PersonalWriting

Formatting and Perfect Pages

So I’ve been working on formatting the PDF of Forsaken By Shadow this week in order to register it for copyright and prepare it for upload to Scribd.  Yay for a place that uses the straight PDF.

Since I want to present the most professional looking document that I can, I purchased Aaron Shepard’s Perfect Pages, which Zoe suggested.  This book is all about how to use Word to do typesetting and formatting, and I think it’s worth every penny.  Since I got an ereader, I’ve been sort of shocked at how many New York pubbed books do not have a really good e-layout.  Since I am putting this out myself, it’s really important to me that I get it as right as I am able.  I want to impress my readers, not annoy them.

Did you know you’re not supposed to indent using tabs?  It’s apparently the single more awful habit most writers have.  You’re supposed to use the ruler bar at the top to set indents.  This wound up not being a problem for me with this particular manuscript, as the rtf that was produced from yWriter didn’t have tabbed indents.  But I KNOW it’s a bad habit I have when I’m typing straight into Word.

I bet you didn’t know you’re supposed to have more than single spaced lines either.  Not double or 1.5 of course but you do need what’s called leading.  The new feature in Word 2007 of 1.15 is about perfect. You need a bit more visual space so the eyes don’t get tired.

There are all sorts of other carryover no nos that most of us do because we learned to type using typewriter rules–even if we’ve never used a typewriter.  Like the whole two space thing.  I’ll never get over it, so that’s just something I’ll have to do a find and replace on that for every future manuscript.  The other big thing is curly quotes and apostrophes.  This is something Word automatically corrects as you type these days, but if you’re using a program like yWriter or Write Way Pro that produces an rtf, you’ve probably got straight quotes.  I discovered that you can find and replace these as well, though it’s best to do a read through to make sure they’re all facing the correct direction.

There’s also the classic of using hard returns to create blank space between elements.  This is a HUGE no no and causes all kinds of issues in layout apparently.  I remember that from when I had to format my master’s thesis for the library and the whole process about had me in tears.  Wish I’d had this book back then.

I’m down to writing my Acknowledgement page, doing my headers and footers, and going through to fix gremlins (which I can handily find by plunking the PDF into my Nook or iPhone to see what doesn’t display correctly).  I’m hoping to get that done tomorrow.  So maybe I can get that copyright applied for by Thursday, then go through and do the necessary formatting for Smashwords over Thursday and Friday.  It isn’t too terribly different from what I am doing for the PDF, so that shouldn’t take too long.  Then that just leaves doing the Kindle formatting, which I expect to be a big pain in the patootie.  Better refresh my memory on basic HTML.

I have no idea how long it takes to get these assorted formats available for sale.  On Scribd, I know it’s almost immediate.  Not sure how long Smashwords takes to get its premium catalogue listings up on Barnes and Noble and Sony.  Or how long Amazon takes to get it in the Kindle store.  But it’s HAPPENING!  I’m about to have work out there that people can actually BUY.  And theoretically…gulp…review.  Now that is a scary thought.  My CP and beta readers really liked it.  But the thought of someone like Dear Author or Smart Bitches getting ahold of it makes me faintly nauseous.  We’ll cross such a bridge when we get to it.

2 thoughts on “Formatting and Perfect Pages

  1. I’m so excited about it! And if the people at DA or Smart Bitches got ahold of it they would be utterly retarded not to give it a good review. It’s a fabulous novella!

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