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The Shakespir Style Guide

By Mark Coker

rev 9.24.14


Copyright Mark Coker 2008-2014


Shakespir Edition License Notes:

This free ebook may be copied, distributed, reposted, reprinted and shared, provided it appears in its entirety without alteration, and the reader is not charged to access it.



Also by Mark Coker, Published at Shakespir:

Shakespir Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book)

The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (ebook publishing best practices)

The 10-Minute PR Checklist – Earn the Publicity You Deserve (PR strategy for entrepreneurs)

Boob Tube (novel about soap operas)




Table of Contents



Welcome to Shakespir!

Do-it-yourself, or hire help?

Good formatting example

What Shakespir publishes, what we don’t publish

How to distribute books with Shakespir

How ebook formatting is different from print formatting

Introduction to Meatgrinder: How we convert your book into multiple ebook formats

Understanding the different ebook formats

The beauty and utility of simplicity

AutoVetter helps identify common formatting errors

Your required source file




Making Word Behave

Step 1: Make a back up

Step 2: Activate Word’s Show/Hide

Step 3: Turn off Word’s “AutoCorrect” and “AutoFormat” features

Step 4: Turn off Track Changes

Step 5: The Nuclear Method

Step 6: Hug a loved one


Step 7: Managing and modifying paragraph styles, fonts

Step 7a. How to choose the best paragraph separation method (first line indent or block?)

Step 7b: How to implement your chosen paragraph separation method

Step 7b-a: How to define a proper first line indent

Step 7b-b: How to define trailing “after” space for block paragraphs

Step 7b-c: Special tips for poetry, cookbooks and learning materials

Step 7b-d: How to define proper line spacing

Step 7b-e: Managing font color

Step 8: Check your normalized text

Step 9: How to automate the removal of tabs and space bar spaces

Step 10: Managing paragraph returns

Step 11: Managing external hyperlinks

Step 12: Designating chapter breaks, page breaks, section breaks

Step 13: Working with images

Step 14: Text justification

Step 14a: Centering text

Step 15: Managing font sizes

Step 16: Style formatting, symbols and glyphs

Step 17: Headers and footers

Step 18: Margins, page sizes and indents

Step 19: Add the Heading style to your Chapter headers (optional)

Building Navigation

Step 20: Building navigation into the manuscript

Step 20a: Creating the NCX

Step 20b: Creating the linked Table of Contents

Step 20c: Advanced link building (Footnotes, Endnotes)

Step 20d: Troubleshooting and testing

Front Matter

Step 21: Front matter

Step 21a: Blurbs (optional)

Step 21b: Title and copyright page (required!)

Step 21c: Add a Shakespir license statement below copyright page

The End of Your Book

Step 22: The end of your book


Step 23: Preparing your cover image

Step 24: Review requirements for Premium Catalog distribution

Uploading Your Book to Shakespir

Step 25: How to upload your book

Step 26: How AutoVetter works

Step 27: After you publish – check your work

Step 27a: Check for EPUBCHECK compliance (important!)

Distributing Your Book with Shakespir

Step 28: How Shakespir distribution works

How to Market Your Book

Step 29: Read the Shakespir Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book)

Step 30: Read the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best-practices of successful authors)

Step 31: Watch our video workshops on YouTube

Helpful Resources

Send Feedback

About the Author



Keyboard shortcuts



[Getting Started
Welcome to Shakespir!]

Welcome. If you’re not familiar with Shakespir, a quick introduction is in order.

I founded Shakespir in 2008 to makes it fast, free and easy for every writer to professionally publish and distribute an ebook.

Today, Shakespir is the world’s largest distributor of ebooks for self-published authors and small independent presses. We deliver books to major ebook retailers including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Oyster and Kobo. In 2013, Shakespir authors sold over $30 million worth of books at retail. Every year, our books touch millions of readers thanks to our ever-growing global retail and library distribution network.

We give you the tools to publish with pride and professionalism.

This Shakespir Style Guide is one such tool. In the last six years, this guide has helped over 100,000 authors and publishers around the world release over 300,000 high-quality ebooks through Shakespir.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of this guide. It has a lot of pictures.

The Style Guide is written for non-technical readers. No prior experience is assumed or required. I present simple, step-by-step instructions to help you produce a professional-quality ebook that meets the requirements of major ebook retailers. All you need is a word processor, preferably Microsoft Word, and the patience to follow step-by-step.

Like everything in life, ebook formatting is easy once you know how. I’ll show you how.

Shakespir accepts manuscripts in two forms, either as a Microsoft Word .doc file or as an .epub. Here’s how to choose the best option:

p<>{color:#000;}. Word .doc – We recommend the Microsoft Word path as the best option for most fiction and narrative non-fiction authors because it’s the easiest method to produce high-quality ebooks that are readable on any e-reading device. It will also generate your ebook in multiple ebook formats at the Shakespir store, making your book readable on any e-reading device. By using Microsoft Word, it’s also easy to modify your book at any time.

p<>{color:#000;}. Direct .epub upload – In 2012, we introduced a new upload option we call Shakespir Direct which allows authors and publishers to upload professionally designed .epub files. The Shakespir Direct option accommodates authors and publishers that don’t use Microsoft Word in their publishing workflow, or those with complex books that require more sophisticated formatting and layout than is possible with Microsoft Word. Learn more about Shakespir Direct in this blog post – [+ http://blog.Shakespir.com/2012/12/Shakespir-supports-epub-uploads-with.html+] or on our Shakespir Direct help page at https://www.Shakespir.com/swdirect

Books formatted to the Shakespir Style Guide earn inclusion in the Shakespir Premium Catalog, which is the collection of books Shakespir distributes to major ebook retailers such as the Apple iBooks store (51 countries), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Flipkart (India’s largest online bookseller), Oyster, Scribd, OverDrive (sells ebooks to over 20,000 public libraries), Baker & Taylor (the Blio.com e-reading app and the Axis360 platform for public libraries) and new retailers coming soon. Your book will also be available as a multi-format ebook at our own fast-growing Shakespir store at Shakespir.com, where customers can pay one price and access your book in multiple formats such as .mobi for Kindle devices, PDF and .epub for all other devices.

Over 90% of our authors’ sales come from our distribution network rather than the Shakespir store. This is why you want your book accepted into the Premium Catalog as quickly as possible. This Guide will show you how.

All you need to publish at Shakespir is a finished manuscript, a computer, an Internet connection, Microsoft Word or similar word processor (or, a professionally designed .epub file for the Shakespir Direct option), an ebook cover image, and the time and patience to follow this Guide. Patience is key. If you try to take short cuts and skip over the sections that follow, you’ll frustrate yourself and delay distribution.

To learn some simple, time-saving keyboard tricks before you get started, see the Appendix at the end of this guide. If any terminology in this guide is confusing, check out our comprehensive e-publishing glossary of terms in the Shakespir FAQ at https://www.Shakespir.com/about/supportfaq#glossary

Do-It-Yourself, or Hire Help? – If you don’t have the time, patience or skills to properly format your book to Style Guide requirements, or you find yourself cursing and swearing (never good!), consider hiring a fellow Shakespir author to help you. I maintain a list called “Mark’s List” with the names and contact information of several Shakespir authors who have volunteered to provide low-cost Shakespir Style Guide formatting services for around $40 and up. The list also includes low-cost cover designers ($40-$150). We offer the list as a public service. We don’t earn a referral fee if you hire these freelancers. If you want a referral, you’ll find the list at http://Shakespir.com/list. Please note: you’re hiring the freelancer, not Shakespir. By hiring them you will not receive preferential customer support or fast-tracked approval. However, because they’re Shakespir formatting experts, they’ll give you a clean file that will usually earn you Premium Catalog approval on the first attempt.

Formatting Example

Formatting template – Here’s a link to a Shakespir template file, for use with fiction and narrative non-fiction ebooks. http://bit.ly/SWebooktemplateV1 Once you click to the link, you can click “Download” to open the file in Microsoft Word and save it to your local computer.

The template above is somewhat unusual in that it contains extensive instructions. Consider it a companion resource to the Shakespir Style Guide. It’s not a substitute for the Shakespir Style Guide.

In future updates to the Shakespir Style Guide I’ll add more links as we build out a library of example files.

What Shakespir Publishes, What We Don’t Publish

Shakespir is a professional publishing and distribution platform for serious writers.

Shakespir publishes only original and legal works, direct from the author or the exclusive digital publisher. We do not publish public domain books. We also don’t publish incomplete or partial books, or books that appear elsewhere on the Internet under other authors’ names, as is common with [+ Private Label Rights scams+]. If you write erotica, all your characters must be adults 18 or over. And finally, we strongly discourage any book that advocates get-rich-quick “systems” for making money on the Internet. To publish at Shakespir, an author or publisher is simply required to abide by the Shakespir Terms of Service and follow the instructions in this Guide.


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How to Distribute Books with Shakespir:

Shakespir is the world’s largest distributor of ebooks from self-published authors and small independent presses. We’re always working to open up new sales channels for our authors and publishers. The Shakespir distribution network includes major ebook stores and libraries, including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, FlipKart, Oyster, Scribd, OverDrive and Baker & Taylor Axis 360.

A significant advantage of formatting your book to the Style Guide and distributing through Shakespir is that you upload it once to Shakespir and then we take care of everything else. We’ll produce the files and data necessary to support the unique requirements of each retailer, and we deliver everything to them per their requirements.

You’ll centrally manage your ebook distribution through your Shakespir Dashboard. If you want to change the price, or upload a new version of your book, or update your cover image or book description, you do it once from your Dashboard and then we propagate the update out to all our retailers. You can update your book as often as you like, and all at no cost.

This centralized control is a major time-saver for our authors. We help you spend more time writing and less time hassling with distribution!

You’ll also gain access to powerful sales, marketing and merchandising tools, many of which are only available to Shakespir authors and publishers. We’re always working and innovating to give our authors and publishers a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Once your book is accepted into the Shakespir Premium Catalog, it’s ready for distribution across the Shakespir distribution network. To achieve Premium Catalog distribution, your book must satisfy higher mechanical standards required by the retailers such as having a quality book cover image, good formatting, a proper copyright page, and other requirements clearly outlined here in this Style Guide.

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How Ebook Formatting is Different from Print Formatting

Before you embark on your ebook publishing adventure, it’s helpful to understand the differences between print book formatting and ebook formatting.

With print books, you control the layout. Print is a fixed format. The words, fonts and images appear on the printed page exactly where you want them to appear.

Ebooks are different. Don’t try to make your ebook look like an exact facsimile of a print book, otherwise you’ll disappoint readers by creating a poorly formatted, unreadable ebook.

Ebooks are designed for “reflowability,” which means your words and paragraphs will shape shift and reflow and look good on any screen size, whether it’s a small iPhone or a larger iPad, Kindle, or personal computer screen. Reflowability enables your reader to customize the font sizes, fonts, and line spacing to suit their personal reading preference and device.

With print books, readers use page numbers to navigate. With ebooks, there is no “page.” Ebooks use hyperlinks to navigate, and as you’ll soon learn, this opens up exciting opportunities to make your words more accessible to readers.

In order to prepare your words to be stirred up and reconstituted in this digital soup, it’s important your Shakespir source file is formatted to liberate the words in digital form. The Shakespir Style Guide will teach you how with our step-by-step instructions.

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Introduction to Meatgrinder: How We Convert Your Book into Multiple Ebook Formats

We affectionately call our ebook conversion system Meatgrinder. Don’t let the name intimidate you. Meatgrinder is your friend.

When you upload your manuscript to Shakespir as a Microsoft Word .doc document, Meatgrinder automatically converts it into multiple ebook file formats that make your book readable on any e-reading device, such as the Apple iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo reader, Android smart phone, a computer screen or virtually any other device with a screen.

If you upload a properly formatted Word. doc, Meatgrinder will produce a professional-quality ebook for you. If you ignore the simple formatting instructions in the Shakespir Style Guide, Meatgrinder may turn your book into hamburger. Please follow the instructions! If you make a mistake, don’t worry. You can always click “upload new version” from your Dashboard to instantly correct any errors.

The advantage of this automation, especially if you carefully format your book to the Style Guide, is that Meatgrinder will allow you to instantly publish a high-quality, multi-format ebook, ready to be enjoyed on any e-reading device. This automation also allows us to offer this conversion and publishing service at no cost to you. You can update your book at any time for free.

Meatgrinder creates reflowable ebooks that look great on any e-reading device. As I mentioned in the previous section, “reflowable” means that the text of your ebook will look great on any screen size. Reflowable books enable your customer to click a button and instantly enlarge the font size for more comfortable reading.

Meatgrinder does well with straight-form narrative, and narrative + images, so we excel at fiction, narrative non-fiction, poetry and other ebooks that are mostly words. Luckily, straight narrative comprises probably 90% of all ebooks purchased by readers. With some tweaks, flexibility and patience, Meatgrinder can also support most of the other 10%.

Meatgrinder supports custom styling, which helps you create professional-quality ebooks your readers will enjoy.

Shakespir supports pictures and images, but here ebooks – due to their reflowability – lack the precision of print on paper. With some Shakespir formats (such as plain text), page breaks will appear where you don’t expect them. Images may not appear in the exact position you intended, or the print-quality image that looks great on glossy paper may not look so great on a black and white e-reading device, or on a small cell phone screen. In other words, you should expect that your ebook will look different from a print book. With patience, experimentation and an open mind, you can make it work.

Some format outputs have limitations. For example, a picture book or manga that’s all images is impossible to convert into plain text (it wouldn’t be a picture book anymore!).

Meatgrinder has some minor limitations. It doesn’t support tables or columns, for example, and neither do most e-reading systems. It doesn’t support dropcaps. We’ll provide workarounds in this Guide, or you can upload a professionally designed .epub which can support these more sophisticated features.

In the meantime, the benefits of such minor compromises outweigh the downside. By giving up the control of fixed format print layout, you gain a lot with reflowability by making your book accessible to millions of potential readers across our ever-growing distribution network. If you follow this Style Guide, you’ll learn how to make a professionally-formatted ebook that looks as good as or better than most ebooks from large publishers.

We care about quality, and you should too. If you ever hear an author or reader complain that their Shakespir book looked like [insert your favorite expletive], it means the author didn’t follow the Style Guide. Please take the time to follow the guide. You’ve invested years – possibly even a lifetime – to write your masterpiece, so take 30 minutes or an hour to study the Guide start to finish and learn how easy it is to create a great-looking multi-format ebook that will make you and your readers proud.


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Understanding the Different Ebook Formats

One of the important benefits of Shakespir is that we take your single file and convert it into multiple ebook formats. Why is this so important to the success of your book? Because readers read on many different devices, so the more formats you offer, the more books you’ll sell.

You should publish your book into as many digital formats as possible (even if certain formats translate less well than others) because this expands your potential audience of readers. Review the outputs of each format for acceptability after you publish.

Here’s a summary of the formats offered:

[+ EPUB+] – This is your most important format! EPUB is an open industry ebook format. This is the format we distribute to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, and others. If your book is available in epub, it can be read on the most popular ebook readers and ebook reading software applications (Like iBooks or Bluefire on the iPhone or Aldiko on Android devices), and will gain the widest distribution via Shakespir’ distribution outlets (EPUB is a requirement for inclusion in Shakespir’ Premium Catalog, and it’s what we distribute to every retailer except Amazon).

Mobipocket (Kindle) – Mobipocket, A.K.A. MOBI, allows your books to be read on the Amazon Kindle, so this is an important format for you. Mobipocket is supported on many handheld devices and e-reading applications. Mobipocket is a requirement for distribution to Amazon. Even if you already upload direct to Amazon, don’t disable the .mobi format at Shakespir, because many customers enjoy purchasing .mobi books at Shakespir.

Palm Doc (PDB) – PalmDoc is a format primarily used on Palm Pilot devices, but software readers are available for PalmOS, Symbian OS, Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphone, desktop Windows, and Macintosh. Be sure to turn off “smart quotes” in your source file, otherwise they may appear garbled in your PDB file. Our PDB is little more than ugly plain text.

PDF – Portable Document Format, or PDF, is a file format readable by most devices, including handheld e-readers, PDAs, and personal computers. It’s a good format if your work contains complex layout, charts or images. Odds are, if your work looks good in Microsoft Word it will look good in PDF. PDF is also a good option for readers who may want to print out your book on their home computers. On the negative side, PDF is a rigid, inflexible format because it’s not reflowable, so it’s horrible for reading novels. Your customers can’t easily change the font size or style to match their preferences, the text isn’t reflowable, and the reader is forced to read page by page.

