Tag Archives: book design

Do you know how to publish an ebook with pictures?

Source: Do you know how to publish an ebook with pictures?

Workspace in InDesignHere’s a post from last fall that I swiped from Jean’s Writing! Now that I’m about to epublish my “Beginner’s Cheat Sheet” on formatting your own Print-on-Demand book using InDesign, I’m going to need all the help I can get on formatting ebooks with graphics! What I like in Jean’s video is the idea that you can force text and image to stay together. Does anyone have any experience adding graphics to Kindle ebooks? Does this look like a good process to you? Any help will be WELCOME!




Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, book design, business of writing, ebooks, indie publishing, Print on Demand, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

8 Tips For Formatting Your Book

These tips from Don Massenzio may help you make formatting decisions. I particularly like the idea of using 1.5 line spacing instead of single spacing in print books. Maybe I’ll try that next time!

pile of letters for writing

Check out my Beginner’s Cheat Sheet for formatting your hard copy book in InDesign!

Author Don Massenzio

This blog post is designed to help fellow independently published authors improve the quality of their work, but most of the tips here apply to the formatting of any book. I’m speaking of the formatting of books for the consumption of readers, not formatting your manuscript to send off to an agent or publisher.  There are a whole other set of rules for that exercise.

I’ve put together a list of ten tips that you should consider when putting your book together. They are not in order of priority, but together, they can make your book stand out from the millions of others available through your favorite sales channel.

1. Put Some Thought Into Your Cover

I have to admit, this was something I didn’t waste a lot of time on when I published my first book, Frankly Speaking. I just went ahead and used the Kindle cover creator and cranked…

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February 20, 2017 · 4:43 pm

InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finishing Up, Part I

This is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

In this post: Part 1 of some follow-up moves you can and should make in InDesign as you format your POD book interior.


Creating Additional Styles for Chapter Titles and Numbers

Just like Word, InDesign works best if you create a style for each element you use often and apply that style consistently across chapters. So you need a style for whatever elements—for example, chapter names—that you plan to include.

Create these additional styles exactly as you created your original main body style.

  • Select the text you want to style, for example a chapter title.
  • Format it to look the way you want.
  • Click “Create New Style” in the Paragraph Styles panel.

The new style, called “Paragraph Style 1” (or “2” if there’s already a “1” in the list, possibly for a style you never developed) will appear in the panel. In the figure below, I’ve created several new styles, renaming “Paragraph Style 1,” for example, “Chapter nos.” for chapter names.

InDesign page with Paragraph Styles Panel open

I created additional styles for my “Part” and “Chapter names,” as well as for the numbers of sections within chapters.

  • Double-click this new style in the Panel list to open the Paragraph Styles Option dialogue, where you will see the features you’ve selected, such as font, font size, and justification.
  • Make any adjustments using the menu on the left of this box.
InDesign Workspace with Paragraph Styles Options open.

In this example, I formatted a style I’ve called “Experiment,” clicked “Create New Style” in the Paragraph Styles box, renamed the style “Experiment,” and double-clicked to open the Paragraph Styles Options box, where I can see the Style Settings I’ve chosen.

A Consideration in Creating Additional Styles: “Before” and “After.”

When formatting elements like chapter titles, you will need to decide how much space to require “before” and “after.” Just as when formatting an ebook, say, for Kindle, you want to avoid long stretches of returns.

Creating a specific style with appropriate “before/after” attributes is optimal.

  • Double-click on the style name to open the Paragraph Styles Options dialogue.
  • From the menu on the left, choose “Indents and Spacing.”
  • Locate the fields for “Space Before” and “Space After.”
  • Use the fields to indicate the spacing you want.

It appears that your choices here are limited by defaults that you access by clicking the up and down arrows. I’m not sure why you can’t type in any value, but I’ve never been able to do so.


Set “before” and “after” using the small arrows to the left of each field. Your choices seem to be limited to preset distances.

For your main body styles, by the way, you generally want these fields to be set to zero—no extra spacing between paragraphs. (This is one of the annoyances of recent versions of Word: extra space between paragraphs seems to be the default, and people often do not know to go to “Format>Paragraph” and turn this default off.)

For the book I’m currently formatting, Blood Lies, I have a style for “Chapter nos.” or names, and one for “subset numbers,” or the little numbers between sections in each chapter. Because I place the text chapter by chapter, I can then “Select All” (CTRL/COMMSND + A) and apply my main body style. I then do have to change the style of the chapter title and go through the chapter to find the “subset numbers,” select them, and apply the style. You may find a much faster way to apply your styles. If so, please let us all know!

