Before Publishing Free Ebooks

Publishing free ebooks is one of the important aspect of the marketing mix for many new and established authors as ebooks are effective promotional powerhouse.  To many self-publishing writers, the fastest and easiest way to produce an ebook is to convert a manuscript to Portable Document Format. PDF is the most accessible and versatile cross-platform (PC and Mac) format, which also provides the closest simulation of a printed work as it retains the cover-art and page layout properties rather than being pure digital text. There is a greater number of audience for this format too.  In fact many internet users have access to a computer but comparatively, only a few possess the financial resources to purchase a modern handheld ebook reading device.

Unfortunately, too many writers are publishing free PDF ebooks without considering the presentation of their pages. One of the common mistake being to double line-space (space between each line.) How many printed paperback novels have you come accross that are double line-spaced? This common bad practice is based on a submission format requested by publishers for assessing draft manuscripts; it is not suitable for final output. One reason as to why this practice arose is that it is easier for proofreaders to scrutinize each line when it is separated more effectively from those above and below. Apparently the additional space is also used for inserting notes and correction marks.

The problem occurs when, unwittingly, self-publishing writers decide to convert their draft, double line-spaced, manuscript to PDF without considering the audience to which it will be delivered. While it is also advisable to open up the lines by adding a couple of points to standard line-spacing, doubling the space affects readability by disturbing the natural flow of words from the end of a line to the beginning of the next. It unnecessary increases the size of the PDF file. In order to ensure people enjoy reading your work, you should avoid double line spacing!

PDF ebooks can be formatted so that it look like the real thing, a printed book. So why is it so that we still see so many with text that is so difficult to read? Double line-spacing is hard reading, but the wrong choice of text alignment can be equally detrimental.

Do you noticed how many PDF novels have text aligned left (ragged right)? Pick up any one of the printed novel and you'll notice that, apart from indents, both left and right sides of a page of text are aligned. They are flush. They are equal. They are Justified.

While the common left alignment is acceptable for short texts like articles and captions appearing in websites, magazines and brochures, it is not the most appropriate format for novels and other forms of lengthy prose.

OK, when you are self-publishing free ebooks, it might be easier and quicker to align left, and you'll not have to worry about hyphenated words. But, besides being more aesthetically pleasing, justification makes text easier to read: there is a natural flow of words; the eye having a clearly defined limit at which it stops and moves to the next line. It must be harder for our brains to have to keep stopping at random points on shorter lines. Try it yourself, which is easier to read? Don't give your readers eyestrain: justify your text!

If you are a self-publishing writer, to market your ebook effectively ensure you create your PDF ebooks with the end-user, THE READER, in mind; resist the urge to copy the layout of other e-books and try to emulate the formatting of REAL printed books.

Enjoy watching your readership and fan base increase by spending more time on achieving the best possible presentation of your work.

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