E-books, Images, and You

Very self-help-y, right?

If you are planning on adding images to your e-book, then this is the place to be. All of my books are illustrated, and it was a pain trying to figure out how to format images. I did all my images one way, because one site said so, but it turned out to be outdated. Now images should be TWICE the size that I created them at. Arg!

While the images inside your book can be whatever size you would like, the cover has very strict regulations–especially if you are going to distribute through Amazon or Apple.

Cover Images

According to the Smashwords Style Guide, cover images should be 1600 pixels wide by 2500 pixels tall to adjust for future size minimums. The current minimum is 1400 pixels wide. All distributors require your cover be rectangular, and not tilted in any way. [Like making them look 3D or something] Some retailers are very picky, and will reject a book if its cover is subpar. Things like plain old bad design and pixelation will get your book rejected. It’s best to start extra large and shrink it to the 1600 x 2500 size, which will result in a very nice cover with no pixelation.

A Note on Covers

Your cover is the face of your book. If you’re not really artistic it’s probably best to find someone to create a cover for you. There are no shortage of artists and graphic designers looking for work–check your local CraigsList or commission tons of talented artists in all price ranges at DeviantArt! If an author you like has an amazing cover, do some research on who does their covers, or send a polite email asking for that information. Most authors are happy to give contact info! Remember, your cover is the first impression people have of your book, so you want it to look brilliant!

Interior Images

Interior images are different. They can really be whatever size you want, but for your images to look nice on most devices, you’ll want them to be at least 600 pixels wide by 800 pixels tall.


If you have a vector image [meaning it was created in Flash, Illustrator, etc.] that is scalable without losing quality, you can insert it into your manuscript as a .svg file.

If you have an image in any other format, it’s recommended to save it as a .jpg or .png before inserting it.

File Size

.jpg is the gold standard when it comes to compression and small file sizes, but it sometimes compromises quality to use it. On the other hand, .png is a lossless format, but can result in some hefty files. If you don’t lose anything for doing it, make your images greyscale. It cuts down on file size immensely!

Inserting Images

If you are inserting an image into your manuscript, you’ll want to do it one of two ways:

Full Page Images

These are images [such as your cover] that you want to be on their own page. You insert them as a picture from the Insert then Picture, then From File option in your menu bar. Once you select your image, right click it and select Anchor, then As Character. You must do this, otherwise your images will all be displayed at the front of your book, and not where you placed them originally. Insert a page break after this type of image, and you are done.

Inline Images

Inline images are done similarly, but you’ll need to place it between paragraphs. So it will look like this:

This is the stuff you type before your image. It might be relevant to your image, or the image may be non-sequitur. It doesn’t matter. This is just an example.

This is a cat

This is your next paragraph. It’s, uh, relevant to this cat picture. Yeah, that’s it. But it shows how you have to slip images in.

You see, e-books are innately reflowable. That means people are able to change the text size–and sometimes style–which shifts everything around to accommodate that.  If you try to put a picture truly inline, you will break your formatting, and muck up everything else. It’s just bad. Don’t do it. [But don’t forget to Anchor As Character, otherwise it will jump out off of its page in your book and move to the front, because images are divas like that.]


It you are careful and follow the guidelines, you can add images to dress up a technical manual, or even create a short comic–it’s entirely up to you!

Turning a Manuscript into an E-book

If you are coming here from Formatting a Document for Conversion [in OpenOffice], then you most likely have a clean, formatted document for processing. If you did not, then I hope you have a clean, formatted OpenOffice, Pages, or Word document ready for use. Otherwise, click the link above for help formatting your file in OpenOffice, or follow this guide here by Catherine, Caffeinated for formatting your story in Word.

Now that you have a formatted document, let’s begin!

Program Options There are a great many programs for converting a document to an epub, which is the standard for digital books. You could use an online option, like Online Convert, Epub Converter, or Ebook Convertor, but I am kind of old fashioned and like to use a program. After mucking about with several, I found one that I liked, called Calibre. This guide will now assume you are using Calibre for all intents and purposes, but it could apply to many converters.

What You’ll Need:

Optional, but Extremely Helpful:

  • A smartphone or tablet with the Kindle app and/or Google Play Books on it


  • A dedicated e-reader device, such as a Nook, Kindle, etc.

Converting Your Document

  • Obtain your program or load web converter of choice. [We’ll go with Calibre. Install and run the program.]
  • Load your formatted file in the program, and look for some place to input metadata. Metadata is a group of little info bits attached to your finalized e-book. It tells e-readers things like the author’s name, whether the book is part of a series, and what tags have been attached to it. Fill out as much of this data as possible! It helps people to more easily find your book, and that is never a bad thing!
  • Once that is done, go over your settings. You should have options like Font Size Key, [which should be something like 7.5, 9.0, 10.0, 12.0, 15.5, 20.0, 22.0, 24.0 if you want reflowable text] Output Profiles, and your general format area. [in this case, epub]
  • Or you could be brave and leave everything at default values and see what comes out! You can always do it over again, so experimenting does not hurt you!
  • Once you tell it to convert, you should have the option to save it to your hard drive. Save it.

Proofing Your Epub

  • Now, take your epub file, and load it up in Adobe Digital Editions. This is the front line for proofreading.
  • How does it look? If it doesn’t want to make you gouge your eyes out, and the text is uniform–not jumping around the page or overlapping, then congratulations–you’ve passed the first test!

  • We’re not done yet though! Now it’s time to run that puppy through EPUB Validator. Load up the file, and press submit, then wait for it to finish. Agonizing, no?
  • If you did everything right, you should get no errors! Yesss! If you are going through a distributor such as Smashwords or Amazon, then your book must pass this test 100%. If not, it will be rejected, and you will be sad.

Extra Credit

  • If you really want to experience your masterpiece as the average reader, take your file and upload it to your smartphone’s reader app of choice, [I like Google Books] or dedicated e-reader. Poke it. Reflow it, skim it, skip chapters, click the hell out of your table of contents! Try to break it. If you can do all those things and it still looks fabulous, and doesn’t error out, then congratulations–you have a completed e-book!
  • Repeat this process from the top if you need to make it a Mobi file, or anything besides epub. Use your epub file as the input now instead of your doc to minimize errors.

You’re done! Pat yourself on the back and have a cookie!

…or a whole cake. I won’t judge you. Probably.