Indie Author Formatting: Please Insert Scream Here

As an Indie Author, let’s be honest. There’s not a lot money to throw around. I spend money on editing, and I spend money on book cover designs. Beyond that, I’m pretty much on my own having to learn and navigate all the ins and outs of modern publishing without an expert over my shoulder.

Indie Authors have lots of jobs and skills they need to have in their arsenal and formatting is one of those necessary jobs which make you want to try Chinese torture methods on yourself. I mean, does anyone really understand Microsoft WORD?

Actually, ebook formatting is a snap if you have the right program, which I do. Once you learn how to properly set-up your ebook and add some meta-data then an Indie Author can have a nicely formatted mobi or epub in no time.

But the paperback, different story altogether.

That brings me back to MS Word. I still use WORD for the final layout of my paperbacks, and it’s a beast to conquer. For me it’s never about conquering but about taming the Cadillac auto-formatting which keeps wanting to flex its annoying muscles. From page breaks to headers to chapter headings to page numbers to fonts to paragraphs, its incredibly tedious and annoying. I usually end up reading a bunch of blogs about formatting and after hours of toying around I finally have something that I’m happy with – not proud of – but acceptable nonetheless.

Between books I, naturally, forget all the wealth of information I learned on those blogs and realize I have to do it again. But I totally cheat. I open up my last book’s formatting and slowly paste in my new content. Not ideal because it makes my paperbacks’ formatting to be all very similar. That’s okay, as long as they look attractive and give the reader a good reading experience. That is the most important point, isn’t it?

So while I hate the process, careful formatting is crucial for these reasons:

1) I wouldn’t have a paperback without it. That’s simple enough. I still feel the benefits of having a paperback version of my novels for friends, family, libraries, and book reviewers.

2) It provides another round of editing help. As much as I hate WORD, it is a much more powerful word processor than my ebook creator. WORD’s grammar and spelling checks are definitely helpful in identifying (especially) nit-picking errors – words that should be hyphenated, confusing words like “everyday” or “every day,” and the like … As I went through my manuscript, I found a few issues which need correcting on my ebook. Formatting for a paperback gives you one more set of “eyes” on your book. It’s an extra round of polish which I’ve found to be helpful.

Sometimes Indie Authors just need to do those jobs which we hate. It’s part of the process which finally will lead us back to what we really want to do: create.

2 responses to “Indie Author Formatting: Please Insert Scream Here”

  1. Adding Titles and changing chapters is a snap: go to page layout/breaks/page. That will give you a clean break each time. I use the styles for titles and the body of my text. What program do you use for ebook formatting?

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