Fear of Formatting

I have a novel forthcoming from MuseItUp publishing, a science fiction novel for tweens/young adults, and as part of the novel, I created a poet and wrote thirty-one of his poems. Eight of the poems appear in the novel, and I wanted to publish the whole collection to go along with the book. I dragged my feet - first about obtaining permission to use the poems that appear in the book, and second, when I had permission, about putting the book together.

Fear of formatting held me back, but at last, with the deadline approaching, I jumped in.

I created the cover on the above using my image and a CreateSpace template.

Covers: This was my first sticking point. But fear not, designing one's own book cover is easy with CreateSpace, as they have cover templates and images you can use. Or you can use your own photo, or go to one of the many websites that offer photographs and buy one. I went to Bigshotphoto to purchase the image for the cover of "Sand in the Desert." It cost me $2.99 for the small size.

For the cover of SandInTheDesert, see Karen Cioffi's post: http://margaretfieland.com/blog1/2012/05/26/design-your-own-ebook-cover/

For the formatting, alas, there was no cure but to jump in. CreateSpace does have templates you can download and use for the various size finished documents. They have predefined layouts, page styles, and the like, and you fill in the blanks (or sometimes, generic text) with your own.

I downloaded and used one.  And now, many hours later, I have just ordered my second proof copy - the first had problems with both formatting and content -- and I know a lot more about formats.

I use OpenOffice rather than Ms Word, so the menus will be slightly different, but here are some of the things I learned to watch out for:

Page setup options as to the distance from the top and bottom and from the sides.
Whether the format is MIRRORED or not. 

Header and Footer: Do you have them? Do they have the same contents left and right?

What format follows this one? I got hung up on this because the LEFT page format had LEFT as the next format instead of the RIGHT page format. The RIGHT page format had the same problem - RIGHT was the next format instead of LEFT. This screwed up my page numbers.

Paragraph: Line spacing and distance between paragraphs.

Fonts: This one is pretty straightforward in your document, but CreateSpace wants the fonts embedded in the document. OpenOffice doesn't appear to have an option to put them in a .doc file, so I had to select "export to PDF" and check the  option to include the fonts in the PDF.

Size of your finished book:  The page formats include the page size, which will, of course, affect how much space you have for text. The CreateSpace templates will give you a guide as to how much space to leave for the margins - the INNER is the critical one, as you will need to leave enough room for the binding.

Proof Reading: There's no substitute for proof reading. Proof read for formatting, and again for content. I read through for the formatting, then again for the order of my poems, and once again for the poems' content.

My personal criteria for passing something out of a proof phase is that I read it through twice without finding any errors. Sad experience has shown me that I can overlook an error once through, but the chance I will overlook the same error on another reading is small.  Yes, this is tedious. Yes, it's saved my ass more than once.

Here are some references:

For OpenOffice:



Here are some for MS Word:



I just ordered my second proof copy. The first had both formatting and content issues, ones I didn't spot using the digital proof copy.  I'll be examining this copy carefully, both for formatting and for content. For each, if I can go through it twice without finding any errors, then I'll declare it good to go.
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Karen Cioffi said...

Peggy, how cool! What a great idea to create a separate book out of the poems you created.

The formatting seems like it's a lot of work, and learning! One day I'll jump in.

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

I'm very impressed with what you've done! Great job.


Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great tips Peggy, thanks.

Margaret Fieland said...

Ladies, thanks for stopping by.

Shirley Corder said...

Well done Peggy. It always amazes me how much work the "small stuff" turns out to be. I've spent the last four days working on one 1 minute "talking head" video that was needed in a hurry. "Sure,I can do that," says me. HAH! I need to keep your post for future reference!

Anne Duguid Knol said...

This is so useful Peggy and l love your cover. Thanks so much for sharing your findings and the weblinks. It all sounds so time consuming but l'm sure it will be worth it. Lovely to do your own print book. Congrats on taking the plunge.

elysabeth said...

I've been thinking I needed to start formatting my own books as well as a few friends'. Now I have the tools to do so. I was thinking using Open Office would be a better way to go rather than using Word but it's a good thing to know I can use both and hopefully come out with the same result. Thanks for sharing - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of FINALLY HOME, a middle grade/YA paranormal mystery (written similar to a Nancy Drew mystery)

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