Today we’re going to talk about formatting your book.
Formatting is something that you either get, or you don’t. Some people find it an easy task, and others—like me, don’t.
I think that the formatting is something that goes by the wayside in many respects, but a badly formatted book can completely ruin the reading experience for a reader. Blank pages in books, writing out of alignment, font size too small or too big, wrong text, it ALL makes a difference to the experience that you’re selling to a reader. Not only that, but it can be an incredibly frustrating business for someone inexperienced at it.
I know through my own trial and error how I nearly didn’t bother with the paperback for any of my books for this very reason. It’s complicated, frustrating, and disheartening. Then when you do finally manage to embed everything, align everything, number your pages etc. etc., you order your sample book. You wait with eagerness for days—possibly a couple of weeks unless you want to pay for expensive super-fast shipping, to finally get your book in your hands and find that, actually, you did it all wrong and it looks terrible.
Formatting isn’t something that a new writer thinks about. I mean, you wrote it in Microsoft Word, so how hard can it be to upload? Simple answer? Very.
It’s not just a matter of just uploading your edited book. Each format—whether it be paperback, Kindle, Nook, iBooks differs from platform to platform. That’s where your formatter comes in—or mine.
Meet Karen Perkins. Amongst being an incredibly talented author of several popular pirate adventure books, she also owns and runs LionheART Publishing Services. It’s like a one-stop shop for everything an author will need. Whether it be cover design, editing, proofing, and of course, formatting.
I’ve known Karen a long time, we’ve beta read for each other several times, and I can honestly say that she’s an absolute pleasure to work with.
I’ll hand it over to her, and you can get to know her and her work a bit more.
About Me and My Self-Publishing Journey
I have been passionate about books since I first learned to read, and also had a very active life, including being a very keen sailor. Unfortunately, I injured myself in the Contender European Championships in 1995 (although still won the ladies title), which resulted in a condition called fibromyalgia. This is an extremely painful and debilitating condition and resulted in the loss of my previous career as a financial advisor.
I started writing, almost as therapy, and it quickly became a compulsion. I cannot see myself ever stopping now! I struggle to travel, and realized this would work against me in looking for an agent and traditional publisher so I decided to self-publish as a way to show publishers I was able and willing to promote and market my books online, as well as—hopefully—prove sales and gain positive independent reviews.
I enjoy the publishing side of writing so much, I have not submitted to a single agent since I pressed that ‘Publish’ button the first time, nor do I expect to. All three of my current books: Ill Wind and Dead Reckoning in the Valkyrie Series (historical novels about piracy and slavery in seventeenth-century Caribbean), and Thores-Cross (a historical paranormal stand-alone novel) are #1 best sellers in their categories on Amazon--Ill Wind and Dead Reckoning in Sea Adventures, and Thores-Cross in British Horror.
I also established LionheART Publishing House when I published my first books and this has grown to offer copyediting, proofreading and formatting services for other self-published authors, as well as book cover design and book trailers. In the past year, I feel very privileged to have helped over one hundred books be published on four continents—some very successfully.
To help indie authors who prefer to have complete control over their books, including the editing and formatting, I have also recently published The LionheART Guide to Formatting, which is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to formatting e-books and paperbacks in Word 2010 and covers formatting your manuscript for Kindle, paperback and Smashwords, as well as taking you through the upload processes. This was recently followed by The LionheART Guide to Editing, in both UK and US Editions.
There are three main avenues to publish your book as an Indie author: Kindle (KDP), paperback (usually CreateSpace) and EPUB (usually Smashwords), and each avenue needs a different format, each with its own challenges.
Kindle (KDP). The main difficulty in your Kindle format is that what you see in Word is not necessarily what you get on a Kindle after your Word file has been converted to their mobi format. This means indents have to be properly set (tabs or a number of spaces don’t convert well), and watch out for spaces at the ends of your paragraphs and extra paragraph breaks with can result in blank pages in the Kindle book.
