I have just put up my first illustrated children’s book. While my first collection of stories had pictures inserted, the formatting of which drove me crazy, what I learned from the process did not stick long enough in my head for me not to make the same mistakes while formatting this recent book.
A rule of thumb is patience. You can do everything right, formatting your text so that the first line of each paragraph is indented five points (and making sure you never “tab” anything), but it can still come out wrong in the previewer. If the error does not slap you in the face in the previewer, it will certainly do so while you are lying in bed, perusing your side-loaded (or purchased?) version on your ebook reader. You may sigh, as I have more times than I can count, and get back to editing (once more) in the morning.
Why don’t I get it right the first time? Maybe because I am human and fallible. If you get it right every time, first time, please turn off all electrical appliances, scream at the gardeners to turn off their dust blowers, in effect, cut all power and if necessary, take a drive out to a deserted part of the country for utter peace. Then listen. Very carefully. The sound of enthusiastic if sarcastic clapping you hear coming from God knows where will be the echo of my two hands slamming against each other just now.
(Now we can get on to business. That person has clicked off.)
The point is that the previewer is not going to show you things in the same way your word doc file does. Even when you click on the paragraph symbol to show you whether you have tabbed or formatted, everything may look right on the surface. The previewer will demonstrate a rebellious paragraph or two, and you will have to struggle with those with the same persevering patience as a fisherman does to hook his prey. Try blocking and checking how it is formatted. Try making two paragraphs into one. Eventually you will see how the damn sentences are misbehaving.
You are clever. You will fix them. Eventually.
Next we have the illustrations. They look fine in the word doc file, perfectly centered, but for reasons unknown to non computer software programmers, they will show up too much to the right in the Amazon Kindle previewer. Sometimes the inserted picture that looks fine in the word doc file will be partly cut off in the previewer page. You can either narrow the picture while you edit, or make sure it is not indented five points into the paragraph, which your format set up will do automatically.
An inserted picture that looks to be placed too far to the left in the word doc file may come out perfect in Amazon Kindle. Then count on the need for more patience while you upload your edited version, which takes a short eternity, and then to turn pages in your previewer (demanding the same time necessary to turning pages on a clothing store’s online site). Such are the luxuries of our electronic age and the short fuses we have developed to go along with the whole shebang.