Resources for Formatting Your Book

I’ve been working on formatting my second book for publication, and got completely stalled out. For the life of me I couldn’t make my headers and page numbers behave, no matter how many times I read the instructions provided by CreateSpace or the help in Microsoft Word.

So I looked for some other resources and came up with three.

How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon (for Mac) by Ed Ditto

Formatting book by Ed DittoIf you don’t use Mac, then skip this one. This book uses the writing software Scrivener to do much of the work for you. I use Scrivener and love it. However, it was first written for Mac, so the Windows version is not quite as sophisticated as the Mac. The book description states “Windows users will still find it a helpful foundation to build from, but it calls on a few features only available in the Mac version of Scrivener.” Do not take this to mean that you’ll be able to do your formatting in Scrivener.

Being an optimistic soul, I thought I could figure out some work arounds. Instead I spent hours searching forums, only to find out that some of the functionality, such as creating a table of contents automatically, that is available in Mac is simply not there in Windows. So much so that it was easier to forget about Scrivener for formatting my book.

Having said that, this is a very well-written, easy to follow guide. I had no difficulty following the instructions for the tasks I could perform. It seems to me that if I used the Mac version, I’d have no problems getting all the formatting done in an afternoon, as the book’s title promises. I did learn a few things about Scrivener that I didn’t know that will be helpful. If a guide ever comes out for Windows users, I’ll be sure to buy it.

Also, in the week or so since I tried to use Scrivener to format my book, Scrivener released a new version for Windows. Some of the functionality of the Mac version should now be available to Windows users. I wouldn’t assume, however, that Scrivener for Windows is ready (as of this writing) to be used as a formatting tool.

So after having spent two days for nothing, I tried:

Smart Formatting: How to Format and Upload your Novel to Kindle, Smashwords, and CreateSpace by Shauna Bickley

Cover image Smart FormattingThis short little guide written for PC users of Microsoft word does a good job covering the formatting and uploading of books. It discusses what you need beyond your manuscript, such as a cover image, back cover text, a book description and more. It also gives detailed information about how to set up accounts with Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Create Space, including making pricing and royalty decisions.

There are helpful tips about what kinds of formatting to delete and other ways to achieve the same result that won’t wreak havoc on your eBook, as well as how to format your book properly to meet the requirements of each publishing platform.

However, it goes a little too fast over styles, almost assuming the reader has some understanding of how they work. Since I’ve been a styles dunce, this didn’t help me a lot. There are plenty of details of which styles the author created for formatting her own books. These specifics were very helpful for me get started creating my own.

Overall, this is a useful book that gives a good overview, but it doesn’t give quite enough detail for the actual formatting. If you are not sure how to use styles or set up headers and footers, then you’ll need to get that help somewhere else.

Then I tried:

Format YOUR Print Book with CreateSpace…and Lulu, using Microsoft Word by Tim C. Taylor

Cover image Format Your Print BookFinally, the resource I was looking for! This guide gave the details, with step by step instructions and screen shots that got me through. I finally think I have some comprehension of styles. Following the instructions in the book, I was able to make those unruly headers and footers behave.

My one beef is that the tips given are not presented in the order you should do them. The section that gives instructions on how to set up section breaks comes after the header and footer section. But at the beginning of the book, the author clearly advised readers to read the whole book, experiment on a sample manuscript (not the one you plan on formatting), and then go back and format your manuscript. Had I followed that advice, I would have saved myself some time.

Another valuable feature is that instructions are given for Word 2007, as well as for older versions of Word. Additionally, information about formatting eBooks is also included.

If you want detailed instructions of how to format, this is the guide for you.

1 thought on “Resources for Formatting Your Book”

  1. Pingback: Formatting Books: Lessons Learned | Evelyn Puerto, Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *