When I lined up a few beta readers for my novel this winter, two of them asked for a file they could read on their Kindles. My own Kindle (Beth) was still shiny new so I had to figure this out. I love figuring out how to do techy stuff – which is probably why I do so much tech writing.
After a little internet research and experimentation I figured out a fast and easy conversion method that doesn’t require additional software or any Amazon hand-holding. If you start with a text-only Word document it takes about two minutes.
Reading and writing html isn’t required to use this method, but it’s a helpful skill if you end up wanting to tweak the formatting at all.
NOTE This is NOT a self-publishing primer in e-book formatting. I understand there are software programs that do this. That’s nice. This method doesn’t include making a table of contents or other hyperlinks (though that’s fairly easy). It’s about getting your text file onto your Kindle quickly, so you can review it without getting a headache from your flickering computer screen.
Additional Disclaimers I did this on a computer using Windows 7 with Word 2007 and Notepad. If you’re a cool kid with a Mac, there may be some different steps. Also, I haven’t tried this with any Kindle or e-reader other than my own, so your results might vary.
Okay, with that out-of-the-way, here’s how I got my novel onto my Kindle:
- First, my document is just text. No headers, footers, graphics, objects, tables, styles or anything else to make it look pretty. If your document has any of this get rid of it or copy just the text to a new document.
- Save your document as a filtered html file. Don’t freak out. All you have to do is click, Save As, then in the Save As File Type box choose Web Page Filtered (*.htm; *.html). It’s that easy.
- Now, in Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder where you saved your file. Click on it once to highlight it, then right-click and select Rename. Change the three letters after the period to .txt.
For example, MyNovel.htm becomes MyNovel.txt
NOTE If you can’t see the three characters after the period (your file extension) you’ll have to change that setting in Windows Explorer. To do this, select the Organize Tab, Folder and search options, then uncheck the “Hide extensions for known file types” box and click Apply.
- Now simply attach your Kindle to your computer via the USB cable and drag the file onto it. If you don’t know how to do this, read the Beta Reader Kindle Instructions at the bottom of this post.
Those four simple steps are all you need but if you want to tweak the formatting after you see your file on the Kindle, here are a couple handy tricks to perform between steps three and four.
- Page Breaks: To create a page break for each chapter, open your .txt file and find your second chapter. Right before it press the Enter key and type:
- Extra Blank Lines: If you want to insert one or more blank lines (like on the first page of each new chapter or between scenes) go to that spot, press the Enter key and type:
Insert the break multiple times for multiple blank lines.
- Headings: If you want your chapter title to show up bigger and bold, make it a heading. Go to the chapter title and put heading tags around it, inside the paragraph tags, like this:
You can put those three tricks together to make your chapter starts obvious, like this:
Beta Reader Kindle Instructions:
These are the instructions I gave my beta readers when I emailed them my .txt file. It’s how you get the file from your computer to your Kindle.
- Save the attached file to your computer.
- Plug in your Kindle with the USB cable. On your computer you should get the option to open the folder to view files on your Kindle. Do this.
- If you don’t get that option and you’re using a Windows machine, you can open My Computer, then open the drive for Kindle.
- Open the Kindle’s documents folder.
- In another window open the folder where you saved the file and drag it to the documents folder on your Kindle.
- Unplug the Kindle. The file should show up on your home page ready to read.