My Smashwords Adventure!

Distressed Woman FreeDigital Photos Dot NetNote the familiar lady pulling her hair out.

No really, it wasn’t that bad.

I went to the Smashwords site and downloaded Mark Coker’s Smashword Style Guide and read it through once completely and several chapters twice and three times. I won’t repeat everything in the guide. It is very complete and informative, yet still I had a couple of unanswered questions. I did further research and thought I’d share what I learned and what worked and what didn’t.

They strongly suggest you use something called The Nuclear Method. This method insists that you will save yourself a whole lot of trouble if you copy your entire manuscript into a text editor. At which point, you do the opposite, copy your text document back into Word. Removes all formatting! Yippee, we can start with a completely virgin document.

I so did not want to do this.

I use italics to denote emphasis, (which maybe I should not be doing quite so much of but that is a subject for another day) and all my italics were going to be wiped out if I did it. Gone Italics.

I needed to figure out a way around this and discovered something interesting. In Word’s Find functionality, not only can you search on a text string, but you can search on formatting! I didn’t know that before. Here’s how it’s done:


Click More

Then click Format, then font, and you’ll see the familiar font screen come up where you can select the format you are looking for. Note the search for “Font: Italic” in the red circle. Now I could use the Find Next functionality for each occurrence of italics in my document! Unfortunately I could not replace the italicized text with anything, but this was better than the alternative. For each instance found, I put the text string “qqq” behind it.


There were 145 instances of italics in my manuscript and I knew where they were when the original document was back in Word because I searched on “qqq”.

I copied the document to Wordpad (my choice but you can use any text editor), opened a brand new Word document and pasted that sucker in. I turned off all Autocorrect and Autoformat options. This is spelled out in the Style Guide.

Next I created eight styles. I only used seven of them and Normal.  Here is a very good article about how to create styles in Word. No need to repeat that here.


I didn’t end up using SWTitle. I had wanted 16pt bolded text, but for some reason the bold didn’t take. It did, however, work for SWTitle, defined as 14pt bolded so I used that instead. This is an example of stuff that can happen, for which you can find no explanation.

I could have fooled around trying to get Smashwords to recognize it the way I intended but decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. Ebook formatting is evolving and maybe the Smashwords “Meatgrinder” just needs to be tweaked a little more. It will get better and better with time. It didn’t seem something for which I should tear out any more hair. I have precious little left at this point.

Depressed 3D Man FreeDigital Photos Dot Net

Modify the Normal style however you want it and use it for all your internal chapter text. Don’t use it for the front matter, the table of contents, and chapter headings. Use specific styles for all that.

This is my Normal. I used Times New Roman for everything. It is good practice not to use too many fonts, one is ideal, maybe two at most.

Format then Font


Format then Paragraph

Normal2I defined other styles as I needed them, all based on Normal except SWChapter which was based on Heading 1.

I couldn’t figure out from the Style Guide how page breaks worked. I don’t care how the front matter looks, even if it all flows together, just so there is some space between the sections, I am good with that. It is an ebook and everyone formats their reader a different way. It isn’t important to me that any of that starts on a separate page.

But I wanted the chapters to all start on a separate page. I don’t like it when I see new chapters directly following the previous one on the same page. I researched and found that the page break before is the way to go. The style SWChapter has a page break incorporated into it, which you set up when you define that style. And it works! I recommend it.

Everything in my manuscript is a style. I never once used the little Word buttons in the menu to change the font, or bold, or italics or alignment. Maybe you can do this and it will work but I didn’t.

My next novel will be written with this in mind. That’s if there is a next novel.

I went through my manuscript, applied the appropriate styles, and added “*****” between sections. I did this (reluctantly) because I could not discern enough space between the sections and I wanted to make sure they were noted by the reader.

Last step. I searched for “qqq”, applied the italics, and of course removed the “qqq”. Tedious.

One hair-tearing experience I will note. I spent way too much time on it but it seemed worth looking into, and then I got stubborn about it.

I had lines of mixed styles. I used SWNoIndent followed by a partial line where I applied SWItalics. This was followed by a line return, followed by a Normal paragraph. This sequence occurred in three places.  In two places I got no line return between the multi-styled line and the normal paragraph, which was wrong, yet in one instance it was correct.

