Print Vs. Digital – Understanding the Flow of Text

Ebooks are not STATIC like print books.

So, what does that mean?

This is my book, Constant State of Disaster, in PDF form. This is what I upload to Createspace. The words on the page are STATIC – meaning, they do not change or move. Ever.

Well, to start off with, let’s look at print books.  A print book is a work of art.  Every word, every bit of punctuation, every heading and footnote and glyph—they are printed on the page in a specific place.  The floral pattern at the start of each chapter—half an inch from the top right corner.  The chapter heading—three lines down, and then another two lines before the start of the text.  Justified lines don’t always flow beautifully, which is why in print, one utilizes hyphens, or the artistic method of rewording and adding until the text is displayed with just the right amount of white space.  There is a lot of planning that goes into making a print book beautiful.  All of the aforementioned things are what make a print book static—embedded on paper and immovable.

Sounds like a lot of work, right?  It is.  But, it’s what sets apart your book from the crowd, so I personally believe print books deserve that kind of love and affection.

Same book in digital. Average screen size, average font size.

Now, let’s talk about how ebooks are completely different.

Same book but in digital format. This is my Kindle app on my 17-inch computer screen. The Kindle screen is as LARGE as it goes, and the font is abnormally large, as well.

Ebooks are NOT static.  When you open a print book, the words are exactly where they’re supposed to be, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you’re doing.  This is not so in the ebook format.

Same book, same chapter, only in abnormally small font on an abnormally large screen.  See how it goes over into the new scene?

What you have to remember is that not all ereaders display the same way.  There are people read your ebooks on tablets the size of a piece of five-subject notebook paper, and there are others reading on screens as small as their tiny Android phone.  Not only does screen size have to be taken into account—there is also the fact that nearly all ereaders allow for the reader to change the font face and the font size.  This means that your book will never display exactly the same as it does on YOUR ereader/app.

Same place, smallest possible screen size but average-ish font size.  Notice it doesn’t go into the new scene.

Ebooks flow to the size of the screen based on font size and face.  Bigger font size means less words on one screen, and skinnier font faces mean more words on one screen.  Your app may display a single lonely word at the end of a chapter—obviously hideous to the eye for that one word to be on its own page—but you must remember that’s not how everyone will see it!

And last but not least (though I could seriously do this a million ways), smallest possible screen size, abnormally large text. Holy cow! Barely anything on the page!

Individuals who own ereaders are well-aware of the idiosyncrasies of their device.  It’s like one’s favorite sweater—yeah, there’s a hole in the armpit and the hem is unraveling, but you know that’s just how it looks and you love it anyway.  Readers will recognize when they see a single line on a single page that it is meant to be with the text on the page previous—cut ‘em a little slack, they’re pretty smart if they’ve joined the digital revolution.

Kindle App for Android. Kindle Fire. Kindle app for PC. Regular, run-of-the-mill Kindle. Four different ereaders from the SAME manufacturer, and each displays a different amount of paragraphs. Let this be your lesson for the day.:)

This is why its important to understand formatting if you’re going to attempt to do it yourself.  The above reasons show why you should never have page numbers or headings in your ebook. You should never plan for your ebook to have one-page chapters (your reader on her Android phone is gonna see a single paragraph at a time, if that, so your “one page” turns into ten for her.)  Leave those nuances to the print books, and go for simplicity in your ebooks.

Your ebook CAN be gorgeous, as long as you understand the limitations of the formats.

(This post isn’t about the fancy stuff that can be done in ebooks, like glyphs and images.  Those things are possible, but to put it simply, leave them to the professionals if you want your book to look its best.  Those people are the ones that know the issues that come from formatting and can act accordingly.)

Changes to CyberWitch

Business has become beyond outrageous.

After a passing mention by Dave Gaughran February, and then an Ask-the-Formatter blog at The Bookshelf Muse in May, I’ve had an INSANE spring and beginning of summer.  From the end of January until, well, STILL, I have been nonstop.

CyberWitch formatting isn’t my only job.  I’m a full time police dispatcher and have been for over four years now.  I work night shift – 11 p to 7 a, and not only that, but I work a rotation.  What this means is I work 8 DAYS in a row, then I have 2 days off.  Then I work 7 DAYS in a row, and get 4 days off.  You ever worked night shift?  It pretty much makes a woman insane.  I sleep around 10 hours a day just so I can make it through the night.  Add the fact that I go such a long period of time between off days, and by the time I AM off work, I don’t want to do anything but run the errands that have built up over the week, visit my family, and then use the one day left to be lazy.

What does this mean?  Well, it means I don’t have a whole lot of free time, as it is.  When I wake up around 6 in the evening, I immediately turn on my computer and start formatting.  I will sit before the screen and continue to work until 945, when I have to get ready for work.  Then, 8 hours at work.  Come home, pass the heck out, and when I wake up, I do it all over again.  Every day.  7 DAYS A WEEK.

That’s right.  I have been getting so much work that I am literally working around the clock.  My life is suffering.  My fiance doesn’t even remember what my eyes look like, my family tells me about get-togethers and dinners, but I miss them because I’m on deadline to a client.  And I’m also a writer, who hasn’t written or released a book since January.

Oh, and did I mention I’m trying to plan a wedding, too?  October.  I don’t have anything but the caterer because I don’t have TIME.

I’m stressed, depressed, and have aged twenty years since last October when I started formatting as a freelancer.  I’ve met some amazing authors who I thoroughly enjoy working for, but I’ve also dealt with people who have made me cry.  True story.

I love formatting – I take so much pride in creating a beautiful ebook or print book.  I don’t want to quit.  But, changes have to be made.  As long as formatting isn’t my full time, life-support career, I can’t pretend it is.

As of today, CyberWitch formatting services are temporarily closed to new clients.

I will continue to work for my already established clients.  If you are NOT already my client, you’ve seen a book of mine, and you’re dying for your book to be as pretty, you can certainly email me and see if I can fit you in.  I very well may.

I’m tentatively planning on opening for the holiday season at the end of the year.  It’s a busy time for ebook formatting as authors try to push out books before the rush.  If I do, I’ll post well in advance.

Thanks for stopping by, and as usual, I am always available by email at for ANY of your formatting or self-publishing questions (free of charge).