1. Joe King

    Joe King Member

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    Formatting

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Joe King, Mar 20, 2017.

    Sorry if this has been asked a million times, I've searched and not found any answers regarding it. I'm new to the world of self publishing and have recently completed my novel and checked it a million times. Now it's time for the fun stuff. I was just wondering if anybody could help me out with the formatting side of things? I understand your typical novel size is 6"x9" but I am completely stumped with most of it. Do the margins have to be specific or is it personal preference? What has to be done regarding setting paragraphs? Does the header and footer have to have specific measurements? My knowledge is very raw when it comes to this aspect of the process. Any help would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Where are you planning to self-publish? Whichever websites you want to sell on should have guidelines explaining all that.
     
  3. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with Tenderiser, and add that you should look at books whose formatting you like, and emulate them. And, if you use a professional editor or agent, follow (or at least consider) their recommendations, since they'll have a grasp on what printers expect.
     
  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    If you're talking about digital ebook formatting, the margins are irrelevant because each page is interpreted according to device and aspect ratio. Some people zoom into Mr. Magoo font size with like 6 words a page, so all the margins get scrambled anyway. And I believe that each e-reader has its own consistent font, but I'm not positive about that. I do know that page lengths are disregarded upon formatting which is why the Kindle tracks everything by location instead of a set page number. The biggest issues are type styles and page breaks and those depend on which word processing program you used to create the document. I'm only familiar with Word, and if you don't tell your document when to start a new page (like with a new chapter) or define your headers in the "styles" section the e-reader won't know what your intentions are. Check out youtube. There's a million videos on e-book formatting, if that was what you were asking about.
     
  5. Joe King

    Joe King Member

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    Thanks for the feedback guys it was really useful. I use libreoffice which is a real struggle and I was completely and utterly lost, especially with most search engines only explaining how to format on Word. I'll be publishing through Amazon in ebook form to begin with but I'm also looking to go the paperback route once I see how things turn out. Again, thanks.
     
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I published two paperback books on CreateSpace and it was elegantly simple. You download a template for the book size you selected: one was 5x8 (a short story) the other 6x9 (550 pages, a long story). You download a template for that size, which has the margins set, and cut and paste your text in, match destination format, job done. Then you can tweak the headers and footers as you desire. My header used the title on the even page (left side header) and my name in italics on the odd page (right side), with a line underling the header. The footer on both pages was a centered page number, and an overline for the footer.

    The imprrtant margin for paperbacks is that the inner margins are wider than the outer margins. The preformatted templates take care of that for you.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    OK, I can't help asking:

    You know that there are extensive pros and cons for self publishing versus traditional publishing, right? If you've done your research and rejected traditional publishing, well, I'll still think that was a bad idea, but it's not my job to tell a grownup who's made a well-informed decision that they're wrong and they should let me boss them around.

    But I just want to suggest making sure that it is a well-informed decision.
     
  8. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    It certainly was, and I haven't been disappointed making it. I went along the traditional route for about six months, did about 50 queries, got a lot of "Thank you, no's" which is actually a good sign, they actually read my query and submitted materials. Got one request for manuscript which was turned down for a reason, which generated a rewrite of the first three chapters and, I think, a major improvement. However, she did not take resubmittals. (She did get an unasked-for free copy in gratitude for her critique)

    The reality is, as attested to by the agents' panel at this week Maryland Writers Assn meeting in Annapolis, is that each agent receives THOUSANDS of queries a month, and out of those, pick between two and ten out of the YEAR to push. Therefore, getting selected has more to do with their time availability than the quality of the work; although a bad query or flawed extract will definitely cause a reject, a good query acceptance is mostly a random variable, a function of what they are doing when they get it. I am going to be 69 next year, and I do not want to wait a year to get an agent and another two years for them to find a publisher and get it on the shelves. I realistically have at most ten or so creative years left (maybe more, I am in excellent health, still run and bike hard, zero health issues, but let's be realistic, at this age, shit happens fast) and I don't want to spend that time writing queries.

