Novice Self-publishing, 5.5 – ebook to paperback

Earlier in this Novice Self-publishing series I outlined the steps needed to convert your free-flowing e-book manuscript to a print-ready PDF . This post gives more information about that process.

blank pages flying to book

When your printed copy is uploaded to Amazon for publication, you will be asked if you want Amazon to publish it as an e-book.

You uploaded a PDF for your paperback but – as you will understand if you’ve ever exported a PDF to Word – it is not a good option for conversion to e-book format. Start instead with your Word document.

Copy everything into the paperback template.

I prefer to copy-and-paste in sections rather than drop chapters into the Amazon template individually, but this can lead to problems with Headers (see Novice self-publishing, 6 – Headers and Footers).

If using the same Styles for both versions…

  • Highlight as much text as you want to paste.
  • Press Ctrl and C to copy from your e-book document…
  • Press Ctrl V to paste to the print template.
  • Alternatively you can right-click to bring up the context menu and select Copy or Paste as required.

To copy without bringing the formatting with you into the new document…

  • Copy as previous instruction.
  • Right-click on the new document to bring up the context menu.
  • Under Paste Options select the symbol on the right to paste text only without the source formatting (see screen shot above).

Justify text.

You did not justify text for your e-book as justifying can produce strangely spaced lines in unexpected places (even in your print manuscript if you don’t check for them).

Justifying your text for print is optional. It looks more professional, but can cause additional formatting problems. If you want your text justified, do it now by changing your Styles (see Novice Self-publishing, 3 Styles).

  • Right click.
  • Select Modify
  • Choose Justify as in the screen shot below.
  • If “Automatically update” is showing in your formatting box, check that is selected
  • Click OK to save. All your text formatted in those Styles should change.
screenshot - modify style

Check all your Styles

Your e-book will be in a standard font, such as Times New Roman. Once copied into the paperback template, you can change your Styles to the font you want for the book. (Non-standard fonts will have to be embedded. I will cover that in the next Novice Self-publishing post: Preparing for Upload).

In your text, check that all paragraph Styles (such as Normal, No Indent, Centred…) are as you want them. Also check out your Titles, Subtitles (if you have them), Book Title and front pages.

Check page ends

Look out for stranded single lines or words sitting alone on a page. These are known as Widows and Orphans.

Often these can be rescued by changing or deleting a word somewhere earlier in the paragraph – or by adding one if it will spill your single line over into two lines.

Also look out for lines where a few words have been stretched out with big spaces between. This can happen when text is justified and breaks are added to suppress headers (see Novice self-publishing, 6 – Headers and Footers).

Add any separator pages or blank pages.

Set up any section separator pages, if you’re using them, and any pages you wish to leave blank (such as the reverse of a section separator page).

Remember, even pages are on the left hand side of your open book; odd pages are to the right.

If you adjust your copy of Word to show two pages at once (in the View tab, Zoom/Multiple Pages) you will be viewing them the other way around (ie. odd pages to the left).

When everything is finally edited and formatted

  • Add/check page numbers
  • Add headers for left-hand (even-numbered) and right-hand pages (odd-numbered).
  • Remove headers on title pages (optional – see Novice self-publishing, 6 Headers and Footers).
  • Check through headers and footers.
  • Update Table of Contents and check results (see Novice Self-publishing, 5 Table of Contents).
  • Inspect document to remove XML (to be covered in Novice self-publishing, 7 – preparing to upload to Amazon).
  • Save to PDF (to be covered in Novice self-publishing, 7 – preparing to upload to Amazon).

The final post in this series will cover Preparing to Upload to Amazon

What problems have other novices out there encountered when self-publishing?

Please share your solutions – we’re grateful for all the help we can get.

11 thoughts on “Novice Self-publishing, 5.5 – ebook to paperback

  1. I wish I’d had this back when I was formatting my first paperback! Really helped break it down in an easy to understand manner – going to be bookmarking this for the next one!


    1. There are a lot of templates available on KDP for different sizes, formats, types of book. I changed ours to the point that only the margins and page sizes remain. There are also web sites out there that will help you set up your own – I won’t suggest a link as I decided there was too much scope for user error (mine). Also, I found them last year (didn’t bookmark them) and there may be newer/better ones available. Amazon want your manuscript, after all. If they make things too restrictive there are other self-publishing options.


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