Ever wanted to fancy up the chapter headings for the ebook version of your novel? Wondering if KDP will choke on anything you add to dress it up and make it look more like the professionally-published novels you’ve seen?
I did, too. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Those of us who format our own books can get pretty good at it — given time and a willingness to experiment. Just look at Derek Murphy (whose websites and YouTube videos have been a tremendous help to me and many others).
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into ebooks (mostly fiction) lately that had fancy details on the chapter title pages. Until recently, I thought adding those required in-depth knowledge of HTML coding. I was prepared to learn, though, because I want my first novel’s ebook to be as pretty on the inside — ahem, I mean professional-looking — as the paperback version.
So, I went to one of my favorite spots for free graphics — OpenClipArt.org — and looked up “flourishes” (and then “flourish dividers” and “decorative dividers”). And I found one that made me think, “That’ll do nicely.”
Then I started to play, and after finishing, I decided to share the steps I went through to make my novel’s ebook as pleasing to the eye as I hope the cover is.
1. OpenClipart.org: download the MS Word / LibreOffice option (below is a screenshot of the flourish I downloaded) & save to your desktop.
(Please forgive the terrible resolution of this screenshot. For a clearer image, click on this link to see a PDF of the page: Clipart – heading flourish.)
2. Put the cursor where you want the flourish (in your Word doc) & go to “Insert” in your top menu bar and choose “Picture” to upload your flourish file.
3. Position it (I centered it below the chapter title), adjust the size to suit your header, and highlight it to create a new style (e.g.,”Flourish for chapter headings”)
4. Ctrl-C while the flourish is still highlighted to copy it to your clipboard. Go to the next chapter page, position your cursor, and paste (Ctrl-V) your new flourish into place. You should see, if you click on your flourish, that the “Flourish for Chapter Heading” style is selected in the style menu at the top right of your page.
5. Repeat step 4 (though you don’t have to check to make sure the right style is selected every time) until you’ve added the flourish to every chapter heading. Add the flourish to other pages, if you like (Prologue, Conclusion / Epilogue, “One last thing,” etc.). Then save your file (preferably in more than one place), then convert it to an HTML file by saving it as a “Web page, filtered (HTML).”
6. Open Kindle Previewer and go to “File” and “Open Book” to upload your new HTML file. KP will convert your file to a MOBI file and then display it for you to look over.
7. Check out your new spiffed-up chapter pages. If your flourishes aren’t showing, and Kindle Previewer has put a strange symbol where the flourishes should appear — like it just did for me — check to make sure the HTML file you uploaded to the previewer is closed (Hint: check out my above screenshot with the HTML file OPEN, because I forgot how much that matters). It’s easy enough, though, to close the HTML window and then re-upload the file to Kindle Previewer. The screenshot below has my Word document as a backdrop, so Kindle Previewer opened the HTML file and processed those new flourishes without a hitch.
After reviewing your new MOBI file on Kindle Previewer, make changes (in Word) if necessary, save it again as an HTML file, and reupload it to KP. Once you like the way it looks (on KP), go ahead and go to “File” and then “Export” to save a copy of your new MOBI file to the desktop. When you’re ready, you can then go into KDP and upload your MOBI file for your book (assuming you’ve already started a file for it). You can either click on “Continue Setup” and go from there, or you can let your mouse hover over the button with the three dots to the right of that and choose “Edit Ebook Content.”
If you try opening your Word doc — with your new flourishes — you’ll notice the EPUB you create won’t have the flourishes — which means you’ll have to go into the HTML editor and insert the code (from the OpenClipArt.org page for your flourish) in place of the code that generates the odd-looking thing Calibre puts there instead. I’ll have to write a new post (with screenshots) on how to do this — either in Calibre or in Sigil (or both, though that’ll probably mean two posts).
For now, I hope this helps you add some “wow” factor to your ebook. You can also give your chapter pages an extra professional touch by putting the first three or four words in all caps, since Kindle doesn’t really like drop caps, and I’ve yet to find a way around that (Full disclosure: I picked up that tip from Derek Murphy, too).
I emailed myself the MOBI file I exported from Kindle Previewer and opened it on my phone’s Kindle app, and the flourishes showed up just fine. They also look fine on KDP’s Launch Previewer, too, which makes me happy.
Let me know what you think! If you have questions or want to share what you know that can make this post more helpful to other readers, please share in the comments below or drop me a message.
And have a great week!