Uh, About That…

So I went to submit the final edition of Atlantis: TVC #1 a few days ago, and uh, submitted an old test draft on accident.

Lilo is just one of my spirit animals…

I didn’t realize it until Sunday night when I went to check things over before today’s launch, and opened up the preview. I hurriedly re-submitted the final version on the spot, but I don’t know if every retailer updated or not.

Please keep this in mind if you end up getting the screwed up version. I swear I know the difference between my it’s and its. *dies*

[You should be able to update it if you get the messed up version by re-downloading it from whichever retailer you purchased the book from.]

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 I did all my images one way, because one site said so, but it turned out to be outdated.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!

Formatting a Document for Conversion [in OpenOffice]

I’m going to assume you are here because you have used OpenOffice to write your manuscript, only to hit a wall when you discovered that all the tutorials on formatting a document properly just assumed you had Microsoft Word.

It’s okay–it’s going to be okay! I will show you exactly what I did to format my book, entirely in OpenOffice, step by step.

First, assemble your programs! You’ll need the following installed on your computer:

[That was easy, right?]

If you want to set up your document before you start writing, you can skip to Step 3! For those of you who were more concerned with getting your mind excretions out in the open, without knowing what the hell you were doing, you should start at Step 1. [Like me. I totally started at step 1.]

Ready? Let’s begin!

Step 1- Save a Copy of Your Manuscript

You absolutely, 100% want a backup. If you screw something up, you don’t want to lose all your work. No one wants to see hours of blood, sweat, and brain stuff thrown away. Back it up! Save it as “your_manuscript_title_formatted.odt” or something like that.

Step 2- Open the Renamed Copy in OpenOffice Writer

Look at that thing. Probably using tabs everywhere. I see you, and your tabbing ways. Click on the icon that looks like this. [it’s most likely on the upper right of your toolbar somewhere]

This is called a Pilcrow, and it is your friend. It will show you what a mess your document is. In fact, your document will now look like this:

Click to enlarge

See these? → These are where you hit the tab key. See those symbols? Those are soft returns. They appear when you hit shift+enter, or when the program inserts them to indicate a line wrap.

“But Mel,” you shout, “You’re supposed to indent the first line, and all dialog! Also, I don’t know how those weird bent arrows got there! Aliens!”

Tabs and Alien Arrows are not the way!  Soft Returns and Tabs are the enemy. We hate them. We want them gone. Now, we could spend hours painstakingly removing them from our document, or we could make the system do it for us! We’ll come back to that in a minute, because first…

Step 3- Creating and Assigning Styles

  • In your open document, go to Edit on your menu bar and then to Select All. [or hold down ctrl and press A]
  • Go to Format, then Character. Select your font [Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Garamond, and Calibri are great standards] and set it to 12pt size, and regular. Press Ok to apply, then close that window.
  • Now go to Format, then to Styles and Formatting. [or press F11]
  • Click the button that looks like a piece of paper with a green +

  • Select Create New Style From Selection, and name it “Ebook body”. This is the style you will use for the bulk of your book. [The body, if you will.]
  • Then go to your menu bar again, and back to Format, then select Paragraph.
  • Set the following parameters:


Before Text- 0.00

After Text- 0.00

First line- 0.30

Automatic- check this box


Above Paragraph- 0.00

Below Paragraph- 0.00

Line Spacing- Single


Options- Left

Text Flow

Hyphenation- Set to Automatically, and set 2 characters for both line end and line begin

Options- Both Orphan Control and Widow Control should be selected and set to 2.

  • Press Ok, then close this window. Things should jump around and look more like this:
Click to enlarge
  • Go back to Formatting and select “Ebook Body”. Click the green plus again and select update style. Congratulations! You now have created a style. Styles make your e-book not look bad! But we’re not done yet!

Step 4- Removing Manual Formatting

As you can see, we’re back, to this, and we still have those pesky tabs and soft returns, even though they just kind of edged over to the left a bit. I did this in a certain order to save you the time. You’re welcome. Now, onto the automation!

  • Go back to your menu bar, and go to Edit, then Find and Replace [or Ctrl+F]
  • On the box that pops up, go to the bottom and press the More Options button. Check the box labeled Regular Expressions.
  • In the Search for field, type “\t” [Yes, that is a backslash. If it doesn’t work, you’re using a forward slash. Drop the quotation marks.]
  • Leave the Replace with field blank, and hit Replace All. You should get a message that the search key was replaced eleventy billion times. Click ok, and close the Find and Replace window.
  • Repeat these steps, except replace “\t” with “\n”, and in the Replace with field, also type “\n”. Then press the Replace All button. After it tells you it removed a bunch of these things, close that window.
  • Read through your work. If you do not see → or , then congrats, you did it! You defeated the tabs and alien arrows, and it should look like this:
Step 4
Click to enlarge

Step 5- Go back to Step 3?!

Yes. Because you need to format your Chapter headers, silly! Your body looks great, but you need more styles!

  • Select one of the titles to one of your chapters, then repeat all of step 3, except set it so that there is no first line indent, and set the font to be 14pt, bold. You can set the alignment to be left, or you can center it. Completely up to you.
  • Your chapter title should stand out now! Save this new style and name it “Ebook chapter header”.
  • Go through and change all your headers to this style by highlighting them and double clicking on the name of it in the Styles and Formatting window.

Finally, save your work! You now have a wonderfully formatted manuscript, done in OpenOffice.

Click to enlarge

You can now add your front matter, back matter, [remember to set styles for those pages! Front matter is typically centered except for the Table of Contents–those are typically left aligned] save it, and plunk it in your favorite epub conversion tool.

Pat yourself on the back. You did it!