Thursday Thoughts: Free books and formatting

My computer is filled with old files. Many of them are different versions of the same thing – mostly poorly formatted eBooks.

When I decided to publish my book of poetry, I thought that it would be a good idea to put together a free sample book of some of my poetry so that reader’s could “try before they buy”, like the free samples at the supermarket*. I later found out, through my continuing research, these are called reader magnets, and learned how important they are to authors (and readers).

My first one was hastily prepared, due to the fact that I was new at this digital publishing thing. There are many options available to prepare the various formats that readers use. Here’s one thing I learned:

What you see in Word isn’t necessarily what you get. Sometimes, it’s not even close.

Once you have your manuscript ready (or so you think), you need to convert them into any of the following formats: Kindle (for KDP publishing), MOBI, EPUB, or PDF. Preferably all of them since not everybody has 7 – or more – different readers. Once you do that, you have to re-do them because they don’t look quite right. Unlike a physical book, eBooks display all your hard work in various different ways, depending on the font size and line spacing the reader chooses. So, if you want a certain line or graphic to be at the top of a new page, you may be out of luck. I say maybe because you can always force a page break (ctrl/enter), but that may mean that the previous page may not look like you planned.

I created many versions, downloaded them to my e-reader, and repeated until for me it was “good enough”. In hindsight, good enough isn’t good enough. It needs to be perfect. With my increased knowledge of the various programs, I reorganized on several occasions, adding important things that I learned about marketing and online publishing. I’ve taken out parts that didn’t fit anymore, and added content.

Why did I decide to write about this? You guessed it. I’m doing it again. How long will it take? Not as long as the first time…


*Author’s Note: In the days before Covid, we used to be able to share everything with everyone – even public food on toothpicks. I don’t think we will be going back to that anymore. But I do have fond memories of college, when my roommate and I would save money by eating lunch by going to supermarkets and partaking in the samples. Psst, If you take a hat and a different coat, you can sometimes get away with two rounds…


Published by Leon Stevens

I am an author, composer, and an artist. I published my first book of poetry: Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020 and a book of original classical guitar compositions. My latest book is a short story compilation of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

3 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: Free books and formatting

  1. I use pre-formatted templates, as I’m useless at formatting. Before using the templates I used to pay somebody to format my books for me, but he closed up his business and went to University.


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