Creating Character Styles

I discovered that if I wanted to italicize a single word in a paragraph, I couldn’t do so—the whole paragraph would be converted to italics.

Solution: Create an Italic “Character Style.”

Like the Paragraph Styles panel, the Character Styles panel will appear in the right-side menu. (It can be called up via the “Window” menu if necessary.) It works exactly the same as the Paragraph Styles panel:

  • Select the text you want to change.
  • Format it.
  • Click “Create New Style.”
  • Double-click the new style that appears in the list, and you’ll get the now-familiar dialogue box showing your settings.
  • adjust your settings from the left-side menu in this dialogue box.
InDesign Workspace with Character Styles Open.

In this close-up, I still need to rename my new style, and to click on “Basic Character Formats” in the left-hand menu to choose “italics.” I also need to adjust the font size slightly.

You have a great deal of control over these styles. Conversations with readers of my developing design suggested to me that the italic that came with Garamond, which I was using for my main body style, was too ornate: crabby and hard to read. I experimented with a number of italics and finally created a Character Style using Book Antiqua with a slightly reduced font size. Again, I do have to locate italics in the text and apply the style manually.

By the way, I have not found InDesign’s Find/Change box to work well when asked to locate italics, perhaps because I haven’t always specified precisely the attributes it needs to search for. I make double-checking for italics part of my proofing process when I’m reading my pdf.

InDesign Workspace with Character Style application illustrated.

In the final version of this character style, I’ll reduce the Book Antiqua font size slightly to match the Garamond body text, and then apply the style manually to italicized words in the text.

Next: Part II of Finishing Up!

Please visit other posts in this series! Your feedback is welcome!

Formatting for IngramSpark in InDesign: You’re Almost Already There!

InDesign for Book Formatting: Cheat Sheet I

InDesign Cheat Sheet 2: How to Get Started

InDesign Master Pages: No Big Deal!

InDesign Cheat Sheet! Add Some Text!

Finally! Formatting Text in InDesign, Part I

InDesign Obstacle: When Smart Text Reflow Doesn’t Work

InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finally Formatting Part II


Filed under Blood Lies, book design, business of writing, indie publishing, King of the Roses, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, self editing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson, Writing

InDesign Cheat Sheet 2: How to Get Started

This is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

As promised: Exploring my Crazy Journey through InDesign. Today: Some basics I skipped over.

A couple of exchanges I’ve had suggest that I need to back up a step and make sure it’s clear how to initiate your wrestling match—uh, your friendly encounter—with InDesign. Getting started is not that much different from getting started in Word, but it looks a little different.

The screen that opens for me when I first click the InDesign app is black with white lettering, but you can change the colors if you want. via Preferences—>Interface, located, as usual in many programs, under the program icon in the upper left-hand corner.

Not unlike a Word menu, the opening screen presents you with two choices, “Open” and “New.”

INDD opening screen

Again not unlike the command in Word, “Open” in InDesign allows you to return to something you’ve already created. “New” says what it means. Here’s where you start.

And here’s where there is a small difference from Word. My version of Word gives me a blank document, cursor just a-blinkin’ away. In the more recent versions of Word I’ve used on PCs, the program offers you a choice of kinds of documents, but once you pick one, it once again welcomes you with little Mr. Blinking Cursor, your best friend.

In contrast, InDesign offers you a dialogue box. But this is really almost the same dialogue box you’d use if you wanted to make changes to the default Word document you’re used to seeing.

INDD opening dialogue box

For now, all it really wants you to do is set the size of your page, the number of columns and the margins within which you’ll place your materials.

For the kind of book I’m discussing, the correct number of columns is one.

The most common page sizes, or “trim sizes,” seem to be 5X8 or 5.5X8.5. You can just type your preference in.

You should set your margins based on the particular look you want, or on the recommendations of whoever will be printing your book. Ingram required 0.5 inches. I went with 0.8.

Make your top margin larger, at least one inch, since you’ll need to add running heads with your name as author and your book title. I also put my page numbers in the heads, but if you want to put them at the bottom, you should set the bottom margin larger as well.

I also decided that for the next book, I’ll expand the “inside” margin by about 0.025 inches, because I felt it came out ever so slightly narrower than I liked if the inside margin was the same as the outside.

Margins matter, of course, because you don’t want your lovely text cut into when they cut the pages to “trim size.”

You’ll see all this at work—running heads, page numbers, margins versus trim size, by taking a look at any published book on your shelves.

Once you make these three decisions and click OK, bingo. You have a page!

