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I uploaded my short story on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) yesterday. All went well and I am excited, given this is my first attempt to publish anything!

I did some research prior to making the above attempt. Obviously, I wanted to get it right from the start.

The one thing I was constantly alerted to by others was formatting. This included advice on using a professional, a third company etc. I am unsure whether it related to using a service provider such as Lulu (i.e. unsure if the latter related to formatting only or wider matters, including publishing on multiple platforms through lulu etc.)

I appreciate the tips and advice I got.

I was told to do HTML formating and all the coding was beyond me.

I am unsure where I read it but I followed the following steps:

  1. Typed my story in Word (It was just three pages; I wanted to start with something I could manage.)
  2. Use the indent feature (under paragraph tab) to set the paragraphing.
  3. Saved my file as Web Page Filtered. I was told to use this (rather than Web Page) because it took care of the hidden codes in the document.

I then logged into KDP and uploaded my document, previewed the format and then clicked OK.

All the above was relatively easy.

Question: Is there anything I am not doing in terms of formatting my document in HTML?

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Is there something wrong with the output you achieved using this procedure? – Neil Fein Jun 3 '13 at 2:26
It looks fine. The issue is that I am really confused about all the complicated advice about HTML formatting when it can be as simple as the steps I have described. – Javeer Baker Jun 3 '13 at 22:05
The essence of the matter is that to you "it looks fine". To an expert looking into how the effect has been achieved, the underlying code might be bloated, tangled and otherwise just nasty. Does that matter? Well that depends on lots of things ... – Fortiter Jun 4 '13 at 6:34
There are a lot of people out there, I wouldn't call them exactly professionals, with enough knowledge of HTML who could do it for you for a very small fee. HTML is fairly simple and straightforward, a lot of people know it, and they can't charge you too much because it's not nuclear physics. I don't have experience with Kindle, but on Smashwords, there was a small list of people on their site who offered formatting services. Maybe there's something like that on Kindle too, so if you're not confident in your own work, you might just hire somebody. – Tannalein Jun 19 '13 at 4:37
up vote 4 down vote accepted

MS Word brings a lot of trash along, when converted to HTML. By trash, I mean unnecessary formating tags and styles that can mess your content if you decide to change it in the future. I won't give much more details but MS Word was design to create Doc files, not HTML. If you need something else than Doc files, Word is probably not for you.

HTML is extremely easy for basic documents like a 3 pages text, but it has its learning curve. Besides, HTML will split content from formatting, and that means that you will probably need to learn a few more things to do small funky things like add extra space after a paragraph.

Again, it's not hard. Anybody can learn basic HTML without any problems but it has its learning curve. Of course, HTML was not exactly designed to book writing so I don't think you will enjoy to write using HTML without a visual editor.

What I suggest is: use Markdown and Pandoc if you really intent to write ebooks.

Markdown is extremely simple. I'm using it right now to write this answer and it was designed to create a text that could be read almost in the same way by a render software and by a human. Also, it's plain text what means that can be edited in any text editor.

Using Pandoc, you will be able to compile (aka export) your markdown file into almost anything you want: DOC, HTML, PDF, LATEX,... And the code Pandoc generate is way cleaner than MS Word.

So, you asked if there was anything you are not doing in terms of formatting my document in HTML, and the answer is: there's so many trash in a HTML document generated from MS Word that it would be hard to tell.

You want to write eBooks, use proper eBooks tools. MS Word is a wonderful software, I just don't think it's the right tool to create web content.

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Actually Word was designed to create printed documents, not to create .doc files. The .doc files were just there so you could save your document. – celtschk Jun 13 '13 at 19:52

When saving a file from Word as HTML, Word acts as a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) HTML editor. From personal experience, the HTML produced by the program is passable and effective, though inelegant and usually not the absolute best it could be.

The only impact this has, the vast majority of the time, is that the file-size is the tiniest bit bigger than it could be - it's not really a big deal.

If you have tested the file in your browser and on an e-reader and it looks ok, then you aren't "missing" anything integral to having a functional e-book.

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Believe me, saving a word file as HTML brings awful results. HTML is really easy if you just want to format an ebook. – Psicofrenia Jun 13 '13 at 8:27
@Psicofrenia should I ask a separate question on how to format an ebook in HTML? – Javeer Baker Jun 13 '13 at 8:55
Check my answer below – Psicofrenia Jun 13 '13 at 16:49
If you aren't editing the HTML file itself after the fact I don't find the mucked up code makes much of a difference, but Psicofrenia's solution will definitely produce better results if you have the time and patience to do so. :) – Scyoni Jun 14 '13 at 1:55

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