A Vital Reminder

This last year has been a not so great time for me. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on family (often at the expense of my writing) while my family minimizes my written work and suggests with full candor that I would be better off doing literally anything else. I might be a stone cold bitch that habitually writes about getting away with murder but that still hurts, a lot.

Thankfully other writers are always there to remind me that awful as that is, it’s also kind of normal. We all have to fight for the time and space to do that thing that no one else really understands and seems largely composed of staring at blank walls from time to time. And we’re all here to help each other out and deepen our craft as we go.

So let’s do a relink of some of the more visited posts on my blog that are full of helpful tips for other struggling Indie Authors out there.

Starting with the most important step:

Once you’ve got that you should update your series “bible” before tackling the beast that is formatting for paperback.

There you go Indies, a recap of everything that I’ve written on writing in this digital era that should prove useful to anyone looking for the information. Sign up for updates if you would like to keep abreast of anything new going on with my books or on the blog. Keep strong, keep your heads up and for the sake of the old gods’ keep writing!

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When To Pay, When NOT To Pay: Book Baby Update

I’ve previously mentioned BookBaby here in the “you’d have to be crazy to pay these prices for this ‘service’ which you could do just as well yourself for free,” column of my When To Pay, When NOT to Pay series. Things have changed though so I suppose it’s worth a quick update.

The primary sticking point for me with BookBaby in the past was their paid ebook formatting and publishing options, all of which any ebook author should be able to do for themselves. Far as I’m concerned knowing how to properly format your own ebook and upload it to the sites of your choosing is as essential as knowing how to change a flat tire and any site that preys on people who haven’t yet figured out how easy it is for authors to do for themselves – is bad news. Now that BookBaby is offering to let authors do these things for themselves, for free, has my opinion of the site changed along with their policy?

Not really no.

There are already a lot of great ways to aggregate your ebook on the various ereader sites, most of which have always been free for authors to use (any cost comes out of the ebook’s price, authors pay nothing up front). Then there’s the various ereader sites themselves for which multiple formatting might be a bit of a pain but it ‘costs’ authors even less than going through an aggregate site. Most of those aren’t mostly in the business of trying to push additional services on Indie Authors (don’t get me wrong, some do offer ‘extras’ like cover design etc. it’s just never been their main money making focus) while BookBaby has always been about selling authors a bill of goods first and selling the authors books second.

That’s just not a great way to get my business or my endorsement.

Book Interior Formatting: Dotting Your I’s and Crossing Your T’s – Final Checklist

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

At this point I’m almost done formatting my second paperback book, so it’s time to go back over the whole and make sure I’m not making any glaring errors that would make all the hoops I’ve gone through so far, to save money and appear professional, a waste.

  • Odd numbered pages appear on the right (During the hell of formatting page numbers, double checking them, fixing them, etc; you might notice that you’ve got everything perfect and working, except – all the even numbered pages appear on the right side of your book. Yes it’s worthwhile to go back and fix it as it’s the #1 amateur mistake noticed by book designers and readers alike.)
  • Copyright page (Yes, some indie publishers don’t bother to include one in their paperbacks and the lack of one is a clear give away of an amateur operation.)
  • No page numbers on Chapter pages and other front and back matter and/or appropriate roman numbering for those pages that need it. (First page of a chapter – shouldn’t have numbers on it, you can have numbers on a index page or prologue but they should be roman numerals.)

If you’ve got those three covered – congrats! You should be able to print a passably professional looking (at least from a distance, if you squint and don’t know too much about book design) paperback novel!

Be sure to check out the other steps on formatting your paperbacks interiors with Microsoft Word:

And as always – if there’s anything I’ve neglected to cover that you want to know, just ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Book Interior Formatting: The Dreaded Page Number

Formatting. Everytime I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Everytime, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Everytime, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

The Dreaded Page Number

Dead tree books, unlike ebooks, require page numbers, page numbers that can be an ever loving pain in the all get out to format properly. In order to mimic as closely as possible a book published by one of the big six publishing companies (never mind that the sizes available from Createspace are all wrong for a proper pocket paperback) you’ll need page numbers at the top of each page but excluding most of your front number pages as well as the first page of each chapter and you’ll also want the author’s name on alternate pages from the title of the book, again excluding your front and back matter pages.

In any other document, page numbers are easy so it always throws me for a loop how hard they are to format for a paperback. Click on images for a larger illustration of the steps.

Section Breaks

First thing you’re going to want to do is open your document and click on “show paragraph formatting” in the ‘home” tab of word. Then you need to go through each chapter (currently I find it’s easiest to do these one at a time) and make sure to delete any Page Breaks you see, in their place you’ll go to the “page layout” tab and select “breaks,” you’ll be adding “next page” or “next odd/even page” Section Breaks where you previously had page breaks.

Author/Title

Once you have those set up you can go ahead and click on the header portion of your document to open up the header/footer editor. Find the first page of your chapter and enter in either your name or the name of your novel, make sure that “different first page,” “Different Odd & Even Pages” and “link to previous” are all checked.

Page Number

Pg-#-Current-Pos-1

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Book Interior Formatting: Getting Fancy

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

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Book Interior Formatting: Chapter Headers

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

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Book Interior Formatting: Paragraphs

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

Continue reading