WRITING TIPS: MAY 2019

FORMATTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT

In previous posts we talked about writing your first draft, then the editing/revision process. We talked about getting a cover designed. Now you will have to format your book for either print or e-book readers, or both.

So how do you format your book? We’ll start with e-book formatting first. You could either hire this service out or format it yourself.

When it comes to doing the formatting yourself, I’m exclusive to Amazon so I can only tell you my experience with their formatting software. It’s easy through Amazon. When you download the software you can just upload your completed Word file into the program and it will format the book for you so that it’s able to be read on Kindle devices (and other devices like cell phones and tablets). It may take a little getting used to, but it’s not difficult at all.

If you don’t want to format the book yourself using software or a retailer’s software (like Kindle on Amazon), then you could hire a formatter to do the work for you. I’ve had many of my books formatted by a service (Dellaster Design), and I’ve always been happy with the results. I’m sure there are other formatters out there, so you would have to research them, just like you did with editing services and cover designers.

Whether you choose to format the book  yourself or hire the service out, you want to make sure your formatted book looks good on all devices. You want to make sure chapter headings are correct and that there aren’t any large blank areas in the book. If you have images in your book, you’ll want to make sure they look professional. You’ll want to make sure all of your links to websites work. You’ll want to check your Table of Contents and make sure you’re not missing a chapter. You are competing with traditionally published books and other indie authors for readers. If readers open your book and the formatting is funky or difficult to read, they may give up on your book, and all of your future books.

I’ve done both, formatted books myself and hired a service to do it. But I always check the final version on a Kindle previewer( which you can download from Amazon) just to make sure everything is exactly as it should be. Once you’re happy with your manuscript, you can upload your file and it’s ready to publish or ready for pre-order (whichever you prefer).

Once your book goes live, I would recommend buying a copy as quickly as possible and then looking it over on your Kindle or tablet (and even your cell phone) to make sure the experience for your readers is going to be what you intended it to be.

Print books can be a little more of a challenge to format and professional formatting services often either don’t do print books or charge a lot more to format them. I used to format my own print books with Createspace, but they’re not around anymore and I haven’t tried formatting the print books with Amazon yet. I’ve looked over some guides on Amazon, and I intend to get a lot more of my books into print soon, and when I do, I will update my progress.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .

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