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Make it Pretty

How your book appears when it is finally completed and printed is a big part of its appeal to readers. If it appears disorganized or if the formatting makes it difficult for them to read it they may end up not purchasing your book because they don't want to fight through reading it.

There are a few basic things you can do to make your book appear professional when it finally goes to print. The formatting for an Ebook varies slightly from what you do for print.

I use Word for writing and my formatting. I know there are several programs specifically designed for writers to either write and format in or to use at the end to format. Most of these cost money to either get the program or as a monthly subscription. If you don't have the money to use these programs or to pay someone to format for you then Word will work for some basic formatting.

Below is the image of a page from my book Regulated that I will use as a visual for the explanations that follow.

Red arrow - Your chapter titles should be a heading (I use Heading 1)

Yellow arrow - Indents should be set to .2

Blue bracket - Spacing set to Multiple 1.15 with a 5pt after and 0 before

Green arrows/line - Your alignment should be set to justified (some programs call it full justification)

This page indicates page breaks, which I will also discuss a bit

We'll begin with the chapter titles. The reason you set them as a heading is to define that they are important. If you use Draft2Digital for Ebooks then you'll also notice anything that is a heading is automatically made into a table of contents for the Ebook. It's a huge time saver. Supposedly Kindle is meant to do the same thing but I haven't have much luck with that. I usually do the Ebook on D2D first, download the file, then use that to upload to Kindle. Using the heading setting also assists you while writing and editing your book because you can pull up a heading list in Word which enables you to click the heading and go straight to the beginning of that chapter.

I know a lot of old school writers insist that your indents should be set at .5 because that was the old standard. When I began writing I also was a firm believer in the .5 edict. but after speaking to another author at an event and seeing how her books appeared compared to mine the indents looked awful in my books. It's a huge space and it adds to the look of things not being uniform, as strange as that may sound. A .2 indent allows a reader to clearly see where a new paragraph begins but it leads to a less jarring jump from line to line since the indent isn't as big.

As far as spacing goes, I know some people will insist single spaced is the way to go but if you compare a printed page that is single spaced and one that is set to 1.15, it's easier to read. Single spaced puts the lines of text very close together. I've seen authors leave their print book version set to double space. This can make your book several pages longer, which increase the cost to readers. It also doesn't look professional. I have never seen a publishing house release a book that is double spaced.

Manuscripts should always be set to full justification so that the text lines up straight down the right side. It makes things neat and tidy. The end result makes your book appear more professional as well.

The second image shows pages breaks. You should have breaks at the end of each page. If you don't do this you'll end up with issues when the book is printed since there is no clear distinction between pages without breaks. To see your breaks turn on the show/hide indicator (yellow arrow) for paragraphs and other formatting symbols that are normally hidden. This will show you your paragraph, breaks, and spacing. It can help you to see things you may not otherwise pick up on. The easiest way to add a break is to hit ctrl + enter. If you're at the very bottom of a page it will sometimes add an entirely blank page. No worries, put your cursor at the left end of the page break line and hit backspace, it should pull it back up to the bottom of the previous page and eliminate the empty page.

Don't forget to add your page numbers too. There are authors who prefer them at top of the page and some who like them at the bottom. Either is a fine choice, it's more of a preference thing than a standard.

All of these things will make your final product appear more professional when the book is printed.

Ebook formatting differs slightly from print formatting. You cannot use images for scene breaks (unless you know how to do the coding to format that). For those of us who cannot accomplish such coding, three asterisks work well for Ebook scene breaks. You'll need to remove your page numbers and indents for Ebook. Indents in an Ebook look big because the page image is usually much smaller than it appears in a printed book. A lot of people read on their phone. An indent on a phone can end up being halfway across the page depending on how big your original indent was (and how big the phone's screen is).

As far as the page breaks go for Ebooks, it can be an issue. If you go and read Amazon's page about Kindle formatting it tells you to put breaks in where you want a page to end and a new one to begin ... however ... it completely screws things up and leaves blank pages randomly throughout and if you contact customer service they will tell you not to put in page breaks, except at the end of a chapter. Amazon has no clue what they're doing most of the time, which makes our lives difficult. This is why I began doing the Ebook format upload on D2D first and downloading the file to use on Kindle. Makes my life easier.

These are some basics you can do to help your book appear as professional as possible. If you have questions please feel free to ask!

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