I hear screaming. Is it murder...or is it eBook formatting?

In this odyssey of publishing independent projects, where I wear all the hats because I'm too cheap to pay anyone other than the all-important cover designer and editor, I am discovering the importance of the proper format for eBooks. I am reading a book now with free-for-all indentations and occasional page headers that show up mid-text (not to mention spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, but that's a column for another day). Much as I like to rush through anything not related to the creative process of writing, I shudder to think of one of my books appearing like this on an eReader, and I have begun the tedious task of re-formatting some of my books that were formatted before I knew what I now know.

A few major points I've either a) learned, b) decided, or c) always knew about but feel they're worth mentioning:

I have learned that the Kindle will not indent any paragraph that falls at the top of a page (and this happens more often than you might think), making for an uneven, inconsistent, and confusing read. My research has uncovered that this is a glitch in the Kindle...and considering this invention is not exactly new and there's been plenty of time to iron out kinks, I find this glitch worthy of poking out my lower lip. I therefore will use block style paragraphs with a space in between for future formatted novels.

I have learned that even-size fonts will always show uniformly on eReader screens, whereas odd-size fonts can show at varying sizes. My preference for 11-point font is the major reason I am mired in formatting hell right now, but my beautiful prose absolutely cannot show up on eReaders looking like mismatched junk. Now I make my text 12 point and my chapter headers (as well as the first letter of the first word of every new chapter) 14 point. I built in the bold on the chapter headings, but I have to manually adjust the first letter of the first word of each chapter to show as bold and italic, since it is part of a word and paragraph, specifically.

I always knew that headers don't belong in eBooks, but feel this is worth mentioning. Do not include headers in your eBook! It's distracting to be reading and to be interrupted by a line that says "[author name]/[title of book]/[page number]" at uneven intervals.

I have learned to use page breaks (it is recommended for reasons I'm not sure of to use the Insert function for this rather than the Ctrl/Enter keystroke combination) to avoid large spaces, sometimes even pages of blank text. It's vexing to have to hit the page down button on your eReader...and multiply the aggravation factor by the number of times you have to hit it before getting to a new page. I also now put page breaks at the end of chapters, since I read someplace that this is the preferred format. Hey, I'm easy.

I've noticed that some novels' formatting includes a table of contents. After considering this briefly (for about 30 seconds), I have deemed this unnecessary. My reasoning: There is no table of contents in my print book, so why would I want to put one in my eBook? I write novels, not how-to manuals or other nonfiction. eReaders have the function of being able to pick up at the exact page where you left off, so why bother?

I'm still maneuvering my way around breaks, where so far my efforts to build line spacing into the paragraph style have been unsuccessful and I have to do something special with each occurrence to keep the line spacing consistent. Still trying. Like everything else, I'll figure it out eventually.

Finally, in an effort to save time to indulge my creativity, I have built a template of the various paragraph styles I use in an eBook, into which I will type all future projects directly.

Back to my formatting.