Go to Window—>Pages and open the Pages Panel. You’ll see your newly birthed page sitting there as well, a little white icon in the dark field.

INDD opening dialogue box cut

You can’t type in anything just yet. I’m getting there.

First, in the Pages Panel, note the “spread” above the dividing line. These are your master pages. Double click on either one, and you’ll open the masters in your main window. You’ll see that they are set up with the specifications you selected for size, columns, and margins.

Next, click on your lonely page icon in the Pages Panel. It returns to your window. If necessary, go to “View,” and tell it to Fit Page in Window.

Your screen may not automatically provide you all the elements you need. An easy fix: Window—>Workspace—>Advanced. Almost every panel you’ll need to format your book will pop up. (Choosing “Book,” oddly, hid my Pages panel.)

INDD Workspace with panels and page

Ignore all the stuff at the top. You’ll only use it once in a while, for example, to choose a different alignment, font, and font size for titles, etc.

By default, the Tools menu will be lined up along the left side of your screen. Now I’m going to tell you about the only two tools you’ll really use that much.

  • The black “Selection” arrow at the very top.
  • The Text tool, indicated by the letter “T,” probably about a third of the way down.

INDD Tools menu

If you choose the black selection arrow and click inside the margins of your document, you’ll see that the margins become selected. They have the little handles you should have encountered in boxes in other programs. You can tinker with size and whatnot with these handles. More on that later when I try to convince you that running heads are no big deal.

You’ll use the Selection tool much less often than you’ll use the Text tool. If you click on its icon in the Tool menu, your pointer becomes a large cursor image. Use this shape to click inside your margins, and guess what? Mr. Blinking Cursor appears.

Now you can type to your heart’s content. Except that you probably won’t want to. In the next installment, I’ll tell you why.

big smile smiley


Filed under indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

How you can avoid my mistakes

Check out these software tools from Jean. Do you use any of them? What was your experience like? Do you have others to recommend?

Jean's Writing

And boy do I make a lot of them. Or so it seems.

I hope by sharing with you, these posts will stand as a reminder to myself, not to repeat the same mistakes over again.big mistakes

Why? Because mistakes are costly.

Mistakes cost when you have to do something over and over, not just in time but often in money too.

How you can avoid my mistakes…

  • Use the right software for the right job.

I tried to use “workaround” software but that only make the job harder and take longer. You know what I mean like using a shoe to hang a picture instead of hunting down that long-lost hammer in the garage.

  • A little investment is worth your time and sanity.

No one software does everything. Pick the one that works best for each task.

Listed at the bottom are some of the ones I discovered and love.

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Filed under business of writing, ebooks, indie publishing, novels, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

InDesign for Book Formatting: Cheat Sheet I

beautiful business woman scared

Rank Beginners is Us!


This is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

This next post in my “crazy-journey” series as I experiment with various options for POD book-formatting deals with some of the things I found you must learn—and will want to learn—if you are interested in trying InDesign as your formatting option.

I’ve written already that I found the program a lot easier to learn than I thought it would be when I first opened that cluttered, intimidating screen. I still claim that for a book consisting of basic black-and-white text, InDesign is a reasonable choice.

Last time, I wrote about a number of things you already know how to do—functions that work the same in InDesign as in any other word-processing program I’ve ever used, for example, commands you know already from Word.

This and the upcoming posts lay out some of the new pieces that served me well. Many of these components are intuitive; the trick is often just using an item often enough to begin remembering where it lives.

Today: Navigating with The Pages Panel and the Layout menu.

The Pages Panel is the first and arguably the most important of the components you’ll want to get to know. It opens from the “Window” menu at the top of the InDesign screen. As with all the other panels, you can position it wherever you want, even outside of the program workspace. I’ve been keeping it open all the time.

It shows two sections. The top section displays your “masters,” which you set up in advance with the formatting you want on your pages—in the case of a black-and-white book, specifically a text frame or box, running heads, and page numbers.

Pages Panel annotated

The Pages Panel, showing the Master Pages at the top and the thumbnails of the front matter of my book below. Here, pages 2 and 3 are selected. You can scroll or use the “go to page” option in the Layout menu to move through these thumbnails.

Your masters should be the “trim size” of your eventual book, say, 5X8. Set up the text frame with Margins and Columns, accessible in the Layout menu, much as in Word. Ingram specifies at least 0.5 inches. Running heads and page numbers should be inside these margins, so the top margin of your text frame should be larger than your other margins (as should your bottom margin, if you plan to position your page numbers at the bottom of your pages). I opted for 0.8 on left, right, and bottom, and 1.0 at the top, which gave me room for my heads.