LRF – This is the old (mothballed) format for the Sony Reader. Sony later moved to the EPUB format, so LRF is less important than it once was, though it’s still useful to users of the older generation Sony Readers.

RTF – Rich Text Format, or RTF, is a cross-platform document format supported by many word processors and devices. It is not efficient with lots of images. Meatgrinder has a bug which can cause the text in the RTF to appear as SMALL CAPS. Shakespir plans to discontinue the RTF format before the end of 2014.

Plain Text – Plain text is the most widely supported file format. It works on nearly all readers and devices. It lacks formatting, but will work anywhere. For best results with plain text, your source document should not contain images or fancy formatting.

HTML SmashReader – This is our online reader that allows customers to sample or read your book from their web browser. Your sample pages will be indexed by Google, which will increase the ability for potential customers to find your book, even if they didn’t know your book is what they were looking for. Think of it as serendipity on steroids. If your book looks good in our HTML reader, it will probably also look good in EPUB and MOBI. Linked tables of contents (ToCs) don’t work in the HTML reader.

More options coming – In the future, we’ll add support for other formats based on author requests. If there’s a particular format you want, drop us a note.

The Beauty and Utility of Simplicity

The secret to ebook formatting success is “Keep it Simple!” Unnecessarily complex formatting or layout will hinder the readability of your ebook.

Remember that readers will read your book for the magic of your words. You want your formatting and styling to make your words more accessible to the reader.

Simplicity doesn’t mean you must format your book as plain text or make it “dumb” or “lacking styling” As you’ll learn in the sections that follow, Shakespir supports sophisticated, customizing styling, but like all good things in life, you should use styling in moderation. Although we’ll show you how to apply custom paragraph styling, try to minimize the number of styles, because too many styles can make your text appear busy. If your current formatting includes more than five or ten custom paragraph styles, you’re asking for trouble. I’ll teach you more about styling options in Step 7.


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AutoVetter Helps You Identify Common Formatting Errors:

AutoVetter is your friend.

AutoVetter is our automated formatting checker that inspects your book the moment you upload it. AutoVetter provides you instant feedback regarding potential formatting problems. If you get AutoVetter messages, don’t despair! They’re easy to fix.

The AutoVetter messages will be reported to you on your publish confirmation page (the page that appears after your Meatgrinder conversion completes), and also at the top of your book page and in a publish-confirmation email. You can also access the AutoVetter messages from your Dashboard after you publish, underneath the “Premium Status” column. If the Dashboard link reads, “requires modification,” click the link.

Once you learn of an AutoVetter error, fix it immediately. Otherwise, the errors will prevent or delay your book’s acceptance into the Shakespir Premium Catalog which will prevent distribution. Once you fix the issue, go to your Dashboard and click the “upload new version” link.

The following errors may prevent your book from gaining inclusion in the Premium Catalog:

- more than 4 consecutive paragraph returns in a row (creates blank ebook pages)

- tabs (eliminate all tabs, which you created by hitting the “Tab” key)

- indents made with space bar spaces or tabs (a common bad habit of all authors)

- exotic fonts (instead, stick with Times New Roman, Garamond and Arial)

- large font sizes (11 or 12pt is best, 14pt is a recommended maximum)

- text in columns (we don’t support columns)

- text in tables (ebooks don’t handle tables. Import tables as images)

- text in text boxes (Ugh, the horror! We don’t support text boxes. Use the nuclear method, explained a little later, to reliably eliminate text boxes.)

- multiple conflicting paragraph styles for your body (for example, don’t mix Normal style with Body Text style)

- automatic footnotes (not supported, may cause the conversion to fail)

- text wrapped around floating images (instead, right mouse click on image, click Format Picture: Advanced: In Line with Text, then use Word’s center button to center)

- and finally, to avoid the copyright error, carefully follow tip 21b below


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Your Required Source File

Your source file is the file you’ll upload to Shakespir for conversion and distribution. This section summarizes how you can get your manuscript into a format ready for upload to Shakespir.

Word .doc Files: This is the recommend option, and the most popular option selected by Shakespir authors. The remainder of this Shakespir Style Guide provides instructions on how to format your book as a Microsoft Word .doc file.

.Epub files: Shakespir accepts .epub files (version 2, not .epub3), provided the file passes the EpubCheck validation system at http://validator.idpf.org/ To learn more about Shakespir Direct, our direct .epub upload feature, visit https://www.Shakespir.com/swdirect

InDesign Source Files: InDesign is a common layout application used by professional print book designers and publishers. Shakespir does not accept InDesign files. However, InDesign will allow you to export your manuscript to the .epub format, and you can upload this to Shakespir if it’s formatted to the Style Guide. Also from InDesign, you can export your book to the .RTF format. Once it’s in RTF format, you can reopen the file in Microsoft Word, save it as a Word .doc, and then follow the Nuclear Method to clean up all the gunk InDesign creates in your RTF. With the Nuclear Method, you open your file in Word, copy and paste it into Windows Notepad (or some other simple text editor that strips out all formatting), close Microsoft Word, then reopen Word to a fresh new Word document, then copy and paste the book from Notepad back into Word, and then carefully re-apply the minimal necessary formatting by following the Style Guide.

PDF Source Files (Not allowed): You cannot upload a source file as a PDF. If you only have your book in PDF form, here’s a free online service that will convert your PDF into a Word doc: http://www.pdftoword.com/ You upload your PDF to them and then they email it to you as a Word file. But be warned, the output it gives you will [not] be ready to publish on Shakespir. You will still need to perform clean-up. To save time, you’re better off contacting whoever converted your original manuscript into PDF and ask them to forward you the original source file, saved as either a Word .doc or .RTF file.

If You Only Have a Print Book: Many authors only have print copies of their books. How do you bring your book to life as an ebook? It’s easier than you might think. Consider this cool service called Blue Leaf Book Scanning, which uses optical character recognition technology to convert your book back into digital form. For around $25.00, they will scan your print book and send it to you as a Microsoft Word file. I’ve seen the raw files they produce, and they’re remarkably accurate. However, the service is not infallible. The Word file they send you will still require careful proofing, editing and reformatting. [+ http://www.blueleaf-book-scanning.com/book_scanning_service_order.html+]

Final Draft files: If you’re a screenwriter, scriptwriter and playwright and you work in a program called Final Draft, save your document as an RTF file (however, you will need to manually correct the margins), and then open it in Word, save it as a Word .doc, and clean up from there.

HTML Source Files: If you only have your source file as an HTML file, follow these instructions: 1. Open the HTML document in a browser. 2. Copy and paste the entire document into a new Word doc by clicking “Edit: paste special” within the Word menu, then selecting “unformatted text” as the output. 3. From here, you’ll find that you’ve got a consistent number of spaces, such as four spaces, making up your indents. This won’t work, so do a CTRL+H (press the CTRL key and the H key at the same time) search and replace and search for ^p space space space space (the “^p” symbol for a paragraph return followed by four taps on the space bar) and replace with only ^p. This will eliminate the leading spaces at the beginning of each paragraph. 4. Next, CTRL+A the document, right mouse click, click paragraph, and then under “special” do a first line paragraph indent of .25”. 5. Next, clean up the remaining minor issues, like manually removing the indents from your title and copyright pages, and, using Word’s center button, center those sections.


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[]Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will it take for me to format my book for Shakespir?

This depends on your knowledge of Microsoft Word. Most authors, if they take the time to carefully study and implement the Style Guide, can successfully complete their formatting in under two or three hours. Most experienced Shakespir authors can complete a book in under one hour. Novels are the easiest to format. If you decide to skip the Style Guide because you already have decades of experience in publishing, then you’ll frustrate yourself and waste time. The Style Guide has a lot of pictures to help guide even computer novices down the path to formatting success, and it’ll save you money in the process. We created Shakespir so you shouldn’t have to pay anyone a penny to publish. However, if you don’t have the time, skills, or patience to follow the instructions, and you’d rather hire someone to help you, see “Mark’s List” of low cost formatters (fellow Shakespir authors) at http://www.Shakespir.com/list, who for around $40 to $100 can professionally format your book.

Q: Do you distribute to Amazon?

Yes, but only for a limited subset of our authors. If your book earns over $2,000 in sales at Shakespir and our retailers, you can request distribution to Amazon by contacting our support team via the “support” link you’ll find at the bottom of any Shakespir page. Learn more at http://Shakespir.com/distribution

Q: Some retailers allow direct author uploads. Why should I use Shakespir?

Great question! The simplest, shortest answer is that we save you time. We help you spend more time writing and less time fussing with the management of multiple upload platforms. If you want to update your price or cover image or fix a typo, you do it once at Shakespir and we distribute the update to all the retailers. We make it easier to manage multiple books. We provide consolidated sales and tax reporting. All big time-savers. Your writing is what makes you unique. It’s your unique contribution to the world. We think the more time writers spend writing, more the successful they’ll be. We’re always working to give Shakespir authors a competitive advantage in the marketplace with exclusive tools, and we’re always sharing cutting-edge best practices knowledge that will help you publish more professionally and successfully. We think over the long term, authors who partner with Shakespir will be more successful than those who don’t.

Q: Can you share time-saving tips?

Yes! You’ve already taken the first step, which is to read this Style Guide. It will save you a lot of time, prevent frustration and help you get your book distributed more quickly. Other tips: 1. Jump down to my Keyboard Shortcuts section in the Appendix if you want a quick refresher on some keyboard tricks that will save you time and reduce errors. 2. Follow the Style Guide’s steps in sequential order. Don’t skip any steps. 3. Take a look at my sample template file at http://bit.ly/SWebooktemplateV1. 4. Use Microsoft Word because you’ll get the best, most predictable results. 5. If your book has been touched by multiple word processors during the writing, revision and editing, consider using the Nuclear Method below to clear out the formatting gunk and start fresh because these other programs have a habit of introducing hidden corruption into your file.

Q: How many books will I sell, and how do you pay me?

Any book, ebook or print, is difficult to sell. Some Shakespir authors haven’t sold a single book. Others sell thousands of copies each day. The latter group is not the norm, so you should keep your sales expectations modest. Read the free Shakespir Book Marketing Guide to understand what we do to help you sell your book, and what you can do for yourself. Also read The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (also FREE!) to learn the best practices of the most commercially successful Shakespir authors. You are responsible for writing a book that resonates with readers, and for marketing that book. Our responsibility is to help you get your book published and distributed. Over 90 percent of your sales will come from Shakespir’ rapidly expanding network of ebook retailers, thus the urgency for you to follow the Style Guide so we can quickly distribute your book. All your sales originating at Shakespir.com, our small retail operation, will be reported instantly to you. Our Daily Sales feature will give you same-day sales results from Barnes & Noble and next-day reports from Apple iBooks, Kobo and OverDrive . Learn more about how Shakespir royalties are calculated and paid by reading our Royalty FAQ.

Q: What types of books are most difficult to format for Shakespir?

The most challenging books at Shakespir include large-format coffee table photo books, and picture books for children where the words are embedded in the image. Shakespir ebooks are designed for reflowability, so they can be enjoyed on screens large and small. Large format pictures, or tiny text embedded in images do not read well on small screens. With some special care, you can modify most types of books to work well on Shakespir. For children’s picture books, for example, liberate the text from the image so the text can become reflowable.

Q: Can I upload a work in progress?

No. Shakespir is only for books that are complete and ready for public consumption.

Q: Can I upload only a sample chapter or two?

No. We only publish complete books. If your story doesn’t represent a complete reading experience, you can’t publish it at Shakespir, because our customers expect a complete story. However, when you upload your complete book, you can designate a certain percentage of the book, starting from the word one, which we will make available as a free sample.

Q: Can I upload public domain books?

No. We do not publish public domain books.

Q: Can I upload “Private Label Rights” articles to Shakespir?

No, never. We have a zero tolerance policy on PLR. It’s a violation of our terms of service for anyone to upload it to Shakespir. If you’re not familiar with PLR, it’s generic content that is licensed and republished by multiple people. I consider PLR a scam. I wrote about PLR for Writer Beware at [+ http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/03/guest-blog-post-scam-of-private-label.html+] If we discover someone has uploaded PLR content, or content that originated from PLR source material, or PLR that was later modified using “article spinners” to evade PLR detection systems, we will close their account without warning and they’ll forfeit all earnings. If you’re not the original author of the book, or you’re not the exclusive distributor or publisher, we cannot publish the work.

Q: Can I take my Shakespir ebook conversions and sell them elsewhere?

We ask that you don’t do this. Why? Our free conversion services, for which we have invested significant resources to build and continually improve, are provided to Shakespir authors and publishers as a free benefit of our ebook distribution services. It’s bad karma to take the files we create and upload or sell them elsewhere. Just as you’re trusting readers to honor your copyright, we trust our authors to respect our terms of service. Of course, you can do anything you want with the Microsoft Word source file you create.

Q: Do I put my cover image in the manuscript file?

If you’re uploading a direct .epub using our Shakespir Direct feature, it should have the cover image inside the .epub file. If you’re uploading a Word .doc file, it’s best to not include your cover image inside the manuscript because Meatgrinder will automatically insert your cover into your EPUB and MOBI formats. If you want the image in the PDF and RTF formats, you can import it into the top of your Word file. The downside of doing this, however, is that this will cause your cover image to appear twice in your EPUB and MOBI versions.

Q: Do you edit my book prior to publishing?

No. It is your responsibility to upload a completed, professionally written, edited and proofread book.

Q: How important is it that my book has been proofread and copy edited?

Extremely important! Don’t publish your book at Shakespir until it has been thoroughly proofread for grammar, spelling and typos. One of the biggest criticisms leveled against self-published authors is that their work is not professional quality. Don’t perpetuate this stereotype. Take pride in your work and invest the necessary effort to have others proofread and copyedit your book prior to publishing it on Shakespir or anywhere else. Your readers will thank you and your book will be more successful.

Q: Will Shakespir format my book to make it look perfect?

No. If we did that, our service would not be free. Our technology is completely automated. We provide you the free tools, and the knowledge to use them. All file conversions are automated by our Meatgrinder file conversion system.

Q: Does Shakespir provide professional formatting and text design services?

Shakespir does not provide paid services of any kind. This guide provides guidance on how to prepare your book for quality ebook conversion through Meatgrinder. If you decide you require assistance visit http://Shakespir.com/list to obtain my list of low-cost formatters and cover designers.

Q: I’ve already formatted my book perfectly into separate versions for PDF, EPUB, Mobi and others. Can I just upload my books and bypass the Meatgrinder?

At present, we only accept Word .doc and .epub. In the future, our Shakespir Direct feature may add support for direct uploads of Mobi and PDF, and possibly other formats.

Q: Can I use “drop caps” at the beginning of a paragraph or chapter?

A drop cap is the large initial capped letter you may see in the first paragraph of a chapter in a print book. A drop cap usually extends down two or three lines. If you’re uploading a professional quality .epub file with drop caps, then you can use them. If you’re uploading a Word .doc, you cannot use drop caps, so eliminate all usage of them. A common and attractive alternative to drop caps used by many Shakespir authors is to make the first letter of the first paragraph of a chapter a slightly larger font size, and bold.

Q: Will my finished Shakespir digital book look like my original print manuscript?

Often, it will look different. It’s dangerous to try to make your ebook look like an exact carbon copy of your print book. You want your ebook to be reflowable, which means it’ll read well on any device or screen size. If you carefully follow the Style Guide, you’ll get good results.

Q: I don’t use Microsoft Word. Can I still publish on Shakespir?

Yes, though Microsoft Word is your best option. If you want to ensure the best results for your ebook, and you don’t use Microsoft Word, consider investing in a copy. You can usually find it for around $150 or less. Word will give you the greatest control over your formatting by allowing you to follow the Shakespir Style Guide. If your time is valuable to you, and you plan to publish multiple ebooks with Shakespir, Word is a good investment. If you’ve already got an older version of Word, that’s great. You don’t need the newest.

If your word processing software allows you to save a file as a Microsoft Word .doc file, then it might work for you. There are numerous free Word processors that emulate Microsoft Word or will convert files into Microsoft Word format, but keep in mind they’ll make formatting more difficult, they might introduce corruption into your Word document, and we can’t coach you on how to use them. One free option popular with many Shakespir authors is Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/), which is available for the PC, Mac and other platforms. You can also use Apple Pages to output a Word .doc file. We do not recommend WordPerfect because it caused our authors headaches, which causes us headaches (see next question).

