If you have decided to self-publish your book, then you might have bitten off more than you originally thought. Most authors who choose to self publish don’t realize how important it is to format your book correctly for submission-otherwise, it might not come out how you want, and you don’t want to write another check to have it reprinted. So in the interest of saving you time and money, here are a few tips on formatting your book for a self-publisher.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Fonts
Some self- and vanity publishers only allow you to print your book in certain fonts. Others allow you to pick and choose, but make sure you find out ahead of time. The standard is to put your text in a serif font-Times New Roman, Garamond, Palatino-and your chapter headings in a sans serif font, such as Arial or Verdana. Some fonts won’t print correctly with certain presses.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Paper Size
Many of the self- and vanity publishers are allowing their clients to upload their manuscripts online, which they then convert to a PDF file. This works well when you are offering your manuscript as both an eBook and as a paperback or hardcover. However, you must make sure that your document is the same size as the book it will be printed in.
For example, if you have chosen a 6″X9″ paperback, then you should change your document settings to reflect that. To change the document size on Microsoft Word, simply go to File > Page Setup > Paper, and change the width and height.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Header
Typically, paperback and hardcover books are printed with a specific header. On the left page of the book (even numbers), the page number is in the top left-hand corner and the author’s name goes two or three spaces to the right. On the right page of the book (odd numbers), the page number goes in the top right-hand corner and the title of the book goes two or three spaces before it.
To change the header on your document in MS Word, go to View > Header and Footer, and click on the icon for Page Setup in the toolbox that appears. Under the Layout tab, check the box that says Different Odd and Even. You will have to type different headers-one on an even page and one on an odd.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Front Matter Header
Your header will also need to be different for the front matter of your book, which is the title page, the copyright page, the dedication and anything else that comes before Chapter One (including a Prologue or Acknowledgements page). Some authors choose to have no header or footer for the front matter while others label them with roman numerals.
To separate the front matter headers from the rest of your book, go to the first page after the front matter and choose Insert > Break, and under the Section Break Types, click Continuous. Then go to View > Header and Footer, and click the button that says Same as Previous. This will separate the two headers.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Margins
Typically, a published book should have at least one-inch margins on all sides of the page. Whatever the case, the margins should be equal to one another and not so large that only three words fit on each individual line. Some book publishers argue for .5″ margins, though this is largely a matter of preference. White space is okay, but you don’t want too much.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Gutter
Any published book has a binding, and you must be able to compensate for that in your margins. Microsoft Word has a handy feature for adjusting the “Gutter”, which allows you to compensate for the binding. Go to File > Page Setup > Margins. Under the drop-down menu for multiple pages, select Mirrored Margins. Then, above, you can adjust the gutter from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
Most publishers prefer a .2″ or .3″ gutter.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Graphics
No matter how you are submitting your manuscript to your publisher, you will have to embed any graphics, photos or art into the document. In other words, linked graphics won’t work. To embed your graphics, simply save your document with the graphics, art or photos already positioned within the text. Make sure to position them exactly how you want them to look in your book.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Line Spacing
There is something of a debate about how many lines each page of your book should have when printed, but make sure that the document has a specific number of lines before you submit. For a 6″ X 9″ paperback or hardcover, you’ll want between twenty-five and thirty-five lines. For an 8.5″ X 11″ book, you’ll want between forty-five and fifty-five lines.
You can control the number of lines your document has per page by selecting 1.5 lines from Format > Paragraph, in MS Word.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Drop Caps
Many authors choose to use the Drop Cap feature for the first letter in each chapter, which makes that letter larger than the rest. You’ve probably seen this typesetting tool in books you’ve read. You can create a Drop Cap in Microsoft Word by selecting the first letter of the chapter and going to Format > Drop Cap. Under Position, select “Dropped” and under Lines to Drop, select two or three. Two looks most professional.
You can also make your dropped cap even more striking by changing the font. But again, make sure that the font you choose is accepted by your publisher.
Formatting Your Book for a Self Publisher: Consistency
Before submitting your finalized manuscript to your publisher, look it over very carefully. Check for extra spaces between paragraphs, accidental use of a different font, accidental re-sizing of fonts and anything else that might detract from the overall look of your manuscript.
One of the most common problems in MS Word is extra blank pages between chapters, which happens sometimes when using the Page Break feature. Make sure you don’t have any extra white pages before submission.