I first design the beginning of each chapter. It makes my coding easier. I’ve seen several guides to formatting books for the Kindle, but as far as I can find, this is where my guide becomes of specific use for novelists. (Although much of this formatting applies to non-fiction as well.)
There’s about three or four more posts in this series. I’m really trying to make it easy, but if I lose you, I am available to format books for the Kindle. I’ll make an information page with pricing when I finish this series, but I really hope I can teach you to do it on your own. It’s fun!
The HTML allowed by Kindle is limited. You cannot choose your font. You can make it smaller, you can make it bigger, you can futz with it to make it looks like small caps, but unless you use an image file, you’re stuck with Kindle default font. The supported HTML is limited, too. You can manipulate the margins on the left side, but not on the right side.
These images are taken from the print books, because they generally have better formatting than the ebooks, with the exception of the last example.
(Frostbite by Richelle Mead: Razorbill)
I love this formatting. The “One” has a regular cap “O” then small caps for “ne.” The backdrop “VA” is VERY beautiful. (Yes, I’m gaga over this simple thing, and
if when I get published by New York, I will fly to NY and kiss the book designer if they do something this beautiful for me. It’s on my dream list.) For the Kindle, you’d have to create this image with Gimp or Photoshop or somesuch. You’d have to create a separate image for each chapter heading, and be sure to save as .jpg and compress them a bit.
There’s a lot of detail to admire in this book. The first five words are small caps. Also note the chapter starts with an up cap—one of the few up caps I like—which could be created by an image file or tags:
The up cap appears often in Kindle design as seen in the picture on the right. To me, this looks lazy and boring. No small caps, no italics, no first-line or first-few-words formatting, no nothing. Except one weird, slightly-taller letter. This was fairly standard for awhile, but New York is starting to design their ebooks with as much care as they design their print books, thank goodness.
(Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith:
Grand Central Publishing)
Okay, wow, this is another beautiful example of book design. Look at all that typography! I would probably use <h3> tags for the “ONE,” an image file for the separator, <h1> tags for “Exceptional Child,” a blockquote for the quote, centered, italicized text for the attribution, a centered and bold Roman numeral, and a drop cap image.
The challenge for this one would be to make the top and bottom margins small enough that you could fit this heading on one page. If it’s split between two pages when a reader adjusts their font size, it’s going to lose its beauty. If I were designing it, I might just force a page break before the Roman numeral.
(Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose: Harper)
First notice the chapter number is right-aligned with a right margin. The Kindle does not allow for right margins, so you’d have to right-align the heading and put a couple non-breaking spaces after the “1” by adding a few times.
The chapter title is right-aligned, all caps, italics, and bold. The quote is within blockquote, and the attribution is right-aligned. Notice the name is in all caps and the title is italicized. The drop cap could be created with an image file.
(The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien: Mariner Books)
I featured this design because it starts with an illustration. The “Chapter” is not actually highlighted in real life. (Ignore that.) The separator would be made with an image. “Chapter I” would be done with the <h2> tag and “The Childhood of Turin” would be done with the <h1> tag. Aside from the “noindent,” no formatting is applied to the first line. Works perfectly.
(The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
This formatting surprised me, because there was no blank space above the “Chapter I.” It started at the very top of the page. Everything is left-aligned, including the fancy image. This drop cap is beautiful, because it drops down and goes up.
(Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer: Little, Brown Books)
This is a fairly standard design. Notice the Chapter Heading is done without the word “Chapter,” but with a number, a period, and then a title. There is letter spacing applied to the title. Throughout the book, the first line is always in small caps and non-indented. Because the Kindle can change font size, you can’t control how many words will appear on the first line, so you’d have to decide to small cap, say, the first five or so words.
(The Devil’s Pitchfork by Mark Terry: Midnight Ink.)
You’ll notice this chapter heading has only the number, underlined. The first paragraph is not indented, and throughout the book, the first four words are written in small caps. This transfers well to the Kindle. All sections are begun with the same formatting as the first paragraph of the chapter.
The time and location is in italics, and we’d need to toy with the style a little, probably creating one noindent style with a top margin and one without. (If this is Greek, no worries, probably tomorrow will help.)
(Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Ballantine Books)
Notice that there is no chapter heading at all. The first letter is an up cap made from an image. The first line is made of all small caps. Kinda cool!
(Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris: Ace)
I find this formatting interesting, because the chapter heading is not centered. For this, we’d have to add a margin-left to our h1 code. (Tomorrow.) The first line is in both bold and italics. Again, this wouldn’t transfer to the Kindle, but you could choose to do that with, say, the first five words.
(Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey: Tor Fantasy (Paperback))
The Kindle image doesn’t do this design justice. I snagged the image from Kindle for PC, but on the real Kindle, that top bar sizes to the width of the Kindle page, so it aligns with the text below it. It looks FANTASTIC on the Kindle. Above the Kindle image, I included the paperback image, so you could compare.
The Next Installment
Tomorrow we’ll finish the coding for the start of the chapter. I know I’ve included some of the coding above: it was easiest that way. I’m thinking of putting this all in a Kindle book, so if you have any suggestions on organizing this information a little better, I’d sure appreciate it.
Now it’s your turn: check out the books on Amazon that say “Look Inside!” and notice how the chapters are begun. Go to your bookshelf. Browse the bookstore and the library. Almost any design, with the proper coding, can be replicated on the Kindle, so let’s give our e-books the same, quality design as print books.
Are there any examples I left out? Anything you like that’s not included? What are some of your favorite elements from above?