparent reason? That totally bothers my internal copy editor.

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