8. Adapting your InDesign files for the Kindle

Putting out the Kindle version is much easier than the paperback – I just adapted my InDesign files. It’s important to remember that the Kindle will flow your text however it wants to, depending on the size of the Kindle, the size the user has chosen for the fonts, and the settings you specify. In other words, you have much less control over how it looks than you did when setting up the paperback.

The cover

Create a new document, choosing “Web” as your intent (so that it deals in pixels instead of inches), and make it 1562 pixels wide and 2500 pixels high. Some of Amazon’s guidance notes haven’t been updated and specify a smaller size than this. After some research, I found that this is the most up-to-date size.

I then copied everything on my book’s front cover (by clicking on the black arrow at the top of the left-hand menu and drawing a box around it all, then pressing CTRL+C), and pasted it into the new document. Then I rearranged and resized everything to fit that layout, and saved the result as a high-quality jpeg (File > Export… > JPEG).

Get conversion and preview tools

Now you need to download a couple of pieces of software from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000234621). Scroll towards the bottom of the page, then download and install:

  • Kindle Plugin for Adobe InDesign
  • Kindle Previewer

Open your book’s text file

Once you’ve installed the Kindle Plugin, open your book’s text file (not the cover file you created) in InDesign, save as a new file and go through the following steps. Most of the things you do below will make your InDesign file look much worse, but that doesn’t matter. All that counts is how it looks when you export it to Kindle format and look at it with the Kindle Previewer.

Change paragraph styles

Firstly, you’ll need to change some of the settings for paragraph styles (in the right-hand menu when you’re in the “Advanced”, “Book” or “Typography” workspaces).


  • Under “Indents and spacing”, choose “Alignment: Left”. Some people (including me) find left-aligned text more readable than fully justified text on a Kindle’s small screen. A lot of Kindles will display the text fully justified whatever you choose, but if you want some of your readers to have the option of left-aligned text, you need to change this setting.
  • Under “Hyphenation”, turn off “hyphenate”.


  • I also changed my ChapterTitle paragraph style to make each chapter start on a new page. This makes sense because most Kindles have smaller pages than a paperback book. Go to “Keep options”, then where it says “Start paragraph”, choose “On next page”.

Add more pages

Making the changes above will mean you need to add extra pages. Go to the final page of your document, then click ‘Pages’ on the right-hand panel of your screen. Click the little square Post-It note symbol to add an extra page. Now click the red ‘+’ symbol on the text box of your final page, and then click anywhere in the text box of your new page. InDesign will create as many pages as are needed and flow the text through them.

Deal with blank lines

The Kindle will ignore blank lines created by carriage returns. My book occasionally used a blank line created this way to separate two scenes within a chapter, and these disappeared on the Kindle. To sort this out I duplicated the “Normal” style (by right-clicking on it and choosing “duplicate”) and under “Indents and spacing” I set “Spacing before” to 12pt. (InDesign converted this into a measurement in inches, but it worked fine.) I called the new style “Normal + blank line above”. Wherever I wanted a blank line, I selected the paragraph after that blank line and changed its style to “Normal + blank line above”. Find these paragraphs by pressing CMD+F and entering “^p^p” under “Find what”.

If you’ve used blank lines for positioning text – for example the title at the beginning of the book – you will need instead to choose “Paragraph” from the right-hand menu and set the “Space before” to look good onscreen. (N.B. The settings in “Paragraph” affect just that one paragraph, whereas those in “Paragraph styles” affect every paragraph of that style.) Experiment with what looks best in the different types of Kindle by using the previewer, which I’ll get onto soon. I added a 1″ space before my day titles, and it looked fine.

Deal with paragraph indents

If, like me, you used tabs to indent the paragraphs in your paperback file, you’ll need to replace them with non-breaking spaces. Go to Edit > Find/Change. Under “Find what”, type “^t” and under “Change to”, type “^s^s^s^s^s”.

“Front matter”

The front matter is everything that goes before the novel itself – title pages, contents, etc. Remember that there are only four font sizes on Kindles, and these are scaled depending on the user’s settings. The four sizes are 10, 12, 14 and 18pt. So, make sure your normal text is set to 10pt, and use 18pt for the big text on the title pages.

I had a look at a few Kindle books, and these seem to be the standard items to include in the front matter (I don’t include the cover, since that isn’t part of the InDesign file):

  • Title page (just the title of the book, centred, 18pt)
  • Full title page (the title, the author and the publisher, centred, 18 and 14pt)
  • Publisher only (I used just my logo here)
  • Copyright notices (like the paperback, but include a line “Paperback ISBN: xxxxxxxxxxxx” as well as your Kindle ISBN, and remember that blank lines here won’t come out unless you change the paragraph style)
  • Dedication or acknowledgements
  • Contents

Each of these needs to begin on a new page, but InDesign’s pagination won’t be reproduced in the Kindle text unless you insert a page break (Type > Insert break character > Page break) after the text on each of these pages.

When you get to the contents page, go to Layout > Table of contents and make sure that only the “ChapterTitle” paragraph style appears under “Include paragraph styles:” on the left. As my book’s divided into sections (ten days), I included these as well, using the style “DayTitle”. That’s just me though. If you do include more than one paragraph style, make sure to choose them in order of precedence (for me that means choosing DayTitle before ChapterTitle) as the second style appears indented on the Kindle. Where it says “Entry style”, choose “TOC body text” for each paragraph style you’re including, or you’ll have a page break before each entry. Change the title at the top to “Contents” in the style “No style”. Then click “OK”.

Creating and checking the Kindle file

Go to File > Export for Kindle. Your filename can be anything you like. On the next screen, under “General”, make sure “Include InDesign TOC entries” is ticked. Tell it where the cover JPEG that you created earlier is saved.

Under “Metadata”, fill in all the fields. When it comes to the ISBN number, make sure you don’t use your paperback’s ISBN – the Kindle edition needs its own. For the description, write two or three sentences that will tell someone who has never heard of your book roughly what sort of thing it is.

When you click “Export”, the program will take about a billion years to produce your file. Go away and write another book while you’re waiting.

When it’s finished, open Kindle Previewer and have a look at how the book will appear on all the current models of Kindle. Notice that it opens on the first page of the novel, ignoring the front matter. To see the front matter, go to the cover and page forward from there. It’s also a good idea to look at a few random chapters, check that your paragraph indents, chapter headings and titles all look as they should, and then go to the end to make sure that the whole book is there. Once you’re happy, you’re ready to publish.

Publishing your Kindle book

Go to https:kdp.amazon.com. Use the button on the right to sign in with your Amazon account (or create one). Click on Bookshelf at the top of the screen, and then click “Add new title”. From here, everything is self-explanatory. You can use the JPEG cover image you created earlier as the catalogue image, you have the file to upload.

The only thing that remains is the price. This bamboozled me at first, but then I realised what was going on. The “List price” that you set is not the price that Amazon will list. Instead, Amazon will add the amount specified under “delivery cost”. And oddly, the delivery cost partly depends on the list price. When I set my list price to £2.49, Amazon sold the ebook for £2.56, adding 7p. When I wanted to lower the price to £1.99, I found I had to set it at £1.93, with Amazon adding 6p for delivery.

In the UK, we pay VAT on ebooks. But you don’t have to factor that in to the price – Amazon pays the VAT out of its share. So, whenever anyone buys a copy, I get 70% of £1.93.

The agreement you sign with Amazon says that you have to set the list price at least 20% lower than the price of the physical book. And the Kindle price can’t be higher than the price you’re charging for any other ebook edition, such as for the Nook or Sony Reader.

Good luck with your paperback and Kindle book.

And if this has been helpful, please have a look at my book, The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax, at http://christophershevlin.com/perpetual-astonishment/. If you like the sound of it, why not buy a copy?


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