I figured if one was okay, it could be done. I turned on View Formatting Marks and juggled it around, experimented with the SWNoIndent and SWItalics styles at the ends of the formatted line and the line return, until I managed to eliminate one of the no-spacers. So now two are right, and one is wrong, yet they are formatted exactly the same way. One error remains. I give up. Smashwords has beat me. Much as I hate to say it, sometimes there just ain’t no explainin’ it.

It just is.

I would recommend simplicity and I would think twice before doing the multi-format-on-a-single-line-thing again. Less is better when it comes to ebooks. No need to get fancy.

My book went through the Meatgrinder, though, with no errors, first time.

Here are two great articles I read while preparing this post.

Smashwords Formatting Tutorial

Smashwords Formatting for the Lazy

Update: Forgot to mention, if anyone would like a sample of my file to use for reference, just contact me and include your email address and I’ll sent it out!

Frustrated Woman and 3D Man photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.

Stop Pulling Your Hair Out – Steps to Easy E-formatting

Distressed Woman FreeDigital Photos Dot NetSome authors I have come to know are having some issues formatting their novels for ebooks. I can help with that.

If you are not an author, this post will probably not be interesting to you. You can stop right here. Maybe you missed last week’s post on Fifty Shades? Here it is.

Okay, so the rest of you still reading are interested in ebook formatting.

This discussion will not involve anything too fancy, I have never embedded pictures, for example, so the following instructions will not include that.

For those who want to include charts, graphs, pictures and other neat stuff, you might want to leave too. But what about this cool post on aphorisms? The French particularly liked them, as pointed out by one very dapper Frenchman. Here it is.

More disclaimer. These instructions are for Kindle only. They will show you how to prepare a file that can be uploaded directly to Amazon. If you are interested in some other ebook venue, such as Smashwords, don’t read any further. Although I am going to prepare a post on my findings about how easy (or not) that is, when I actually attempt to do it for Perigee Moon. For you folks, how about a fun post on malapropisms? Here it is.

These instructions are for Microsoft Word only. I don’t use anything else, and I don’t know anything else. So if you don’t use MS Word, stop here. You might want to visit another popular post. Why not take a look at my most popular post ever, about euphemisms? Here it is.

All-righty then. The rest of you must be authors, interested in easy eformatting your MS Word manuscript for the Amazon Kindle.

Clicking right here will bring up a conveniently already formatted short novel in Microsoft Word, which is installed on your computer, or you would not still be here (see above). Note that it contains a version of filler text called “Cupcake“, a much more appealing Lorem Ipsum. Fun-filled with treats to brighten your day, instead of boring Latin.

Here’s what you need to do with the document you’ve just opened.

Change the first page, for your title and author name.

Next is the copyright page Insert your name here and ISBN.

The optional Thank You page is next.

I have also included another page for miscellany, sometimes a quote, a snippet of text, a poem is nice. Or it can be a subtitle. It can be anything you want.

If you need more pages, simply copy/paste this last page. Or delete as needed. There is already a Page Break inserted after each of the four pages, but if you add pages, make sure there is a Page Break immediately following the last word on the page. It must be a page break, which is on the Insert tab. On my system it is the third icon from the left.

The Table of Contents is next but leave this alone for now, until all your chapters have been formatted. Click on the Word Insert tab and then the Bookmark icon and note that there are two bookmarks set up. One for “toc” and one for “start”. These are recommended by the Kindle people. Readers will be able to use the “Go to” features and jump to a chapter or go to the beginning because of these bookmarks. You don’t have to do anything with them.


I have included three chapters. Duplicate for as many chapters as you have.

Label each chapter heading with your chapter title.

Insert your chapter text.

A bit about Styles. You can create a Style in word and apply it to a paragraph or a block of text. I have created three styles that make up the chapters and they are included in this template.

  • First paragraph (leaves a large space between the chapter title and the first paragraph, .5 in. indent).
  • New Section (leaves one blank line between paragraphs, .5 indent).
  • Normal with Indent (.5 indent with no special spacing).

These three are all you need, but you can add more if desired.

Click on the Change Styles down arrow. It is quite tiny (thanks Microsoft for being so intuitive) but here is where you click, by the red and yellow arrow I have inserted. This will bring up the Styles window in the sidebar.


Select the first paragraph of your first chapter and apply the First Paragraph style.

