Zen of eBook Formatting is now available!

The past months I kept myself busy completing a new book on the subject of eBook formatting, as many of you may know. I am happy to announce that the book is finally available! For only $5.99 you can now benefit from the years of experience I have had as a professional eBook formatter, learning the ins and outs and the tricks of the trade I have applied to many hundreds of eBooks from New York Times bestselling writers and indie authors alike.

zencoverZen of eBook Formatting is in the same vein as my “Take Pride in your eBook Formatting” tutorial series, but it goes way beyond that, as it is vastly expanded and updated. Whether you are a PC or a Mac user, in the book I am taking readers through the entire workflow that I am using every day for the projects I am working on for my clients. In an easy to understand manner—I hope—I am not only listing the steps, but also explain why these steps are necessary and why I do things the way I do them. The result is a tutorial-style self-help book that is chock full of examples, tips, tricks and coding snippets.

Having formatted close to 1,000 eBooks at this time, I am covering the entire process, from the basic manuscript cleanup, to the basics of HTML and simple markup, all the way to advanced techniques that allow you to add an incredible amount of polish to your eBooks without necessarily sacrificing device compatibility.

Just to give you an impression of the breadth of subjects I am covering, here is the Table of Contents for you.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1 – The Road to Right
    • Understanding eBook readers
    • Why you should not use a word processor
    • The road to Right
    • Tools of the trade
  • 2 – Data Structure
    • HTML
    • CSS
    • Prepping your style sheet
  • 3 – Cleaning Up the Manuscript
    • The Power of Em
    • Time to clean up your manuscript
    • Fixing up styles
  • 4 – From Word Processor to Programming Editor
    • Nice, clean and predictable in HTML
    • Paragraphs are the meat
    • Fleshing it out
    • Dealing with special characters…the right way
    • A word about fonts
  • 5 – General Techniques
    • Centering content
    • Images
    • Image resolution
    • Chapters
    • Typography and Layout
  • 6 – Advanced Techniques
    • Chapters
    • Initials
    • First-line capitalization
    • Formatting inserts and notes
    • Formatting emails and text messages
    • Image blocks with byline
    • Custom fonts
    • Linking to the outside world
    • Lists
    • Backgrounds and Color
  • 7 – eBook Generation
    • eBook formats
    • Meta-Data
    • The Cover
    • The TOC in the digital world
    • Calibre
    • More control with XPath
    • KindleGen
    • Error-checking
  • 8 – eBooks Outside the Box
    • A Word about Fixed-Layout Books
    • Preparing for Smashwords
  • Parting Thoughts
  • 9 – Appendices
    • Chart of named entities
    • Resources
  • About the Author
  • Also by Guido Henkel

The key to me, when putting together this book, has been to make it possible for anyone to create an eBook that has a professional level of presentation. Too many authors use shortcuts to create eBook version of their manuscripts, flooding the market with broken and sub-par product that leaves a bad taste in readers’ minds, when in fact, applying a little bit of discipline could elevate them from that riffraff and make their books like a million bucks.

Zen of eBook Formatting is targeted at all those of us, who care about their books, not only the words we wrote, but also that they are presented to the reader in a clean and professional manner that works on as many eReaders as possible. Hopefully, with Zen of eBook Formatting at hand, this goal will be within reach for many more authors.

Grab your copy of the book an Amazon now!

If you want to keep up with my eBook formatting work, don’t forget to subscribe to my Newsletter. That way I can keep you updated about the latest developments, updates to my books, code snippets, techniques and formatting tips.


23 Replies to “Zen of eBook Formatting is now available!”

  1. Miss Alister

    Just got it, so glad to have it, love the cover, can’t wait to pore over what’s new!!! In your preface you mention the “ever-growing capabilities of modern eReaders,” words that would fill me with fear if you weren’t on the cutting edge to deliver the know-how to deal with all that. And I hope you will issue revised copies periodically in which you’ve sorted out all the latest Amazon craziness! Invaluable stuff, Zen-Master (and that title for you is right on!)

  2. Dave Freer

    I’ve been using your step-by-step guide through several other books, so I am very glad to buy this. I’ll be reading and recommending it to others.

  3. SmarteBookShop

    Looking forward to getting a copy. But looking at the Table of Contents, I don’t seem to find anything on Sigil. Or is it covered in one of the topics? Just curious to know. I sincerely believe any tips on eBook formatting will be a great idea.