Q. I use WordPerfect. Can I save my manuscript as a Word .doc or .RTF and upload it?

Shakespir authors who try to convert their WordPerfect files into Microsoft Word .doc format are often frustrated beyond belief. Based on our experience, WordPerfect does not reliably export to Word .doc or RTF. It inserts tabs instead of proper first line paragraph indents, and it introduces corrupted data and strange control characters. If you use WordPerfect, we recommend saving your file as plain text, and then reopening it in Microsoft Word. Next, follow the recommendations in this Style Guide for the Nuclear Method before reformatting with Word.

Q. Is there a maximum size file I can upload?

Yes. The source file you upload must be smaller than 10 megabytes. If your file is larger, it usually means it contains large images, or multiple images. For essential images, reduce the file sizes (see the next tip for how to do this). If you’re unable to optimize the file sizes of the images, consider if each image is really necessary. If you’re using images for chapter headings or similar artistic flourishes, for example, remove them and replace them with text.

Q. How do I reduce the file size of my images?

First, if your file is an RTF, save it as a Word .doc. Word .doc files handle images much more efficiently. If you’re using Microsoft Word 2003 or later, Word has a GREAT feature that will compress your images without visibly harming quality. Just right mouse click on any image in the document, select format picture, then under the picture tab in the lower left hand corner you'll see a link for "compress". This will compress many images 80% or more. You can also use a photo editing tool such as Photoshop, or a free utility such as Paint.net at http://www.getpaint.net/ or Picasa by Google at http://picasa.google.com/. Please note: It doesn’t impact the file size to simply click the corner of an image and drag it inward. If you want to reduce the height or width of an image, it’s always best to do that outside of Word, and then re-insert the corrected image.

Q. What’s the best way to format poetry?

For best results, present your poetry flush left, or, if it’s meant to be centered, centered by defining the centering in your paragraph style (See Step 7 for how to manage styles or to create custom styles). Don’t use indents to arrange the text on the page, because the indents could cause your poems to appear too far to the right of the screen (or worse, word-wrapped) on small-screened devices. This is why we suggest flush left. For additional poetry tips, see our special poetry tips section (Step 7b-c) in this Style Guide.

Q. Does Shakespir support preorders?

Yes! In July 2013, we announced preorder distribution to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Preorders allow readers to reserve a book before it’s available for sale. On the day the book goes onsale, the customer’s credit card is charged. At Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, orders accumulated during the preorder period credit all at once on the day the book goes onsale, causing your book to spike in the bestseller lists. A preorder also allows you to market your book in advance of its availability, which helps you capture orders at the moment you have the reader’s attention and interest. Multiple Shakespir authors have used preorders to hit the top 10 bestseller lists, and even to hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. But you don’t need to achieve bestsellerdom to benefit from preorders. Preorders give your book an incremental advantage in the marketplace, and are proven to help authors sell more books than they would have otherwise sold without the preorder. Visit http://Shakespir.com/preorder to learn strategies for doing a successful preorder.

Q. Should I worry about piracy?

No. The biggest risk faced by every author and publisher is obscurity, not piracy. If you price your ebook reasonably, and you make your book available for purchase at as many retailers as possible, it’ll be easier for readers to purchase a legal copy than it is to obtain an illegal copy. On the off chance a fan gives your book to a friend and tells them to read it, consider it the most powerful form of low-cost marketing. That new fan will seek out and purchase your other books. Books live and die based on reader word of mouth. The most successful authors don’t limit their book’s distribution for fear of piracy. Some best-selling authors are even known to upload their own books to pirate sites, simply because they view pirating as cheap marketing.

Q. [Advanced] How do I eliminate Word’s Indexing Field Codes?

Shakespir does not support indexing, so if your source document uses Word’s field code for indexed words or phrases, you’ll want to eliminate the field codes before you upload to Shakespir. The field codes become visible when you activate Word’s “show/hide” command (as we mention below, you NEED to activate “show/hide” to expose your hidden formatting). Although you could strip them out manually, it would take hours and will introduce errors. Here’s a quick tip that takes only seconds: See our Keyboard Shortcuts section learn how to use Word’s “Find and Replace” feature (type CTRL+H) and then in the find field enter ^d xe ^? and leave the ‘replace with’ field empty. Then click ‘replace all’. Below is an image of what the indexing field codes look like.


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Making Microsoft Word Behave

Before you upload your book to Shakespir, follow the steps below to ensure proper formatting of your book. The first steps focus on making Word behave.

A note about all the different versions of Word: You can use any version of Microsoft Word, even the old versions like Word 2000 (my personal favorite), Word 2003 (I like this one too), Word 2007 (Steep learning curve, but a great program once you learn it), and the newer ones such as Word 2010 (nearly identical to Word 2007). Luckily, although the user interface changes (tell me, Microsoft, why do you make Word more difficult to use with every version?), the inner guts of Word have remained remarkably similar across all versions for nearly 20 years. If, for religious reasons you’re hesitant to use Microsoft Word, please reconsider. If you plan to publish frequently with Shakespir, it’s a smart investment because you’ll gain better control over your ebook’s formatting and you’ll save yourself time. If you want to use Open Office (a good free word processor popular with many Shakespir authors) or Apple Pages (also popular), you can still use the Style Guide if you’re careful to implement the intent of the instructions, though you should understand up front that you might be creating more work for yourself.

Step 1 – Make a Back Up

This goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t make the formatting modifications below on your original document. Instead, open your final manuscript within Microsoft Word, and create a copy of it by going to File: Save As: and then enter a new file name, such as MyShakespirMasterpiece, and save it as a .doc file (the default in Word 2003 and earlier). In later versions, go to Save As: Word 97-2003. By making a backup, if you make any mistakes as you follow my advice you won’t screw up your original.


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Step 2 – Activate Word’s Show/Hide

Word’s “Show/Hide” is of my favorite editing features in Word. It reveals your hidden formatting. Do this now, BEFORE you start formatting, otherwise you might as well blindfold your eyes. The show/hide feature is designated by the “¶” mark in the toolbar (I’ve always thought of it as the “reverse P thingy,” but for you typography purists out there, you know it as a “pilcrow.”), as shown below.

The show/hide button helps you view the guts of your formatting

When clicked, it exposes your paragraph returns, extra spaces, tabs, field codes or strange formatting. It’s a great tool to help polish your document for the cleanest possible conversions. If it’s not in your toolbar, you can usually find it in Tools: Options: View and then under Formatting Marks click All.


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Step 3 – Turn off Word’s AutoCorrect: AutoFormat As You Type and AutoFormat features

I’ve always found Word’s AutoCorrect and AutoFormat-As-You-Type to be Word’s most annoying features. If you have them engaged, Word will try to guess what type of formatting you want based on how you write the paragraph, how you manually format the paragraph, or by how you formatted something before it. If you upload a Word file to Shakespir with paragraphs formatted inconsistently, like some paragraphs formatted as “Body Text” and others formatted as “Normal Text,” the book will look horrible as an ebook. To turn off the features, in Word 2000 & 2003, go to “Tools”: “AutoCorrect,” then click on the “AutoFormat As You Type” tab and then uncheck most of the boxes, and then click on the “AutoFormat” tab and uncheck the four boxes under “Apply.”

The reason we want to turn off these AutoFormatting options is because later in the Style Guide, you’re going to try to simplify and normalize your text to prepare it for conversion. If you don’t turn off AutoFormatting, Word will cheerfully and automatically mess things up again as you make the corrections below.

To access the same screen in Word 2007, Word 2010 or later, click on the round Microsoft Office button (upper left) then click Word Options, then click Proofing, then click the button at right for AutoCorrect Options. See the screen shot below, which is similar for most versions of Word.


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Step 4 – Turn off Track Changes

Make sure you’ve turned off Word’s “Track Changes” feature, also known as “markup mode.” This is what your book looks like in Markup Mode:


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Step 5 – Use the NUCLEAR METHOD to Purge Hidden Corruption

Your Microsoft Word document can become corrupted if it has been touched by multiple word processors, or if it originated in a program such as InDesign or WordPerfect, or if it originated in PDF and then was converted to Word, or if it was originally created with poor formatting practices.

Luckily, our Nuclear Method purges all your formatting and allows you to start with a fresh Word document, free of hidden formatting or corrupted styling. The Nuclear Method is strongly recommended before you start formatting. Most formatting professionals on Mark’s List employ this method with every book because it helps you create a good clean multi-format conversion.

The Nuclear Method is also recommended if previous versions of your manuscript failed to convert, or if you’re struggling with EPUBCHECK errors, text boxes or tables you can’t find, or if you suspect your book is corrupted.

If you go Nuclear now, you won’t have to do it later.

Here’s how to go Nuclear:

1. Make a backup of your manuscript (VERY IMPORTANT!) if you haven’t done so already, and set it aside in case the Nuclear Method fails you.

2. Copy and paste your entire manuscript into Windows Notepad (usually found in Programs: Accessories) or any other text editor. This will strip out all your formatting.

3. Close Microsoft Word. Then reopen Microsoft Word so it’s showing a fresh empty document.

4. Return to Notepad, and type CTRL+A (press the CTRL key, hold it down, then press the A key at the same time) for “select all” (highlights all your text in the document) then CTRL+C for “copy,” then open a new fresh Word document and paste the contents of the Notepad document by pressing CTRL+V (for paste) or click to the menu and click Edit: Paste (in Word 2000 and 2003) or Home: Paste (Word 2007, 2010).

5. From here, you’re ready to format your book. Let’s get started!


Step 6 – Hug a Loved One

Your manuscript just survived the Nuclear method and surprisingly, it looks cleaner and crisper than ever. Come to think of it, so do you. You’re looking pretty dang awesome right now. You’ve got that mysterious author look that leaves your friends and fans awestruck as they try to guess what’s going on inside your head.

If this is your first time formatting, before you progress to Step 7, I want you to take a quick break and hug a loved one. Whether they’re of the fleshy, furry or feathered variety isn’t important. What is important is to tell your loved one you’re about to disappear for an hour or two, and you’d prefer they not interrupt you unless Oprah calls, someone’s choking, or the roof is on fire. Also tell them if they hear grunts or screaming they’re to bring you a glass of warm milk or chamomile tea pronto, followed by a shoulder massage. Got that? Tell ‘em Mark said so.

I care about your mental well-being, and I want this to be fun. You’re about to publish an ebook!

All set? Okay, let’s go.



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Step 7 – Managing and Modifying Paragraph Styles, Fonts

Styles are cool. I’m not referring to clothing. Instead, I’m referring to paragraph styles in Word. Paragraph styles allow you to globally control the styling of your ebook. You’ll apply a different style to different elements of your book, and then to change the styling, you just change the style once and the change will ripple across your book.

What are some of the elements likely to receive custom styling? How about the front matter, your chapter headings, or the main body of your text?

Start with Normal Everywhere: Word comes with many pre-defined paragraph styles. I recommend you start your formatting adventure by unifying everything around the Normal style, and then add custom styles later. I’ll show you how in a bit.

Why start with Normal? Since 95% of your book will be the body, i.e. the words and paragraphs that comprise your main narrative, we start by setting the entire book to the Normal paragraph style. This saves you time. Then later, we’ll highlight (by clicking and dragging the mouse over a certain text region) certain areas of text (such as front matter, chapter headings, backmatter, then click to the Change Styles menu to either define a new style for that text, or to assign it to an existing style. Next, I’ll give you a sneak peek at how we’ll do that.

How to Control Styles: To ensure you give Meatgrinder the correct input, follow these instructions:

If you’re using Word 2007 or later, click the Home tab, then click the little arrow under “Change Style” (see image below)

… then you’ll see multiple styles listed. Click the down arrow beside Normal, then click Modify…


… then the following will appear…

… click Format (#1) in the lower left, then click Paragraph (#2) to modify the paragraph style.

A screen similar to this will appear next:

In the Steps that follow, we’ll look more closely at the items inside the box above.

If you’re using an older version of Word (pre-Word 2007), click Format: Style, then on the left click “Normal” if it isn’t already highlighted. In the center pane of the window, under “character preview,” Word will show you sample text and tell you the default font style for “Normal” text. If it’s what you want, then you’re good. However, if it’s different (as it was in my case when I uploaded my novel), then click Format: Font: and then select the font and font size you want. We recommend Times New Roman. Don’t use exotic fonts because they will not translate well, and they can even cause your conversions to fail.

Once you learn how to manage your Normal style (or any other style for that matter), you’ll gain much greater control over the quality of your ebook’s formatting. You’ll also save a lot of time and headache. For example, you can define body paragraphs with special first line indents, or with a certain font or font size, or you can define spacing around your paragraphs (more on this later in the section that follows).

Common Categories of Styles Useful for Most Ebooks

What are some of the styles you might want to define? Here are some of my favorites:

Normal – I use Word’s default Normal style, and then modify it to my purposes. For fiction, I usually configure it for single spaced lines, .3” first line indent, Times New Roman, 12pt. For non-fiction, such as for this Style Guide, I configured Normal for block paragraphs (Step 7a below provides a full discussion to help you decide if first-line indents or block paragraphs are best for you) with Times New Roman, 12 pt, single spaced lined, and a trailing after space of 10pt. Kindle trick: The Amazon Kindle and its associated apps (Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac) automatically insert a preceding first line indent if one isn’t defined, even on block paragraphs. This can create an ugly, unprofessional-looking ebook. To overcome this problem, I configured my Normal to define a “special” first line indent of 1/100th of an inch (.01”) to trick Kindle apps and devices to not automatically indent my paragraphs. The indent will be imperceptible to most eyes, and it should prevent Kindle and its apps from inserting the first line indent where you don’t want it.

I use the “.01” trick here in the Style Guide so it reads well on Kindles. Here’s how the setting appears in Word’s Paragraph styling window (the previous image I showed you above):

Centered – I usually create a custom style, creatively labeled “Centered,” which is simply centered text based on my Normal style, but without the first line indent. I apply it to centered text such as front matter, and to centered images. In Step 14a later, I’ll share an example of how to create a custom style for centered text.

CustomHead – I call it something different for each manuscript I’m formatting. You can call this or any other custom style whatever you want. For the Style Guide, I’ve created a style called “MC custom 14pt” which is the 14pt bold Arial I’m using for section headings. The style defines a page break before the style, and a trailing 10pt space after each paragraph break. If this were fiction, I’d probably use a similar style for my chapter heads, but would add a before and after space of 30 or 40pt, and I’d center it, so the chapter head sits attractively below the top of the page, and the Normal text starts a few lines-distance below it.

Noindent – For fiction, when you’re doing the first line indent style of paragraph separation, it’s a nice professional touch to make the first paragraph of each chapter flush left, without an indent. Most authors don’t bother, and that’s okay because most readers won’t notice or care, but I think it’s a nice touch that makes your book look all that much more professional. The Kindle trick I mentioned above works here as well. You can set your “special” first line indent to .01”. Here’s how it might look (I garden and raise chickens, thus the inspiration behind what follows!):

What You See is (not always) What You Get. Just because your manuscript on screen in Microsoft Word looks like it has a font of 12pt Times New Roman, the book may appear in some of the Shakespir ebook formats as 10 pt Courier or some other font (this happened to me with my own novel). How does this happen? The answer is in Word’s underlying paragraph styles. If Word thinks the defined font size for the “Normal” paragraph style is 11pt Courier, but you bypassed the underlying style manager and directly highlighted your text on screen and then selected 12pt Times New Roman (this is called “Direct formatting”), the book it passes on to Meatgrinder will be 11pt Courier if the underlying style defines Courier.

Cautions about Direct Formatting: In the example above, where I mentioned how some people might highlight text and then select a different font size, or a different font, this is called “Direct formatting,” or “Directly applied formatting.” You should try to avoid direct formatting, especially to select a different font size, a different font, or to apply different line spacing or indents. If you apply direct formatting, you may find it sticks in some Meatgrinder formats but not others. I’ve found that bold and italics work great as directly applied formatting, but for font sizes, font styles, centering, indents or line spacing, I always control those by modifying the underlying style, or by creating a new custom style.

Exceptions: There are certain types of formatting that typically work well if directly applied, and don’t necessitate the creation of a new custom paragraph style. Good examples include adding italics, bolding, and underlining.





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Step 7a – Choose a Paragraph Separation Method: First Line Indent or Block Method

It’s important you provide your readers visual cues to separate one body paragraph from the next, otherwise paragraphs blend together and create a horrible reading experience.

