When I volunteered to be a beta reader for one of my writing friends, I wanted to evaluate her novel not as a hopeful manuscript, but as a published book. After all, that’s her goal. So instead of reading a double-spaced manuscript printed on 8” X 11” paper or off a standard computer screen—I hate reading on my computer, by the way—I emailed the file to my kindle account so I could read it the same way I read most books nowadays.
Looking at a manuscript, whether it’s on paper or a computer, normally sends me into knit-picky edit mode rather than reader mode. I can fixate on word choice and phrasing in a way I don’t with published works, but that all goes away when the ms looks like a published novel. Only import things like slow sections, pacing problems, plot or character inconsistencies kick me out of the flow of the story. Reading the ms on my kindle lets me evaluate and compare it to the published books I’ve read in a way that other reading methods don’t.
So, after reading her manuscript (which is really good), I decided to read my own work-in-progress on my Kindle to get more of a reader’s perspective.
OMG, it makes such a difference! It’s allowing me to view my story in a more professional light while resisting the urge to tweak every little phrase. Some of the things I thought were terrible turned out to be pretty good. Some of the things I thought were great weren’t. And boy, does it ever make typos stand out!
Overall, it’s just a lot of fun, and it’s pretty easy to do!
If you have a kindle and want to give it a try with your own work, here’s how you do it. (Don’t worry, emailing a document to your own Kindle does NOT make it accessible to other Kindles. You won’t be inadvertently sharing your unpolished draft with the world.)
1. Make sure the email address you’re going to be sending your document from is on your Amazon accounts approved email list.
Go to https://www.amazon.com/myk#manageDevices. If you aren’t signed into your Amazon.com account already, the link will take you to the Amazon sign in page first. Once you are signed in, or if you’re already signed in, it will take you to the manage devices page.
Click on Preferences, then scroll down until you get to Personal Document Settings.
Click on Personal Document Settings and scroll down until you get to Approved Personal Document E-mail list. At the bottom of the Approved Personal Document E-mail list, click on the link that reads Add a new approved email address. Then simply add the address you’ll be emailing your manuscript from.
2. Find out what your Kindle’s email address is. (Amazon gives every registered Kindle its own email address.)
Go to Manage Devices (https://www.amazon.com/myk#manageDevices ). Again, Amazon will send you to the sign in page first if you aren’t already signed into your account.
Click on Devices, this time. Then click on the specific Kindle you want to read your manuscript on and copy down the email address for that Kindle. (We have a couple of different Kindles. Personally, I prefer reading books on the older, paper-white version rather than the Kindle fire.) Once you know the email address—
3. Save your ms in a Kindle-friendly format.
If your document is a Word file (.doc or .docx), it’s already good to go.
If you write in Scrivener or some other program, you’ll need to export the file first and either convert it to a Word file or another compatible format: mobi, pdf, rtf, html etc. (Click here for a list of formats.)
4. Now simply attach your manuscript document to an email and send it to your kindle’s email address and the document will show up on your kindle’s home screen.
Once you have your manuscript on your Kindle, you can read it like a real book! Though using the Kindle will help you curb your editing zeal, you will still be able to add notes and highlight sections that need work. And it’s just fun!