Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Simple Book Formatting - Part Two

Okay, so yesterday I talked about book formatting.  And I said it was 'simple'.  Afterwards, it occurred to me that what I find simple might not be simple for everyone.  If you're now flipping me the bird because none of it was as simple as I alluded to, I apologize.

Now, for today.  The snazzier and slightly less simple stuff.

So, you've got your manuscript formatting done up to the point where we left off yesterday.  Now, you've got a readable manuscript that isn't quite as attractive as you'd like.

First up, the title page.  Go to the top of your manuscript - where you probably already have something like...

In Deep Wish
Chapter One
 But you want it to look like...

In Deep Wish
by B.E. Sanderson

Most of that stuff just a matter of font style and font size for me.  I tried setting that as a TITLE in the styles section, but it kept putting weird crap in, so I cut out the middle man.  Simple.  So you do that, and then you put a Page Break after your name. 

On the new next page, you put your copyright info, your acknowledgements, and any other info you want your reader to see RIGHT NOW.  Not too much stuff up here.  Readers don't want to wade through pages of stuff to get to the meat of the story.  IDW has the copyright verbiage, the bit about it being a work of fiction and any resemblance yada yada yada, info about the editor and artist, the acknowledgements, and a new short note about the series - in case people want to read Wish in One Hand first, there's a link to my blog page. 

(NOTE: If you plan on wide distribution, do NOT put links to sales sites anywhere in your book. It's rude to the other sites. I put links either to my blog or to the Goodreads pages for the book.)

Anyway, the above shouldn't be more than about a page worth of information.  Like I said, we don't want readers to have to wait too long to get to the story they paid for.  After all the info, insert a Page Break.  THEN insert a 'Section Break'.  "WTF are those?"  They help Word and other programs to understand that you have a top section with your title and another section with your book - and formatting might be different for each of those.  (This is especially helpful for Print formatting - otherwise your page numbers will be all farqued up.) 

(NOTE: I forgot to tell you yesterday - Ditch all Page Numbering.  Ereaders don't like them and they could make your book squonky.)

To insert a Section Break, go to the Page Layout tab. In the Page Setup section, you'll see a place for Breaks.  Click that. It'll bring up a drop-down list with different options for Page Breaks and... Voila! Section Breaks.  Pick the 'Next Page' option.  You might have to play with it a little if it inserts a blank page where you don't want one. There's a way to do it more easily than hit or miss that I'm too ignorant to explain this morning.  Something about the doohickey that shows paragraph marks and hard enters and page breaks.  If you know where that is, you're golden. 

Now, you should have a title page and copyright page that looks pretty professional.  Time to drop down to the bottom.  After THE END, do the Page Break and Section Break thing again.  On the first blank page, put your About the Author verbiage.  I put a paragraph or two about me (bleh) and links to my blogs, FB page, Twitter account, and my email for contact.  Then I put a line in for 'if you liked this, please review it at your favorite retailer or Goodreads.' 

When you're finished with that, Page Break again, and put your 'Other Books By' stuff or series stuff or special reader note stuff. 

THEN the last thing in your book should be the Table of Contents.  Readers don't need to access that themselves - their ereaders do it for them and it's a standard Jump To point on a Kindle if you've set up your bookmarks properly like we discussed yesterday.

Now, find all your scene breaks.  Some people use *** or ### or whatever.  Here's where you can get a little creative.  Not really creative, mind you.  Because this is often the place where your snazzy formatting meets with Amazon's not-so-snazzy formatter and they clash.  Amazon always wins.  I keep it simple to avoid all that.  Play with Symbols on your computer.  ~^~^~^~ or !!!!! or whatever.  As long as it's obvious to the reader that the scene is breaking, it's kosher. 

I've heard you can put graphics in these places, but that adds to the file size and can make the formatting freak out, and who needs that headache? 

In yesterday's comments, Silver brought up something we all should note - spacing.  If you're like me and double space between sentences, cut that shit out.  LOL.  Seriously, though, you can keep doing it IF you remember to change all the double spaces to single spaces during the formatting stage.  It's outmoded and antiquated and readers don't like it anymore.  I've just been doing it so long, I can't stop.  (And I still like how it looks.  So there.)  Go into Find/Replace/Go To. (ALT - E - F - click the Replace tab.) In the Find What box, put a double space.  In the Replace With box, put a single space. Click Replace All.  Easier than retraining yourself to single space.  Know what I mean?  Even if you're not a habitual double-spacer like me, you should probably do this step because you never know when a pesky double space will sneak in.  Insidious little buggers. 

Okay, that should be it.  Anything I've forgotten?  Any questions or comments?  Fire away. 


  1. I also look for spaces at the beginning of paragraphs. LOL Yes, they sometimes happen. I check for tabs because I set up my paragraph "1st line" indents under the paragraph formatting tab. If you have manual tabs in addition, you'll get wonky paragraph indentions. LOL

  2. And all that is why my hubby does my formatting (and will gladly take money to do anyone else's, if they feel the same as me). It's not that I CAN'T do it, but that I don't WANT to do it. I'm just so glad I have someone in my life who does want to do it. :)

  3. Aaaargh! So glad I just have to read the book.

  4. So far I've just been writing the words, and not worrying especially about book formatting. Scrivener claims to go straight to your desired ebook publishing format, and the limited tests I've done look good at this end. Of course, the real test is seeing what the buyer sees.

  5. Thank you for all these tips!

    I love double spaces, too, but I've worked hard to train myself out of them. Still, thank goodness for search and replace! :-)