CreateSpace is an Amazon print–on–demand company. Publishing through them means your paperback will be available on every Amazon site in the world (including Book Depository), and they will print and send a copy of your book to order. You therefore have worldwide distribution with little or no set up costs. This is also the format where you can add your own style to the finished book, with headers and footers, different fonts etc., and the main issues here revolve around the sizing of the file, and formatting page numbers etc. correctly.
Smashwords is the difficult one. They convert your file into a number of formats, the most important of which is EPUB, and distribute to a wide range of online e–book companies, including Barnes &Noble (Nook), Kobo and iBooks. Because your book has to meet the criteria of all these sites, the requirements are more stringent than for KDP above. The best way to ensure your book passes is to use their Nuclear Method, which strips out all the existing formatting, and then start again. It is time consuming (and at times frustrating), but it is the best way of ensuring there is no stray formatting, such as hidden bookmarks or fields, that would cause your book to fail their review process.
Watch your text size and line spacing. Many readers do not like books with large text or spacing, as it means they have to turn the pages more often. All the main e-readers do have settings for font size, so if somebody does prefer larger text, they can set their reader accordingly. Many e-readers can only cope with the Times New Roman font, although some, such as Kobo, allow the reader to select their preferred font, and e-books should always be formatted in TNR to avoid any corruption. Also I see a lot of e-books with empty lines between every paragraph, which can mark your books as self-published – people are not used to reading fiction where every paragraph looks like a block paragraph, and these should be reserved for when there is a change in time or point of view.
Many self-published authors present ellipses as three dots together with no spaces…like this. This has the effect of linking the two words and it may result in them being presented on a new line, leaving a half-line and spoiling the justification of your work. Leaving spaces in between . . . does mean it may be split over a line in an e-book, but this is regarded as the lesser of two evils and is the standard format in the publishing industry today.
The best piece of advice I can give when formatting e-books is to keep it simple. There are so many different brands and models of e-reader, each of which has a wide variety of individual settings available, your formatting needs to present as well as possible on each variation of device and your readers’ preferred settings.
You do have more leeway with paperbacks as the finished book will present in the same way as Word, for the most part. Most fonts in Word are licensed for print and can be used to add style to your title page and chapter headings, and you can control where each page ends, so you ensure your book presents as well as possible.
The main things to keep in mind here are the margins, checking punctuation does not cross a line and arranging your book so that the dedication and first chapter etc. are placed on the recto (right-hand) page, as well as setting headers and page numbers.
My final piece of advice is to check, recheck and check again – the best formatting is not noticed by our readers. When somebody reads one of our books, we want them to be lost in the characters, their world, and their stories, and not be distracted from their reading by empty pages or lines, inconsistent indents, or incorrectly sized text.
I hope you find this useful and more information can be found on my website: www.lionheartgalleries.co.uk.
Happy writing and I wish you every success with your books.
Contacts me if you have any questions, I am always happy to help, and you can reach me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org | Amazon Author Page |
Smashwords Author Page | Facebook Valkyrie Series |
Facebook Lionheart Publishing | Twitter Valkyrie Series |
Twitter Lionheart Publishing | Goodreads |
LinkedIn | Google+ |
You Can Purchase The LionheART Guide To Formatting Here: Formatting Guide
As Always... Happy Reading!
Claire C Riley
Tonight I have the wonderful pirate queen K A Perkins on the blog, with her ghostly take Thores-Cross. If you don't know why I call her the pirate queen then you need to go check out her other books, haha.
Anyway, I'll let her take over with an excerpt from her newest book...
Thores-Cross Sneaky Peak
Thores-Cross, Sneak Peak
'The writing is near flawless. Your voice is crisp and natural, carrying the reader into lives of the characters and the world you have created seamlessly.' – Lauren Grey, author of 'Threads of Time'.
