- Formatting the Manuscript
- Reading and proofing the galleys
Step one, formatting the manuscript, sounds like a formidable process. Many of us have heard horror stories, and perhaps we have struggled to get a manuscript to upload to CreateSpace, Kindle or Smashwords properly.
It doesn’t have to be that way anymore, as the publishing world is full of relatively simple, easy to use programs for formatting and many people who are professional formatters. Some programs are free, and others do have a cost associated with them. Some have a learning curve, and others are shockingly easy to use.
The following is a list of resources, most of which were posted in a thread in the NIWA Facebook chat room, others I have found elsewhere.
First, you can always hire a professional formatter. This is not cheap but should be otherwise pain free on your part. If you really want to pay someone else to do this, a formatter who has been recommended in the NIWA forums is:
Also, NIWA member, Madison Keller, was formatting ebooks, although I’m not sure if she still is.
The following services have been recommended in other forums, although I confess I know nothing about them personally, as I format my own books:
Heather Adkins – Cyberwitch Press
Paul Salvette @ BB eBooks
Jason Anderson @ Polgarus Studio
Rob Siders @ 52 Novels
BUT you can easily do it yourself, which gives you far more control over the appearance of the finished product:
Jutoh: $39.00 US
From their website: “Easily create ebooks in Epub and Kindle formats: publish on any ebook distribution site, including Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, and more. Your readers can use Kindles, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, and phones, Macs, and PCs. You can also create PDFs suitable for sending to print-on-demand services.”
India Drummond has an excellent video on using Jutoh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3lvhRpJrIg
Vellum: Vellum Press $249.99 Create Unlimited Ebooks + Paperbacks
Vellum Ebooks $199.99 Create Unlimited Ebooks
The downside of this program, besides the cost, is that it is only available for Mac, not PC.
From their website:
Use Vellum to get the most out of ebooks:
- Assemble box sets of a series
- Produce advance copies for early feedback
- Connect with links to Facebook and Twitter
- Add store links and help readers buy your next book
- Generate ebooks for Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, and more
Scrivener $40.00 US available for Mac or PC
From their website: “Compile your finished draft for printing or exporting to your favourite word processor for final formatting. Export to web or e-book formats for self-publishing. With support for footnotes and comments and the ability to reformat your work during compile, you can produce submission-ready novel manuscripts, work with academic standards, and much more.”
Many authors are Scrivener fanatics, and they would upset to not see their program of choice listed here.
Draft2Digital (Free, even if you choose not to distribute your books through them)
From their FAQ section on their website:
What file types can Draft2Digital convert?
- The easiest and most popular format is a Word document. Upload your story in Word .doc or .docx format, and we'll convert it into an ebook. RTF should work fine, too. Anything Word can read, we can read.
- If you already have an epub of your own, we'll accept that as well. We won't make any changes, but we'll gladly distribute it to all our digital stores for you.
- Our conversion process creates a beautiful, high-quality epub for us to distribute to your choice of digital stores. You’ll also have access to a similarly beautiful .mobi and PDF.
- We don't have one. At Draft2Digital, our goal is to support your style guide.
- Unless you already have one you like, skip the title page and copyright page. Don't even write them. Just give us the story, and let us do the technical parts.
- Mark your chapter breaks with something distinctive, and be consistent. Make it centered and bold, or larger font, or use a Heading style. Do something to set apart your chapter titles, and we'll do our best to recognize them.
- We've got you covered. After all, we're famous for our customer service. You can call our support line and talk to a real human being during our regular business hours, or send us an email any time.
- Only the cost of the printed book. Just like our ebook formatting, we'll convert your manuscript into a professional-quality paperback with the check of a box, at no additional charge.
- The generated paperback is one-size-fits-all, but we’re confident it will impress the majority of users. Just download the PDF we mentioned earlier and take a look. (If you have more complicated requirements or desire more hands-on control, we’ll still work with you at no charge, but the process will take longer.)
All the above resources are good and reliable. I personally use Draft2Digital for my ebooks and am considering trying them for my next paper book instead of using a formatted template. If I do, I will post on that experience.
I also distribute through Draft2Digital as well as Amazon, and as I mentioned, you are welcome to use their services to format your ms for booksellers they aren’t currently partnering with, such as Amazon for Kindle (which I do). They produce a great looking mobi file for you. If you choose to distribute only through Amazon, you are still welcome to use D2D’s formatting services at no cost.
Finally, remember I said publishing had two final steps, so no matter what service you use for formatting your book, always, ALWAYS continue on to the final step in the process before you publish.
Take the time to hand out those galleys and proof eBook copies to your support group or inner circle. Have them comb their copy for proofing and inadvertent formatting errors BEFORE you sign off and click ‘publish.’
Connie J. Jasperson is an author and blogger and can be found blogging regularly at Life in the Realm of Fantasy.