From Blank Page to Published (Part 5): Formatting
After doing all the writing, editing, finalising the illustrations and writing up the front and back matter, it was time to put everything together. It was probably the most time-consuming and frustrating part of the entire book production process!
First of all, for a picture book, you need to paste your illustration spreads with the text onto Pages or Word document and lock everything down so they don't move. Resize the document to your desired trim size (I used 8.5" x 8.5" / 21.59 x 21.59 cm) and insert the images separately on each page. If you have full spreads, you will need to cut them in half to fit one page each. I asked my illustrator to help me with this as well. I also asked her to give me the original file on Photoshop with the text and images as separate layers in case I needed to make changes and edit the text (which I did have to do). Then I saved each page separately. I wanted to have the text as text and not as a fixed image, so I added the text boxes in the document but I couldn't figure out how to keep the font style when I uploaded it into KDP. Then I tried again using fixed layout and the it made the text kind of blurred. I had spent around a week trying all different methods that just didn't work. Also, KDP and IngramSpark have different requirements for uploading files and they needed different formats and sizes as well. If you are just doing it on Kindle, you could use Kindle Kids Book Creator. They create a .mobi file which doesn't work on other platforms. The file size can also be quite large and large file sizes means that you need to charge more for your ebook as Amazon has a minimum cost for anything over a certain file size. I had no idea how to compress the file size either.
So after almost two weeks of failed DIY attempts, I finally decided to find a formatter. I searched on Fiverr again and found someone who could create the required files and formats for each platform. I thought he would be able to do it quite easily but he ended up having to do five revisions for the ebook alone! The text kept changing fonts and sometimes the pages repeated or didn't line up in the spread in horizontal view. There were new problems with every revision! Plus, I had to check the ebook on different devices - Kindle, smartphone, iPad, desktop - over and over again! Finally, he managed to correct every issue and now the ebook works perfectly! I'm so grateful that the formatter was so patient with me and was willing to keep making revisions and asking me to check each time to make sure everything worked. If you want to upload to IngramSpark, you need to download their template by submitting the trim size and page numbers to their site to generate it. Just locating where to find this template took me a few hours! To save you time, I'm including some useful links below along with my wonderful formatter's details!
If you really want to try doing the formatting yourself (though I don't recommend it for a picture book or if you're doing it for the first time and don't have the right software), you can try watching the video tutorial.
Video Tutorial: Formatting a Children's Picture Book (for Pages)
Video Tutorial: How to Create a Kindle Children's Book
Software download: KDP Kindle Kids Book Creator KDP Resources: KDP eBook Manuscript Resources (you can look at the left hand side bar for other related link on how to format and upload your manuscripts)
Fiverr Formatter Recommendation this is the profile of the formatter I hired to format my book for KDP and IngramSpark in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats. He could do all of them! Send a message to get a quote first! You can also send out a request and have people send you offers if you want to go through the selection and vetting process yourself!
I will add more useful links later if I come across more on formatting in the future!
To read more about the process of creating and self-publishing a picture book, feel free to check out the my earlier blog posts in the series titled 'From Blank Page to Published'.
More posts coming soon!