Select all remaining paragraphs in the first chapter and apply the Normal with Indent style.

Go back through the chapter and replace any paragraphs that start a new section with the New Section style. This is not required. Note: Instead of a separate style, you can also use symbols (such as ***) between paragraphs to denote a new section but make sure that this is center-justified to ensure that it appears in the center of the Kindle page.

Repeat for all the chapters.

There is a Disclaimer page at the end with the usual blah-blah.

Now return to the Table of Contents, place your cursor anywhere inside it and hit F9. This updates the Table of Contents with your chapters.

That’s pretty much it. You can either upload the Microsoft Word .docx file directly to Kindle or save it as Web Page, Filtered (which creates an .html file) and upload to

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The GIMP, CreateSpace and a Great Basketball Euphemism

Yes, last week’s post is really not happening until this week. I could make excuses, and say, but wait, I heard that more people read blogs on Monday than any other day of the week although I’m told they share more on Friday. It makes sense. Monday is a reading day (quiet, introspective, Monday-blues and can’t quite get into the workweek yet), and Friday is happy time. Time to party! Time to be free and share!

Maybe that’s not it, just one mad women’s assessment. I use the word “mad” to mean both crazy AND angry.

Someone I am close to, well, okay it’s my daughter, is opening up a new salon in Chicago. It’s to be the Savon Spa and is on Halsted St. in the heart of beautiful Lakeview. They will offer a variety of services, (things I never do) like spray tans, and facials, and something called micro dermabrasion (doesn’t that sound painful?), nail care, massage, stuff like that.

At one point I must have had a weak moment, or a moment in time when I needed to inflict intentional pain on myself. I can help you! say I. I have some photo editing experience, I’ve designed book covers, and cards, and even tee-shirts. Maybe I can help with your computer-related needs. Okay, says she (and her partner guy). How about helping with business (appointment) cards and a flyer?

Sure, say I. I can do that.

What was needed was a full blown graphic artist (not me) so I quickly learned that my sophomoric little package wasn’t going to work. Not to worry, I’ve also got The GIMP.

GIMP is not for everyone, and probably not for amateurs like me, but it is open source and it does everything except bring your pipe and slippers (two items I do not need anyway). It’s a great package. Here I am again, plugging great software. I can’t believe that The GIMP is available for a free download, it does everything that other sophisticated graphic design tools can do.

What a learning curve. What frustration. What a drag. Here is a picture of the finished flyer.

I have been tweaking and YouTubing and reading documentation and trying things for several days now, so while I like to write funny posts, I don’t feel particularly funny.

More optimistically (see, I could have said “on a lighter note” and that would have been a cliché), I have five copies of Perigee Moon coming, and will mail these out to my Beta reader group. They will arrive in a day or two. I did the final formatting over the weekend, when I wasn’t working on the freaking flyer and trying to figure out why my image couldn’t be moved, or the clone tool wouldn’t work, and trying to understand layers, and alpha channels, and a myriad of other stuff.

This stuff is all in my brain now, but if I don’t use it, it will disappear, as I make room for more subjects that I am required to learn.

Back to the novel, when I did the final preparation of my internal file, I had to go back to a post I wrote, about how to use Word to do your formatting and then create a pdf file, which can be directly uploaded to CreateSpace. So simple, to do, these fine CreateSpace people have made it easy on us poor not-worthy-to-be-published-in-any-traditional-way authors. Yeh! Here’s to CreateSpace.

I couldn’t remember how to do it, and so it’s a good thing I wrote that post, so I could go look at it again. This is the second time I’ve done that, so it’s valuable to me, if to no one else.

So on to my third topic. I heard a great basketball euphemism I thought I’d share.

This was back a couple of weeks ago before we were at Final Four, it might have been Elite Eight, when the interview took place. OU (Ohio University) hadn’t gotten so far in many years, since back in the 70’s and here they were. Finally! We people in Ohio were happy that our Ohio teams had survived.

OU has the dubious distinction of being The Biggest Party School in the Country. If you want to major in binge drinking, go there. A basketball player was asked about a previous win and if he had celebrated and here’s what he said.

“I must apologize that i didn’t contribute more to the elimination of distractions.”

That’s a very nice way of saying he drank himself silly, I guess. Got wasted, gooned, toasted. I thought that was a very nice euphemism. He is certainly a very politically correct young man.