For the body of your book (everything after the title and copyright page), either use first line indents at the beginning of a paragraph, or use the block paragraph method. Don’t mix both first line indents and block style for the main narrative of your body.

Most authors will use centered block paragraphs for their front matter (I discuss front matter in Step 21 much later), and then first line indents for most of their body.

This Style Guide uses the block paragraph method, which is common for some non-fiction such as textbooks and study guides. The first line paragraph indent method is best for fiction and narrative non-fiction such as novels, biographies, memoirs and history books. There’s no right or wrong. It’s up to you!

Although your front matter (title and copyright info) looks best with the block method, be careful not to mix first-line indents with block paragraphs in your front matter otherwise it’ll look skewed.

The image below further illustrates the difference between block and first line indent:

If you’re using the block method, you have two options for separating the blocks. The first option is to enter a hard paragraph return (hit the Enter key once) at the end of a paragraph, then hit the Enter key again to create a blank line. The second option, which I recommend and use here in the Style Guide, is to modify your paragraph style to define a trailing space. You’ll find this second method will save you a lot of time and prevent errors.


In the Steps that follow, we’ll look at other examples of how to modify and control your styling. It’s really easy (and fun) once you know how!


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Step 7b – How to Implement Your Chosen Paragraph Separation Method (First Line Indent or Block)

If you use Word 2000 or 2003, click Modify: Format: Paragraph, and then view the contents (see example below). Make sure the numbers under both left and right “indentation” are set to 0”.

For Word 2007 and later, click the Home tab, then click the little “Change Styles” arrow, as shown in Step 7 above, then click the down arrow for Normal style (assuming you’re using the Normal style for your body, as we recommend), then click Modify, then click Format in the lower left corner, then click Paragraph.


The screen you see now will look something similar to what follows:



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Once you’re at the screen to modify your paragraph style (this screen is essentially the same for all versions of Word), you can define a first line paragraph indent for the body of your book by selecting Special: First line: By: [enter .25 or .3 inch. Don’t do indents greater than .5 inch]. When you desire a first line indented paragraph, make sure the Spacing section, marked by the red oval below, doesn’t define a Before or After space. They should be set to 0pt, otherwise you’ll make the mistake of mixing the first-line indent style with the block style. Once your settings match the image below, click OK then Apply.

After you apply first line indents to the entire document, you’ll go back later and review your document to clean up any anomalies. For example, you’ll want to modify your front matter (title and copyright pages) with custom styles so they’re the block style and centered, because that looks the most attractive. You may also need to manually remove the first line indent from other paragraphs or lines that don’t need them, such as chapter headings.



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Reminder: Do not follow this step for your Normal paragraph style if you already selected the first-line indent method in step 7b-a above.

If you want block paragraph styling for the main body of your narrative, then you’ll select different options from the paragraph styling screen. Under “Spacing,” as I show in the example below, set the “after” spacing to 6pt or 10pt. For plays, scripts and screenplays, 4pt is pretty good. We generally don’t recommend less than 4pt or more than 10pt. Then click OK and then APPLY (or, OK for Word 2007, 2010).

If you want to create a new custom block style: Let’s say you already selected the first-line indent style for your main body, but you want to use the block style for your front matter or end matter or some other section. Step 8 a few sections below shows you how to create a new custom style.


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Poetry has some special formatting requirements. The block paragraph separation method is usually best for poetry, yet you’re not going to want the trailing “after” space as defined above.

With poetry, you want your stanzas tight, yet you need each poem separate from the next. If you code your Normal paragraph style to define a trailing “after” space, the poem won’t look right.

Other content categories that might benefit from the block method but without trailing spaces include learning materials, such as the multiple choice example below, or cookbooks.

For poetry and non-fiction that require this more complex layout, below are two options for your consideration (IMPORTANT: You need to have Word’s Show/Hide feature activated so you can implement this formatting):

1. You can use paragraph returns (don’t code them for trailing space. Instead, code them for single spaced lines).


The poem above uses simple paragraph returns at the end of each line, with the paragraph style coded for no trailing space.


2. Use manual line feeds plus a paragraph return coded for a trailing “after” space. This option is a little more complicated, but will get you great results. To create a manual line feed at the end of a line, click Shift and Enter at the same time. A manual line feed creates a line break without invoking the styling of your paragraph style, which in the example below is coded for a trailing 10pt space after each paragraph return. Note how only the question and the last answer have their lines terminated with a paragraph return (created by hitting the Enter key). Use this trick for poetry as well.


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Did you notice how the line spacing in the image above in 7b-b is set to single and the “At:” field is blank? This is good. Line spacing of 1.5 is also acceptable. Don’t set it to double (will make your book look ugly), and NEVER NEVER NEVER set it to read “Exactly” or “At Least” followed by a point size specification under the “At:” box.

Line spacing of “at least at” or “exactly at” will usually render your book unreadable because it can cause lines to overlap on top of one another, or prevent an e-reading devices font size customization to work. The error is most commonly introduced when you use a word processor other than Microsoft Word (such as Open Office). More on the next item below on line spacing error.

AVOID THIS COMMON LINE SPACING ERROR: The image below shows an example of a common line spacing error mentioned above that will cause your sentences to overlap and become unreadable. Whether you use the first line indent method or the block method, make sure the “Line Spacing” is set to “Single” or “1.5” and under the “At:” heading it should always remain blank. As I mentioned in the paragraph above, NEVER NEVER allow any entry into the “At:” field, otherwise your book may become unreadable in the HTML reader and in the EPUB. If this error slips through our review process, retailers will remove your book when their customers complain. To determine if this error might be affecting your document, right mouse click on any paragraph, click Paragraph, and then you’ll see the box below. As mentioned above, this error is most commonly caused when you create your manuscript in a program other than Microsoft Word, and then the non-Word program fails to convert the file into a proper Word .doc.


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Your ebook will be read on different types of screens. There are the color screens of tablets and smart phones, and then there are the grayscale screens typical of E-Ink devices.

We recommend that you avoid using colored fonts because colored fonts could harm the readability of your text on some devices. It’s also dangerous to rely on colored fonts to convey information, such as a different person speaking, or a change of scene or perspective. You don’t know if the e-reading device will support color, and therefore the color you intend may not appear as you expect on some devices.

Microsoft Word gives you the ability to control font color. The default setting in Word is “Automatic,” and this is what you want. It will give you black text.

You can view your font color settings by in the styles pane for fonts via Change Styles: Modify: Format: Font, or if you highlight a block of text, right mouse click, then click font. If you followed the steps earlier in this guide for the Nuclear method, your font should be set at Automatic and you’re good to go.

What if your font color is set to “Black”? Although “Automatic” will give you black text, you do not want the font color setting set to “Black.” If your font color is set to “Black,” you should change it to Automatic. Why? Some e-reading devices allow the customer to set their e-reading device to “night mode,” which will display your book’s text as reverse type. Black text becomes white, and then the screen background becomes black. If your font color is hard-coded to “Black” your text color will not reverse in night mode, and will become invisible against a black background. If your text is hard-coded to Black, here’s a quick method to fix: Click CTRL-A (press down both keys at the same time) to highlight your entire document, then right mouse click on the highlighted text, then click font, and then click the down arrow under font color and select Automatic, then click OK.

Step 8 – Apply Custom Styling Where You Don’t Want Normal

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll use the Normal paragraph style for the body of your work, the words and paragraphs that comprise your main narrative. This is why we changed everything to Normal at the beginning of your formatting adventure. Now I’ll show you how to go back and apply custom styles to areas where you don’t want Normal, such as your front or back matter, or chapter headings, or the first paragraphs of new chapters where you may want no indent.

To do this, you’ll highlight (usually by clicking the mouse and dragging over a certain text region) certain areas of text, then click to the Home tab in Word’s ribbon, then click to Change Styles. After you click to Change Styles, you’ll see a selection of styles to choose from. You can choose one of the styles, or you can create your own. I usually modify my Normal to suit my preferences, and then create my own custom styles for the rest.

To create a custom style, click New Style (button in the lower left hand corner of the Styles screen, and then we’ll name and define the style we want.



After you have successfully applied your custom formatting to your blocks of text, you’ll need to go through and re-check the formatting. Some items may have shifted because of the steps above. Bolds, italics and underlines may have disappeared, centered items may become flush left, front matter will be flush left and indented, and spaces between paragraphs may have disappeared.

Here’s how to clean up each of the above.

Bolds, italics, underlines – It’s okay to highlight the text with your mouse and then on Word’s ribbon bar, click the symbol for bold, italics or underline to apply direct formatting, but try to only do this in areas where you’ve already applied the Normal style. If you want every block of text controlled by a new custom style to be bold, or italics, or underlined, it’s best to define that within the custom style.

Front matter – Front matter is at the top of your book, such as the title, author name, copyright page and optional license statement (see Step 21 below for help on front matter). I think front matter looks best if it’s centered. Create a custom style for Centered, if you haven’t already, and then assign it to your front matter. Tip: NEVER use the center button on the ribbon to center text. If you define the centering within the Style, it’s much more reliable.

If you find you change the text and suddenly Word labels it something other than Normal style, then it means you didn’t successfully disable Word’s nasty auto-format features above in Step 3.


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Step 9 – How to Automate the Removal of Tabs and Space Bar Spaces

As I mentioned earlier in this Guide, NEVER NEVER use tabs or space bar spaces to create first line indents, or center, or to orient text on a page. In fact, never use the Tab key for anything.

If you wrote your book with indents created with tabs or space bar spaces, don’t fret. You’re not alone. You had no way of knowing it wouldn’t work with ebooks. But now you’ve got 1,000 instances of the little buggers in your manuscript. How do you get rid of them without spending 50 hours? Read on…

How to automate the removal of tabs and spaces – If you try to manually remove, one by one, the tabs and space bar spaces that comprise your indents, it can take hours and you’ll make mistakes. Luckily, Word’s awesome search-and-replace feature will handle it in mere seconds (see image below). First, make sure you have Word’s Show/hide feature activated so you can see your formatting marks.

If you used tabs, press CTRL+H (hold down the CTRL key and the H key at the same time) to “find and replace,” or from the menu select Edit: Replace. Then for the “Find what” line enter ^t (the “caret t” is the symbol for tab) and then in the Replace with space don’t enter anything. Then click Replace All. If you want to see them one by one before you replace them, then click Find Next and then click Replace.

After you zap all your tabs, remember to modify your Normal paragraph style (if you haven’t already) to define a “Special First Line Indent” of .25” or .3 inch. Don’t go more than .5 inch.

To eliminate all your tabs, enter ^t in “find what” and in the “replace with” line, leave it blank.

If instead of tabs you have space bar spaces for indents, then click your mouse to the “Find what” field, and hit your space bar by the same number of spaces you normally use for your indents, and then hit “replace all”. After you do this, you may go back and realize that you have spots in your book where there are still one or two space bar spaces preceding the first lines of your paragraphs. If this is the case, you can’t repeat the process above to zap all your single or double spaces, because this will cause you to delete the spaces separating sentences. The solution is to do a Find and Replace on ^p space space, and then replace with ^p only. The ^p is the symbol for a paragraph return, so this trick is basically telling word to replace all instances of two space bar spaces that immediately follow a paragraph return. This way, you isolate the space bar spaces that precede the start of a new paragraph. Next, repeat it with a Find and Replace on ^p space, then replace with ^p only.


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Step 10 – Managing Paragraph Returns

Make sure you only have paragraph returns at the end of a paragraph, not at the end of each sentence or every line (unless of course you’re doing poetry). A paragraph return, created by hitting the “Enter” key on your keyboard, tells the reading device it’s the end of the paragraph. They look like this: “¶” when you have Show/Hide activated (see Step 2 above). If you do not have the show/hide feature activated now, stop what you’re doing and activate it, otherwise you’re editing blind.

Do not use multiple consecutive paragraph returns to force page breaks or to arrange text on the screen, because they’ll create a poor reading experience by creating blank pages or unsightly gaps in small-screened e-reading devices. They will also cause an AutoVetter error and prevent you from achieving Premium Catalog status. A good rule is to never use more than four consecutive paragraph returns to arrange text on the page.


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Step 11 – Managing External Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks can point outside your book, like to a web address, or inside your book, using the bookmark feature (more on this later when I show you how to create a hyperlinked Table of Contents!). In this Step, I’ll show you how to create hyperlinks that point outside your book.

Web addresses become clickable hyperlinks in the HTML reader at the Shakespir store, and in our EPUB, MOBI and PDF versions.

Use hyperlinks judiciously. If your book contains too many hyperlinks, the hyperlinks can backfire by becoming landmines if the reader accidentally touches them. This is especially true with mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPad, where the reader is scrolling through pages by swiping the screen with their finger.

Also, distraction is a common risk on the Internet, so if you give your reader too many chances to slip out of your story and read something else, you’ll lose them.

To place a proper external hyperlink within Microsoft Word, highlight the text you want to hyperlink, then right mouse click on the highlighted text. Let’s say I wanted to link to the Shakespir Blog. Here’s how I’d do it.

First I’d highlight the text, The Shakespir Blog by clicking and dragging my mouse across the text. Next, I’d right mouse click the text, then select the Hyperlink option.

The Insert Hyperlink screen will appear (below).

Then click “Existing File or Web Page” option on the left under the “Link to” column, then in the Address field at the bottom I’ll enter a full web address of the destination, such as http://blog.Shakespir.com. Be sure to include the http:// portion of the web address, otherwise your hyperlink won’t work and it’ll cause errors in EPUBCHECK (more on that later). In the “Text to display” field you’ll see the text you highlighted. After you add a link, click OK, then from your document click on it to test it. In most versions of Word, you need to hold down the Ctrl key before it’ll let you click on a hyperlink.

We’ll explore how to create links that point inside the book later on in Step 21a when I show you how to create a Linked Table of Contents.

Guidelines for hyperlinking

No Affiliate Links: If your hyperlinks link to affiliate marketing pages (common in “get rich quick” books), we may close your account without warning because this is a violation of our Terms of Service. Our retailers don’t want their books used as advertising vehicles.

Competitive Retailer Links: Don’t include links to different ebook retailers within your book. It’s not considerate, for example, to ask Barnes & Noble to carry a book that encourages their reader to go to Apple or Amazon for more books. It’s okay to link to your Shakespir author profile page, but don’t include text such as “Buy my books at Shakespir!”

PDFs – Don’t link to PDFs, because not all e-reading devices may support the PDF format.


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Step 12 – Designating Chapter Breaks, Page Breaks and Section Breaks

If you insert page breaks into your Word document (Insert: Break: [choose one]), most ebook formats will honor them, but not all. Loss of page breaks is okay in an ebook, because you can’t predict the font size or screen size the reader is using, and you want to have continuous reflowable text anyway. The worst thing that will happen is paragraphs may become artificially close or too separated.

I like to define page breaks within my heading styles. So, for example, if I want my chapter heading to appear at the top of a new page, I’ll code the paragraph style for my heading to define a preceding page break. Click to open the Change Styles menu, select the paragraph style you want to define a preceding page break, then click modify, then click format (shown below), then click Paragraph (show below), and then on the Paragraph styling page click the tab labeled “Line and Page Breaks” and then click the check box for “Page break before” and then click OK.

If you use manually insert page breaks (not using the Styles manager as shown above), be sure to enter a paragraph return or two before and after the break so that if your manually-inserted break disappears in some formats, your paragraphs don’t smash together.

Remove all section breaks from your document. They can create unnecessary blank space in your ebook.

If you want to separate chapters, insert a consistent number of paragraph returns (maybe three or four), or use a combination of a couple paragraph returns, followed by centered text characters such as “~~~~” or “* * * *” followed by a couple more paragraph returns and possibly chapter headings if you have them.

As you’ll learn in Step 20 below, Meatgrinder has the ability to automatically detect some chapter headings, and if it does detect them, it’ll automatically insert preceding page breaks into your .epub and .mobi files.

The general rule for formatting is “simpler is better.” DO NOT use a long series (more than four) paragraph returns anywhere in your book to try to arrange words on a page, or to designate page breaks, because not only will this cause your book to be rejected from the Premium Catalog, it’ll also create a lot of awful looking blank space in your ebook. Some ebook reading devices will add extra padding after each paragraph return, so if you add multiple paragraph returns this can create excessive spacing between paragraphs.