'I love your historicals. They feel so real. I can already tell this one is excellent. The back and forth between Emma's modern life and Jennet's 18th century life is tantalizing.' - Laura Emmons, author of 'Seeing Magic' and 'Healing Hands'.
'…a wonderful piece of writing.' - Lin Churchill, author of 'Pride'.
'Overall I can see this attracting readers of both contemporary and historical fiction. It seems that it will gravitate around characters and relationships so perhaps it may have more appeal to women. It was a pleasure to read, Karen and it's setting up the connection between past and present very well' - Lesa Clarke, author of 'The Glass House'.
'Wow, I've never been into ghost stories before, but this is great!' – Lesley Taylor, author of 'Heart-Brother' and 'Changeling'.
'Startling but extremely accurate use of language . . . Very emotive and skilfully handled . . . I found your writing fluid and accurate but more importantly, completely enthralling.' – R.M.A., author of 'The Snow Lily'.
'This is terrific.' - Chris Bostic, author of 'Game Changer' and 'Fugitives From Northwoods'
'As always, your writing is impressive and so is your knowledge of boats. You have clearly taken the time to research the area, the herbs and other various concepts within your book, and it shows and makes the story that much stronger throughout. I really enjoyed this book, truly, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it. Well done.'– Claire C Riley, author of 'Limerence'
'I love the way you handle your characters and the way you blend them into the book from the word go but in such a clever way. I can see this has taken you some time to plan out as I can see the way you start a part of the story to know how that particular part is going to end. There is a really nice narrative here coupled with a brilliant flow and pace to it. You have done well and I like this a lot.' – Sean Connolly, author of British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R)
'Very well crafted… a fantastic read' – Annabel Watkinson, author of 'The Year of Us'
'This is an excellent example of the timeslip genre. Both Jennet's and Emma's voices are realistic and representative of the two different time frames. Each of the two life stories has a good hook, making both characters equally interesting. This promises to be a rattling good story.' – Lynne Jones author of The Beaumont Bequest
Come back tomorrow for a competition to win a signed paperback of this creepy ghost story. I read it and couldn't get it out of my head for weeks.
Other contacts/social media sites:
Link to Amazon page:
Tell me a little bit about yourself and LionheART Galleries:
I started LionheART Galleries with my partner, Peter Mutanda, soon after we met. It had been his dream for a long time to own a gallery and sell African art, craft, jewellery and literature, and I'm disabled and was looking for something to do from home which I could build into a viable business, yet manage my health. An internet-based business is perfect; we are both creative and enjoy designing and making jewellery, and we are both writers so it was very natural to expand into publishing as well. We publish our own books – novels, poetry, children's books and non-fiction – and also offer reasonably-priced publishing services (editing and formatting) to help other authors to self-publish, especially if they are not comfortable with computers or live in countries where the internet is not widespread.
Where did you grow up?
In a small North Yorkshire village near Harrogate.
When did you start writing?
Whilst I've been a total bookworm since I first learned to read, I didn't start writing seriously until I injured myself sailing in the European Championships. I was sailing an extreme dinghy called a Contender, and at the time was the only woman sailing this class of boat in the UK. I was used to sailing on an inland reservoir in Yorkshire, so a storm on the Baltic Sea was a bit of a shock – especially for my body. I hurt my back badly (although did come home with the Ladies title!) but struggled to get a diagnosis. By the time I worked out (after consulting 42 doctors and therapists) what was wrong, my body had learned a different way of working, and I now suffer from fibromyalgia – an extremely painful and debilitating condition which flares up regularly. I was unable to sail, but sailing was my passion so I took on the sailing club newsletter and filled it with my scribblings until I was unable to even travel to the sailing club.
What made you start writing novels?
