Tag Archives: book formatting

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

Author Beware … Publishing Predators Are Breeding…

Thanks, Chris, for another important article. Here is my comment on this article at The Book Shepherd:
I’m amazed that so many people will pay these sums to be published when CreateSpace will do it for free. All you need is a Word file and a cover. Sorry, my CreateSpace book looks just fine. I suppose there are genius cover designers out there who could have done a better cover than DigitalDonna.com did for me, but I’d be surprised to discover them at a reasonable cost.

I went with Ingram first; again, nothing wrong with the 22 books I purchased at cost ($168). At Ingram, you will pay $49 for publication, and you must, indeed should, buy your own ISBN, since if you choose CreateSpace first, they will own the ISBN. Three hundred dollars for 10 ISBNs you can use for your entire series is a lot less than the numbers being discussed in these comments.

I formatted my own interior, which cost me $20 a month for my subscription to Adobe InDesign. On my blog [this blog!], I’m doing a series on how I conquered InDesign.

Believe me, it’s not that hard.

I hope writers will use the funds they are paying for these services to find good professional editors and cover designers. And I second Judith’s point that being traditionally published does NOT mean that you will get stellar marketing. In the end, you will do that for yourself. Why not do it all?

(And I second a comment that recommended Smashwords. Not only will Mark Coker walk you through the ebook-creation process, he will publish your ebook absolutely free!)

What about you? Do you have any tales to tell about your publishing adventures? Help us all “beware.”

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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Article extract from Judith Briles on The Book Shepherd site:

Oh, what a tangled web they weave … publishing predators are breeding with the surge of authors now by-passing traditional publishing. Over half of books published today are by the self and indie publishers. Traditional publishers are taking notice and are now gearing up to offer their own “self-publishing” opportunities. Some, like Simon & Schuster, Hay House and Penguin, have had a “vanity press” relationship for years in place via Author Solutions (ASI). Expect to see all of this push into a higher gear–after all … there is money in wannabe author’s pockets.

It’s a never-ending story … the emails, phone calls, postings within the Author U Group on LinkedIn and my personal group on Facebook: Publishing with The Book Shepherd (join it) … and I’ve worked with several private clients and fielded numerous phone calls/emails from authors who have…

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Filed under book design, business of writing, Editing, indie publishing, Marketing books, Money!, Myths and Truths, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, publishing contracts, Scams, Self-publishing, Writing

New Writers’ Comprehensive Reality Check!

Whimsical road Depositphotos_17645691_s-2015Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer shares this comprehensive discussion of myths and truths for first-time novelists from Florence Osmund. I would argue that you CAN format your books yourself if they’re not graphically complicated (i.e., just text). Check out my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet series. But this advice is worth taking to heart!

 

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Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark…

Here’s a post on POD printing options from Build Book Buzz featured on The Story Reading Ape. This post provides reasons why my decision to go with Ingram first rather than CreateSpace in publishing a print version of King of the Roses (and eventually Blood Lies) was a sound one. Follow my series on my “Crazy Journey” through the Ingram process: it doesn’t look all that crazy when seen through the eyes of book-marketing expert Amy Collins!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Extract of an article by Author Amy Collins in Build Book Buzz:

I have been asked one question more than any other: “Do I need IngramSpark if I have CreateSpace?”

I know it’s tempting to avoid the extra expense and hassle of taking on a second print on demand (POD) provider, but I want to take a moment and share some of the experiences we’ve had at New Shelves Books with our POD work. I hope these statements help you determine if you need one or both.

So . . . do you need both?

See the full article (and read the comments already there) by clicking the link, or Amy’s photo below:

Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark

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Filed under Blood Lies, business of writing, indie publishing, King of the Roses, Marketing books, Money!, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, 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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Formatting in Word for PC users

Here’s a detailed post by Melinda Clayton from Indies Unlimited on stripping unwanted formatting from your Word document before submitting it to Kindle. Her directions apply to PC users. I use a Mac, and was able to format my books fairly easily following Mark Coker’s directions for Smashwords. In both cases, making sure you have a clean document is essential.

beautiful business woman scared

My InDesign experience is much more complicated. I’m close to submitting to Ingram and will see how it works. More on my crazy journey into InDesign for IngramSpark coming soon!

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Smashwords, 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:

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  • 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.

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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.

 

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