Yeah. I don’t feel funny. Instead I feel like I’m getting the flu.

Book Cover Design Using iStockPhoto and BookCoverPro

This morning I designed a book cover using iStockPhoto and BookCoverPro. This is the third book cover I have done, and it was super easy. Yes, it is a very simple, basic book cover but I like simple and basic.

I took some photos of the Perigee Moon this past March, but I didn’t love any of them. I decided to search to see if I could find something I liked better. This is a very good site to check out if you are in the market to purchase photos, illustrations, audio or video files. People submit their work to iStockPhoto and if the work is accepted it can be purchased by anyone with a need. The owner of the work gets a percentage of each sale.

The purchaser can use the item for any purpose and there is no danger of copyright infringement. So my rule is, for a cover, I either use my own work, or make sure I get it from some place that can’t complain if I use it.

I bought the big one (more pixels) because I didn’t want to scrimp on the cover. If it were a blog or something, then it’s not such a big deal, but in this case, more is better.

This is the photo I downloaded from iStockPhoto:

I mirror-imaged the photo and cropped it so the moon would appear to be closer to the edge of the cover.  This can be done with any photo editing software. I used PhotoStudio which is a subset of PhotoShop.

I use a simple package called BookCoverPro. This software is not free but won’t put you into bankruptcy either. It’s maybe $100 or so. As long as the market trends towards eBooks, I wonder about the necessity of having a book cover professionally designed. If I were a New York Times Best Selling Author maybe, but if that were true, someone else would be doing the design of the cover who would be a lot better than I could ever hope to be at it.

I want simple. Straightforward. Contrast and maybe a little mood setting. This is actually a picture of a normal full moon but who’s to know? I thought it portrayed a certain feeling. This is the moon Luke looks at, the night of his great epiphany.

I recommend BookCoverPro, but I didn’t find the Customer Service all that great. It is simple enough to learn, so you don’t need Customer Service anyway, but trust me, in this case, “Service” is only a name.

Here are the simple steps I did to create this cover, which will be used for the print version of Perigee Moon.

Select the size. My book will be 6 X 9 so the size is 12 X 9. Six inches for the front and six inches for the back. Then the spine is sized, and this can be done by specifying the number of pages. That’s good because it’s difficult to size for a spine, and with this package it is done for you.

I selected a background color, black, because my picture is dark and even though there isn’t background to speak of, there could be a sliver where the photo doesn’t cover and I don’t want it to be white.

I then added my moon photo and stretched it a little to fit over the entire cover.

I then added the text fields: the title, the author name on the front and on the spine.

On the back of the book is a photo of the author, and some other text with other novels I have written. In addition, there is the back blurb which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago which I have yet to perfect so that part is Under Construction.

Now that I have this book cover created, the package will allow me to create a .pdf file of it, which is what gets uploaded to CreateSpace along with the formatted pages of the novel. They print both the cover and the pages, and assemble the book.

It would be very cool if you would comment and tell me what you think of this cover. Even if you don’t like it, or have suggestions, I would love to hear them. It’s very easy to change. I designed this cover in about three hours. The greatest amount of time was spent picking out the photo to use.

I’m sure there is someone out there who is thinking, you designed the cover in three hours? I can believe that, because it sucks, it’s amateurish and ugly.

I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while though, so maybe that counts for something.

Images in Ebook Files – How to Include Them and Maintain Sanity

I recently rereleased my first novel, Whatever Happened to Lily? I took on this effort because of a stupid error on my part, I hadn’t been consistent with the author name among the print versions and Kindle versions of my two novels. I felt it important enough to change, so asked how this might be done.

Alas. The author name is engraved, set, permanent, not to be changed! And the book has to be completely redone in order to put a new name on it. After some thought I decided I’d go for it, and so if I was going to go that far, I might as well reread it and see what stood out as needing work, or being eliminated, or otherwise crappy writing. I found some things I didn’t like, and added a couple of parts to make the character (Jay) seem less of a turd. I also added a washed out image on one of the front title pages and tweaked the cover. I uploaded this to CreateSpace and all is well.

I ordered a proof, decided I messed up the cover, fixed that and ordered another proof and liked it, plus the interior. That was finished, but now the Kindle version must match the printed version so I did that too.

