Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.
New Book Was Test for Latest Kindle Create Software
I just published another book on Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP, that was an experiment in a couple of ways.
It was a departure from my usual genre. It was commentary on my experience with crocheting, a lifelong hobby of mine. It’s titled, Cradle to Crochet: Thoughts on the Crocheting Life. It’s available in Kindle eBook, print, and audiobook on Amazon and Audible.
It was also a test for the latest version of Kindle Create, KDP’s free book formatting software. The software’s ability to format a book almost automatically in terms of headers, page numbers, margins and more is a huge advantage for self published authors. This allows authors to concentrate on the writing aspects and reduces the hours spent in non-writing activities. It also has a preview function in the software for the Kindle eBook version so you can see how your book will look on a variety of devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and Kindles.
Kindle Create formats your book content for Kindle eBooks and print books with the exact same file. It creates a .kpf file that can be uploaded to KDP for either format. This is another advantage for authors in that it doesn’t require two separate formatting projects. It also can create an ePub should you need that file, although you don’t if you self publish on KDP.
I’m thrilled to say that since I last did a review of Kindle Create, one of the biggest issues I had with the software appears to have been fixed. That big issue was excessive word hyphenation, which was problematic for the print edition.
In Kindle eBooks, text is constantly responding to how the reader is reading the book on a device. It adjusts to user’s desired viewing orientation from horizontal to vertical screens, smaller or larger text, and screen size, such as tablet or mobile phone. This is called responsive design and works very similarly to web pages in HTML code. No problems on the eBook side for hyphenation.
However, when Kindle Create would adjust to a print trim size, it would force fit the text to the publishing standard fully justified text that fit on the page, and didn’t make adjustments within each paragraph to accommodate longer words without hyphenation. In standard book formatting for print, these adjustments can be handled by book designers, sometimes done manually, paragraph by paragraph, using advanced page layout software such as Adobe InDesign.
Because of the mess this hyphenation problem caused, Kindle Create was a less appealing print book formatting option for authors. So they still might have done their print book formatting by hand in Microsoft Word, which is a nightmare in itself, or hired a book designer for the layout which might be expensive. Even I worried that the print books I created with Kindle Create might be seen as inferior. But since I will die on the hill that self published authors shouldn’t waste too much of their lives and money on non-writing publishing tasks, I used it anyway.
I’m glad to say that now, from what I’ve experienced with my latest book, this problem has been solved. How bad was it? In a book I did in 2019 that was 84 pages of content, there were 284 instances of hyphenation—284! In the new 65-page book I just did, there were 0—zero!—instances of hyphenation in the print proof I reviewed.
Widow and Orphan Control Improves, But Still Needs Work
One of the other problems in earlier versions of Kindle Create was widows and orphans. What this simply means is that one word or line is left at the end of a paragraph, or at the top of a following page. A widow is a single last line of a paragraph that sits at the top of a page. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph that sits at the bottom of a page, or a single word that sits alone in the last line of a paragraph. It’s cruel imagery, but that’s what it’s called.
This issue has also been addressed, though not to 100 percent. Again, comparing a book I did in 2019 to my most recent book, there was a significant reduction in the widows and orphans problem. In fact, the widows problem went from 10 instances in the 2019, down to three this year.
The orphans problems also had significant improvement, though not elimination of them. In the 2019 book, there were 55 instances of last paragraph lines of one word, and seven instances of a single orphaned line at the bottom of the page. In this latest book, there were 22 instances of one-word paragraph ending lines, and 0 orphaned lines at the bottom of the page. Though definitely improved, my most recent book included many short essay type subhead sections within chapters which could have helped eliminate occurrences. More instances may occur in books that have chapters with continuous text, such as fiction.
Still No Print Preview
There is still no print preview function in Kindle Create, as there is for Kindle eBooks. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll only see if these formatting issues are resolved for your manuscript during the Launch Previewer function when uploading to KDP. I’m hoping this will be added to Kindle Create in the future.
Can I Recommend Kindle Create for Self Published Authors?
At this point, I think authors can feel more confident using Kindle Create for both their Kindle and print books. I have a couple older books I’ve done with Kindle Create that I might want to go back and update the manuscript to address the hyphenation issue.
While the widows and orphans issues still need to be addressed, I don’t think they’re so bad that it totally ruins a book. Check your own manuscript to see how it looks. If you don’t like the way it looks, you’ll have to format your print book yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2022 Heidi Thorne