How We Use the Kindle for Publishing

by Corina Koch MacLeod & Carla Douglas

@CKmacleodwriter
@CarlaJDouglas

If you’ve been following some of our earlier posts, you’ll know that at Beyond Paper we are fans of the Kindle — not just for reading ebooks, but for a host of publishing-related tasks.

Below is a list of what we use our Kindles for with links to posts that will tell you more about how we use them.

Note: Carla and I each have a Kindle Touch — Amazon’s e-ink device that was the precursor to the Paperwhite. Len Edgerly of the Kindle Chronicles podcast (an excellent podcast about publishing industry news and tips for using the Kindle) demonstrates the Paperwhite’s additional features. For our purposes, it would appear that the Touch is similar enough to the Paperwhite with one notable exception: the Touch has a text-speech read-aloud feature, the advantages of which I’ll discuss below. If you have a Paperwhite and there are additional features you think we should know about, feel free to leave a comment.

While a Kindle e-ink device makes the most sense for the kind of work we do, we do read on and consult the Kindle iOS, Android, and PC apps for specific purposes.

Research and Productivity

Editing and writing is focused work, and it’s all too easy to get distracted or lost in a research vortex on the Internet when we should be writing (or working with someone else’s writing). We have a Send-to-Kindle plug-in in our Google chrome browsers so that we can capture self-publishing articles that we encounter in our Internet travels. We then read these articles on our Kindles later, so we can stay abreast of changes in the publishing field.

Feedback

You can load unpublished or “personal” documents to your Kindle using the Send-to-Kindle plug-in for your computer. This is particularly useful for manuscript evaluations in which we offer suggestions to authors on what might make their books better. Authors can send us a manuscript as a Word document, and we can pop it onto our Kindles to read it — much like a reader eventually will.

Proofreading

If you’re publishing an ebook, it makes good sense to proofread your manuscript in its final environment, ideally after it’s been copyedited and formatted as a mobi file.

We convert a file using Amazon’s converter (or receive a mobi file that has been already converted by a formatter) and then transfer the mobi file to the Kindle. Once it’s there, we can make use of the highlights and notes features on the Kindle to flag any changes the author or formatter needs to make.

There is a way to relay a list of changes to the author and formatter, and Carla will write about that in an upcoming post. If you’ve already published your book, but now realize it needs some proofreading, you can follow the steps in this post.

While proofreading, it’s important to read every word as you see it on the “page.” Our brains are meaning-making organs and have this amazing ability to see “from” when “form” is actually what’s written. To prevent your brain from tricking you into seeing what’s not there, it helps to read every word aloud, or use the Kindle Touch’s text-to-speech feature while proofreading. You can adjust the reading speed so that you’re reading at the right rate to catch errors.

Format Checks

It’s important to know that ebooks display differently on the various Kindle apps. Your book on the Kindle app will look and behave differently than it will on the iOS or PC apps. After we proofread a book on a Kindle, if an author requests it, we can page through the book in the various apps to see if it is displaying properly in each evironment. Of course, you can use the Kindle Previewer for this purpose, and while it’s an excellent option, it’s more accurate to page through the book on some of the devices readers will be using.

This is how we use the Kindle at Beyond Paper. We’re always looking for new ways to use our Kindles. How are you using yours?

*Image by Windell Oskay

Related Posts
The New Kindle Paperwhite Demo: Incrementally Great, by Len Edgerly
Scrivener Tip: Text to Speech, by Nicole Feldringer
Use Send to Kindle to Read and Review Your Personal Documents
How to Check Your Book Using Kindle Previewer
How to Proofread on a Kindle: 8 Steps to Proofreading Your Ebook
How to Get Your Book Ebook-Ready

Use Send to Kindle to Read and Review your Personal Documents

by Carla Douglas
@CarlaJDouglas

Do you use Amazon’s Send-to-Kindle feature to transfer personal documents to your Kindle or Kindle app? Yes, you can send your own documents – drafts, stories, reports, the options are endless, really – to your Kindle to read at your leisure. It beats reading from a laptop or having to print and manage a sheaf of papers.