The Kindle version requires a Microsoft Word document with different formatting. It must have no headers or footers, and the dropped cap and small caps at the beginning of each chapter must be removed.

Next it can be saved as html and, in the past, this was the end of that process. But wait! I wanted images in the Kindle version too, I thought that would make it look more professional. I see the cover picture on some of the books I’m downloading, and I want mine there too, plus I want that washed out title page included.

I transferred the html file to my Kindle and (naturally) the images weren’t there. Figures. That would be way too easy.

I spent two (that’s TWO) days on figuring out how to do this, and I am still not satisfied with the outcome, although the Kindle version looks fine now. I got on the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) message boards and sure enough, there is plenty of chatter about how to include images. Lots of posts that begin with “Help!!” so I know I’m in the right place. They all say, put your images in a folder along with your html file and zip them together and upload the zip file.

Ah! Of course, why didn’t I think of that? It doesn’t know where to find them. I did what they said. Interestingly enough, all three files ended up on my Kindle, both images and the html file, and looking at the html file revealed that the images were, uh, missing. Still missing. A couple of problems here. One, I DON’T want those image files uploaded as separate files, and two, I DO want them to be included in the html.

I am one of the unlucky people who can’t just chalk this up to experience and look for another way. That would be too easy. No, I’m one of those who will find out why this doesn’t work, dammit, zipping up three files shouldn’t be rocket science.

Maybe the path inside the html file is wrong, I thought, and I fiddled with that, wasted more time. Finally I had to give it up. This is a very hard thing for me to do. I decided I had to try to use some software that I had downloaded a few months back, but hadn’t really used, called Mobipocket Creator.

Another learning curve, but I used that and I did get the images to appear inside the file. But now I had formatting issues. It appears, this software ignores those hard break lines you put in the Word doc, which is then converted in the html file, but when creating the mobi file, it ignores those blank lines.

Wonderful. I now have to Google that and discovered that I can create a Style in word. The first line should have 24 pts (points?) before it, which is about three lines. I’d never done too much with Styles so this was good information.

Once that Style was created I could apply it to the first paragraph of each chapter. I was pleased with the end result, but am still frustrated that the first method didn’t work.

There was an interim step in the process where I downloaded more software called Sigil. This was before I ended up with Mobipocket. Sigil informed me that I had to update my browser to IE9 which I’ve been putting off. I did it, and now I have another learning curve to figure out where everything went. My favorites used to be on the left, now they’re on the right. The refresh button moved. And where is the Print button?! I had to actually Google to find out and it seems you have to press the Alt key in order to get the File Edit Tools, etc. menu which then allows you to enable the Command Bar with the printer button on it. Really? The Alt key? Is this really an upgrade? Seems like we’re going back to the olden days, where you had to know secret combinations of keys.

All I want is a browser, a damn browser. I want it to be familiar, and useful, and intuitive. I thought we had that. I don’t mind the upgrade, but why can’t the basic functionality, and the location of buttons, stay the same? It sounds like Change For Change Sake to me, and that is never a good idea.

Even though I want to write, it seems that so much of my time is devoted to trifling stuff like this. I guess I have no choice but still, it is distracting, frustrating and counter-productive.

Now, back to writing.

Design Your Own Book Cover

Recently, I read a couple of blogs about creating book covers. I probably should have read the articles before I designed my own book covers, instead of after, but mostly I read them hoping they would reinforce what I already knew.

I knew early on that I didn’t want to use the book cover designs available in CreateSpace (or BookSurge before it was CreateSpace), and someone suggested BookCoverPro. I investigated and decided to go for it, it was a fairly simple graphics package, and all the basics were there, adding text, borders, boxes, pictures. Once you put in the size of your cover, and the number of pages in your book, it figures out what size the cover (back, spine and front) must be and presents you with a blank template.

My first attempt was pretty basic, I plopped a picture of the Gulf of Mexico and clouds, with sun shining through on and sized it to cover the entire area.

After that I added text, and was done. This was a very simple cover, indeed, probably a bit too basic. I was going for a feeling, of loneliness, or melancholy. I’m not sure I succeeded with that. Once inside the book, the reader might think it was a picture the main character, Jay, had taken, because he is an amateur photographer.

My second attempt was a little more involved.