    Thanks for this great job.

    • Guido

      Thanks for the heads-up. Sigil is not covered in the book because it is not a software package I use. The book outlines the process that I’ve been using for years, and breaks it down so that anyone with a bit of technical interest can follow it.

  4. Tero

    Is the book available in the epub format? (Would like to buy the book but don’t have a Kindle and not planning to install any Amazon software on my devices…)

    • Guido

      At this time, no ePub versions are available. Apple is currently making it very difficult for me to publish the book because I am referencing a lot of their competitors like Amazon and Barnes&Noble in the text. As a result they keep refusing the book. I’ve also run into some hiccups regarding the Nook, which is why I’m still holding back the book on Barnes&Noble. What device are you using? Not a current generation Nook, perchance?

  5. Lassal

    It is an amazing book, Guido, and I wanted to thank you for it.

    I have been following your guidance (Take Pride in Your eBook Formatting) since I set out to publish my very first eBook. And I have never looked back (nor had any reasons to do so).

    I have been referring people to your blog series all along and now I’ll be referring them to this book.

    Thanks again, Guido.

  6. Guido

    Thank you so much for your kind remarks. I am so glad that the tutorial series and the book have been so helpful.
    It would be wonderful if you could also leave a review on Amazon to let other people know about it. 🙂

  7. Tero

    I’m using a generic ebook reader with no direct connection to any device-specific store, so what I would need is just a standard epub file. If you have PayPal or something like that, I could just send you the payment through that?

  8. Guido

    Sure thing. Feel free to send payment to and I’ll send you an EPUB copy right away. Thank you so much. 🙂

  9. Max

    Thank you for this fantastic book. I purchased my copy today, looking to fine tune my formatting skills, and wow. Somebody on my wavelength! Never thought I’d love a non-fiction book as much as this!

  10. JB

    Hi Guido, I too am interested in purchasing an epub version of your new book. Please let me know if they are available now (Nov 2014) or shall I send payment to you? Thanks, JB

    • Guido

      EPUB versions of the book are not available on a retail level for a number of reasons. If you would like an EPUB copy, feel free to paypal $5.99 to with a brief note and your email address and I’ll be happy to send you a copy.

  11. JB

    Guido – just wondering if your new ebook covers epub3 at all? We are finding that some countries only accepted ebooks for distribution in epub3 format.
    We would like to know if we can easily convert our mostly text epub2 books to epub3 in order to provide these epub3 versions for distribution to these etailers.

    And is there an epub3 validator tool out yet?

    We are publishing simple text ebooks now, and don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. It would be great if we could easily convert our existing ebooks to epub. I’m assuming that publishing all in epub3 going forward, may mean the ebooks might mean these ebooks couldn’t be read on some devices….? Thx. JB

  12. VirtualJJ

    Purchased your book on Amazon. However, I was hoping to find how to put in code snippets but did not see anything. Also, the list-style-type: square; bullet for lists aren’t displaying on Kindle properly – they are showing up as circles. (verified in browser that they show up as squares)

    Is there a way to put code snippets in Kindle? I tried the following and it looks great in a browser but doesn’t look well on Kindle:

    <code>various commands</code>
    <code>various commands</code>

    • Guido

      The <code> tag is not supported by eBook readers. It is an invention of message boards. You will have to create a custom paragraph style for it and style it the way you want it, preferably using a monospace font.

      As for the square bullets, as I point out on various occasions in the book-as well as here on the site, there will always be certain things that do not work as expected on certain devices, and there is very little that can be done about it. You will simply have to be flexible with the way your content is presented in the digital world.

  13. Johannes Rexx

    Guido it is unacceptable that you do not make an ePub version of your eBook available. I make it a rule NEVER to buy proprietary and DRM-hobbled content when alternatives are available. So I will be watching your progress with interest.

    That said, I wish you well and a pox on Apple’s house for its anti-competitive stance on eBooks and Apps that refer to a competitor. That is petty beyond belief.

    • Guido

      There is nothing proprietary about the MOBI file format, and the book has no DRM either, so your stance is not really justified. But be that as it may, there is an ePub version of the book available at Barnes & Noble and in Kobo’s store.

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