Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way~ Formatting Your Manuscript for Publication

I'm on hiatus from my blog but The Indelibles Indie Life is one of my commitments. I take commitments very seriously so here I am posting again....SURPRISE!

By the way I'm still on hiatus. My real life intrusions have lessened some. I'm feeling better, sleeping better, and my heart isn't thumping out of my chest as much. Thanks for your patience.

 If you haven't indie published your manuscript before, you need to scrutinize formatting instructions carefully. The difference between paperback and e-books formatting is night and day. The difference in types of e-reader formats is also mind boggling.

In printed publishing, typesetters is not a do-it-yourself task. Or not one task to take on with a cavalier attitude. It's a critical function of book production. Yes, Amazon's CreateSpace has an interior format you can follow and other self-publishing companies which makes it seem easy BUT WAIT.

Is not as simple as it may appear. You think you can just copy and paste your text chapter by chapter into the space provided this is easy, but there are all kinds of tweaks involved to present a professional looking copy even with a template. You have to compare what you wrote to the "book" version. Things you may have to tweak...
  • Font size
  • Type of font
  • Italics
  • Bold
  • Justified text. You don't want it to read like t      h       i      s at the end of the sentence.
  • Headers and footers. I had a 2" drop of a header in one of my books that looked normal on the screen when I ordered the preview copy I noticed the drop.
  • Chapter headings on a new page and spaced appropriately.
These are just a few things to look out for. It is always wise to order and pay for a preview copy before publishing. Then red pen the things you want to change in it.

Now e-formatting is a bug-a-boo at best. Even following the pages upon pages of instructions. Each e-reader has a different format, each need a creation of a metadata file for chapter headings so readers can search for individual chapters. It's a heck of a learning curve even with one e-reader format.

I cheat and use Smashwords, they do all that formatting stuff for me. I only have to learn one format, theirs. Well, I take that back. Since they have had problems with Amazon Kindle distribution, I publish with Amazon's Kindle myself so I learned two formats out of eight. I've honestly got better things to do with my time than learning all the writing, family, and living my life.

In indie publishing, you want your book to look as good as the mainstream publishers. Maybe even better, because of the typo they have. I've found multiple typos in mainstream published books because it's too expensive to change them all. Of course you can say the heck with all of that and hire someone to do the formatting for you. But as always, check their credentials. Your baby doesn't need a fly by night operation.

With Smashwords they have a list of formatters available for a price. I'd strongly recommend getting one of them if your manuscript has multiple pictures and graphics, or a cookbook. I learned from experience on this one. I self published Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper? and didn't utilize their services. Numerous kick outs by their meatgrinder which checks for errors in formatting and a month later, it was approved for distribution. That book only had six diagrams and photos in it.

Are you thinking of indie publishing? Have you indie published a book? What are your horror stories with formatting? Did you learn anything from this blog?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


  1. I long decided to pay for all formatting and book cover needs. Sorry but I'm a writer not Miss Do It All. But I respect those who try.

  2. Keep it simple I say.
    Glad you are doing a little better.

  3. Good to see you again! This is one reason I'm not in the market to self publish right now. Too much to learn and not enough time to even write, let alone this other stuff.

  4. Sheena-kay- After doing it all for two years, I'm outsourcing with the new book.

    Alex and Lara- Yes, finally. I can see light again. It's slow going.


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