You can set up as many different masters as you want, so that different sections of your book can have different formats. I only needed one, because the only “different” pages I included were those for front matter and chapter title pages; for both of these, I simply applied the “none” option, stripping the heads and page numbers.

More on what I learned about setting up the masters and running heads later!

The second section of the Pages Panel shows thumbnails of the various pages of your developing book.

For me, the panel itself had three major functions

  • I could double click on a page and go there;
  • I could select one or more pages and either apply the masters or choose not to apply them (more later);
  • I could drag and drop pages or spreads to re-order them. When my text didn’t load in the right order (it sometimes didn’t), this feature saved a lot of time.

I found that the Pages Panel operates in partnership with the Layout option in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

  • You can move from page to page via Layout→Next Page or Layout→Next Spread (or “Previous” in both cases). I found this easier than clicking on the next set of thumbnails. (Actually, Adobe provides a useful list of key commands so you really don’t have to click on anything. “Next Spread,” for example, is “Option + Page down” on my Mac.)
  • Layout→Go to Page (CTRL or COMMAND + J) allows you to select a particular page to work on. Much better than scrolling through the Pages thumbnails looking for a page.
  • You can delete selected pages: Layout→Pages→Delete Pages
  • You can similarly add pages or insert pages after a selected page. Layout→Pages→Add or Insert Pages
  • You can apply formatting to a group of pages or to a single page. You do this through Layout→Apply Master to Pages, which gives you a menu of any masters you’ve created, or, helpfully when it comes time to set up your front-matter section and chapter title pages, the option of “None.”

Layout annotated

The only other navigation tool I used regularly was View→Fit Spread in Window (CTRL or COMMAND + Shift + 0). I found this command useful because sometimes, when you “go to” a page, the spread may not be centered, and I liked working with entire two-page spreads visible. Fit Spread in Window became my fix for this feature.

I’d argue that this is all you really need to move around comfortably in InDesign: your Pages panel, the commands in the Layout→Pages menu, the key commands for “Next” or “Previous” spread, and Fit Spread in Window. That’s not really very much, and it’s easy to remember.

My version of Word offers a “Navigation Pane” with much the same function. I began experimenting with using Master Pages in Word so that I could see whether I had the same options in Word as in InDesign, such as the ability to apply masters at will, which, as I’ll discuss in a later post, is one of the features I found essential. At first glance, working with masters in Word is different in several ways and possibly not as flexible as in InDesign. More on this as I continue my education!

Have you worked with master pages in Word? What options does it offer, and how have you made them work for you?


Filed under business of writing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

Crazy Journey: Designing My Own Book for IngramSpark

Magic book

Advice from a number of other self-published authors and bloggers led me to decide that my preferred path to getting my two previously published horse-racing mysteries out in print under my own copyright was to buy my own ISBN and start out at Ingram before moving on to Amazon’s CreateSpace. But I’m probably not alone in my panicked reaction at downloading the IngramSpark “file creation” specs.

My experience creating my ebooks for both Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing at Amazon was a breeze. I formatted my mss. in Word, uploaded them, and voilà, I had books. No errors, no “tickets.” But IngramSpark? Holy barf, Batman! What does all this stuff mean!

I hereby report that I am moving forward in my quest to conquer Ingram’s formatting requirements. I thought I would post progress reports, perhaps in hopes of encouraging others whose guts churn like mine did at the site of all those incomprehensible and unfamiliar commands.

Frustrated man at typewriter

If you’ve been through this, I hope you’ll take a moment in the comments to share your experiences, good or bad! (Even to tell me I’m just plain nuts. I won’t be offended! Really!)


Please note up front: The posts I envision chronicling my journey for better or worse are NOT how-tos! I am not an expert on InDesign, on formatting books, or on Ingram’s requirements. I can’t possibly match the expertise of professional book designers. I am simply sharing some observations and experiences, ideally as encouragement or in solidarity with others.

I have no idea where this effort will land me. I may be wasting my time on a task that doesn’t lend itself to amateur efforts. And after all, Ingram will sell you a template for around $50, as will other book designers—I haven’t tried a ready-made template, but might for the next book. I do have a funny feeling there’ll be some of the same technical work and correcting that I’m doing for my InDesign proof. We’ll see.