When I first learned a couple of years ago that I could send my own Word documents to my Kindle I thought this was great – but then I sat down to figure out how to do it. It was a laborious process, and not especially user friendly or intuitive. It required a few steps, but eventually I installed a Windows plugin that allowed me to right-click on a Word file and send it directly to my Kindle.


I used this feature for a while, mostly to do manuscript evaluations. When I updated my version of Word, I forgot about it 
– until now.

Amazon has made getting the Send-to-Kindle option much easier, and there are now two ways to navigate it. Before you begin, be certain your Kindle is registered at Amazon, in your name.


1. Amazon assigns your Kindle, and all your registered devices, with a Kindle email address. You simply email your documents to this address, and voilà, they’re ready to read at your convenience. 

Here’s how:


Go to Amazon, sign in, and navigate to Manage Your Kindle.


Under Your Kindle Account select Personal Document Settings.

Under Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings you’ll see all your devices listed, each with its own Kindle email address:


The next step is dead easy. Simply email your document as an attachment to the Kindle address associated with the device you want to read it on. You can send a document to all your devices if you want.


2. Download and install the Send-to-Kindle plugin for your PC or Mac. 

Here’s how:

Go to the Amazon Send-to-Kindle page. This link is for PC, but there’s a Mac option on the same page.

Click the Download Now button, then click Install. Then click Finish, and you’re done. 

This procedure is so much easier than when I first installed this feature a few years ago. Before the installation is finished, you’ll be asked for your Amazon account email and password. Just enter the regular email address and password you use to log into Amazon, and then select Register. 

Finally, when you do go to use the Send-to-Kindle feature, be sure to right-click on a closed document. Here’s as screenshot of what you’ll see:

Select Send to Kindle, and your document will soon appear on your device. You’ll also have options about which devices (I always select all of them) you’d like your document to be sent to.

Why might you want to send your personal documents to your Kindle? Here are a few ways to use this feature. You’ll think of more, I’m sure. 

  • To read a manuscript for evaluation. Maybe you’re used to writing in the margins, but with the Kindle you can highlight key sections and make notes. Notes are saved and compiled, ready to retrieve later when you do a write-up.
  • If you’re in a writers’ group, people will frequently be emailing you drafts and iterations of their current work. The Kindle is a good place to collect these. Again, you can highlight them and make notes for retrieval later.
  • Someone has asked you to be a beta reader for their novel or other lengthy work. Or, you have asked others to beta read for you. You have the option to send your manuscript to their Kindle.
  • You’ve finished your own manuscript and want to do a read-through. Sending it to a new “environment” will help you to see your work with fresh eyes.
  • To check how your cover and other images will look before you finalize and publish them.

You can send the following file types: 
Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX)
HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
RTF (.RTF)
JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
Kindle Format (.MOBI, .AZW)
GIF (.GIF)
PNG (.PNG)
BMP (.BMP)
PDF (.PDF)
 

I have used Send to Kindle to transfer both MS Word documents and PDFs to all of my devices. The PDFs read just fine, given the fixed format. But the Word docs transfer beautifully — they’re reflowable and without any obvious formatting glitches. 

Finally, you can highlight and make notes on these documents, just as you would on a Kindle book, and using this feature makes for a satisfying reading experience. A number of readers have asked about how to retrieve these highlights and notes – is the process the same as reading a Kindle book you’ve purchased or in Kindle Preview? The answer is no – at least not yet. Watch for a post soon about how to highlight and where to find your notes. Amazon is working all the time to improve the user experience.

Related Posts

How to Find (and Compile) Proofreading Errors on a Kindle

by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter
Updated February 2014
stickynote
In a previous post, I described 8 steps for proofreading on a Kindle and explained why you’d even consider doing such a thing. In short: if you’re publishing an ebook, you’ll want to see how it looks on an e-reader.
But let’s suppose you’ve already published your book, and then you find proofreading errors. Or your book looked fine in Word, but it’s a disaster on your Kindle. Oops.
Don’t worry. All is not lost. It’s a digital book after all. 