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Step 13 – Working with Images

If you have images, they should be embedded in your Word file with the Insert: Picture: As File option. If the images are critical to your book, then when you publish your book uncheck the checkbox ebook option for “Plain Text” because photos and charts don’t translate into plain text. If the images are a nice-to-have but not a need-to-have, then go ahead and allow the Plain Text option.

You can insert .JPEG or .PNG images. We find that .PNG works best.

File Upload Limit, 10MB. The source .doc file you upload must be less than 10 megabytes in size. To determine your file size, right mouse click on your Word .doc file and click properties. If your file is greater than 10MB, users of Word 2003 and later can use Word’s awesome Compress feature, which will dramatically reduce the file size without visibly harming quality. Simply right-mouse click on an image, click Format Picture, and then click the Compress button. Next, click the All pictures in document radio button, then click Web/Screen (selects the 96dpi compression), then click OK.

High resolution images? If your images are high resolution or print quality, this high resolution will be lost on most e-reading screens because screens don’t support print resolution. When you downgrade to 96 dpi, you won’t visibly harm quality and you’ll create an ebook that downloads faster.

Resizing images: If you reduce the dimensions of an image by clicking the corner and dragging it inward, some ebook file outputs will respect the new dimensions, though Kindle may not. It’s best to resize your images before you import them into the Word .doc. Paint.net is a good free software program that will allow you to resize your images.

No floating images: Do not use floating images (if you can click on the image and drag it, it’s floating) because your image may appear in unpredictable places after the conversion. To anchor floating images, right mouse click on the image, then click Format Picture, then click Layout, then click In Line With Text, then click save, then click Word’s center button (or better yet, as recommended above, create a custom style for Centered text, and then apply that style to your image).

Images with embedded text: Avoid embedding text within an image, as is common with some children’s picture books. It’s best to remove text and place it above or below the image as reflowable text. This ensures that readers can resize the text to meet their reading preferences, and it also ensures that the text is readable and reflowable across all screen sizes.

Cover image inside Word .doc?: It’s not necessary to insert your cover image into the Word .doc. Meatgrinder automatically inserts your cover image into your .epub and .mobi files, so if you do insert the cover image it’ll cause the cover to appear twice in these file formats. For more instructions regarding cover images, see Step 23 later in this guide.

Open Office users only: Open Office users often have trouble with images, because OO defaults to floating. If you’re an Open Office user, try entering a paragraph return on a blank line where you want the image to appear, and then click in front of the paragraph return and go to Insert: Picture: From File, then select the image to import it, then right mouse click on the image in Open Office, then select Anchor: As Character, then click your mouse to the right of the image, then click OO’s center button to center the image.

We’ve also found that images work best if you keep their dimensions small. If your current image runs the length of a 6 inch wide page, it may not display properly on the smaller screens of some ereading devices. Restrict interior images to widths of around 500 pixels or less. Before you import images into your manuscript, use a photo editing tool such as Photoshop or a free utility such as Paint.net at http://www.getpaint.net/ or Picasa by Google at http://picasa.google.com, to reduce the dimensions and file size. If you insert an image that reaches beyond the left or right perimeter of your page margins, it may cause some of your conversions to fail, or your image may not display properly. Also be sure to remove first line indents on images, because the first line indent could cause your image to shift off of the page.

If you want a page break inserted before an image, try clicking on the image and coding it as a Heading style. This should insert a page break in EPUB and MOBI.

If you try to upload a 15 megabyte manuscript to Shakespir because you didn’t reduce the image sizes, Meatgrinder will not accept your book for conversion and you’ll receive an error message. Compress your images first.

Step 14 – Text Justification

I’ve found that text converts most cleanly if it’s all flush left, or flush left with first line indents. Centered text works well, especially for your title and copyright page, and especially if the centering is defined by the underlying style. I don’t recommend using Word’s “Justify” command, which attempts to spread your words evenly from margin to margin without leaving spaces at the end of each line. The PDF conversion can sometimes look odd for justified text. If you love justified text, then go ahead and try it – the results may still be acceptable to you.


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Step 14a – Centering Text

You may notice that even after you use Word’s button to center text, such as the title and copyright page, or *** separators, the RTF conversion doesn’t preserve the centering. Here’s how to force it to stick: Try creating a new custom paragraph style, based on Normal, that defines centering.

Here’s how to create a custom paragraph style. Option 1. If you have the Style box in your main Word ribbon, then click the down arrow, then click Add.

Option 2. In Word versions 2007 and later, click Home: then under the “Change Styles” option, click the sideways down arrow.

… then in the lower left of the next screen,click the “AA” symbol

… After you do Option 1 or 2 above, the following screen appears. …

Give your custom style a name, such as “Centered”. Note that the style is based on “Normal”. This means the style will inherit the default definitions of Normal unless you specify otherwise. If your Normal style defines a first line indent, then click the Format button in the lower left, click to Paragraph, and then remove the special first line indent on the next screen. When you return to the screen above, you can click Word’s center button to define centered, and then click the box for “Automatically Update” if you want the changes you later make on screen to automatically modify the underlying paragraph style for all your usage of this style in your manuscript. Click OK when you’re finished. Later, to apply the style, simply highlight the text you want centered, and then select the style from either the style box in your menu, or from the Change Styles menu.


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Step 15 – Managing Font Sizes

Minimize font size variation in your book, otherwise your book can look ugly. Some of the best-looking books on Shakespir use 12pt for the body and 14pt for the book title on the cover page, and for headings. If you must use different font sizes, minimize the range of their variance. For example, if your Normal paragraph style defines 12 point, don’t use a 20 point header. We recommend you keep your largest font size to 14 for body text. Frequent and/or dramatic font size variations are jarring to your reader’s eye and can reduce readership, because each time you change the font size their eye must refocus. Dramatic variations in font sizes can also cause unwelcome glitches in some of the conversions, such as causing the large point text to bleed onto the smaller point text. Most of our ebook formats support multiple font sizes.

If after uploading your manuscript you receive an Autovetter message for a font size error, it means one or more of your styles define a font size larger than 20 pt. Simply modify the underlying style definition under the Change Styles menu and then upload again using the “Upload new version” link in your Dashboard.


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Step 16 – Style Formatting, Symbols and Glyphs

Italics, underlines, and strikethroughs work well. Some symbols (such as é î ® © Ω ∑) may translate, but test your book in EPUB to ensure they work properly. Rather than using the © (circled c for copyright), just use the word ‘copyright’, because some e-reading devices and formats will turn it into a question mark. As a general practice, avoid symbols (created by “INSERT: SYMBOL”) because they may turn into question marks in some ebook formats. If you observe what appears to be empty vertical rectangle boxes in your Word file when you have Show/Hide activated, this is often a form of corruption caused by bad symbol conversions from one word processor to another. Delete them, otherwise these characters may turn into question marks in your finished ebook.

Glyphs are little graphical touches you can use to separate sections of the book. They’re images, added by clicking Insert: Picture: From File within Word. Let’s say I like pigeons (because I do), and I’m writing a book about their amazing ability to find their way home. I might decide to separate my sections with a glyph of a pigeon (above, below).

If you decide to upgrade your book with glyphs, choose an image that fits the theme of your book. If you’re writing epic fantasy, it might be an image of a magical battle ax. Glyphs work best as small, simple black images or simple uniform illustrations. Apply your custom centered paragraph style to your image to ensure proper placement. Don’t go overboard with glyphs because you run the risk of ruining a perfectly good ebook. If your glyph distracts from the story, you’re overdoing it.


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Step 17 – Headers and Footers

These generally remain in the PDF and RTF versions but disappear in the other versions. We recommend you remove all headers and footers from your Word .doc file. Definitely remove auto-page numbering because it can trigger a text-box error.

Step 18 – Margins, Page Sizes and Indents

Try to format your book to adhere to Word’s standard margins for printing, otherwise your PDF and RTF files won’t print well or present well on screen. Authors often ask if they should format for American-style pages (8.5 X11 inch) or A4. About 60% of Shakespir customers are American, so it’s really up to you.

HOW TO FIX WACKY INDENTS: If your indents are pulled too far to the left or right, it will cause your text to flow off the page and become unreadable in some e-reading devices. It helps to have your ruler bar activated to detect this problem. To fix, do a CTRL+A on your entire document, then right mouse click on Paragraph, then set the Left: and Right: Indentation to 0”.


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Step 19 – Add the Heading Style to Your Chapter Headings (Optional)

Word offers various Heading styles, usually for use with the start of chapters or sections. Some of our ebook formats such as EPUB and MOBI will automatically insert a page break before each Heading, which is a nice touch because it allows your chapter to start at the top of the page on the e-reading device.

Warnings! Be careful with the Heading style, though, because if you use it too often or in the wrong place, the beneficial page breaks I mentioned above will become an annoying formatting error that makes your book difficult to read because it’ll create one line pages (annoying). Only apply the Heading style to a single sentence, and NEVER across more than two paragraph returns in a row, otherwise you’ll have one paragraph per page (Bad). Also don’t use the Heading style for body copy, or for your front matter or table of contents at the top of the book. Headings are just for headings.

Are Heading Styles for You? As mentioned in the heading for this step, the Heading Style is optional. One advantage of using a specially defined paragraph style is that it gives you more control over the look of the text. For example, your Normal paragraph style might define 12pt Times New Roman, but maybe you want your headings to be 14pt Helvetica Bold Italics and centered. Although you could manually alter each Normal heading to reflect the formatting you want, it’s time consuming, prone to error if you forget to implement everything consistently, and as we learned above, it’s not a best practice. If you’re going to use a Heading style or a custom heading style for your chapter headings, for example, you want them all to be consistent. This is why it’s much better to use either a predefined heading style, or a custom heading style. By defining each heading with the Heading style or custom style, you can automatically apply the style to all instances that use that style, and then if later you decide you want to change the style, you can do it just once and it’ll update all your headings.

Should you use Word’s Heading styles or your own custom heading styles? Your choice. I like to create my own custom styles. Word’s styles often define a color, such as light blue, and I don’t prefer that. I also like to add custom before and after spacing. When formatting a novel, for example, I think it looks great if the chapter heading is centered with a before space of about 48 pt and after space of about 24 or 36 pt. This sets the Chapter heading at the top of the page, but down a little so it’s not hugging the top. You do what you like best! Experiment.

How to Implement Headings: To implement, highlight your chapter headings and then select a heading style, such as Heading 2. If you want to modify your Heading to have different characteristics, such as a different font size, color or alignment, see Step 7 above which shows you how to modify your paragraph styles.


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Shakespir makes it easy to build navigational elements into your manuscript so your book becomes more accessible and more valuable to readers. I’ll review three primary navigation elements in this step: the NCX file, the linked Table of Contents (ToC) and Non-ToC intra-book links (Footnotes/Endnotes/other).

As a companion to the sections that follow in Step 20, I created a YouTube video which walks you through many of the steps involved in adding navigation to your Shakespir ebook. The video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpB9hmlgeU4 and you’ll find a corresponding blog post about it at [+ http://blog.Shakespir.com/2013/11/how-to-add-navigation-to-Shakespir.html+]

Step 20a – Creating the NCX File

NCX stands for Navigation Control file for XML. I like to think of the NCX as a meta-ToC, since the file and the navigation actually reside outside the book, but point back into the book (What you know as an EPUB file is really a zipped combination of multiple files of which the .NCX is only one).

A well-formed NCX file adds useful navigation for your reader in both the .epub and .mobi (Kindle) formats. Readers and retailers appreciate an NCX, especially for books with multiple chapters, headings or sections.

How Meatgrinder Generates an NCX: Meatgrinder utilizes a three-step approach to generate an NCX, depending on how you constructed your book. When you upload your Word .doc file to Shakespir, our Meatgrinder conversion system will analyze your file. First, it’ll search for a linked ToC. If it sees a linked ToC, it will use the linked ToC to guide its generation of the NCX.

If the book lacks a linked ToC, then Meatgrinder will search for chapters preceded by the word “Chapter.” If it finds chapters, it will automatically generate an NCX using your Chapter labels.

If Meatgrinder does not detect either a linked ToC or the presence of Chapters, it will automatically create the two-part NCX (this is the least desirable option).

Let’s examine each of these options so you can decide which approach will work best for you.

Three options for creating an NCX at Shakespir:

1. Create a linked Table of Contents (best approach): This is my recommended approach, because it gives you total control over how Meatgrinder constructs your NCX entries.

For example, if you have a linked Table of Contents in your novel’s Word .doc with the following entries…

Table of Contents


About Jane Smith

Other books by Jane Smith

Connect with Jane Smith


… then Meatgrinder will create an NCX that points to the following entries:


About Jane Smith

Other books by Jane Smith

Connect with Jane Smith

Your Linked ToC must contain at least two links, though it can go to hundreds of links if you require it.

The hyperlinked words in your ToC will appear in your NCX. For example, if I made the mistake of only hyperlinking the word “About Jane” in the “About Jane Smith” link above, then only “About Jane” would appear in the NCX. The link will still work, but it wouldn’t include all the words I intended.

If you scroll up to the top of this book, you’ll see I created a comprehensive linked ToC. In Step 20b below, I’ll show you how easy it is to create a linked ToC.

2. Start your chapters with the word, Chapter (Second best option): If you don’t have a linked ToC, then Meatgrinder will look for the presence of Chapters. If you name your chapters starting with the word “Chapter,” Meatgrinder will automatically detect the word “Chapter” and build NCX navigation links into your EPUB and MOBI (Kindle) file. See the screen shot below.

Simply by preceding your Chapter headings with the Word “Chapter,”
Shakespir will generate useful navigation for your EPUB file


The book above is Raven Memory (a well-formatted book, by the way) from Shakespir author David G. Shrock, and the screen shot shows his book in Adobe Digital Editions, a popular and free e-reading app I encourage you to download so you can test your own EPUB files (Get it at http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions).

On the left side of ADE’s screen above, you can see the automatically created table of contents (the NCX). Mr. Shrock used the Normal paragraph style and centered it for his chapter heading. Although he didn’t do it in this example, he could have easily named his chapter something such as, Chapter 2: The Joys of Ebook Formatting and this (more descriptive) text string would have appeared in the NCX file instead.

3. Auto-generated two-part NCX (least desirable, try to avoid): If Meatgrinder determines it cannot build you a working NCX using one of the two methods above, then Meatgrinder will automatically create a two-item NCX for you. The first item on the NCX will be labeled the title of your book, and will point to the first line at the top of your book. The second item will be labeled “Midpoint,” and this will point to the approximate halfway point in your book. This two-part, auto-generated NCX is only moderately helpful to readers. I recommend you take advantage of the first or second option above instead.

Next, I’ll show you how to create options one or two.

Step 20b – Creating a Hyperlinked Table of Contents

A Table of Contents (ToC) makes it easy for your reader to view the major chapters and sections of your book. You’ll place your ToC inside your manuscript below the title/copyright page and immediately before the start of your book. As mentioned in the preceding section, your linked ToC will assist Meatgrinder when it automatically generates your NCX.

Once you make your ToC a Linked Table of Contents, readers can click the links and jump straight to the linked section. This is a cool feature of ebooks not possible in print books. Readers can click around inside your book, independent of the NCX. Although Adobe Digital Editions makes the NCX super-accessible to the reader, most e-reading devices place the NCX behind a tab labeled “Table of Contents,” or something similar, which means the reader has to click twice to access the links rather than clicking once, as they can do by clicking directly on your linked ToC items.

You’ll construct your linked ToC using Word’s Bookmark feature. We recommend you don’t use Word’s auto-ToC generating feature found in Word 2007 and later versions at References: Table of Contents, because it utilizes field codes and that’s not the best approach.

Who Needs a Linked ToC?

I think every book should have a linked ToC, even novels. Read on to learn why.

Linked ToCs are a near-necessity for non-fiction because readers are more likely to require the ability to jump from section to section.

I also recommend a Linked ToC for fiction because it allows the author to provide the reader useful reference points. If you have named chapters or sections or parts, or if you’re publishing a collection of short stories, a linked ToC is great. If you have backmatter at the end of your book (and you should!) such as “About [Your Author Name],” “Connect with [Your Author Name],” or “Other Books by [Your Author Name],” a linked ToC will help direct readers there. These backmatter sections offer you powerful marketing benefit, and the linked ToC and corresponding NCX make these sections accessible to readers.

