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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Format your ebook for Paperback Printing

The e-book for Waging War was uploaded yesterday (!!!) and my pre-order will officially publish on January 26th. I learned a very cool trick from another author about .mobi files. When I uploaded my word doc to KDP, it gave me the option to use the online viewer for quality control (which I always do), or download a .mobi file (for the first time, I did that too). I now have a .mobi file to send out to reviewers as ARCs, without having to use Calibre, or take the extra step of converting it myself.

We've already established my relative laziness, the .mobi-to-ARC trick is just further evidence of it.

So, after celebratory wine (and fascinating conversations about the differences between men and women) with my editor last night, today was all about formatting the ebook doc to be uploaded to Createspace and Ingramspark for paperback printing.

As with my last blog post about formatting an ebook, these are very personal preferences, and should be taken more as guidelines than rules. One thing I've learned after four books is that you want to wait until the very last minute to format the paperback - and by that I mean after the last, last, last edits are done. If someone would like to write me some computer code so that any edits I make to an ebook automatically change the same word in the paperback file, I'd be eternally grateful. Barring that, however, I will always have two distinct documents to edit any time there's something to fix.

So, just to keep things simple, after I've uploaded my ebook for publication, I make a copy of that file, and call it the print version. Then...

  1. Change the page size to whatever paperback trim size you prefer. Industry standards are 5x8, 5.5x8.5, and 6x9. I chose 5.5x8.5 because more of my favorite books were that size than any other. 
  2. Change the margin size to something that works for your word count and font size. Now, I realize that sounds very random, and it is. There are standards on Createspace (here's the link) that you can follow, but my word counts are really high (Marking Time is 140k words), and if I went with the recommended settings, the book would have been over 500 pages. That's expensive to print, and would have jacked the consumer cost to more than I would personally pay for a book. So, the margins I set for my books are custom, The pages are mirrored (not "normal"), the gutters are .8, top margins .5, bottom margins .4, inside margins 0, and outside margins .5. My font size is 11.5pt. Garamond, which I chose because it looked appropriate for a book set in Victorian England, but 12pt. Times New Roman is pretty standard.
  3. Insert any images you use (don't copy and past), and embed your fonts. Ingram Spark is VERY particular about this, and they'll kick your interior back until it's done right. Here's a link I found that explains how.
That will give you a fair idea of your paperback page count. If it's too many or too few, you can play with the elements a bit (larger font size, though I wouldn't go bigger than 12.5pt, narrower margins, etc). When I wrote Marking Time I didn't realize that the industry standard for publishing is one space after a period, so I had done two spaces like my high school typing teacher taught. To change that, I selected all, then did a find/replace: in the find category I typed .(period)  (space, space), and in the replace category I typed .(period) (space). I saved almost 20 pages in length when I made that change.

Once you have your page count, you (or your cover designer) can finish your paperback cover. The page count is necessary to get the spine width, and far better photoshoppers than I have done very good tutorials about cover design.

Now to build the pdf that will be uploaded to the printers:
  1. Cut all the front material (inside cover page, publisher info, table of contents, dedication, etc) so that your document begins on chapter one. 
  2. Create a new doc with the same page size and margins and paste the front material you just cut into it. Name this file "Front pages" or something like that. These two documents will be merged into one file again, but unless something has changed in Word, I can't figure out how to start numbering pages in a different page than the first one of the doc.
  3. Go back to your main doc and number the pages. You can adjust the size of the footer as needed. Page 1 should be the page that your story begins on, whether it's Chapter One or a prologue. 
  4. Change your view of the main body of the book to 2-pages and scroll down page by page to check the pagination. This is called checking for "widows and orphans," which are the one or two words or lines at the top of a new page. They look very lonely, and should be fixed. If I have just one or two, I might try to pull up a paragraph higher in the chapter, or see if there's something that can be cut. If I have many, I'll drop every chapter heading about a third of the way down the page. That will usually ripple through the chapters to take care of the problem.
  5. When I'm satisfied that the main text body looks good on the page, I save that as a PDF called "print body" or something like that.
  6. Open the front pages doc. Use the numbered body pages doc to find the page numbers for the table of contents. Format everything so it looks good, and make sure it's an EVEN number of pages long. If it's an odd number, Chapter One will fall on a left-side page and look weird. Add a blank page at the end if you need to. Then save it as a PDF.
You need Adobe Acrobat Pro for this next step. If you don't have it, get it, find a friend who has it, or download the free trial. Open Acrobat and select "combine files." Then add the two PDFs, put them in the right order, make sure it's the largest size (bottom right of your screen) file, then combine. Check the document and make sure it looks right, then save it as the proper name of your book. In my case the file name is Waging War (The Immortal Descendants Book 4). I am consistent with both ebook and print book files because it's a way to help make sure they find each other in the Amazon world. I then save this file to my desktop so it doesn't get lost in the myriad of drafts in the Waging War file.