Post-Publishing Proofreading Steps

So, here’s the step-by-step procedure for using your Kindle to create a list of those proofreading errors so you can send them to your formatter or use them to fix your ebook file yourself:
1. Go to your Kindle Publishing account. Download your mobi file to your computer. Check the Downloads folder on your computer.
2. Transfer your file.
You have a couple of options: you can open your file in the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac app, or you can transfer the mobi file to your Kindle.
3. Identify errors.
Want to proofread on the go? You can identify proofreading errors using the Highlights feature on your Kindle. This trick works for the computer, tablet and smartphone apps as well.*
A neat feature that I hope Amazon tweaks
I discovered, quite by accident, that if I highlight errors on my Kindle, in a book I’ve purchased or downloaded for free, those highlights are saved, compiled, and stored in my Kindle Amazon account. These annotations are also synced across devices. That’s a remarkable thing (see the next step).

The only way I can think of how to get Amazon to store those annotations for my own book is to purchase my own book or download it after it’s set at free. A bit of a drag. If you know of another workaround, I’d love to hear it.

4. Find your compiled list of errors.
To find a compiled list of errors, go to your Kindle account. You’ll find your list of highlights (errors) all in one place, under your book’s title. Here’s the magic link. (Amazon tends to bury 
it.)
5. Store errors in a Word document.
Copy and paste your list of errors into a Word processing document. You now have a handy list of errors that you or your formatter can refer to.
6. Fix your errors.
Go back to your source document and use Word’s Find and Replace feature to search for the errors.Tick off each error in your compiled errors list as you address it.
7. Re-upload your ebook.
Once you’ve fixed your errors, upload your ebook again.
And that’s it! It’s surprising how many authors and publishers forget to proofread a book on some sort of e-reading device. Set yourself apart from the pack and don’t be one of them.
*You’re not limited to using a Kindle to check for errors. You can check for errors on a computer, tablet or smartphone, too. To do that, you’ll need to download the appropriate Kindle reading apps.
Image by J_O_I_D (CC BY 2.0)
Related Posts

Use CrossEyes to Prevent Ebook Formatting Problems

by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

Hidden formatting in a Word document can cause lots of trouble in the ebook conversion process. In Word, what you see is not always what you get. This video will show you how to use CrossEyes—a format revealer—to reveal hidden formatting in a Word document.

CrossEyes is a free Microsoft Word add-in for Windows, and you can get it at Levit & James, Inc. Once you download CrossEyes, you’ll find it under the Add-Ins tab in the Custom Toolbars area in Word.

Have you ever worked with Word Perfect? If you have, CrossEyes works just like Word Perfect’s Reveal Codes feature.

If you’re not familiar with what codes are, CrossEyes will seem a little foreign to you at first, but with some practice, you can become adept at reading the formatting codes and deleting the ones you don’t want. It helps that the codes are featured in bright colours and colour-coded according to type.

CrossEyes window; codes are in colour (Click to enlarge)

A quick peek in the CrossEyes window tells you that in first line of the document paragraph, the author introduced a different font to the document. The font is similar to Times New Roman used elsewhere in the document, but with an unpracticed eye, or without the help of CrossEyes, it can be easy to miss. CrossEyes exposes the font so you can delete it.

To change a style in CrossEyes, double click on a coloured formatting code in the CrossEyes window, and hit the Enter key to select a new style. A Styles dialog will pop up, allowing you to choose another style option. You can also hit the Backspace key to delete a code, which will then delete the applied style.

CrossEyes Styles dialog box 

CrossEyes can also help you to see formatting that you can’t see, but that can cause problems for ebook conversion later on. If you click on the white space in a document, you’ll discover if different fonts are lurking, or if “illegal” ebook spacing (tabs and extra paragraph spaces) have been applied. You’ll want to remove unwanted formatting so that it doesn’t alter text in undesirable ways later.

If you have a Word document that behaves in strange ways, or an ebook that’s getting error messages after you upload it to a distributor like Amazon or Smashwords, CrossEyes will help you to see what’s going on.

