[Writing tips] Formatting: now and then

[Writing tips] Formatting: now and then

When I published Back in the rain, it never occured to me that I could ask somebody else to format my book for pubblication. I had already decided I would self-publish, so besides editing and cover design, I knew I was going to be on my own.

Scroll to know what I learned about formatting from my personal experience and some useful resources.

The first (wrong) impression: this is going to be easy

After I finished writing Back in the rain, my goal was simply to “get to publication”, so I didn’t do any promotion or marketing for the book; it had been a real struggle for me to write it and get to that point, so I just really wanted to let it out and prove to myself that I could do it.

This is why, when I got to formatting, I hated the process. The truth is that nothing is immediately easy. Formatting requires attention and strong knowledge of your writing software.

Amazon has some very good and useful Paperback Submission Guidelines but my first try was a disaster! Take a look here:

Margins, page numbers, paper color… definetely a no!

When I saw this, I knew I had to do something to make it better: self-publishing doesn’t have to mean “low quality”. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

My tip: don’t uderestimate formatting

I got MS Word

Until that moment, I had worked using Libre Office which is great, considering it’s a free, open source writing software, powered by the online community. But it was really hard for me to use it efficiently for formatting. Simple things like changing the page-count number were a real challenge… so in the end I switched to MS Word.

To be clear, I’m not trying to sell MS Word! It was simply a software I was familiar with because of work, and when as a writer you are so far in the book-making process, you really want things to be simpler for you.

My tip: It doesn’t have to be MS word, but get a software you know how to use.

I followed the guidelines step-by-step

Once I set my mind on doing the formatting properly, I read and listened to Amazon’s tips on how to build a book. Since I was using MS Word this time, I found all the info I needed here.

The hardest part at this point was converting inches into millimeters… but I just realized they added the conversion directly on the guide page now! Next time this will save me some work!

My tip: You need to be focused and you can’t do this step hurriedly. Just follow the guide and take your time.

I went through my setup again

Since I didn’t like how the white pages turned out, this time I chose a B&W interior with cream paper and a Matte cover (instead of the glossy). The glossy effect usually makes the colors darker and since my book cover was already mostly black and blue, I decided to change and try out how the Matte cover rendered the colors. In the end, I realized I like the velvety texture of the Matte cover way better than the glossy one.

Finally, Amazon’s Cover Creator has improved considerably, and my back cover benefited from it too!

My tip: order author copies and try out different options. Your first choice might not always be the best one for you.

Finally I had the book I wanted!

Back in the rain means a lot to me; it’s the book that started it all and made me remember my childhood dream of being a writer.

I’ll keep writing, so this book won’t be my best book (hopefully), but this won’t change how special it is.

My tip: the feeling of having your book in your hands is worth all the struggle to do the formatting. Don’t give up!

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