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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!