As of yesterday, the first proof of my novel, Eleanor, is on its way to my mailbox!
Transforming my manuscript into book format has been an arduous process: two steps forward, one step back. I thought I would share some of the know-how I picked up along my way with you all. These are the things I wish I had known before I started formatting!
#1. Register your tax information with Amazon.
Amazon is the leading seller of books worldwide. It’s also one of the easiest platforms for self-publishers to use to create both print-on-demand books and eBooks. But before you can hop aboard the Amazon bandwagon, you have to do some paperwork.
When you create an account on Amazon Createspace, you will be prompted to submit your tax information. (Yes, you have to pay taxes on the royalties you earn from selling books). Submit this info ASAP. It can take Amazon up to 2 weeks to verify your information, and during those 2 weeks, your book will be at a dead end. Amazon won’t print proofs, much less release your book to the public, until your tax information has been verified.
I formatted my entire book, then found out I had to wait two weeks to before I could get a proof. It was a major buzzkill!
#2. Set up automatic paragraph indentations.
If you’re a bit old fashioned, like myself, you probably rely on the handy “tab” key every time you want to place an indentation at the start of a new paragraph.
Unfortunately, Kindle doesn’t recognize “tabs.” If you want to release your book on Kindle, you’ll have to use a different method to indent your paragraphs:
First, select your entire manuscript. Then, click the expand button in the bottom right corner of the paragraph portion of your toolbar (this is the same area where you can center your text, add bullet points, etc.). In the box that opens, find a drop down list that says “special” under “indentations.” Select “first line,” and set the indentation to 0.5 inches.
Now, go back and delete all the superfluous tabs in your manuscript. Hopefully, you’re not 330 pages in, like I was when I had to de-tab my manuscript!
#3. Steal formatting from books you admire.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I hope Kate DiCamillo and Sue Monk Kidd would agree because I based a lot of the formatting for Eleanor on their books, The Tale of Desperaux and The Secret Life of Bees.
First off, I wasn’t sure how to fill in that page full of copyright information. It’s probably the only page I haven’t read in my favorite books. So I sat myself down and read some copyright pages. Turns out, there’s not much to them. I copied my page from Desperaux and Bees, with just a few tweaks to make the information relevant. If you like, you are welcome to use Eleanor’s page as a template.
I was also madly in love with the font from The Secret Life of Bees. After hours of trying to mimic my dream font with fonts that didn’t quite come close enough, I was finally able to identify The Font by using the quiz at the bottom of the homepage for fonts.com. I downloaded the font and used it for my book. Score!
I hope these tips save you all some frustration in the future. Unless you hire a professional to do the work for you, you can expect to spend at least 2-3 days formatting your book for publication, even with all the time-saving tips in the world. It’s a labor of love, but having a beautiful book is worthwhile in the end!