The wilted flower is referred to twice in the book, and it’s meant to be symbolic. That perhaps Lydia, to whom it was given, should have looked at it, drooped and dead before it could blossom, as an omen that her relationship with Geo be allowed to go the way of the rosebud. It comes back into the story years later and she tells him, “This is what happened to the first one.”

I bought a miniature rose bush in a pot, at Kroger’s and snipped the bud, placed it in a glass of water and waited. A few days later, it was perfect. So I took pictures of it, pictures on a black background, pictures with a bright background, with and without flash. This is the one I chose:

I used my photo editing software to get rid of the background and fill with black. I use a package called Photo Studio 5.5, which came with my Canon camera, and it’s a subset of what PhotoShop offers, but is usually enough. You can buy PhotoShop but it’s a bit pricey and if you aren’t very serious about editing pictures, it might be overkill. A good alternative is to download a free copy of GIMP which is every bit as comprehensive as PhotoShop, and it’s free. There are tutorials available about how to do anything you want in GIMP. I wonder how they do it, the authors of GIMP, offer such a complex, professional-looking package for no cost. There will be a learning curve to it, and I haven’t mastered it yet either, but I plan to.

Now the picture looks like this:

I made the cover of the book black and put the picture on, made the text white and I liked the combination, of dark pink, black and white with green. I got a little more creative with the back cover this time, put a picture of the author there, a dark pink box, and inside that another light gray box, which made the dark pink now a border, with black text.

The first blog I read, The Dos and Don’ts of Cover Design, stressed three points, and I felt I had them all covered.

Letters that pop. I had that, white letters and a black background, and black letters against a pale background. Check.

Contrast. The dark pink against the black, and white lettering, I think that’s contrast. Check.

It should say something about the book. Not sure I can give a check here, although maybe it counts that there is a story about the wilted flower inside.

All in all, I’d say I didn’t do too badly here. On to the next article. Ten Tips for Effective Book Covers.

The title should be big and easy to read. Check, the title is big enough.

Don’t forget to review a thumbnail image of the cover. Check, it looks okay as a thumbnail.

Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. Check, used standard font.

No font explosions! (And avoid special styling.) Check, no explosions.

Do not use your own artwork, or your children’s artwork, on the cover. Does photography count? Probably not, check.

Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. Check, no clip art.

Do not stick an image inside a box on the cover. Check, no image inside a box.

Avoid gradients. Check, that’s where the color washes from dark to light.

Avoid garish color combinations. Check, I don’t think I did that.

Finally: Don’t design your own cover. No check! Uh oh.

And there was a Bonus tip: No sunrise photos, no sunset photos, no ocean photos, no fluffy clouds. Can’t check either, as there are three out of four here, on the cover of Whatever Happened to Lily?

I am not too sure how well I fared on the Ten Tips.

What do you think?

Kindle Tips and Tricks

I just uploaded Second Stories to the Kindle. I’d been uploading it all along to my device, as a personal file so that I could use it as an editing tool. I noticed some strange behaviors but didn’t think too much of it. I had saved my Word docx file in Rich Text Format, but noticed that the margins were indented strangely in places. I couldn’t figure that out. When it came time to load it up to the Kindle for sale, I decided I’d better fix it.

I started with my main manuscript file, removed the headings, the dropped caps, and small caps, and saved it to a separate file for the Kindle. I didn’t care much about hyphenated words or paragraph breaks where I didn’t want them because that is irrelevant where the Kindle is concerned. It formats it how it will, and it can change according to the font the reader selects on his own device. But still, when I loaded it, there were the strange areas where the margins weren’t right.

I googled it and discovered that it should be saved in html format, so I saved the Word doc as Web Pages (Filtered). That made a difference, because now I had no more strange margin errors, but other anomalies surfaced. My section breaks, which were the wingding version of the letters “e” and “f” now displayed as just that so now my section breaks were


Ugh. Not what I wanted. I changed that to asterisks. Now, with the dropped caps gone, and the small caps changed to regular, and the section breaks, it should have been perfect.

I paged through and yes, it did look good except one chapter was bolded text. What the…? I checked my Word doc and looked at the unprintable characters, and tweaked this and tried that and nothing worked. It was bolded and I had no clue why. I decided to try to peak at the html itself to see if I could figure anything out. I opened my htm file using the browser and did View Source. I thought it wasn’t going to work because it seemed to freeze there, with a blank screen.