    The results have been very pleasing. The short story, "Come, Follow Me" sold, not outstandingly in December, but much better than average first-time self-pub, and the "Eagle and the Dragon" charged out of the starting gate in February, 60 0n line the first month, and seventy more at book signings and hand sales, dragging its little brother CFM along with it. I just put both up for free Kindle download until 2 April, and in two days E&D was downloaded somewhere in the world every two minutes for 24 hours yesterday, here, in the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia (where it seems to have a following from my Facebook post boosts), and Japan. Since they are free, go to Member Publications and link to Amazon and get them free, see for yourself if I jumped the gun. Check the reviews :)! I expect this free pump to generate several thousand downloads before it is over, though today I generated only about 150.

    I am not making money, marketing costs are blowing away any royalties, but my wife and I established an LLC, Lewis and Karen McIntyre, Authors LLC. That way I can claim a loss this year and offset my day job income. And I am having more fun than I have since I was 20, doing something totally new.

    Does that answer your question?
     
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Actually, I meant to be asking @Joe King. :) I should have made that clear, since I did post right beneath your post. I wasn't questioning your already-made decision, but urging him, since the decision isn't made, to make sure he is well informed.
     
  10. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    No problem... I enjoyed the discussion, and something for him to think about! I agree, @Joe King, if you are young and feel you have unique story, go traditional until you get accepted or fed up with it. I you self-pub, take the time to make your product perfect. Not good enough, but perfect. I am starting to read self-pubbed works for reviews and for some the quality is atrocious. It took me 18 months and 7 revisions, 40 beta readers, before I felt E&D was ready to see the light of day.
     
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  11. Joe King

    Joe King Member

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    At this point, it's more of a hobby of mine. I don't think I have the time of day to go out, handing my work out praying to find somebody to publish my book. Nor do I want to fully commit and spend a lot of money having somebody else do it for me. I went the self-pub route as it is easier for me to get to in my own spare time and have gradually worked on over a number of years. I don't doubt that the traditional way has more pros than cons, but right now I'm finding self publishing the better solution. Who knows, if this novel goes well I could consider devoting more time to writing and perhaps go the traditional way next time around :)
     
  12. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

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    Hi Joe,

    I use Libre Office 5.0 and find it a doddle. Simply make sure to save your files as Word files and you'll be fine. And as a general rule, if you want to have the easiest ride in publishing to Kindle upload as a Word file. They do take other file formats but every time I read a post about the troubles people have uploading etc, they're not using Word.

    Now you'll need two files - one for Kindle (ebook) and one for paperback. They are different.

    The Kindle one you don't care about margins. The Amazon program will convert it for you. But you do want headers and footers - title and page number. You also want a title page, second title page which includes the details of the book edition and publishing - ie something like "Digital Edition, published March 2017" And you'll want a table of contents page, which Word will do for you as long as you remember to use the headers for chapter headings. Also it doesn't matter which page you start your book on.

    For paper using CS, things change. You would normally start the text of your book on page 5 or 7. Headers and footers stay as they are - but only if you format the word file to the correct dimensions before uploading. For a six by nine book they are I think, page set up custom of 15.2 cm by 22.8 cm - but you'll need to double check that. You need to set your margins to "mirror margins" and then depending on the page count of your book, adjust the inner margin. For a thin book you could get away with 2 cm. A normal book, 2.5 cm, and if it runs over about 500 pages give or take 3 cm. You don't have a table of contents in the book, because the chances are it will be wrong and you can't hyperlink in paper anyway, so its fairly much useless.

    Next with your file set up in Word, print it as a PDF file remembering to format the PDF page size to exactly the same dimensions as the Word page size. Then upload as a PDF.

    Or you can use the templates - I haven't used them so can't comment.

    Hope that helps,

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  13. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    Isn't self publishing normally V considered the "I have plenty of time to do stuff myself" route? At least if there's any expectation of selling any books.
     
  14. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    @psychotick, I have used the CS templates, and as a result, had no errors on uploads in the reviewer, other than a few spillovers from graphics on the first run which were not quite set right and got into the margins. Only problem I had with them were on the overhead pages at the beginning of the book. CS templates use section break-next page to separate them, which shows up differently in their viewer and on paper, than it does in Word. Depending on whether it is an odd or even page, it will insert a reverse-blank page in the viewer/page setup. You can blow that away and use a regular page break, or force it to the page you want by using section-break next odd (or next even) page.

    Why would you use a TOC in a Kindle version? Is it hyperlinked in Kindle? I have one in the paper copy, but blew it away in the Kindle, because I thought it would non-functional.
     
  15. Joe King

    Joe King Member

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    Initially I had a ton of time on my hands in between studying and jobs. Now I've got a full-time job and part time study on my hands, but I had gone far enough with it to see it through.
     
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  16. Joe King

    Joe King Member

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    Hi Greg,

    Thanks for your reply, it's been super helpful. In regard to using a word file, for some strange reason whenever I tried to preview the word document in kindle it always messed with my spacing no matte what I tried. I figured it was a libreoffice glitch. In the end I tried out an rtf file which seems to be doing the trick.

    With the "second title page" you've spoken about, would you have this as the second page of the ebook? I have one similar to what you've said only it's at the end of the book, My reasoning being if anybody wanted to preview the book there would be more content at the beginning.

    I had headers and footers on but once in the previewer they all vanished, I had come to the understanding that these weren't able to be shown in an ebook?

    In regard to the POC, is there any easy way of creating this through libreoffice? Also, since kindle doesn't run off page number but more-so the 'location' tool, how important is it to have a POC?

    Sorry for all the questions and thank you for all the help.

    Cheers,

    Joe
     
  17. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

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    Hi Joe,

    Not sure if you can create a TOC in Libre. As I say I always convert to Word for the upload and do final tweaking in it including the creation of the TOC. Literally Word 2000. Yes it's old but it is still the industry standard. In the last few years DocX files have been accepted as the same. I suspect your spacing issues are related to this.

    Also yes you should probably have your second title page just after the main title page since it would seem odd to have it at the rear. But up to you. It's there because you need some attribution in the book to say it's your work pubbed by you and what edition it is - remember each version of a book you publish is a separate edition.

    So for Wolves my second title page just reads:

    The Wolves of War
    Greg Curtis
    Digital Edition
    Copyright 2016 by Greg Curtis
    By the way I also use a third details page which includes my standard dedication and any attributions such as to cover art.

    Lew, I know it looks ludicrous to have a TOC in a fiction book. In the end you get a table with headings like Chapter One ... Page Four etc etc. And I resisted it for many years. But in a kindle book, it has a value even though it looks stupid - they're all hyperlinked - which means the reader simply goes to the TOC, hits Chapter X and instantly goes there. An Amazon was very keen on having them, to the point where it would send advisories to some saying that there was no TOC, after customers had reported the same.

    As to placement, it has to be at the front now. People were putting them at the rear because they looked stupid, but when Kindle Unlimited 2.0 came in that changed fast. KU works by determining pages read according to where you are in the book. If the TOC is in the back of the book and you go there, it automatically tells Amazon that the entire book has been read, which stuffs up their algorythms. They started sending out advisories about that soon after.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I use the table of contents a lot when reading on a Kindle, and I think it makes a let of sense. As a reader, I say include them!
     
  19. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks, Greg, I may try that the next update. I am running a free promo for Kindle versions through tomorrow and now is not the time for an update!

    My TOCs include both chapter and a catchy title, Chapter 20. A Storm at Sea, etc.
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    How do you use the table of contents? I'd always thought it was kinda useless... now I'm intrigued!
     
  21. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Mostly to find parts I want to re-read once I've finished; like, if I know it was near the middle of the book I'll use the TOC to find a middle chapter and then narrow it down til I find the right chapter. I think there's a location feature you can use for books without TOCs, but the hyperlinks are much easier - and they land you at the beginning of the chapter rather than the middle.

    I also buy a lot of short story anthologies, and the TOC lets me find particular ones in an instant.
     
  22. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

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    Hi,

    Interesting Tenderiser. You see I resisted putting TOC's in my books until recently, mostly because I was coming at this from the paradigm of paper. And in paperbacks it makes little or no sense to have a TOC where the only chapter title you've got is chapter one, chapter two etc. It just looks utterly stupid, unless you also have chapter headings that are unique and tell you something about where in the story you are. Digital changes things.

    But we all live and learn I suppose - unless of course we don't!!!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  23. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    Use the specifications of your book manufacturer. There is no one answer that works for all printers.
    Most printers will have complete info to guide you.
     

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