Consider exercising ‘nuclear option’ on ebook

You’ve formatted your ebook in MS Word and uploaded it to Kindle DP or Smashwords. When you open the online previewer to see how it looks, you’re surprised to see tons of odd line breaks, strange characters that weren’t in your original Word document, uneven indentations, and a plethora of other problems. So you go through your manuscript, fix them, and upload again.

To your frustration, you find that many of the errors remain – and maybe even some new ones crop up.

Rather than continue battling each of these issues, you may want to consider what those in self-publishing call “the nuclear option.”

The reason your ebook looks like a mess when uploaded is because somehow in MS Word extra coding (or text instructions) have been added. This usually occurs because the manuscript was not formatted correctly to begin with (such as using tabs for indentations rather than relying on a block style appearance) or errors were added unintentionally while editing the manuscript.

The nuclear option wipes out all of this coding and lets you start afresh without losing any text. After all, sometimes returning to your start point is easier than trying to navigate to your destination from the spot where you’re hopelessly lost.

Exercise the nuclear option by first creating a new, blank MS Word file. Don’t delete the file you’ve uploaded, as you may need that later for reference. Then follow these steps (for Windows):
1. Open the MS Word file that you uploaded. Highlight all of the text (CTRL A) and copy it (CTRL C).
2. Open Notepad and paste the text to it (CTRL V). Save this file.
3. Highlight and copy all of the text you just pasted into Notepad.
4. Open the new, blank MS Word file you created for you manuscript. Paste the text to it. Save this file.

This is now the document that you will work on and ultimately upload to Kindle DP and Smashwords. You will have to style this text before uploading it, though. Also, be aware that the nuclear option will remove pictures, so you will need to add those when you reformat.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.