Related Posts
Ebook Formatting Principles: Organizing the Reading Experience
Formatting Principles for Ebook Authors
Ebook Conversion: Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth?

How to Check Your eBook Using Kindle Previewer

iPhone 5 & iPad mini & iPad 3
Image by Yakuta Tsutano (CC BY 2.0)

by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

Curious to know how your Kindle ebook will look on an Apple iPad? How about on an iPhone? On a Kindle Paperwhite? Read on…

In a previous post, I wrote about how to proofread your book on a Kindle and why proofreading a book in its final environment is a wise thing to do. However, readers who purchase books from Amazon don’t just read on Kindles. They have lots of choices for reading their books. They can read a book on a(n)

  • Apple iOS device, like an iPod, iPad, or iPhone
  • Android device
  • Kindle Fire
  • Kindle e-ink device, like the Paperwhite or Kindle Touch 
  • computer

Amazon has created tools — apps and e-readers — that allow readers to decide how they want to read their books. But herein lies the rub: just because your book displays beautifully on a Kindle Paperwhite doesn’t mean it will look the same on an Apple iPad Mini. Here’s how I know:

Why you should care: A cautionary tale
An author I was working with had her ebook professionally formatted and uploaded to Amazon by a book service. Her book displayed beautifully on my Kindle Touch, but had entire lines of text missing on my Apple iPod and on my Android tablet. Uh oh.

In addition to this reader obstacle, I had no way of easily navigating her book on my iPod or Android because the table of contents (TOC) was missing in the “Go To” or navigation menus. A missing TOC is big deal in a nonfiction book.

What went wrong?
What happened? Her book service coverted her file to an epub and uploaded it to Amazon — a common practice for many publishers. I checked that epub file using IDPF’s epub validator, and it passed their epub standard. I looked at the epub in Adobe Digital Editions (a free epub reading app) and the TOC and lines of text were in tact. Huh?

While Amazon will accept epub files, Amazon’s formats are the mobi and KF8 formats — the “apples” to epub “oranges.” Epub files have to get converted by Amazon’s conversion portal into Amazon’s two formats, and those two file formats have to service all the different ways that an Amazon ebook can be read.

I’m an editor, not a programmer or a coder, but it seemed that something went wrong

  • in the epub to mobi/KF8 conversion process, or 
  • there was a problem with the iOS and Android apps.
Because the book displayed well in a Kindle Touch, I suspect the problem was with the iOS and Android apps.
Solutions?
You’ve probably already figured out that these kinds of problems could cost you sales. What do you do if your book doesn’t display as it should on an Amazon device or in an Amazon app?
  1. First, it appears that Amazon has been trying really hard to make it easy for authors to upload ebooks using the tool they already have: MS Word. Most of the authors I’ve spoken to who have uploaded their books in Word have reported few conversion problems. Perhaps keeping it simple is the lesson here.
  2. You have little control over the apps problem, but I would recommend contacting Amazon if you suspect there’s a problem with how a book is displaying in an app. Remember, Amazon profits from authors using their services, so it’s in their best interest to listen to any problems that authors report. 


How to check your ebook
Don’t have have a Kindle Fire? Or an iPhone? It’s unlikely that you own every device a reader might use to read your book. Amazon has a solution: it’s called Kindle Previewer. Kindle Previewer allows you to check your book in various e-reading environments, right from your computer.

Where to get Kindle Previewer
Sign in to your Amazon account. When you first upload your ebook file to Amazon, you have the option of previewing it in the Online Previewer or in the Downloadable Previewer before you publish it.

Both of these previewers work in much the same way and are designed to simulate how your book will look on various devices. If you don’t have a specific e-reading device, Kindle Previewer is an acceptable book-checking alternative.

I like the Downloadable Previewer because I like the convenience of having the previewer on my computer. You can download the Kindle Previewer here. Kindle Previewer needs to work in  tandem with KindleGen, so download KindleGen, too. You don’t have to open KindleGen. It just needs to live on your computer.

