Careful with E-Book Formatting

Some words of wisdom if you are formatting your own e-books, or even if you are paying someone else to format them. I am only speaking about the Kindle, since that is the e-reader that I own, but I am sure that other formats/readers would be similar.

Notice how I have a line break between these two paragraphs. That’s because this is non-fiction. This isn’t a story, or a novel, or a novella. But in case you’ve not read a physical book lately, fiction doesn’t use line breaks unless it is a scene change. Did you hear me? No? Let me say it again. Fiction doesn’t use a line break unless it is a scene change.

I have experienced this style of formatting from multi-published authors, and I just want to grab them by the throat and tell them to stop it.

I downloaded a book for my husband recently. I liked the premise, so I decided to read it too. It wasn’t one of the romances that I normally read, but sometimes I slip out of my genre. I won’t recommend it. The writer used larger paragraphs, not a lot of dialog, and a lot of telling. But aside from those weaknesses, it almost gave me a headache to read it. Every paragraph had a scene-break style line. If the paragraph spanned two pages, my subconscious mind would interpret this as a scene break, but it wasn’t. It was a new paragraph. It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that he had formatting issues, I couldn’t get past it.

A blank line in the text should only be used to indicate a scene break, or a change in the action, not a paragraph switch. In the free book that Amazon published on how to format for the Kindle, it explains how to have blank space between paragraphs, but I ignored that. I think that is for non-fiction.  Please beware when you are using this feature. Preview it and make sure that you don’t have huge amounts of space between your paragraphs.

Thank you for listening to me rant. Anyone else have any formatting issues they want to whine about? I’ll listen.