What I'm reading: Unspeakable, by Laura Griffin
There's been a lot of discussion about going the indie route in some of the groups I belong to. One thing I've noticed is there are those who have trouble with what I consider Word formatting basics. Given that I started this business with an e-publisher, I learned how to deal with some basic formatting from the beginning.
I thought I'd share a few of the tools anyone using Word should have, because while a manuscript might look right when it's printed, there are all sorts of little codes and formatting issues that will make a mess of things when it's re-formatted for the digital screen and the variety of e-readers out there.
The first would be page setup. Click "File" then Page Setup.
Set all your margins to 1 inch, and that's about all you have to worry about. Then go to "Format: and choose "Styles." Make sure your Style is set to the "normal" default.
Next, line spacing, justification, and paragraph indents. If you're going to be formatting for uploading to the digital market, they'll want things single spaced, left justified, and no tabs for paragraph indents.
If you click on "Format" in the toolbar, you'll get a bunch of choices. Right now, I'm talking about "Paragraph". If you click on that, you'll see something like this.
You'll want to make sure you've got alignment set to 'left' and the outline level should be 'body text'. For indentation, under Special, choose "first line" and then how much to indent by. Smashwords suggests 0.33 inches.
Under spacing, makes sure both "Before" and "After" are set to zero, and line spacing is set to single. One of my publishers likes to use 6 pts after each paragraph, so if I'm working from that document style, I have to change it. To do that, do a "CtrlA" to select the whole thing, then format according to the above, and clicking OK should reformat the manuscript for you.
If you're starting from scratch, just set everything up the way I've suggested, click OK, and type away.
As far as 'fancy' stuff, if you're formatting from Smashwords or the Kindle, I'd suggest not getting any fancier than centering, bold, or italics. They translate well.
Smashwords has a very detailed style guide, and I think that might have intimidated some of the folks who were saying how hard it was to format their manuscripts. It's really very simple.
Now, my next challenge: All Romance eBooks has opened its bookstore to authors. But unlike Smashwords, they don't give one the luxury of reformatting for you. So, I'm a newbie to Calibre, and will be trying out its features as I translate my word file into all the other formats. I'll let you know how that works out..
Tomorrow, my guest is Molly MacRae. She's got some great reading suggestions for you.