Thursday, July 12, 2012

Proofing Your Book


Hi, Mr. KK here again. This week’s post is on using the available Amazon and Barnes and Noble proofing tools to check the uploading, conversion, and final format of your book.

The second edition of VENECIA’S EARTHLING was the first e-book we published. Our son Scott re-did the cover (except the art) for the new version and Anita and I formatted the interior (the content). We started out with a Smashwords version. The only proofing tools available at that time (after putting the book through the “Meat Grinder”) were the readers for the various formats. We used Adobe Digital Edition to look at the PDF version. We couldn’t check the other versions because we didn’t have readers for them. We next did the Nook and Kindle versions and thank goodness at least there were monochrome PC readers for both of them.

Fast forward to today. The Kindle Fire and the Color Nook are both out and there are now color PC readers for them. In this post, we’ll discuss the use of the current release of proofing tools for Amazon and Barnes and Noble. We are not currently publishing with Smashwords, so we won’t discuss them again in this post.

If you’re not going to do print books, you won’t need to know about the Createspace tools. But, we think they’re a cut above the rest of the tools. So, if you’re even slightly considering a print version, you’re going to love the Createspace Digital Proofing Tool (which we’ll discuss later).

If you haven’t discovered it yet, you should know that Kindle, Pubit and Createspace format their books differently. Some allow super and sub scripts and footnotes. Some can have page and section breaks. Some can use the Microsoft Word Table of Contents creator. Etc, etc. After you’ve finished formatting your book for the publisher you choose (make sure you use their Style Guide and templates to get the formatting right), you should check to see what their publishing tools did to your book after upload and conversion. Here’s how you do it with each.


You create and format your e-book in a word processing program (Microsoft Word is the most popular). When you’re ready to produce a Kindle-compatible version of your masterpiece, you’ll save the file in html filtered format (one of the format choices in the “Save As” pop-up window in MS Word). Then you use the Mobi Pocket Creator to create your prc file. You import the html file you saved in MS Word, add the cover image and table of contents and then click on the Build button. The Pocket Creator then generates a PRC file for you to upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The online tool converts the book to MOBI format and offers you the opportunity to preview it on line with the Simple Previewer or on your desktop with the Enhanced Previewer. The Simple Previewer is really simple and appears to display only monochrome. The Enhanced Previewer can be set for any of the Kindle reader products. Here’s what the Kindle Fire Previewer looks like running on your PC (shown with Anita’s SHADES OF THE PAST book loaded)

You can also preview your Kindle e-book with the Kindle for PC application, which I prefer. Here’s a screen capture of it, with VENECIA’S EARTHLING loaded.

These tools give you a really good idea of what your book will look like on a Kindle e-reader. Note that they allow you to see the cover.


The PubIT tools are easier to use to get your book uploaded and converted. For example, they will take the Microsoft Word format directly and convert it to e-Pub format for the Nook. But, I personally don’t think the previewing tools are as good. Below is a screen capture of the Nook Color Previewer. I haven’t been able to figure out how to get it to show you the cover. And, it forces you to go page by page through your book (I haven’t found a “go-to page” function yet).

You can also preview your Nook e-book with the Nook For PC application, which works well. I haven’t been able to get it to show me the cover either.


The Createspace process allows you create and upload your book in Microsoft Word compatible formats (.doc and .docx files). However, your cover must be uploaded in a “print-ready” PDF format, so you’ll need a PDF writer program (such as Adobe Acrobat) to do this. The uploading tools take care of converting the book and then you can submit it for a formatting review. Once Createspace approves your book for publishing, you’re offered  the opportunity to order a physical proof copy for a very reasonable price, delivered in a few days or to proof your book in their Digital Proofing Tool. If this is the first time you’ve worked with Createspace, a physical proof is recommended. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we got a few surprises when SHADES OF THE PAST came back for proofing (the cover came out MUCH darker than the onscreen image and the spine crept). If you’ve been through a physical proofing process and know that the brightness, contrast and cover placement are okay, then the Digital Proofing Tool is recommended. Here’s a screen capture of the Digital Proofing Tool with VENECIA’S EARTHLING loaded.

Note that it first shows you the cover and how it fits the book size you’ve chosen. Also, note that you can look at any part of the book two pages at a time by moving the slider on the right. It shows you the placement of the text on the left and right facing pages, along with the gutter in between. We had one version of one of the books (I forget which now) where we had an extra blank page in the forward portion of the book. This threw off our left and right pages. They came out backwards. Not only did the conversion tool catch this problem and give us error messages, but when we looked at the book in the Digital Proofing Tool, it was obvious what had happened and we were able to fix the problem right then in real time.

A good rule of thumb is that you should at least spot check the book in various places to make sure the formatting comes out the way you expected. Going through all the way is a good idea the first time you use the tool.

We hope that this brief look at the proofing tools has been helpful. E-mail us at Anita’s e-mail address if you have any questions:

The next post will discuss cover development for VENECIA’S EARTHLING and the use of body parts and stitching together images.

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