I thought well, after all, it is a complete novel so maybe it will just take awhile. I clicked on Facebook to look around, kill some time while I waited, and after a bit, I got the blinking orange tab notification that my file had loaded. I found the offending chapter and compared it to another chapter that was not bolded. The class was different. The good chapter’s class was MsoNormal and the offending chapter was MsoTitle. I had a clue now, what it was and sure enough, on the Home tab in Word is the Styles tab and my chapter had erroneously been tagged as a header style when it should have been normal.

I have no clue how that happened, and it didn’t make any difference until I converted it to html. After fixing that, the file was perfect.

It takes a few hours for the book to be available on Kindle, and as of this writing it’s not there, but will be shortly. I’ll post it on my Facebook fan page when it’s there. The paperback format takes a bit longer, 5 to 7 days before that’s ready, and I’ll be sure to let everyone know when that’s ready too.

Formatting Tips and Tricks for Self-published Authors

Things I Learned Along the Way – A Few Self-publishing Basics

I have very recently submitted my second book, Second Stories, to CreateSpace for publication. Doing this has prompted me to share some of the tricks and tips I’ve learned along the way. This isn’t the first article that has been written about this subject, but just another perspective on the whole process.

When I was pretty far along in the editing process, I decided to get a Kindle. Besides being a great little toy to have, I found it to be extremely helpful to me, as an author-now-editor. I discovered I could email personal files to my Kindle, so I sent my MS to it. Always before, if I wanted to read before submission to ensure the errors were gone, I had to print. That’s a lot of paper. Talk about killing trees. Not to mention the ink that ran out every second printing. So it made financial sense to buy the Kindle, and it’s better for the environment.

But on to what I learned in the submission process.

I am never the person who has to have the latest and greatest gadget or electronic device. After it’s been around for a year or two though, I succumb to changes and then I WANT IT NOW!! I’m not a phone person, so I didn’t have a smartphone for a long time after they came out. My old desktop was good enough, who needs that laptop anyway? And certainly not a Kindle! Why would anyone want one of those things? So now I have all three of these can’t-live-without-it items.

I balked at upgrading from Word 98 to Word 2007. Why get into the new millennium when the 90’s were good enough? Word is intimidating sometimes, and I’d mastered one version and everyone said the new version is very different, it’s like learning Word all over again. Oh yeah. That sounded like just what I wanted to do. Not. I’d have to learn those bullets and numbering all over again? As it was, whenever I used them, I’d hit the enter key, hold my breath and hope for the best, and now I was going to have to figure all that out once more?

But I wanted to convert my .docs into .pdfs. You can’t do that in Word 98 but you can in Word 2007. And the reason I wanted to have the capability to create pdfs was because I am self-publishing with CreateSpace and I wanted to have complete control over my files. Not only is it less expensive that way but I’m the one who knows best how my book should look. I’d been through that once before (back in the BookSurge days) and it was a little frustrating when I had to point out formatting errors they’d made.

Okay then, Word 2007 it is. Imagine my surprise (and delight) when I discovered that Word 2007 is a vast improvement, it seems much less twitchy to me, from its predecessor. And once you finish all the formatting and sizing and attribute selection and it looks perfect in Word, you simply upload it to a .pdf file and that’s it! Files are ready to print, and print just as you want them because with pdf, what you see is what you get. WYSIWYG!

First thing is to size your pages, my book is 6” by 9”. On the Page Layout tab, click the dropdown arrow underneath Size in the toolbar. Size you want isn’t there? Click on More Paper Sizes and the Page Setup window appears and you can select any size you want.

Any time you want the Page Setup window, click in the corner of the Page Setup bar on the Page Layout tab.

Next, margins. Same thing here, click on the Margins dropdown and select Custom Margins. I selected 1 inch for the top and .5 inch for the bottom margins, Portrait orientation. Select Mirror Margins under the Pages section. The inside margins are more or less dictated by CreateSpace and a book that is over 400 pages needs to have inside margins of at least .875 inch. Outside margins don’t matter so much, as long as they are at least .25 inch. I made my inside margins, .875 and my outside margins .5.

