Book Formatting…An Art with Many Questions

You’ve finished writing, taken a few weeks to relax while the editor did his magic. You fixed those mistakes and even argued with him a few times, but that’s over. Now, it’s time to send the book to the publisher, right? Well, if you have a traditional publisher who is interested, you might almost be right. Of course, you still need to send query letters and all that junk. Then, you can let them worry about all the rest. Right? Right. If that works for you. However, an increasing number of authors have chosen to go the self-publishing route. That means you are responsible for doing all those mysterious things that publishers do to help authors become New York Times or USA Today bestsellers. That includes things like cover design and interior formatting of your book.

Formatting is often called layout because it resembles the layout work you did with the school newspaper. It involves answering a thousand questions about how you want the book to look. Actually, you need to answer the question, “How would my readers want the book to look?”  What font will be used as the body text? The chapter headings? The running headers for title and author? Will you be using an indented paragraph style of blocked paragraphs? Will you use drop caps at the beginning of each chapter or maybe small caps for the first few words. How will you position the images? For that matter, what size and resolution should the images be? Will they be black and white or color? Will you use fleurons to separate sections within chapters? What margins will you need? How big should your gutter be for a 325-page book? Yes, the questions seem almost endless.

If you decide to format your book with a typical word processor like Microsoft Word, you might struggle with wanting to have full justification, but then not knowing how to get rid of those large blank spots in the middle of sentences. You might still be wondering how to make A/B headers work so that your page numbers don’t get messed up when you begin a new chapter. This thing isn’t as easy as you thought.

Fortunately, you don’t really need to do it all for yourself.  One of the services of Author Services is to make sure your book looks good even after the cover is opened. Surprisingly, the cost is very reasonable because we’ve had to answer these same questions many times already. We can help you find the answers that work best for your type of book.

We do formatting for both print and digital books like Kindle of iBooks. The questions are very different for the two mediums because a digital book must be readable on so many devices that have different screen sizes. That means it cannot have page numbers like a print book. It also doesn’t have the title and author on top of the pages. Images must fit in a particular way and must be set up in HTML so that the size adjusts properly for the different devices.