If your chapters are only labeled, “Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter XX” and you don’t have additional sections at the end, then there’s little need for a ToC inside your book. In this case, Meatgrinder will automatically generate the NCX from your “Chapter X..” headings. However, if you want your NCX to link to your enhanced backmatter, then another option is to create a simplified link ToC that includes the following sections:

Start of [book title]

About Jane Smith

Other books by Jane Smith

Connect with Jane Smith


If you follow the instructions below, your linked ToC will work in our most important formats of EPUB, MOBI and PDF. Linked TOCs of any form don’t work in our other formats such as the online HTML readers, and of course it won’t work in our .txt files either.

Planning your ToC: If your book has dozens or even hundreds of individual sections, avoid the inclination to link to every single item. A ToC with too many items creates a dizzying experience for your reader. Sometimes, less is more. Consider linking only to major section headings. Also consider how the reader will read your book. Fiction is usually read serially, from word one forward. Although an NCX listing chapter numbers is moderately useful, consider adding other worthwhile links pointing to the end of the book such as “About the author,” “Other Books by this Author,” or “Endnotes.” If you’re including free sample chapters of your other books at the end of this book (often a good idea), link to the start of your free sample from your Linked ToC.

How to create a linked Table of Contents.

Here’s a quick checklist of the steps I’ll guide you through to create a linked ToC:

First, type out your table of contents at the start of your book, immediately following your title and copyright pages, and preceding the start of your prologue, preface or first chapter. As you type out your ToC items, make sure your text is in the Normal paragraph style, just like the rest of your Shakespir document, or give it a custom style that either makes it flush left or centered. DO NOT create your ToC in Heading style. Avoid adding empty paragraph returns between the lines to build separation between the TOC items, and only add items you intend to hyperlink.


Here’s what your ToC might look like at first:


You can left-justify it (as I did above) or center it using the instructions in Step 14A to apply a custom paragraph style that defines centering. Never indent your ToC because it’ll be unsightly if it word-wraps on a small screen.

Next, we are going to use Word’s Insert: Bookmark feature.

Think of the bookmark as your target – it’s what you want to link to. It’s the destination for the reader after they click the link in your ToC.

Later, after you add each bookmark you’ll link to it from somewhere else, and in this case that “somewhere else” is most likely the Table of Contents at the top of your book.

So, to review where I’m taking you here, first you’ll tag the chapter or section headings in your body as Bookmarks, and next you’ll return to your ToC and add the links to the bookmarks.

I’ll show you the step-by-steps next.


Caution: If prior to starting your ToC-linking adventure, you changed your chapter and section headings to one of Word’s default Heading styles, such as Heading 2, then these headings will probably appear as bookmarks with names starting with an underscore such as “_xxx” when you later go to select a target during the hyperlinking process. Do not link to Word’s auto-generated Heading bookmarks. It’s better to create your own Bookmarks.

The image below gives you an overview of how to operate Word’s bookmark feature.

In Word 2000, 2003 and 2007 and later, the Bookmark function is under the Insert tab. In the Mac version of Word, click the Insert link, which is above your ribbon menu.

Mac users: Visit [+ http://blog.Shakespir.com/2013/11/how-to-add-navigation-to-Shakespir.html+] for some Mac-specific bookmarking and hyperlinking instructions.

To apply bookmarks, go through your document, and at each Chapter Start (assuming you want your linked ToC to link to every Chapter) or section heading, you will highlight the words and then select Insert: Bookmark. Make sure you have show/hide activated so you can accurately apply the bookmark. As mentioned above, DO NOT place the bookmark above or below the target text, and NEVER apply a single bookmark across multiple paragraphs. You’ll see this well-illustrated in my YouTube tutorial at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpB9hmlgeU4

Bookmark names cannot have spaces or odd characters. Use only alphanumeric characters (the letters a-z or the numbers 0-9).

When you name your bookmark, choose a label corresponding to the Chapter/Indexed item and then click add. Use the first word of your heading or section you’re linking to, because later on, when you add the hyperlinks to these bookmark targets, Word displays the bookmark shortcuts in alphabetical order and it’s helpful to have a bookmark name that matches the section. For example, you might want to label Chapter One as “c1” without the quotes. If you’re working with a lot of bookmarks, simple logical names will be easier for you to work with and remember.

Repeat the process above for every Chapter heading or major section in your body as well as for other sections in the book like index, bibliography, epilogue, prologue, etc. The operative word here is major. It’s not necessary to link to every section and subsection. I didn’t link to every section in the Style Guide, because otherwise the ToC would have been three pages long. Consider how your reader will read your book, and which links would be useful to them. This is your call.

LINKING TO BOOKMARKS (AKA “Targeting your bookmarks)

Next, you will create your hyperlinked ToC by linking your ToC items to your target bookmarks. Highlight the text of your ToC item, such as “Chapter Five: My Amazing Formatting Journey,” then right mouse click, click Hyperlink, then in Word’s Hyperlink menu on the left hand side, click “Place in this document.” Alternatively, you can accomplish the same thing by highlighting the text, then from Word’s ribbon menu select Insert: Hyperlink: Place in this document.

You will now see your bookmarks listed in the main window. Remember, if you applied Word’s Heading paragraph style earlier, it will present you Word’s auto-generated bookmarks, which usually begin with an underline, such a “_X…” Avoid those like the plague, or delete them.

Select your bookmark and then click ok. Then highlight the text of your next ToC item, and repeat this Insert: Hyperlink: Place in this document procedure for every bookmarked chapter or item in the ToC for which you want to create a clickable link.

Tips: 1. All items in your TOC should be hyperlinked. 2. The text string you select and hyperlink in the ToC is the same text string that will appear in your NCX.


Here in the Style Guide, you probably noticed that between chapters, I provide “Back to the top” hyperlinks that take you back up to the top of the book. This is a useful technique for non-fiction, especially if you expect the reader might use your book as a reference tool, or might read your sections out of order. For fiction, such links are not useful, so feel free to avoid them.

Some authors prefer to link their chapter or section heading text (such as “Chapter 6: How the Style Guide Made Me a Super Fabulous Formatter”) back up to the ToC. Other authors prefer to insert other text as their linkable item, such as, “back to top.” I chose the latter option for the Style Guide because the text string clearly tells the reader what will happen if they click the link.

This technique can also be used to link from endnotes or indexes back up into the body of the book. I’ll explore that in the Step 20c after this one.

Here are the steps to link back up to the ToC:

1. Return to your table of contents at the top of your book and highlight the phrase “Table of Contents.” Click Insert, Bookmark, and label this last bookmark “ref_TOC” without the quote marks. By preceding the bookmark name with “ref_” you’re telling Meatgrinder to not put anything pointing to that link in the NCX. This helps prevent duplicate NCX items. This will allow you to link back to the ToC from multiple places in the book as I did here in the Style Guide.

2. From your ToC, click on a ToC item’s link to jump to your chapter or section heading target. In Word 2000, you just click the hyperlink, but in later versions you must press on the CTRL key at the same time you click the hyperlink.

3. After you click from your ToC to the target item’s bookmark, highlight the text that you want to link back to your ToC. Click and drag your mouse to highlight the text, but remember not to highlight multiple paragraphs. You want to highlight only a single word or phrase, whatever you want to appear like a clickable item.

4. Next, click Insert: Hyperlink, and then select “Place in this document.”

5. The bookmarks will appear in the main window. Select the bookmark labeled “ref_TOC,” assuming that’s what you named your Table of Contents in the step above.

6. Repeat the above for each and every location where you want to provide the reader a clickable path back up to the ToC.

Tip: DO NOT highlight your phrase, “Table of Contents” and link it to the bookmark of itself. This can cause problems, and it’s not necessary because there’s no value for the reader to link to where they’re already at.

Step 20c – Advanced Bookmarking: Footnotes, Endnotes and other Intra-book links

You can link any part of your book to any bookmark. Above, I showed you how to link from your ToC down to your target bookmarks in the body of your book, and then how to build hyperlinks within the book that point back up to the ToC. In this section, I’ll show you how to create other types of “intra-book” hyperlinks.

Warning: If you don’t name the bookmarks properly you can corrupt your NCX. This section will show you how to do intra-book links the right way.

Intra-book hyperlinks makes it possible to link between sections, or to manually create linked footnotes, endnotes or indexes, or to create “name your own adventure” books where the reader decides what happens next in the story. Don’t go overboard with bookmarks and internal hyperlinks. If you place too many links in your book, they can act like landmines if the reader accidentally touches them.

As mentioned earlier, when Meatgrinder sees hyperlinked text in your linked ToC, it places the highlighted text in your NCX file, and this what your reader will see when they view your NCX. However, if you create non-ToC intra-book links within your book, such as footnotes/endnotes in the body hyperlinked down your footnotes/endnotes sections, you don’t want Meatgrinder to misinterpret that link as something you want added to your NCX file (and you don’t want footnotes/endnotes and other non-TOC links showing up in your NCX). To prevent your NCX from picking up these elements, you can neuter the bookmark by starting the name of your bookmarks with “ref_” (remove the “quote“ marks).

So, for example, let’s say in the body of your book you have several endnote references, with linked text named 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., and they link down to your endnotes or bibliography section. By renaming the endnote bookmarks to ref_1, ref_2, etc, Meatgrinder will know not to place the linked text into the NCX. Your endnotes or bibliography at the end of your book may also hyperlink back up to the origin of the referenced footnote/endnote, so be sure to name those bookmarks starting with “ref_” as well, and give them a different name than the endnote bookmarks, such as ref_n1, ref_n2, etc.

Bottom line, if you don’t want your NCX to include a link pointing to a specific bookmark, then neuter the bookmark by starting it with the “ref_” name.

In the ToC-building section above, I recommended naming your Table of Contents bookmark as ref_TOC. Why? We’ve noticed that in some instances, Meatgrinder will create corrupted NCX files that include duplicate NCX entries at the end of the NCX. If your Table of Contents bookmark starts with ref_ it’ll help prevent this problem.

Step 20d – Testing and Troubleshooting Linked ToCs and links


After you finish the links, all your links will be underlined. Carefully test every link in your book to make sure they’re operating properly. As I mentioned above, in some old versions of Word you can just click your mouse on the link, and in other versions you press the CTRL key at the same time you click.

There are two good methods of testing:

1. Click on each linked item in your ToC. Does it go to the proper destination? If a link jumps you to the top of your book and not to your Table of Contents, it means you’re not linking to a valid bookmark. Make sure it doesn’t link you above or below the target destination.

2. Click Insert: Bookmark, and the Bookmark window will appear. Click on a Bookmark item, then click GoTo. This is a fast method of ensuring your bookmarks go to the right destination and that they DO NOT span multiple paragraphs (make sure you have show/hide activated).


After you’ve completed your testing, do this step last. Word has the bad habit of inserting “Hidden” bookmarks into your document, and in some cases these hidden bookmarks can corrupt your NCX. Once you’re finished hyperlinking the guts of your book, and testing the accuracy of your links, check for and delete hidden bookmarks. To find them, click Insert: Bookmark, then try clicking and unclicking the checkbox beside “Hidden Bookmarks.” Hidden bookmarks start with an underline, such as, “_Hlt29XXXX” Click the name of the hidden bookmark, which always look like gibberish, then click the Delete button at right. You might have dozens or hundreds of them. Delete them one by one by clicking once to the hidden bookmark, then click on Delete. Then repeat. See screen shot below.



Final Tips and Reminders:

Warning: After you create your bookmarks and link to them, if you edit the names of the bookmarks, or edit the linked text, you might damage the viability of your links (I made this mistake multiple times in earlier Style Guide revisions!). Even if the links work in your Word document, they may not work in the final ebook.

Checking your Epub: Always check your intra-book links and your NCX links in your finished .epub (Adobe Digital Editions is great for this. Download it for free at www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/). If you discover your links aren’t working, or if you have missing links, then you’ll need to repair them. Just because your links work in your document doesn’t mean they’ll work in your ebook outputs. Be sure to test your EPUB version after you publish. If the cause of the problem is not obvious, you may need to remove all your intra-document hyperlinks, delete your bookmarks, and then recreate the bookmarks and retarget your links to the bookmarks.

Troubleshooting Reminders: Did you delete your hidden bookmarks as your last step? If you click Insert: Bookmark to open the window above, and you click a link at left and then click “o To” on the right, does it take you to the proper destination? Does it show your bookmark appropriately applied to only the target phrase, and not overlapping to paragraphs above or below? If you note that the target bookmark overlaps multiple paragraphs (bad!), it’ll prevent your NCX from linking properly. To fix, delete the bookmark and then reapply.

Reminder: Word has an automatic ToC generation feature under the reference tab that uses field codes. Do not use this. It uses automated headings and formatting to generate the ToC and this will un-normalize your text and cause font conversion issues in your Shakespir files.

Kudos: My thanks to Shakespir author Cheryl Anne Gardner for conducting the initial research which served as the foundation for our section above on how to create a Linked Table of Contents.


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Step 21 – Front Matter (Important!!!)

Front matter is stuff that goes in the first few pages of your book, before the start of your book. Examples of front matter include the book title, the copyright page, the license statement, and sometimes acknowledgements, book blurbs and summaries of “other books by this author.”

Try to keep your front matter brief. Most retailers only make the first 5-10% of your book available as a free sample, so if your front matter is long, it might prevent readers from getting a free sample.

In the subsections that follow, we’ll take a look at the different pieces that can comprise your front matter.

Step 21a – Blurbs (optional)

Note: Front-of-the-book blurbs (testimonials or snippets of reviews) are not required for inclusion in the Shakespir Premium Catalog. In fact, there are potential downsides to adding blurbs inside the book. If you add too much testimonial content to the front of your book, it can decrease readership because it can create distance between the reader and the start of your book. The reader doesn’t want to flip multiple pages to start reading. The blurbs also count toward your free sample at the retailers, which means readers who download your free sample may not even reach the start of the book if blurbs are too long.

I’d recommend you keep blurbs out of your front matter and instead use choice quotes in the metadata of your book description. You’ll provide Shakespir your book description on the Shakespir Publish page, at the time you upload your book.

If still want blurbs in your book, consider using them at the end of your book to promote other books, or, if you insist on having them in your front matter, put them at the very top of the book, before the Title & Copyright page (see the Dan Poynter example below). If you include testimonials, they should be real and honest. If you falsify the testimonial or review, and your reader feels tricked, they may seek retribution by giving you a bad review on Shakespir or at the retailer’s store. Nothing kills a book faster than bad reviews.

Here’s how self-publishing guru Dan Poynter begins his Shakespir book, “Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual Volume 2”

What Others are Saying about The Self-Publishing Manual

“Poynter is at his best when discussing such specifics as starting one’s own publishing house; dealing with printers; establishing discount, credit, and return policies; promoting, advertising, and selling a book; and order fulfillment.”

-- Publishers Weekly

“As usual, our self-publishing guru, Dan Poynter, is on the cutting edge of the New Book Publishing Model. Volume II couldn’t come at a better time…when we so desperately need it!”

-- Ellen Reid, www.bookshepherding.com

21b – Title and Copyright Page (REQUIRED)

On the first page of your book (unless you add the blurbs above), insert a title and copyright page. This page will look best if you center it.

This page is required to publish at Shakespir. The copyright portion should be in English, even if the rest of your book is written in another language (it’s okay to list it in the book’s language too).

This page is where you identify yourself as the author and claim copyright ownership of your book (reminder: if you’re not the original author, or you’re not the exclusive publisher or distributor of this book, your book does not belong on Shakespir. Public domain books are not allowed unless you are the original author. Private Label Rights articles and other similarly scammy works are not allowed).

Tip[*:*] Your title/copyright page is the first impression you make on your reader. Make it look professional. Center the title and copyright page by following the tips above in Step 14A. Although you can use Word’s center command (the button is in your toolbar) to center text, it’s not as reliable as applying a custom style that defines centering. If you’re centering the text on this page, do not use any first line indents. Also base your text on the “Normal” paragraph style (or a custom paragraph style based on Normal), and don’t use more than two different font sizes (looks ugly).

Your ebook is published by you (the author or publisher) at Shakespir.

Although not required, we recommend you place either Shakespir Edition on the copyright page, or “Published by [Authorname] at Shakespir,” (remove the quote marks and brackets), or, “Distributed by Shakespir,” or, if you’re a multi-author publisher, Published by [the name of the publisher publishing it on Shakespir] at Shakespir. This identifies Shakespir as the originator of your book when it’s distributed, and helps make Shakespir accountable to retailers and customers for any file errors. By naming Shakespir you also identify yourself as part of the world’s largest community of indie authors which includes many New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.

Although some Shakespir authors consider Shakespir their publisher, we consider you the publisher. Shakespir is your distributor, and your ebook publishing platform.