Keep in mind that Kindle Previewer only reads epub, mobi, OPF and HTML files. Don’t know what these file types are? Don’t worry. You can convert your book to a mobi file very simply by downloading the Book Preview File in your Amazon account (see highlighted text in the image above).

And here are the various ways that Kindle Previewer will allow you to view your book from your computer:

You’ll see in the image above that Kindle Previewer allows you to see what your book will look like on the various Kindle e-ink devices, like the Kindle Paperwhite, for example. If you click on the Devices menu at the top (circled), you’ll have options to see what your book will like on a Kindle Fire and iOS devices like the iPhone/iPod and iPad. That’s a lot of options for one little tool.

What’s missing?
As of this writing, Kindle Previewer won’t show you what your book will look like on an Android device. This “gap” led me to purchase an Android tablet instead of an iPad so I could see how books present in the Android world. I’m hoping that Amazon will include this capability in a future version of Kindle Previewer.

Good, but not perfect
A final word about Kindle Previewer: It’s not perfect. Sometimes, problems that show up in the Kindle Previewer don’t show up in the book on the actual device. The opposite is also true. But mostly, Kindle Previewer will alert you to big problems, like a missing TOC. And of course, if you’re super keen, you can always find someone with a device you don’t have, and ask them if you can view your book on it.


Related Posts

How to Proofread Your Book on a Kindle
How to Proofread Your eBook Like a Pro
How to Proofread Like a Pro, Part 2
How to Get Your Book Ebook-Ready

How to Proofread Like a Pro, Part 2: Checking Your Formatting

Focus
Image by toolstop (CC BY-SA 2.0)

by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

Updated February 2014

In a previous post, I explained that professional proofreaders proofread a document for language-related proofreading errors. But that’s not all they do. Proofreaders also check a document for formatting errors, which means that they generally do two passes of a document (read through it twice), sometimes more. Rigorous? Yes. But aren’t your readers worth it?

Your first proofreading pass can be done on your computer, in whatever word processing program you use. I think it’s a good idea to do your second pass on an e-reading device so you can view your book in the form that readers will experience it. I describe how to proofread your book on an e-reading device in this post.

For now, let’s focus on the kinds of formatting problems that creep up in ebooks. By formatting, I mean how a “page” looks and works. To understand formatting problems in ebooks, you need to put yourself in your readers’ shoes to determine the kinds of things that will distract them from a positive e-reading experience. Here’s what to look for:

Formatting checklist

  • Is there an external or meta table of contents that readers can access to navigate your book?
  • Do you have an internal linked table of contents? (readers may want to see this in your book sample)
  • Are your paragraph fonts the same size throughout?
  • Are your paragraphs styled consistently (first-line indent, block style, or hanging indent?)
  • Are your chapter headings the same size throughout? Are they too big?
  • Are drop caps displaying properly?
  • Is your running text font too big? Too small?
  • Have you used smart quotes? Are quotation marks and apostrophes turned the right way?
  • Do you have a space before and after em dashes (—), en dashes (–) and ellipses (…)? It doesn’t matter if you do, but you’ll need to be consistent.
  • Are boldface or italics applied randomly to words?
  • Are there funny characters where punctuation should be?
  • Are there forced line breaks where there shouldn’t be?
  • Are there blank pages?
  • Are there large gaps between words? Extra spaces where they don’t belong?
  • Does a space need to be inserted between two words that run together?
  • Are you missing entire lines of text?
  • Do hyperlinks work when you tap on them?
  • Are visuals where they’re supposed to be? Are they sized correctly?
  • Is the text in tables large enough to read?
The presence of any of the items in the list above can distract and irritate readers. Attending to these details will ensure that your readers will notice what they’re supposed to notice — your writing.

Related Posts
How to Proofread Your Ebook Like a Pro, Part 1: Looking for Language Errors
How to Proofread on a Kindle: 8 Steps to Proofreading Your mobi Book
How to Get Your Book Ebook-Ready
Working With Page Proofs (Proofreading in Print), by Louise Harnby