Book Formatting 101

You’ve written an amazing book, and you’ve spent hours and then more hours doing all the stages of editing. You’ve received feedback from critique groups, and they are itching to buy a finished copy, but how do you get your book from writing to formatted?

There are three options. We’ll name them here but cover them in later posts.

  1. Pay a book formatter
  2. Purchase book formatting software
  3. Do it yourself

Before you decide on any of these things, you need to know what book formatting is. Book formatting is positioning everything in your finished manuscript how you want it to look in your finished book. It includes front and back matter (yet another post in the future), where to start chapters, and what font to use, but let’s make this a bit easier.

  1. Go to a bookstore, library, or a new release in your genre (bonus points for using a traditional publisher – they know the industry standards and self-published authors aren’t always aware there are standards).
  2. Look at what is included in the front matter (does it vary for ebooks?)
  3. Look at the back matter
  4. What side of the page is the title page on?
  5. Where is the title positioned on that page?
  6. Are images used? How are they formatted?
  7. Where do the chapters start? (always on the right page, or does it matter)
  8. How is the chapter heading formatted (where down the page etc.)
  9. How is the first line and first letter of the first paragraph in a chapter handled?
  10. Where are page numbers located?
  11. How are footnotes used?

You need to look at every aspect of the structure of the book.  Not because you need to know all of it but because you need to know what you don’t know.  You’re not going to notice all formatting-related information, but if you can go to someone to hire them and you know some of the tasks that should be included, you will be more able to negotiate and interpret the contract or scope of work.

“Formating book interior” is broad and open to interpretation compared to “Format front matter, including….., format Chapter Headings as per CMOS….”

It is the Seven Ps of Planning.

Prior Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss Poor Performace

As always, happy writing.

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