Avoid long copyright pages. Shorter is better because it allows the reader to start reading your book faster.

A title/copyright page requires the following:

Book Title



Published by Firstname Lastname [or PublisherName] at Shakespir(without the bold)

(or, alternatively, if you don’t want to use the “Published by…” line, add the words, Shakespir Edition on the next line, or Distributed by Shakespir. We recommend you select one of the above options, but this is optional and not required)


Copyright 2010 Authorname



(Optional: if you have multiple titles at Shakespir, write:)

Discover other titles by Authorname:

Title 1

Title 2

Title 3




Here’s the world’s shortest Shakespir title/copyright page:



Formatting is Fun

Published by Mark Coker at Shakespir

Copyright 2013 Mark Coker




Here’s another good one



Formatting is Fantastically Fun

By Mark Coker

Copyright 2013 Mark Coker

Shakespir Edition



Do not write “Kindle Edition” or “Ebook available at Apple iBooks;” otherwise it won’t qualify for the Premium Catalog. This is your Shakespir Edition. Also don’t write, “Printed in the United States,” because this is your Shakespir ebook, not your print edition. You don’t want to confuse readers.

Linking Rules – As a courtesy to ebook retailers that promote and sell your book, please restrict your hyperlinks to only your Shakespir author page, or your personal home page or blog. Do not add hyperlinks to online ebook retailers that compete with current or future Shakespir retail distribution partners. It’s not considerate, for example, to advertise your Kindle ebook in your ebook sold at Barnes & Noble and Apple iBooks. Such advertising will only confuse their customers, and in the case of iBooks will cause Apple to reject your book. Similarly, don’t encourage readers to visit a specific retailer to leave a review. “Please remember to leave a review for my ebook at Amazon” is bad, but “Please remember to leave a review for my book at your favorite retailer” is great.

Avoid language that prompts the reader to leave the retailer and go elsewhere to purchase your book. For example, “Buy my books on my web site” or “Buy my books at Shakespir” is bad, but “Visit my Shakespir author page at [insert your author page address]” or “Favorite my Shakespir author page at [insert your author page address]” or “Visit my web site at [insert address]” are fine.

It’s not necessary to place your ISBN inside your ebook. Instead, you’ll attach your ISBN via your Shakespir Dashboard’s ISBN Manager feature at Shakespir. If you don’t have an ISBN, Shakespir will supply you one for free. If you don’t attach an ISBN via the ISBN Manager screen, your book cannot ship to major retailers such as Apple and Kobo.

If the book is also available in a print edition, rather than naming retailers, just write, “This book is available in print at most online retailers.”


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21c – Add a Shakespir License Statement below Copyright Page (Optional but recommended)

All Shakespir books are sold DRM-free, without copy protection or encryption. This means you’re trusting your customers not to pirate your books. In our experience, the vast majority of customers are honest. Yet without proper education and reminders, a well-intentioned but enthusiastic fan might feel inclined to share your book with someone else.

To minimize this accidental piracy, we encourage Shakespir authors and publishers to add the Shakespir License Statement to their book. Feel free to modify the Shakespir License Statement to suit your preferences. Or, for authors and publishers who prefer a Creative Commons license, that’s acceptable too.

The Shakespir License Statement is an original creation of Shakespir, and it has been widely adopted by thousands of ebook authors and even some competitors. The Shakespir License Statement acts as a friendly Trojan horse. Even if your book is accidentally copied or shared, the recipient of the book is gently reminded of their legal and ethical obligation to support the author.

To use it for your book, add the following text to the title page or copyright pages of books that carry a price:

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

(Note: if you copy and paste this into your manuscript, be sure to remove the paragraph returns that may appear at the end of each line)

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

License Statements for books priced at FREE

If your book is free, it can still have a license statement. The wording is up to you. Do you want to grant readers the right to redistribute the book for non-commercial purposes, or do you want to restrict the book to their enjoyment only and invite them to ask others to download the book on their own at an authorized retailer? Here are two potential suggested license statements for free books:

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book, please return to your favorite ebook retailer to discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.


Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.


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Step 22 – The End of Your Book – Create Great End Matter

Many authors end their book with a period, and then give the reader nothing more. Don’t squander this opportunity. If your reader makes it to the end of the book, reward them with end matter (a.k.a. back matter)!

First, add a ### centered on the next line to signify the end.



Next, consider adding a personal message. Put yourself into the mind of the reader. They just finished your book. They loved it. They think the author (that’s you!) is absolutely fabulous. They want to read more of your material. This is an opportunity to connect with the reader.

Here’s what your message might say, immediately after the ### (customize it to suit your voice):

Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer?


Jane Author

Also take this opportunity to add other important end matter for the benefit of your readers. Add these three sections:


About the author:

[Insert a short bio, possibly even your picture. If you created a Shakespir Interview (learn how to create one at https://www.Shakespir.com/manageinterview/info) then provide a hyperlink to your interview) you could add a link to your interview at the end of your bio.




Discover other titles by Authorname

Title 1

Title 2

Title 3


(^^ please note the titles above should be listed as plain text, and not hyperlinked to a particular retail store, otherwise Apple may reject it)


Connect with Me:


Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/[insert your twitter address]

Friend me on Facebook: http://facebook.com/[insert your facebook address]

Subscribe to my blog: http://

Favorite me at Shakespir: http:// [link to your author page] (to find the address for your author page, simply click on My Shakespir [that’s it!])


  • Remember to make the hyperlinks “live” by highlighting the text you want to hyperlink, right-mouse click on the text, then insert the http:// hyperlink. Direct hyperlinks make it easy for your readers to connect.



Next, consider providing a few sample chapters of another one of your books. This is an especially powerful marketing technique if you write series fiction. Provide the reader the first few chapters of the next book in the series and get them hooked now!


If you take advantage of back matter, remember to create a Table of Contents up in your front matter, immediately preceding the start of your book, and link each of the elements with your Linked ToC. So, for example, as I showed you up in Step 20a, if you wrote a novel, your linked ToC at the beginning of your book might look like this:


Table of Contents


About Jane Smith

Other books by Jane Smith

Connect with Jane Smith


If you’re publishing a collection of short stories, or a boxed set of multiple full-length novels, the ToC might look like this:


Table of Contents

About this collection

Story title 1

Story title 2

Story title 3

About Jane Smith

Other books by Jane Smith

Connect with Jane Smith


For a quick tutorial on how to create a linked Table of Contents, watch my YouTube video titled, How to Add Navigation to Shakespir Ebooks.



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Congratulations! You’ve carefully studied and implemented the formatting instructions above, and now your formatting fun comes to a close. Now you turn your attention to final preparations as you prepare to unleash your masterpiece upon the world.

Step 23 – Prepare Your Cover Image

Your ebook cover image is the first impression you make on your prospective reader. Book covers are one of your most important marketing tools. When you upload your manuscript, you’ll be asked to attach your book cover as an image file. An image file usually ends with the file extension .JPG or .png.

Book cover images are required for the Shakespir Premium Catalog.

What Makes a Great Cover? Here are three tips:

1. Don’t design it yourself – Unless you’re a professional graphic designer, don’t design your own cover. Your cover should look professional, not amateur. Your cover needs to look as good as or better than what the big NY publishers and bestselling indie authors are putting out. Check out the bestseller lists for books in your category or genre. Your cover needs to look better than that. Given the importance of cover design, the services of paid professionals are ridiculously cheap. On my Mark’s List, most of the cover designers charge under $100. Check out their portfolios. If you don’t love them, no problem, there are hundreds of great cover designers out there and most will charge under $300.

2. Know your target reader – Before you hire a designer for your cover, you should be very clear about the profile of your target reader. Sure, you might have written a romance, but what type of romance reader will enjoy your book the most? Is it a sweet romance or a steamy erotic thriller? Make your cover hyper focused to appeal to that target reader. If your cover attracts the wrong readers, your reviews will suffer.

3. Great cover images make a promise – If you strip away the title and author name from your cover image, what promise would your image make to the reader? If you write fiction, the image should promise an emotional experience. In my blog post titled, [+ Six Tips to Bring Your Book Back from the Doldrums+], I shared this advice:

Here’s a quick test, and a challenge: If you were to strip away the title and author name, does the image tell the reader, “this is the book you’re looking for to experience [the feeling of first love for romance; fear for horror; edge of your seat suspense for thrillers; knowledge for a non-fiction how-to; an inspiring personal journey for a memoir, etc].”

To learn more tips about the importance of covers, and what distinguishes a great cover from a poor cover, download my free best practices ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success. You might also enjoy watching the companion video on YouTube, where I speak at length about cover design and other important tips that will help your book be more successful. You’ll find the complete collection of Shakespir videos here: http://www.youtube.com/user/Shakespir/ Here’s a direct link to the video on best practices: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnd7jYcjqm8

Unlike print books which have a front cover, back cover and spine, ebooks only have a front cover.

Mechanical Requirements for Book Covers – Book covers must be shaped like a book cover (a vertical [upright] rectangle, not a square) and should include your book title and author name.

Keep your cover image tasteful and avoid obscenity.

1,600 pixels wide by 2,400 pixels tall is generally a good dimension, or such similar ratio. The image must be at least 1,400 pixels wide, and the height should be greater (taller) than the width. A good guideline is to make the height between 1.3 and 1.6 times greater than the width. I think 1.5 to 1.6 usually looks best, though you and your cover designer have some flexibility here.

You can view how different dimensions look at [+ http://blog.Shakespir.com/2012/06/new-ebook-cover-image-requirements.html+]

Book covers cannot contain nudity, a price, or a web address (Apple, for example, will reject your book if they see a hyperlink on the book cover image), or advertisements of items not already included in the book.

It must include the book title and author name, and the title and author name must match the title and author name inside your book and in the metadata (Metadata is what you enter on the Publish page, such as the book title, author name, book description. Metadata = data about something else, and in this case the “something” else is your book).

The cover cannot be grainy, blurry or pixelated. Pixelation occurs when you start with a small image and expand the dimensions.

Make the text crisp and clear. When ebook retailers display your cover, it’ll be shrunk to the size of a postage stamp, so you want all the cover elements to look good in a small image. This means if you make your title or author name too small on the cover, it’ll be invisible in the thumbnail.

Your image must be in RGB color, not CMYK (at the risk of getting too technical, most image files are RGB [stands for red, green, blue], which is what’s supported by computer monitors. CMYK is a format for printing ink on paper. Most image processing applications will give you RGB automatically. If your image is in CMYK, it will be rejected by Shakespir [assuming we catch it. If we don’t catch it, the retailer will reject it]. Note that it is not easy to tell if your image is in RGB or CMYK. If your image opens in a Firefox browser, it’s RGB. If it doesn’t, then it’s probably CMYK. Your cover designer will understand.)

Tip: Immediately after publishing your book at Shakespir, it’ll be featured on the Shakespir home page if it has a cover. Your home page feature typically lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending upon how quickly you roll off the page when others publish after you. Therefore, don’t upload your book to Shakespir until you have a good looking cover image because you want to take full advantage of your 15 minutes of fame. If you upload without a cover, the book will miss the home page feature, even if you upload the cover hours later.


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Step 24 – Before You Publish, Review Requirements for Premium Distribution

Distribution is important. Think of it as virtual shelf space. To gain inclusion in the Premium Catalog, read the Shakespir Distribution page at http://www.Shakespir.com/distribution and double check you have satisfied all the requirements.

Common Errors that will disqualify your book from the Premium Catalog:

If you carefully studied and implemented the Style Guide, you’ll have no problem gaining inclusion in the Premium Catalog. Here are some common issues that prevent inclusion:

1. Book cover is missing, or doesn’t satisfy dimensional requirements (should be vertical rectangle, not a square, and not a sideways rectangle), or needs to be cropped, or is missing the title of the book and author name. Book cover should be at least 1,400 pixels wide, and for the height, a good guideline is to make it 1.5 to 1.6 times taller than the width. For example, if your width is 1,600 (I recommend doing slightly larger than the minimum 1,400), your height would be 2,400 pixels if you’re aiming for the 1.5 ratio (1.5*1,600=2,400) or 2,560 pixels tall for the 1.6 ratio (1.6*1,600=2,560). More instructions and visual examples at [+ http://blog.Shakespir.com/2012/06/new-ebook-cover-image-requirements.html+]

2. Your author name in the metadata is lower case when it should be Initial Caps, such as: Jane Smith. If you list your name as jane smith in your metadata, we’ll flag it for you to repair. To fix, go to Account: Edit Account Information at https://www.Shakespir.com/account/edit

3. The book description or book title you enter on the Publish page is ALL CAPS. We strongly discourage ALL CAPS. ALL CAPS=SCREAMING on the Internet.

4. Poor paragraph construction. Don’t mix block paragraphs with first line indented paragraphs for the body of your book. Don’t use tabs or space bar spaces to create indents.

5. Missing an ISBN in the Dashboard’s ISBN Manager. Although we don’t require an ISBN for inclusion in the Premium Catalog, if you don’t attach an ISBN in your Dashboard’s ISBN Manager then we cannot distribute your book to Apple and Kobo.


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Step 25 – How to Upload Your Book!

Once your book is properly formatted and you have your awesome-looking cover image prepared, click the “Publish” link from the main menu, anywhere on the site. Do not click this link if you want to upload a new version of a book you previously uploaded (instead, go to Dashboard: “Upload new version”).

On the Publish page, you’ll fill out all the data associated with your book, and you’ll attach your book file and your cover file. Before you click the [publish] link at the bottom of the page, triple check that you filled out all the options above.

If you price your book at “Reader Sets the Price,” this option is available for customers who purchase at Shakespir.com, but is not supported by our retailers. Barnes & Noble will not accept Reader Sets the Price books. If you choose this option, your book price will default to $4.95 for other, non-B&N retailers. You can modify this default retailer price by clicking to Dashboard: Settings afterward and select a different default price for retail distribution only (though the book will still not ship to B&N).

Choose a price that ends in $.99, because Apple requires all prices to end in $.99 (although free is acceptable as well). If you provide a price that doesn’t end in $.99, Shakespir will raise your price to the nearest $.99 when we ship to Apple, and for Apple only. Therefore, if you give us a price of $1.20, it’ll become $1.99 at Apple.

Choose a sampling percentage. This is the percentage of the book that can be downloaded as a free sample, calculated from the first page of the book. Most authors select 15-20%. If you don’t make a free sample available, the book will sell poorly at the Shakespir store. Customers want samples. Also, if you don’t designate a sampling percentage, your book won’t be available at Aldiko, our mobile app catalog partner for Android devices. Whether or not you set a sampling percentage at Shakespir, our retail distribution partners, will generate their own sample files, usually of the first 5 to 20% from the start of the book forward.

After you click the [publish] button at the bottom of the Publish page, your browser will pause for several seconds as your file uploads to Shakespir. If you have a slow internet connection, your browser may pause for 60 seconds or longer. While it’s paused, do not click your browser’s reload button, because it could cause you to double-publish the book. Next, you should progress to the conversion page with a spinning wheel. You do not need to watch the spinning wheel. Conversions are near-instantaneous, usually about two to five minutes.

If you click the [publish] button and it bounces you back to the previous page, carefully read the error messages before proceeding. If you’re having problems uploading, visit the Shakespir Support center at https://www.Shakespir.com/about/supportfaq#Uploading for troubleshooting tips.

Once your book is finished converting, it will immediately go live on the Shakespir home page where you’ll receive your 15 minutes of fame until new titles after your own bump you off the page. You’ll also receive an email, confirming the ebook conversion and reporting AutoVetter errors, if any. Carefully review the email for AutoVetter messages (see the next Step, Step 26).

If your book is part of a series, use our exclusive Series Manager feature to make your series book more discoverable to readers at Shakespir and our retail partners. You’ll find Series Manager in your Dashboard. Learn more about Series Manager here: [+ http://blog.Shakespir.com/2013/09/new-Shakespir-series-manager-improves.html+]

If your book doesn’t have any AutoVetter errors, it will automatically be considered for Premium Catalog inclusion. Once our vetting team approves your book for the Premium Catalog, it will begin shipping to our retailers.

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Step 26 – Review AutoVetter Messages

AutoVetter is your friend.

AutoVetter is our automated formatting checker that inspects your book the moment you upload it. AutoVetter provides you instant feedback regarding potential formatting problems. If you get AutoVetter messages, don’t despair! They’re easy to fix.

The AutoVetter messages are accessible to you in four places:

1. On your publish confirmation page (the page that appears after your Meatgrinder conversion completes).

2. At the top of your book page.

3. In your publish-confirmation email we automatically send you following your upload.

4. In your Dashboard, underneath the “Premium Status” column. If the Dashboard link reads, “requires modification,” click the link.

Once you learn of an AutoVetter error, please fix it immediately. Otherwise, the errors will prevent or delay your book’s acceptance into the Shakespir Premium Catalog which will prevent distribution. Once you fix the issue, go to your Dashboard and click the “upload new version” link.

Just because AutoVetter flags a potential error doesn’t mean Shakespir is “rejecting” your book. You’d be surprised how often authors email us to complain that Shakespir keeps rejecting their book. AutoVetter analyzes your book for several potential problems, and its analysis is usually accurate.

Step 27 – After You Publish: Check Your Work

After your book appears on the site, check the formats for quality. The more formats you offer, the better your ability to serve your readers. If a certain format doesn’t do your book justice, you can deactivate it. For example, if you publish a picture book for children, our .TXT and .PDB formats won’t show images, so you might want to deactivate them. If the images are nice-to-have but not need-to-have, then it’s probably okay to leave those formats in place because more formats open you up to more readers.

EPUB is your most important format, because this is what we distribute to the retailers. It is a requirement for inclusion in the Premium Catalog. The MOBI format is very popular for the many Kindle owners who shop at Shakespir. Even if you already distribute to Amazon on your own, many Shakespir customers prefer to buy Kindle books at Shakespir.com so DO NOT deactivate your MOBI format. At present, we only distribute a limited number of titles to Amazon, pending Amazon creating automated systems to support the bulk ingestion of Shakespir ebooks. See http://Shakespir.com/distribution for our current criteria for Amazon distribution.

To check the quality of your EPUB file (very important), download and install the free Adobe Digital Editions reader software from Adobe. Once you install it, simply visit your book page and click on the link to download your full EPUB.

To check the MOBI format, which is used by the Amazon Kindle customers, download the free Kindle for PC software or if you’re on a Mac, Kindle for Mac. Once you have this installed, you can click on the MOBI version of your book and it’ll instantly open in this helpful Kindle app. If you have a Kindle, you can also download it to the Kindle (see instructions in the Shakespir FAQ).

Usually a quick look at the HTML reader version will help you spot obvious formatting problems, because it acts like a canary in a coal mine. If things aren’t right, it’ll let you know! Don’t worry if page breaks aren’t where you expected them (this is normal and okay!). After you correct any problems, go to your Dashboard and then click Upload a New Version next to your title. From there, you can re-upload your file.

Step 27a – Check for EPUBCHECK Compliance

If you want your book distributed to the Apple iBookstore, the EPUB file we generated for you must pass EPUBCHECK, which is an industry standard compliance validation tool. We’ve built a lot of magic into Meatgrinder that automatically repairs many EPUBCHECK problems without your intervention, but we can’t fix them all.

If your book doesn’t pass EPUBCHECK, it means there’s a problem with the source file you uploaded to Shakespir, and your book won’t ship to Apple. If your book fails EPUBCHECK, AutoVetter will tell you. We’ll notify you via email, and you’ll also see other on-screen messages at Shakespir.

If your book fails EPUBCHECK, here’s how to learn more: Click to http://Shakespir.com/epubcheck to view our tips on how to identify and repair EPUBCHECK errors. Take another deep breath. No, you’re not stupid! The confusing errors are stupid. Welcome to the early days of the ebook revolution. We’re confident these tools will continue to get better over time.

As the link above will suggest, there’s a free online validator that will help you learn more about your EPUBCHECK errors. Simply download your EPUB file to your computer’s desktop, and then upload the file to this free validation service: http://validator.idpf.org/ . Click [browse] to locate your file on your desktop, then click [validate] to run the test. If your book passes, it’ll tell you. Congratulations! Go celebrate.

If it fails, it’ll toss up (mostly) incomprehensible spaghetti language telling you why your book failed. Take a deep breath (Very important). Try to study and understand the messages, but don’t pull out too much hair if it’s confusing, because it is SUPER-CONFUSING.

If the tips below don’t help you, or you find they drive your EPUB-addled brain to the breaking point, one of the most effective methods to repair the problem is to reformat your book using the Nuclear Method described above in this guide, because the Nuclear Method will clear out all the gunk you cannot see (it’ll also remove all your formatting, so use it carefully). Or, if you’d rather pay someone to fix the problem for you, visit http://www.Shakespir.com/list to hire a low-cost emotional life preserver (an ebook formatter).

Common Reasons for EPUBCHECK Failure:

Missing the “http://” in Web Address – If your book contains improperly formed hyperlinks, it’ll fail EPUBCHECK. For example, if you right mouse click on a hyperlink, and you see the link points to www.website.com instead of ://www.website.com, it’ll fail.

Missing the “mailto:” in front of an email address – If you’re linking to a live email address, the email address underneath the hyperlink (right mouse click then click Edit Hyperlink to see) should begin with “mailto:” so it looks like mailto:[email protected] where, of course, you’ll replace [email protected] with the actual email address.

HTML and Styling errors – This is a catch-all for “that which we mere mortals cannot understand.” Microsoft Word often contains the remnants of old or hidden styling that you can’t see with the naked eye, especially if your book originated in a program other than Microsoft Word, or if your book was once in HTML form. Unless you’re a geek or HTML expert, these errors, even after studying the EPUBCHECK error reporting, are very difficult to decipher and identify. If you can’t figure it out on your own, you may need to reformat your book from scratch by implementing the Nuclear Method, which will purge all the hidden corruption. The Nuclear Method will also purge all other formatting.

Misidentified Image Files – If Word thinks your image is a Gif file when it’s really a JPEG, for example, this can cause an EPUBCHECK error. To fix, delete the image along with a couple paragraph returns above and below the image, and then re-import the image.

Properties Error – If you examine the Properties in your Word file (In Word 2000 & 2003, go to File: Properties; in Word 2007 click on the round Office button at the upper left of the screen, then hover your mouse pointer over Prepare, then click Properties) and you see strange HTML characters in there, remove them.

PlayOrder Error – If you see “playorder” in the spaghetti messages, try deleting your table of contents and retype it, following the step by step outlined in the ToC section above. Make sure you created your linked ToC using the bookmark method, and not Word’s ToC field codes.

You’ll find more troubleshooting tips at http://Shakespir.com/epubcheck


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Step 28 – Achieving Premium Catalog Approval

Once your book is accepted into the Shakespir Premium Catalog, it’s eligible for distribution to major ebook retailers including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd and others. It’ll also be available for distribution to public libraries via OverDrive and Baker & Taylor Axis 360.

How to Check Your Premium Catalog Status – To check your Premium Catalog status, visit your Dashboard and look under the “Premium Status” column. If it says “pending review,” it means you’re waiting for Shakespir to manually approve your book for the catalog. The process can take up to a week or two, depending on the backlog.

If it says “modifications required,” click on the link to see what modifications are required. Make these corrections immediately so you increase your odds of gaining inclusion in the Premium Catalog the first time our vetting team looks at your book.

If it’s waiting for you to submit your book for consideration, click the link in your Dashboard then click the resubmit button on the next page.

Each time you make a change to your book, the status may change to “Needs Submission” until you click the resubmit button. The resubmit button, which you’ll see after you make any change other than price, is your way of telling our review team that your new changes are ready for review. After you click the resubmit button, your status will change to “pending review.” Don’t worry, if your book was previously approved for the Premium Catalog, the previously approved version will continue to ship in the meantime. We also fast track reviews when earlier versions of the same book were already approved for the catalog.

After your book is approved – Once your book is approved for the Premium Catalog, it will ship to participating retailers in the next shipment. Over the last two years, we’ve dramatically increased the speed of our shipments. As of this writing, we ship daily, seven days per week to Apple, Scribd, Oyster, Baker & Taylor and Kobo. Shipments to Apple go out 96 times per day, so it’s not uncommon for a book or price change to appear same day or within hours. For Barnes & Noble and FlipKart, we ship five days per week. For OverDrive we ship once per week on Monday evening. You can check shipment status by clicking on the Channel Manager link in your Dashboard. After your book ships, it may take anywhere from one to three business days for your book to appear at each retailer, not counting weekends. This is determined by the retailer, not Shakespir. If it’s taking longer than 10 days for your book to appear somewhere after your Channel Manager says it has shipped, please report it to the Shakespir support team by clicking the “Support” link at the bottom of any Shakespir web page. Our team is standing by to help you!

Learn more about the Premium Catalog and its distribution outlets at http://www.Shakespir.com/distribution


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Step 29 – How to Market Your Book

Although Shakespir makes it free and easy to publish and distribute an ebook, it’s your responsibility to promote your book. Read my free companion guide, The Shakespir Book Marketing Guide at http://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/305 for a complete overview of how to use Shakespir to promote and sell your book. I provide over 30 book marketing and author platform-building tips, all free to implement.

Step 30 – Learn the Best Practices of the Bestselling Shakespir Authors

In March 2012, I published The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success and have updated it several times since then. This free ebook examines 30 best-practices of the most commercially successful Shakespir authors. Learn how to maximize your success as an indie author and publisher. Even if you don’t yet publish and distribute with Shakespir, this free resource will help you become a more professional, more successful author or publisher.


Step 31 – Watch our Video Workshops on YouTube

In September and October of 2013, I uploaded narrated recordings of five workshops. The five workshops comprise eight hours of training material. It’s like an intensive all-day digital publishing seminar.

You’ll find them all at http://www.youtube.com/user/Shakespir Maybe someday we’ll create a formatting workshop!

Here are direct links:

#1 – An Introduction to Ebook Publishing (a primer and e-publishing checklist)


#2 – The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices secrets for reaching more readers)


#3 – Shakespir Survey Helps Authors Sell More Books (pricing strategy and fun metrics)


#4 – 10 Trends Driving the Future of Authorship (indie authors are the future of publishing!)


#5 – How to Reach More Readers at Apple iBooks (merchandising secrets to grow sales!)


  1. – How to Add Navigation to a Shakespir Ebook


Helpful Resources:


Shakespir Support Center – FAQs, troubleshooting


Glossary of E-Publishing Terminology:


The Shakespir Blog – Shakespir news and other ebook trends:


Shakespir Video Workshops on YouTubehttp://youtube.com/user/Shakespir

Shakespir operational updates, bugs, fixes, miscellaneous:


[* Shakespir Book Marketing Guide - 30+ marketing tips, all free *]


The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success – best practices of successful authors


How Shakespir Distributes Your Books


Your Dashboard – Monitor Premium Catalog Status




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Send Feedback So I Can Improve This Guide!

I hope this guide was useful to you, and I thank you for taking the time to read it. Please send me your comments and suggestions. Your feedback will help me improve this guide for other authors.


Won’t you please take a moment to tell your friends about Shakespir?


Mark Coker


Shakespir, Inc.

first initial second initial at Shakespir dot com


Follow me on Twitter – Shakespir news, trends in ebook publishing:



About the author



Mark Coker is the founder of Shakespir. He’s also the author of the Shakespir Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book – FREE), The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of the most successful ebook authors – FREE), The 10-Minute PR Checklist – Earn the Publicity You Deserve (helps entrepreneurs develop and implement strategic PR programs – $5.99), and Boob Tube, a novel he co-wrote with his wife Lesleyann ($2.99). The titles are available at most leading ebook retailers.



Connect with Mark


Shakespir author page: http://www.Shakespir.com/profile/view/mc

Shakespir blog: http://blog.Shakespir.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/markcoker

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/markcoker

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markcoker

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker


Connect with Fellow Shakespir Authors/Publishers


The Official Shakespir Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/Shakespir

Directory of Shakespir authors on Twitter: https://Shakespir.com/twitterbuzz/Shakespir_authors_on_twitter


Directory of Shakespir authors on Facebook: [+ https://www.Shakespir.com/socialbuzz/Shakespir_authors/latest/facebook+]



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Keyboard Shortcuts:

If you take the time to learn some special keyboard shortcuts, you can dramatically reduce the time it takes to format your book.

Meet Mr. Pilcrow: As I remind you up above, before you attempt any reformatting, activate Word’s “show/hide” feature, by clicking the pilcrow in your menu bar. Show/hide exposes your hidden formatting. Here’s what the button looks like:


Power Keys: Often the keyboard shortcut involves pressing the CTRL key on the PC or the Command key on the Mac, followed by an F for “Find” or an “H” for “Find and Replace”. In the Style Guide, if I give you the command, CTRL+A, it means press the CTRL key (or the Command key for you Mac users) at the same time you press the letter key. Here and elsewhere, you may see the same command designated as CTRL-A (ignore the + or the -, they each mean “do this while you do that”).

HIGHLIGHT ALL: CTRL+A – This key combination highlights the entire book, making it easy to apply a global change to the formatting. After you highlight everything by pressing CTRL+A, for example, a right mouse click anywhere, followed by a click on Paragraph, will allow you to globally modify your paragraphs, or your line spacing, or allow you to instantly apply a special first line paragraph indent.

COPY or CUT: CTRL+C or CTRL+X – Highlight any text string with your mouse (click and hold your mouse key, then drag your mouse to highlight), then click CTRL+C to copy it into memory. After you copy something into memory, the original text stays where it is. If you CTRL+X, or cut it, it removes the text from the screen and places it in memory.

PASTE: CTRL+V – This allows to you paste text anywhere you want after you copy or cut it.

FIND AND REPLACE: CTRL+H – This is one of the most powerful features. Let’s say you accidentally used the Tab key to create first line indents in your original manuscript, and now you read in the Style Guide that Tabs are about as welcome as the stomach flu. But what if your 100,000 word novel has 2,001 paragraphs? It would take you five hours to zap all those Tabs one by one. With Search & Replace, you can zap ‘em all in about 5 seconds. Just press the CTRL key on your keyboard at the same time you press the H key. This will pop up the Find and Replace box below.

After you press either of these key combinations, you can use codes to search for, or to search and replace for, certain formatting marks. The formatting codes are preceded by a ^ (called a caret) and a letter. By combining ^ with t, for example (^t), you create the symbol for tab. ^p is the symbol for a paragraph return (a.k.a a “hard return”). ^l is the symbol for manual line feed. If you click the “More” button in the box shown above, you’ll see other Search and Replace options.

Let’s put the above tip to work to solve my challenge of how to remove 2,001 tabs in five seconds.

In the “Find what:” field enter: ^t

^t is the shortcut symbol for tab

In the “Replace with:” field, leave it blank (enter nothing), then click the Replace All button.

It’s always a smart idea to launch your Find and Replace command from the very top of your manuscript (click your mouse to the top of the document). Word executes the Find and Replace from the place you launch it in your document forward (or downward, depending on your perspective).

How to Eliminate Space Bar Spaces: If your document improperly uses space bar spaces instead of indents, you can use a variation of the FIND AND REPLACE tool as well. Activate show/hide, and take a look at the space bar spaces. Maybe you’re using what looks like two, three, four or five space bar spaces. In fact, if you used space bar spaces, you might find it varies. Again, if you had to manually remove these it would take hours. Find and replace does it in seconds. Follow these steps:

1. In the Find what: field, enter a ^p immediately followed by five taps on the space bar. ^P is the symbol for a paragraph return. By entering ^p first, preceding the space bar spaces, you’ll ensure you’re only zapping the space bar spaces you’re using for first line indents.

2. In the Replace with: field, enter ^p only.

3. Repeat step 1, but this time search for ^p followed by four taps on the space bar. Then replace with ^p and then click Replace All. Then repeat it all over again for ^p followed by three spaces, then two, and finally one.

Remember, after you purge the bad first line indents that you originally created with a Tab or space bar spaces, be sure to add either proper first line paragraph indents, or implement the block paragraph method, described in step 7a above.

THE QQQ TRICK – Have you ever copied and pasted something into Word, only to discover it inserts paragraph returns in odd places? This commonly happens when you copy and paste text from an email into Word, or from a Web page into Word. If you have a lot of text facing this problem, try what I call my QQQ Trick. Do a CTRL+H, search for pp and replace with QQQ then search for p and replace with nothing. Then search for QQQ and replace with [^p]p and voila, you have reflowable text again. This trick has other uses with other variations. Essentially, you’re using a wildcard – QQQ – as a temporary placeholder for something. I chose QQQ because the letters are unlikely to ever appear in natural language.



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  • Author: Childs Play, Jr
  • Published: 2015-12-14 03:50:34
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