Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Formatting for E-books Part 1

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

The content is ready! The book is written, the polished manuscript has been to an editor, critique partners, and beta-readers, the tagline and blurbs are written, a contract for cover art has been signed, ISBNs are purchased, and front and back matter are complete.

Formatting for E-Books is next. Before beginning, be sure to check the current formatting guidelines for each retail platform, as they can change. Requirements vary, and knowing the correct format will save a lot of time and frustration.

Step 1: Save the completed manuscript. Back up the document in multiple locations—desktop, external hard drive, jump drive, cloud services, email attachments. Correcting a simple error during the formatting process may be more difficult than starting over from scratch. Always have a copy of the original document handy for this potential situation. Be sure the backup copies are “clean” and don’t include track changes comments and corrections from critique partners, beta-readers, and/or editors.

Step 2: Remove header/footer content and page numbers. Because e-reader devices and apps may allow the reader to change font and size, e-book documents should be formatted without headers, footers and page numbers. Save the document.

Step 3: Insert front matter and back matter text with hyperlinks. Save the document.

Step 4: Use Page Breaks for KDP formatting and use Section Breaks for all other e-book retail platforms for the Title page, Copyright page, Dedication page, Preface page, Table of Contents, each chapter, Acknowledgements page, About the Author page, and Other Books by the Author page. Each “part” of the book must be separated for proper page formatting when the file is converted by the retailer. As mentioned above, check the most current guidelines to prevent issues with conversion and platform approval! Save the document.

Step 5: Margins should be one inch on all sides for e-books. Save the document.

Step 6: Choose a font. Times New Roman is the most commonly used font. Some e-reader devices allow the reader to choose a display font, so readability is most important. Save the document.

Step 7: Adjust line spacing for front and back matter. The Copyright, Dedication, Preface, Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, About the Author, and Other Books by the Author pages are typically set at 1.0 or 1.15 for line spacing. This is personal preference and can be decided based on the way the text looks on the page. A preview will be available at the retailers’ sites once the document is uploaded. Save the document.

Step 8: Adjust line spacing for chapters. The text of the story is the most important element of the book’s interior. It has to be comfortable to read. Double-spacing often leaves too much space between lines, making the e-book seem less aesthetically pleasing than one-and-a-half line spacing. Slightly tighter spacing also creates a more professional look. Remember that e-book length is calculated by file size, not page numbers, so spacing has no effect on the “thickness” of the digital version of the story. Save the document.

Step 9: Choose typeface size. Headings, like “Dedication,” “Table of Contents,” and chapter titles/numbers, stand out better with a larger size than the body of text. Using size 14 for headings and size 12 for text makes those distinctions clear. The title page text should have a font size that fits well on the page, usually size 16 or larger, depending on the length of the title and author’s name. Save the document.

Step 10: Choose the proper placement for text on the page. The title and author’s name should be centered on the Title page about two inches from the top of the page. All other content begins on the first line of each page. The text on the Copyright page is usually aligned to the left side with left-only justification. The headings for the Dedication, Preface, Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, About the Author, and Other Books by the Author pages are typically centered, while the text is aligned to the left with left-only justification. Chapter numbers/titles may be centered or aligned left with left-only justification, and the chapter content is aligned left with left-only justification. Be sure to use the Format menu rather than Word’s toolbars to set the placement positions for better conversion success. Save the document.

Step 11: Choose paragraph indentation size for the story text. Half-inch or .3-inch indentations work well with one-and-a-half line spacing. Be sure to use the Format-->Paragraph control to set the indentation rather than the tab button. Tabs may not covert properly on the retail sites. Save the document.

Step 12: SAVE THE DOCUMENT! Be sure to back up the document in multiple locations.

Don’t check off #7 yet! Next week’s post will include more information on formatting e-books. Formatting for print will follow!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print.
8) Update website, blog, and social media.
9) Create metadata list.
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

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