Okay! Wow! Formatting!

When I started this whole publishing  thing, I can honestly tell you I didn’t even think about formatting! It wasn’t even a blip on my radar! I was just cruising along, thinking I was doing good, and then BAM! Road block! I hopped onto the KDP website to upload my ms only to find they needed a different file type I’d never heard of. Mobi? What?

I talked to my very good friend, Eisley Jacobs, who had previously published Blink of a Dragon, and she said, “Frankie, don’t worry about it! Formatting is EASY!”

First, you need to format your paperback – if you’re going paperback. Then, there’s Mobi, E-pub, Smashwords, and PDF.

Okay. Let’s just talk about this for a sec.

First, let’s talk book size. The more pages your book has, the more expensive it’s going to be to print it.  The bigger the book, the fewer pages. There are several standard sizes and Createspace lists those. As you get smaller and your page count gets bigger, you’ll be spending up to a $1 extra to print each book.  I know, oh kill me! It’s a dollar, but, dude, at this point, you’re just like, “Am I EVER going to make any money?!”

Createspace gives you templates for your word doc. You pick the size of book you want, download your template, and then you add your book into it. It’s not as easy as Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, click over, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+V. In order to keep all the separation and the formatting, you need to do this one chapter at a time.

It’s not impossible! It’s very doable! It just takes time!

Then you have to invest the time to go through every single page and make sure there aren’t any little formatting goofs.  If your ms is older, spend even more time on it. Check for indents, paragraph spacing, justification that’s not working correctly, strange paragraph breaks, font changes, size changes. Also look for pages with only one line. This is a wasted page. Oh, what else did I have? Oh! Rogue characters!

Now you want to make it look pretty! Take a look at your first chapter. What do you want your Chapter Title to look like? How do you want “Chapter 1” to appear? All caps? Center? RIght justified? Left Justified? No “Chapter”? Just a 1? Do you want the first word in each chapter to be a different size? The first letter? Do you want a pic?

Once you have that figured out, go back through your ms and do THIS for every chapter!

Fill in your title page, your copyright page, your acknowledgements, your dedication. And now look at your layout. This is where you look at your blank page placement.

Once you have everything the way you want, save it, then do a file save as. For your PDF copy, you want to straighten your margins out. There’s no need to have mirror margins in a PDF. I don’t know how many people have sent me PDF’s to load onto my Kindle that are either 8.5×11 (which are impossible to read on my Kindle!) or have mirror margins (which is just awkward). Once your have normal margins, print/save to PDF. This is your review copy.

The next thing is your Mobi file. If you’re doing an easy Mobi (very little formatting, no pics), you can do this by downloading PocketMobi and uploading a stripped down version of your ms. However, upload it, scan it, peruse it, review it before you upload it to Amazon.

Reviewers like to tear you apart if your formatting is wrong.  They. Are. BRUTAL!

I think that because I have just enough technical know-how to get me seriously in trouble, I created issues for myself. Honestly, I don’t know how I messed so many things up. They were MIRACULOUS failures! I don’t know how I screwed it up! Half the time, I didn’t know how I fixed them! I feel lucky I PUBLISHED my first few books! I think that Eisley thought it was easy because she’s a web designer!

I admit, I find the whole formatting thing to be frustrating!

I decided to hire someone to do my e-formatting for Hands and I’m glad I did. E-formatting doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it saved me a lot of time, hassle and frustration. For anywhere from $30-$75, you can have someone who actually knows what they’re doing help you out! And they’re FASTER at it!

I can’t even tell you how to do e-pub and Smashwords! I can’t. After talking to the gal I hired, I realized I was way over my head when I did my Mobi files for my first three books! I will be having her do all my e-files for those books and re-launching them, and I will be having her do all my e-files from here on out!

So, lesson learned! Even though I CAN do something, that doesn’t mean that I SHOULD!

Like everything else, though, look to see they’re legit! Don’t give them money until they prove their worth!