Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Behind-the-Scenes: Book Formats

My brother refers to my novels as never-ending projects, because when I say, "I finished my book," that's not the end of the publishing journey. All that means is that the writing and editing portion is done.

What else is there? Formatting. Oh, and more formatting.

Both my novels (Shrouded Jewels and Forgotten Memories) are available in ebook, paperback, and hardcover formats. By the time I'm actually done with a novel, I have reformatted it five different times. Six, if you count both hardcover versions--but those are (thankfully) very similar to each other.

Paper Size and Margins

Before I put even one word on paper, I adjust Word's normal settings to fit my book. Since I start with paperback, I change the size of the pages to 5 x 8, and adjust the margins according to CreateSpace's guidelines (for mine, .75 inside and at least .25 outside, top, and bottom). 

For hardcover I use Lulu, but if you find a cheaper option, please let me know! My goal is always to offer my books at the lowest possible price. The typical trade size of hardcover is 6 x 9, so that requires adjusting the page sizes once more. (I wait until the paperback version is finished to begin this.)

Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords (which will make your book available in various ebook formats, including PDF for computer viewing) require regular formatting: 8.5 x 11. That is Word's default size, so you may find that selecting the entire document (ctrl+a) and copy/pasting (ctrl+c, ctrl+v) into a Notepad, then copy/pasting into a new Word will be simplest. This will strip all the formatting, so if you rely on italicizing as I do, changing the size in the current document is better.

Fonts and Sizes 

The fonts and sizes are personal preference. The following is what I use:

Content: 10 pt, Bookman Old Style
Chapter Titles: 20 pt, Garamond, italicized
Title: 45 pt, Garamond, italicized
Title page, 'by': 16 pt, Garamond
Title page, author name: 20 pt, Garamond, italicized
Thank Yous (cover models and photographer): 10 pt, Bookman Old Style, italicized
Copyright Information: 9 pt, Bookman Old Style
Acknowledgments & Dedication: 10 pt, Bookman Old Style
Page Numbers: 14 pt, Garamond
Headings: 14 pt, Garamond, italicized

If you're skipping print, as many authors do, the fonts and sizes in ebooks do not transfer. Ebook readers often give the reader the option to change the font, color, and size to fit their own preferences. Stick to 12 pt, Times New Roman or another system font to avoid complications.

Section Breaks

Regardless which format you use, section breaks are important. These start new pages, and can change the headings and page numbers from one page to the next. They are a complex subject, and this post is already long, but there are helpful guides available on CreateSpace, Smashwords, Kindle, and Nook.

Page Numbers and Headings

Ebook formats do not have page numbers or headings, since devices don't read based on page.

Special to Ebooks

Since ebook formats are clickable, you'll want to create a linked Table of Contents. There are handy instructions for how on Smashwords, Kindle, and Nook.

What Formats Are There?

I said above I reformat my novels six times.

  1. Paperback (CreateSpace--which is connected to Amazon)
  2. Hardcover, casewrap (Lulu)
  3. Hardcover, dust-jacket (Lulu. The only difference between this and 2 is that the author bio goes on the dust jacket instead of in the last pages of the book.)
  4. Kindle (CreateSpace has a helpful link for this once your book is in paperback, but you can also access it directly on Amazon.)
  5. Nook (Barnes & Noble)
  6. All other ebook formats (Smashwords)

My belief is that the more options I can give readers, the better, but it's up to you how you'd like to do it.

Yes, it's a lot. No, it isn't never-ending. I am happy to say I am done, really and truly, with both my novels. You can be, too.

Not sure where to start? Read about why I chose CreateSpace.

Formatting can be frustrating. I'm always here to answer questions. If you're at the point of giving up, I would be happy to format your book for a small fee. Visit Rivershore Books to learn more, or email me for a personalized quote.

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