Go to Createspace, create your book, upload the doc, upload the cover, and ta da - a print book is born.

Obviously, I'm assuming a fair degree of fluency with Word. There are a lot of really good tutorials about formatting online, which was how I taught myself to format (along with a lot of trial and error), and Createspace has a good manual. I'm also more than happy to answer any specific questions you have about how I do my books.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

How to set up a Word doc to Publish a Book

I'm days away from uploading book four of my series, so I've finally figured things out well enough to be able to explain what it is I do. Most of it is self-taught, and all of it is specific to the way I publish my books. But please feel free to take from my experience whatever works for you.

1. Properly format your BLANK manuscript (I write in Word because there's no learning curve, and because I'm too lazy to teach myself something new like Scrivener.)
  • Spacing: I set the first line indent at .3, the space between lines at 1.15, and I remove the space before and after paragraphs.
  • Format: I change the font for the "normal" style to Garamond, 11.5pt (my books are long and I need all the help I can get to cut down on paperback page count), and I set the "Heading 1" style to OptimusPrinceps, 14pt. The fonts are specific to The Immortal Descendants series, but do your research, there are only a few fonts that are considered acceptable for the main body of your work.
  • Never use the tab button (that's why I set the first line to automatically indent at .3)
  • Always add a page break at the end of a chapter. ("Insert - page break")
  • Set the navigation bar to show on the left side of the page - it makes navigating through the doc much easier.
  • Write the first draft.
2. Hire an excellent editor.

3. When I get my first set of notes back, I go into the "Review" tab and turn the "track changes" button on. Then I set the document to "final" so I don't have to see all the changes unless I want to. When I send beta drafts to readers after that feature has been turned on, I save the doc as a beta draft, then "accept changes - all" on the BETA draft, save it, and send. I then go back to my primary draft to continue working. That way the beta reader doesn't get a doc with a bunch of edit marks all over it, and I don't lose the marks on my own draft.

4. While I'm waiting for my editor's final notes, I add the copyright page at the end of the ebook, and write my thank yous. Then I properly format my table of contents. This involves several steps, and is time-consuming, but worth it. First, I create the TOC in the Word doc. Because I use Heading 1 for all my chapter titles, Word will create it automatically ("Insert - Table of Contents"). Save this file as a separate one because Amazon has finally figured out how to work with Word's coding and doesn't want anything fancier than a Word-generated TOC. Then I follow the steps on Cyberwitch Press's excellent blog post (which I've bookmarked, because I forget how to do it with each book) for Smashwords, since their meatgrinder is the most rigorous test, and pretty much covers all the formatting of a TOC.

5. When the final edits are done, I "accept changes - all" to the doc, then set it to "final." In the editing process I've made changes that my editor doesn't like, and if I get the "it was better before" note, I can just set the doc to "final, show mark-up," find the thing that I need to change back, highlight it, and then "decline change." It'll bring the words back up as part of the doc. This is far more useful than spending half a day searching for old wording on a different draft.

6. Upload to Amazon and Smashwords. I use Smashwords because I'm lazy and don't want to figure out how to upload directly to Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. Also, Smashwords is my secret weapon to having a free book. I set Marking Time to "FREE" on Smashwords, waited about two weeks for Amazon's price-matching bots to find it, and voila - it was price-matched to free on all platforms. There are faster ways to do this, but as I said, I'm lazy.

After the ebook has been uploaded, I use that doc to format the paperback, which will be the subject of my next blog post because my lovely editor just handed me another set of proof-read pages for me to go through and fix all the commas I can never seem to get right.

If anyone has specific questions about formatting that I haven't answered here, please feel free to contact me directly at 
Happy writing!