Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Two-Cent Tuesday: Publishing 101 Lesson 1

This is some more blogging motivated by self-interest as I'll probably put these segments on my imprint's website.

Anyway, here are some lessons on how to publish an ebook.  The first lesson is about formatting the manuscript.

One of the ebooks I've produced
Most of the formatting I learned from the Smashwords How-to guide.  I load my stuff first to Smashwords, but the file will also load just as well on Amazon and presumably B&N--I don't have a Nook to verify how well the ones I load through B&N's site look.  The whole Smashwords guide is 50-60 pages or so, but unless you're trying to publish something really complicated, there are only a few things you need to remember.

Presumably your manuscript is in Word (or maybe OpenOffice; does anyone use WordPerfect anymore?).  If you're doing things the right way then your base document should be double-spaced with a 12-point font like Times New Roman.

So Step 1 is to highlight everything (Select All or Control-A in Word).  Now in Word 2003 and earlier you can go to Format and Paragraph.  For Word 2007 or later, right-click the mouse and select Paragraph.

Step 2 is on the Paragraph screen you want to go to Line Spacing and select Single.  Next to that box are a couple of boxes that say "Spacing" and then "Before" and "After".  You want those to be empty or 0pt.

Step 3 is to stay in the Paragraph screen and go up to Indentation--Special.  Select "First Line" and then next to that it will default to 0.5".  You can use that, although I use 0.33" so it's not as far of a tab.

Now you can hit OK and go back to the manuscript.  Presumably when you typed the thing you used the Tab key for each paragraph.  Or if you were crazy you might have used multiple spaces.

So now Step 4 is to go to the Show/Hide command, which looks like a backwards paragraph symbol.  On Word 2003 and earlier it should be on the toolbar; mine is next to the Zoom box.  On Word 2007 and newer it's on the Home/Paragraph grouping.  I'll include a couple of pictures to show you where it is.

Word 2003 (click to enlarge)

Word 2007 (click to enlarge)

Click the Show/Hide button and all sorts of weird symbols pop up.  For Step 5, go to the start of a paragraph.  If you used tabs, you'll see a little arrow pointing to the right.  If you used spaces then it'll be a cluster of dots.  Go ahead and select the arrow or dots and Copy it to the clipboard--you know how to Copy, right?

Step 6, go to Find/Replace.  It's Control-H in Word.  In Word 2003 and earlier it's under the Edit menu.  Once that pops up, go to the Find box and Paste.  You won't actually see anything, except the cursor should have jumped closer to the middle of the box.  Leave the Replace box empty.

Click Replace All.

You might wonder what that accomplished.  If you did it right, that got rid of all the tabs in your manuscript.  And yet your manuscript's first lines will still be indented.  Pretty sweet, huh?  This is important because when the file is converted to an ebook Tabs and spaces can get messed up to make things look weird.  Whereas the First Line Special way makes the indents nice and even so the thing looks professional.  Believe me, I've done it many times now!

Now then, for Phase 2 of the process if you're going to put it on Smashwords they like to have italics changed to underlines.  This isn't as big of a deal with just Amazon's KDP or B&N's PubIt apps.

Still, it's pretty easy to make the change.  Go back to the Replace screen; see above on how to access that.  Click the More button so it shows all the options.

Now, make sure the Find box is empty.  Then go down to the box that says Format and click Font.  A submenu pops up with a lot of options, but all you want is to go to Font Style and select Italic.  Then hit OK.

Go to the Replace box and again make sure it's empty.  Again click Format and Font to go back to that menu.  Under Font Style select Not Italics.  Then go to the Underline Style and select Words  If you want it to be like this.  Or just a single line if you want it to look like this.  If you don't have tons of stuff in italics it probably won't matter.

Click OK and then Replace All.  Now magically all of your italics are converted to underlines!

That's just about all you really need to do, so long as you don't have a bunch of weird stuff like pictures and paragraph boxes.  If you do, best of luck to you!

Here's a before and after to give you an idea what should happen.

As a little housekeeping, you should go to Find and hit the No Formatting button and then type in Chapter to go and check to make sure all of your chapters are separated by page breaks.  This can be a problem created when you go from double to single space if on double space your chapter ended right at the bottom of a page.

More housekeeping:  if you use # to separate your scene breaks, which I used to do, then you can find Replace those to be something like *** and centered (Format/Paragraph under the Replace menu).

Finally, Smashwords at least likes you to put a little antipiracy warning in there and a copyright notice.  This is what I use:

Copyright 2012 Claire Lachance

Published by Planet 99 Publishing at Smashwords

Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy.   Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

You can use whatever wording you want I suppose.  I'm just lazy and prefer cut and paste.

And that's pretty much all you need!  But you're not ready to rock n roll yet.  Lesson 2 will focus on the Cover.  Scintillating.

Tomorrow is page two of the Phony Photos calendar!


  1. This is actually superhelpful. Did you replace the regular Grumpy Bulldog today?

    I'm going to cut-and-paste this and email it to myself.

  2. I always end up with formatting issues. About 1/3 of the way through Shadow Spinner, the text length per page is shortened by about an inch. Nothing changes in my core document, so I don't know why it suddenly decided to do that.

  3. I have pretty much stopped using word for writing a but I still do sometimes, having styles set up is an absolute must for me. That way there aren't Tabs and return key things that screw up formatting.

    But this is great stuff. Awesome.



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