As part of my quest to find out what was wrong with me and why my body wasn't working properly I did a number of courses. One of those was counselling and psychology, which I found fascinating. Also, being forced to talk about myself and write a journal 'unlocked' me somehow. One day I picked up a pen and notebook and just started writing. Soon I needed a new notebook, then another and another, despite only being able to hold a pen for ten minutes at a time, and I realised I was writing a book. A couple of rewrites and an awful lot of editing later, I have published it as Dead Reckoning – Caribbean pirates and those wonderful old ships. At least I can still go sailing in my imagination, and I don't even get wet!
Is it something that you have always wanted to do?
To be honest, the thought of writing a book was so daunting it didn't occur to me that I could do it, but looking back, it's the obvious career for me. I have always loved books, and most of my earliest memories are about books. I can't think why I ever tried to do anything else.
What is your favourite genre to read?
I think historical fiction, although I also enjoy horror and thrillers and like to read in lots of different genres. I love being transported to another time and/or place and love any book that can take me there.
What about to write?
Historical fiction so far, although I am currently working on some ideas for contemporary novels as well.
Do you write full time?
I would if I could, but I find it physically and mentally impossible. I write longhand and have trained myself to use my left hand as well as my right, but am still very limited. Also constant pain does not help the creative process. I'm happy if I can manage a chapter a day, even if they are short, and I do think that being restricted this way does actually help me – I'm forced into more thinking time.
Who are your favourite authors and or books?
I can't give you favourite books, there are just too many! My favourite authors are Stephen King, Philippa Gregory and Barbara Erskine. Oh, and CJ Sansom, Ken Follett, Tony Parsons, Zoe Sharpe, Mo Hayder . . .
About your books.
Well, Karen, you actually have a couple of titles under your belt, so feel free to tell us about them all.
Title/plot, and who it’s signed with.
I currently have two books in the Valkyrie Series published, An Ill Wind and Dead Reckoning. This is my pirate series and follows the fortunes of Gabriella Berryngton and Leo Santiago. I'm currently working on the third, Ready About! and am planning at least another half dozen, which will all stand on their own so readers have a choice and are not pushed to read the whole series or read them in order – in fact I wrote the second book, Dead Reckoning, before I wrote the first: An Ill Wind!
I have also written two children's books with my partner, Peter Mutanda, based on African Folktales: Rabbit and Elephant's Tug of War and Meerkats Come to Dinner and we plan many more.
My newest book is Thores-Cross which is a dual time-line book, set in the present and the 1700s. It's a haunting tale about isolation, superstition and persecution and centres around Jennet who is orphaned in 1783 aged 15, falls prey to an older man and is then shunned by her, already isolated, community in the North Yorkshire Moors. Things do not end well, and she continues to affect the lives of the descendants of the villagers in 2012/13.
All my books (and Peter's) have been self-published through our publishing company LionheART Publishing House and are available as paperback and for all e-readers.
An Ill Wind
Gabriella Berryngton is an unhappy and oppressed fourteen year old girl from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1683. She dreams of escaping her bitter, ambitious stepfather and sailing off into the unknown.
Her dreams come true when her stepfather sells her into marriage.
Aboard the Freyja, she is hopeful that her new life in the Dutch West Indies will be an improvement – a hope that dies when she is given a slave (Klara) and a whip. She discovers that her soon-to-be father-in-law is a ruthless slave trader in league with pirates, and her fiancé is cold, unfriendly and disinterested in Gabriella. She is little more than a vessel to provide the next generation.
Largely ignored and desperately unhappy, she and Klara develop a friendship which makes life bearable – at first. Once married, Gabriella's life takes a turn for the worse and she descends into a world of horror and abuse, until tensions explode. Life will never be the same and she has no choice but to take fate into her own hands.
Title of the second one.
A haunting novel set in the North Yorkshire Moors about isolation, superstition and persecution, Thores-Cross follows the story of Jennet, a fifteen year old girl orphaned in the Eighteenth Century.
She lives in the isolated community of Thores-Cross, where life revolves about the sheep they rear. When she tragically loses both parents, the local wool merchant (Richard Ramsgill) takes an interest in her. She becomes pregnant and is shunned not only by the father, but by the entire village, leading to tragic consequences which continue to have effect through the centuries.
