Business, Publishing

The Argument for Spending Money Part 4: Book Formatting

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Image via Pixabay

The big problem most indie authors have is how to format their book for either print or ebook.  Honestly, there are many methods that range from free and irritating to expensive and not worth it.  When given a choice like this, it’s always best to learn what you can and whatever you can’t, farm out to a professional.

Ebooks

Despite what you may have heard, ebooks are not easy to produce especially, if you have images, or live links in them.  Though you wouldn’t know that by the accounts of some authors who’ve described the process as, “Just click publish!” I can’t tell you how wrong they are.

I ran into several issues uploading my Word document to Kobo and Barnes & Noble.  For some inexplicable reason, the darn thing wouldn’t upload.  So I had to convert my .doc to an .epub file however, in order to do that, I had to get Scrivener, a type of software that converts Word documents into .epub, .mobi, and .pdf files.  Scrivener cost me around $40 and I soon discovered why it’s so cheap.  Apparently, Scrivener doesn’t read its own compiled (converted) files!  To read the .epub or .mobi file you just created, you’ll have to get an extension on your web browser, or download some free ereading software.  See, I told you, it was a pain!

Resources:

If you must try to convert your own files, here are a few resources to help you get started. Be warned, paid services generally have customer service, so if something goes awry, you can get help.  The free sites however, don’t always offer those options so read the conditions carefully.  P.S. I am in no way affiliated with any of these companies, their products, or their websites.

Downloadable Software that Help Convert Word documents to eBooks

Websites  That Convert Word Documents to ebooks

  • Press Books (Free Website to convert files but if you want distribution to stores like Amazon, B&N and Apple it’s $99 and it’s done through BookBaby.com )
  • Smashwords (Website 20% cut of royalties).
  • Book Tango (Free Website)

Ereader Extensions for Your Browser in Case You Want to Read Your Darn Book!

Print Books

I published my paperback on CreateSpace and regretted every second of it.  First, I’m no expert in book design or layout.  I didn’t know which size I should choose, 6×9, or 8 ½ x 11?  I had no idea which would look best.  When you can’t make a simple decision like this, you know you’re in a lot of trouble!  Foolishly, I listened to the advice of the self-publishing gurus and made the size of my book too large, which made my book appear too short, like a novelette.

I spent days adjusting gutters and formatting the cover, when a professional would’ve had my book done in hours.  I even tried using the templates provided by CreateSpace but it just turned my text into all caps.  Even when I got my book looking somewhat decent, I still wasn’t very happy with the results.  There were still obvious rookie mistakes like starting a chapter on a left page instead of a right one, headers on the chapter pages etc.

To add insult to injury, after fixing my mistakes, the print books didn’t sell nearly as well as the eBooks.  That wouldn’t have happened if I had done a little market research.

If I could do it over again, I would skip the print book, or at least pay for a professional to do the interior.

Resources

Paying Someone to Format Your Print Book

Paying a freelancer or professional designer is going to cost you anywhere from $35 to $375.  Many services charging per page or even according to genre.

  • CreateSpace has its own designers and professionals who will help you design the best book possible, but it’ll cost you around $249.
  • BookServ.com has prices starting at $250 for up to 160 pages and $375 for up to 500 pages.
  • TheFastFingers.com has a service starting at $100 for fiction, $150 for children’s and $250 for nonfiction.
  • IndieDesignz.com  has a book formatting service starting at $35 for short stories and $85 for novels.

Templates

If this is out of your price range, you can go with a template to format your print book and do a copy and paste.

  • Recently, Joel Friedlander of the BookDesigner.com created affordable and professional looking templates for MS Word starting at $37
  • Self-Publishing Inc. has templates that come in three book sizes for free
  • Book Baby has some very basic templates to help you with the layout of your print book also, for free.

Disclaimer:

Before signing up with any services, always read the fine print especially, when putting any money down.  Also, do your due diligence to find people who have actually used their services.  Google the name of the company and the words, “reviews”, “complaints”, and “rip off” to see if there are any dissatisfied customers.  Remember an educated author is a happy author.

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