When I looked at my manuscript, now nicely sized, it seemed backwards. Had Microsoft got it switched? It seemed when I reversed the inside/outside margins it looked perfect. After a couple of bad proof copies and a lot of head-scratching it dawned on me, and it’s a little embarrassing that it took so long, the first page of any book is on the right, but Microsoft displays it on the left, so it’s the display that is backwards and the gutter side will appear to be on the outside. It needs to be viewed then, with the knowledge that left is right and right is left.

Once it’s converted to a .pdf file, there is a “facing pages” viewing option in Adobe Reader. It is very helpful to view it that way. In this viewing option, there is no first left page, the pages start on the right and each set of two pages appears the same as it will when printed.

Now on to the headers and footers section in the Page Setup window > Layout tab. The header will be what appears on the top of every page. I took the defaults with the exception that I checked both the “Different odd and even” box and the “Different first page” box.

The following is the most difficult to understand. I wanted a few pages in the front to be title pages, and a copyright page and a dedication page, (hereinafter referred to as, hmm, let’s see “Front pages”) and I didn’t want these pages numbered. And, at the end of the book, I have a Disclaimer page and I didn’t want that page numbered either. At the end of the Front pages, right before the actual book text starts, insert a section break. On the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup section in the toolbar, select the Breaks dropdown. You’ll see a “Section” section. (That’s good, a Section section.) Select Next Page under Section. Don’t use regular hard page breaks because when you format your headers/footers it won’t work right. Each chapter must be a section, so go through the file and remove hard page breaks and insert a section > next page break instead. Within a section, you can use hard page breaks, as I did, within the Front pages. Just make sure the last page of each section is a section > next page break.

For the actual book text I wanted a page number on the left side of the left page and the right side of the right page, and I wanted the book title centered on all pages. Except for the first page of each chapter, where I didn’t want any header at all. Because I checked the two boxes on the Layout tab, I was able to do that, and format my headers exactly as I wanted. I didn’t use footers but they work the same as headers.

On the Insert tab, select the dropdown under Header, then Edit Header. The text of the book becomes disabled and the header becomes enabled. You can see the blue tabs with all your sections when you are in Header mode. It’s good to go through and check all that, make sure the front part is one section, and each chapter is a section, and any additional pages at the end are their own section. Enter the information you want in the header for both the left and right pages. They will be different, because of the position of the page number.

While in Header mode, note the Link to Previous option in the Navigation section of the toolbar. The first section’s header (Section 1) will be disabled because, since it’s first, there is nothing to link to. Throughout the text of the actual book, the headers should be linked together. BUT! The first chapter header (which is Section 2) should not be linked to previous, Section 1, which is the Front pages. This is what will allow you to have a header on only your book text. Now any header information that is in the first section can be removed without affecting the rest of the headers in the book text. Same thing with the last section. Make sure that section is not linked to previous either and remove header information.

This was the most frustrating part of the whole process, for me. I finally got it though, and it all looks just how I wanted it to.

Double click anywhere in the text to get out of Header mode.

For each chapter, I removed the header on the very first page, and I could do that without affecting the other pages in the chapter because I’d checked the Different first page box. The other pages in the chapter weren’t affected when I did this.

In the first paragraph of every chapter, I did something special. I wanted a drop cap on the first letter, no indentation and the first few words Small Capped. With the cursor anywhere in the first paragraph, select Drop Cap on the Insert tab. You can select Dropped but that defaults your cap span three lines. I didn’t think that looked good, I wanted less. Select Drop Cap Options. You can change the font if you wish, sometimes you’ll see dropped caps in an old English font. In the Lines to drop: option, I selected 2. Two lines instead of 3. I left the Distance from text: at 0. For the first paragraph only, I also selected no indentation, again by right clicking and selecting “paragraph”. Select the text you want to small cap, starting with the character right next to the dropped cap. Right click and select “Font…” and check the Small Caps box.

All the other paragraphs in each chapter were single spaced with a .2 indent on the first line. Select First line under “Special:” and .2 under “By:”.

That’s pretty much it. I am very happy with the layout of my book, and I like the fact that I don’t have to go through the tedious process of filling out the changes sheet, as I had to do when BookSurge did the formatting.

Hope this has been helpful. I’m not a Word Wizard by any means, but you don’t have to be. That’s the good part.

If anyone has questions, just leave a comment. I’d be happy to assist anyone and please send any tricks and tips you’ve learned along the way!