But here’s my rationale for moving forward on my own:

green smiley happy

  • First and foremost, it’s possible that I CAN do it. I won’t know till I try.
  • Trying this out is not prohibitively expensive. One blogger who considered Ingram’s requirements beyond the pale counted $500 in purchased ISBNs as part of his costs; I haven’t made a decision about that phase of the process, but I do know I won’t be writing 500 books in the next few years—and I’d still have to buy ISBNs if I want to be distributed through Ingram, whether I hire a professional designer or not. In the meantime, I’m making a $20/month investment in software and an hour or so a day in time.
  • I’m not on a strict deadline: I see this whole business of learning to market my books as a long-term project. Okay, so it takes me a month to do what a professional designer could do in a day. That’s not prohibitive, either, though for others it well might be.
  • Besides, I like learning new skills. Weirdly, I find this fun! It empowers me to see how well I can accomplish what, at the start, looked so daunting. And maybe I’ll put these skills to use in the future. So if it turns out I have to give up and hire a professional, I’ll be out a nominal sum but I’ll have gained an experience I value. Again, my idea of value is probably not everyone’s.
  • I’m not alone! Book designers are wonderfully generous with their expertise. I spent a whole day reading almost every article on Joel Friedlander’s superb site. I’ve found other marvelous sites I’ll share.

Bleu curve

Since this is a preliminary report, I’ll start with some preliminary stuff. Baby stuff.

Like figuring out what “trim size” means.

Basically, it’s about how big (height and width, not page length) I want my book to be. (Here’s an infographic on trim size.) Ingram supplies a list of options, and I measured a few of the trade paperbacks on my shelves with a ruler. Smaller trim size means more pages. I started out choosing 5.5X8.5.

Like figuring out that I needed some software.

Working with the graphic-design program at my university to produce a slick magazine told me that the designers’ preferred platform was Adobe InDesign. But InDesign came with some built-in liabilities:

It’s expensive.

It’s scary as hell.

Could I just use good ol’ Word? After all, even my ancient “2008 for Mac” version offers all kinds of formatting options that I’d already mastered for my ebooks.

Q mark flowersI invested some time searching for “InDesign vs. Word” online. Not surprisingly, the professionals gravitate to InDesign as offering more control and more options even for plain text documents like mine. Not surprisingly, the comments sections were sprinkled with claims that a) everybody already had Word so it was effectively free; b) Word works fine; and occasionally, c) sure, professionals tout something we all have to pay them to do.

To me, comments like c) denigrate professionals and the expertise they’ve built up over the years. But were the rebels right? Could Word do the kind of job Ingram accepts (and readers want)?

I actually don’t know the answer to that. (Do you? Share!)

You can use Word: the File-Creation Guide at Ingram directs you to be to sure to create your pdf using the print dialogue box, which is where you can find the specific Adobe Acrobat formats you need.

But the Guide specifically says that they can’t support material created in Word. So using Word looks as if it might limit my chances for getting help from Ingram if I need it.

According to the designers, justification in Word can’t match an apparent algorithm in InDesign that prevents “rivers” of white space from irregular word spacing and other anomalies from marring your pages. It does seem that InDesign’s kerning, tracking, and leading options are more sophisticated. (Are they? What do you think?)

alarmed smileyChallenge: Money! Adobe stuff costs $$$.

Solution: Adobe allows a 30-day free trial and then the $20 monthly subscription plan. Twenty dollars for a few months—the cost of one meal out each month—doesn’t seem outrageous, especially when I’m having fun.

worried smileyChallenge: Learning Curve! Adobe stuff is hard!

Solution: Buy a freakin’ book! Sorry, all you sweet video producers. A, I can’t watch your videos from home because they devour my data; and B, I can’t remember enough and have to watch again and again. At my university, we have access to the inestimable Lynda.com; I’ve watched the videos several times. But when you’re sitting at home staring at a blinking cursor, you must be able to thumb through the index and look things up!

My local Barnes and Noble offered a few alternatives. I chose Classroom in a Book because I liked the pictures. Uh, okay, I chose it because it did look as if it gave me a step-by-step combination of visual and text instructions. I’ll review it as a learning tool down the line.

I’ll end this first post with a quick word of encouragement: if you’ve ever delved at all into formatting with Word—using Styles, for example—or if you’ve ever worked with an app like the Mac “Preview” program, or “Paint” on a PC, where you can select, resize, edit graphics, etc., you already have a majority of the skills you’ll need to do basic text formatting in InDesign.

big smile smiley.jpg

So, today’s takeaway:

  • You can get definitions and guidance through some terrific online resources.
  • You may or may not need software. If you do decide tackle InDesign, it’s not prohibitively expensive.
  • You can learn the software. You’re probably two-thirds of the way there! I’ll report on how I did it in future posts.



Filed under business of writing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing