Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Ebook Formatting Does Matter

March 7th, 2011

I’m here to nag. I’m good at it. I had twenty-plus years of practice as a mom. So sit up straight, stop playing so many video games, and make sure your ebooks aren’t loaded with errors!

And I’m not just talking to you, Indie Published Author, who prepared your Kindle edition yourself. I’m also looking at you, Traditional Publisher. You’re older, you should know better. The younger kids are watching you, you know.

Here’s some of what I’ve seen since venturing into ebook reading last fall:

A traditionally-published historical novel, newly released, with loads of copyediting errors and missing most blank lines between scenes.

A traditionally-published fantasy novel that has been a huge publishing success, but certain sections of it (not the whole thing) are full of copyediting errors.

A traditionally-published fantasy novel, very recent release, with a table of contents that shows the first line of a preface, then a dedication, then the stuff at the end of the book, then the “sections” of the book—which is incredibly confusing if you happen to be a reader like me who looks at TOC’s. This book also had a few random sections with multiple blank lines, but the copyediting was good.

A self-published, currently 99 cents ebook that has been getting a lot of publicity in the last couple of weeks, and which starts off with “Chapter 1” centered and set off in big type, and then immediately under it “Chapter 1” left aligned and in standard type, as it must have appeared in the original manuscript. This one also has lots of funky characters sprinkled throughout. I like to think of them as WordPerfect errors-in-translation because I had the same thing in my older manuscripts but I hunted them down and killed them.

Yes, I’m being a scold, but my point is that ebooks should not be looked at as the poor cousin of print books. Editing and formatting matters in ebooks too. Shoddy goods eventually fail in the marketplace. And besides, it’s a point of pride to do stuff right. Right?

That said, if you discover copyediting or formatting problems in my ebooks, please let me know.

Posted on: Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 1:12 pm
Categories: Publishing.

3 Responses to “Ebook Formatting Does Matter”

  1. Ted Lemon Says:

    You are so right. Unfortunately, as an intrepid reader, it’s very easy for me to roll right over mistakes of this kind, so they are getting away with it. The 99-cent novel to which you refer didn’t strike me as being unusually bad, although it would be nice if the author could learn the distinction between adverbs and adjectives. But aside from the bad grammar, the writing was surprisingly good.

  2. Linda Says:

    It’s surely true that readers will forgive a lot for a good story! With this particular indie novel though, I just get the feeling the author never actually looked at the ebook. I know I’m overly fussy, but still….

  3. Ted Lemon Says:

    You *make* books. Of *course* you’re fussy! 🙂 And bless you for being fussy! A well-edited book is definitely much nicer to read than one that was poorly edited.