Emma Moorcroft is a present-day writer who moves to her dream house at Thruscross Reservoir with her husband, David. Emma had played in the fields around the reservoir as a child and still has an old inkpot she had found in one of the dry stone walls. Jennet's inkpot – and Jennet wants revenge.
Emma is compelled to write her story, and to embark on an affair with her neighbour, Mark – a direct descendant of Richard Ramsgill. As Jennet and Emma become further entwined, how will Emma escape her clutches? Can she break the curse that Jennet inflicted on the Ramsgill family and which has been killing Ramsgills for over two hundred years?
What made you decide to upload them onto authonomy?
Authonomy was recommended to me by a friend in a writer's circle I go to. When I first joined, I wanted to promote An Ill Wind and hopefully bring it to the attention of Harper Collins. In actuality I have found the feedback and support of the other authors on the site invaluable. I've also found some wonderful books and friends there and have learnt a great deal.
When I uploaded Thores-Cross to the site my objectives were very different and were basically to invite feedback to help me through the editing process and make the book better. As a writer, it is extremely difficult to take that step back and look at your own work objectively – the authonomy authors help me to do that, whilst giving honest and valuable advice and support.
What are your hopes for them?
My hopes for all my books are simple, to engage readers and transport them to my characters' worlds. To receive a review or message from a complete stranger saying how much they enjoyed the book and asking when the next one will be ready has to be one of the best feelings in the world.
How long did they take you to write?
That's a difficult question. Because of my physical limitations they can take a long time – Dead Reckoning took about eight years from first picking up the pen to publishing it, but then An Ill Wind only took about three months, partly because it's a novella rather than a full-length novel, partly because I had already written Dead Reckoning so knew the characters extremely well. Also because I managed to write it in-between flare ups, and was able to get on with it.
I learnt a great deal from writing Dead Reckoning, and so thought about the characters and plotted Thores-Cross over about three years before I started to write it seriously. The actual writing took about four months, then I edited for a month. I'm letting it settle now, while authonomy and writing friends are reading it and giving me feedback. After about two months I'll edit it again and am expecting to publish it in June 2013.
Whichever book I'm currently writing, I'm researching and thinking through ideas, characters and plots for at least three others. I need to manage my physical activity, even writing, and find ways of being able to do the things I want to with the least amount of pain, and I've found that the longer I think a book through before I write it, the less rewriting I will have to do in the end. Speech to text software helps as well!
What gave you the idea?
I have absolutely no idea! Although saying that, when I looked back at the first draft of Dead Reckoning I did spot some patterns, eg: the main character, Gabriella, was married to her abusive husband for the same length of time I had been suffering from fibromyalgia (which I once described as like living with an abusive partner you can't escape). Also my main 'baddies' are Blake and Hornigold – which I always wrote as B&H in my notes. At the time I was stopping smoking, and my brand was B&H, and had many battles with them! (Ha ha ha, brilliant!)
I think my books are the result of me either working issues out in my own life or trying to understand why people do the awful things they do to each other, and the only way I can do this and stay sane is through metaphor.
Who is your favourite character out of all the books that you have written?
I write in the first person, and my favourite is always the one I'm writing at the moment. To write from their point of view I kind of put them on and wear them like a favourite coat. For that time I am them and they are me – until I move to the next one. Being asked to pick a favourite is like my nieces asking me which one I love the most. They're all in my heart.
Do you ever base your characters on anyone that you know?
I don't base characters on people I know, but I do watch and listen and somebody's actions or behaviour will give me an idea for a character, which I'll then expand and explore – quite often to an extreme.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have been given in regards to your writing?
It is a privilege for someone to buy one of my books and invest time in reading it, and that privilege should not be taken lightly. I think one of the best pieces of advice I've been given is to write the first draft for myself, but to write the second and edit for my readers.
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