Steps to Strip Your Manuscript in Preparation to Convert to an Ebook

How to strip your manuscript and prepare it for conversion to an ebookYou’ve completed your manuscript and are ready to take the next step. Producing an ebook. But your manuscript as it is now will not make a great ebook. Why? Word processors help you write the manuscript, but they use coding in the background that does not suit an ebook. Publishing a paperback is one thing. Publishing an ebook is something different. Ebooks do not use page numbering, or headers and footers. They don’t recognise footnotes (they need to be converted into endnotes). The reader can change the font type and size, the line spacing and even the background colour–if they want to. Since ebooks are used in a different way to paperbacks, it’s not surprising that the preparation for an ebook needs to be different also.

A manuscript that is not properly prepared for conversion will look terrible for readers, and will most likely be rejected by the online distributors due to technical issues.

Consistency is the key here. It will help your conversion not only look great, but be accepted by the online distributors. It will also help you look professional as an author.

Don’t panic. You have choices. You can:

1. Pay me an additional $20 to clean up your manuscript for you, or,
2. You can do it yourself by following these steps to strip your manuscript clean in preparation to converting it to an ebook:

  • Make a copy of your file and add clean to the end of the filename i.e. nextbestnovel-clean.doc
  • Remove all formatting. Press CTRL + A to select the entire document, then go to Styles and select Normal. This will strip everything except italics and bold.
  • Press CTRL + A again and change the font to Garamond or Helvetica and change the font size to 12 point. Don’t worry, I will be adding this type of formatting back into the finished product.
  • Remove all headers and footers. Ebooks do not use these and if they stay, your ebook will look terrible!
  • Remove page numbering. Again, ebooks do not use page numbering as the reader could be using a phone, a tablet or a laptop to read your book, so the size of the screen will change in each instance.
  • Remove Table of Contents, if you have one. I’ll add one manually to your ebook.
  • Remove all forced line breaks. The easiest way to do this is by using the Search function, using “^l” (without the quotation marks).
  • Remove all double spaces between sentences and at the end of paragraphs, etc. Use the Search and Replace function to do this.
  • Remove all double paragraph breaks between paragraphs. This looks terrible in ebooks as the gap is huge. Do this be using the Search and Replace function, searching for “^p^p” and replacing with “^p” (without the quotation marks). However, if you are adding double or triple line breaks to show a scene break, please add *** instead in this instance. Otherwise your scene breaks will be lost.
  • Each chapter should start on a new page. To do this press CTRL + Enter after the last line of text on the previous chapter.
  • Remove all tabs at the beginning of each paragraph. Use Search by using “^t” (without the quotation marks). You can insert indents if you want, or leave it for me to do.
  • You’re finished. The manuscript if ready to convert. Well done.

I’ve got questions?

Go to FAQ: Ebook Formatting and Interior Design if you have more questions.

Where can I place an order?


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