Formatting your proofed book copy in Word (#3 of 10)

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Two blogs back the 10-Step Publishing Process series began here. That first blog, How do I profitably publish six times my just-finished book? (see below), walked you through researching and writing a book you want to share and sell. That book must be exceptional, correct, compelling, and worth far more than its buying price. Nothing is more important. A dumb or lousy book is far too hard (and foolish) to try to publish. You only want to pursue this publishing process when you have a book that others beg to buy, or will if you let them know that it exists and what it will do for them.

In the second blog, last week, The 10-Step Publishing Process: The List in Order (#2 of 10) (see below), I explained the actual 10 steps needed to publish your book (many times).

So here we go, with the first step of book publishing after you have your text copy researched, rough drafted, and put on paper—or, really, stored in some digital order:

Step 1: After writing, editing, rewriting, editing, and having your book proofread, put your final, proofed copy in Word and format it.

Or if you use Mac, or some other system like Word, just adjust what I say to how it is done in the platform or program you use.

What you need early on is to give your proofed text some book semblance so you can either publish it as is, later, or you can easily modify it from a paperback layout to one of the many digital formats.

By now your book should have a Table of Contents and be sorted by chapter.

Think of the book as existing in four sections: (1) the front copy, (2) the internal book text, (3) the related back text, and (4) the index.

Let’s say the book will be 6” x 9”, a very common paperback size that also works well for ebooks. So go to File/Page Setup and give all four sections of your book the same content size within which all print will appear. (We will discuss book covers later.)

When you open up File/Page Setup, you will see three boxes at the top: Margins, Paper, and Layout.

Let’s complete the Margins page first. While you may wish to change some of these settings later, let me suggest these settings at the outset: at Margins, put 1” after Top, Bottom, Left, and Right, and keep the Gutter at Left. For Orientation, use Portrait, after Pages leave Normal, and for Preview, leave “whole document.” Then Save.

Next, open the Paper page. By far the most important item here is the paper size. Change that to 6” and 9”. The rest will remain as they are: for Paper source, both boxes, keep Default Tray; “whole document” for Preview, and don’t changes the items in Print Options and Default. Also, Save.

On the Layout page, next, for now make no changes at all. Leave Section starts, Headers and footers, Page, Preview, Line numbers, Borders, and Default exactly as they are. Save.

Those settings will define the size of the page we will see on the monitor—and how the final printed book page will look, if unchanged, later.

In the four sections of the book itself, the front copy will include the title, the volta face page (the “copyright page”) following the title page, and all the rest of the book that precedes its Introduction. Here, you will simply type the copy as you want it to appear in the book. If you have no sense of how big your type font might be, find a book (or many) similar to the one you want to publish and, for now, use the style and size type you prefer on each of the front pages you want to include. (All of that can be changed as you go along.)

You don’t want page numbers nor a header or footer on the front pages, so you will want to go to Insert/Break and mark Page break and Next Page, then OK. (That will prevent subsequent page numbers and headers/footers from creeping forward and driving you nuts later.)

For the rest of the book, sections 2-4, use the Times New Roman font and 12-point type (though later you may publish the book in 11 or 11.5 point. Use 14-point bold centered for chapter heads (like Chapter 6) and maybe 13-point, also bold, for chapter titles.

For the next three sections of your book now is the time to insert the respective key page titles where you want them, like Introduction, Chapter One, Chapter Two, and so on. The end of the last chapter will end section two, the internal book text.

The next section, related book text, will be much the same: enter the key page titles where you want them to be, like Resources, Author’s Biography, Acknowledgements (this can appear in the opening section, if you prefer), and Other Products (which might appear on the last page[s] of the book). If you don’t want page numbers or headers or footers in the third and fourth (index) sections, you can go to Insert/Break and mark Page break and Next Page, then OK.

The last section is the Index. Most indices are alphabetical and the items listed relate to the key information (by word, short phrase, or title) that the reader will want to find or review later. Use a good index for your guide. Create the index dead last, after the last change has been made in the text and the pages have been paginated. (Also enter the page numbers in the Table of Contents at that time.)

Format your book as if you are preparing the definitive version of the paperback copy (which may be so). Later, when converting it to digital (ebook) format, keep the Index and Table of Contents but delete the commas and page numbers, as you eliminate all of the page numbers in the entire book.

Don’t concern yourself at this stage with where the key pages will appear in the book order or whether they will be on the even (right) or odd (left) page; that too is done in the last stages of primping the book for its in-print debut.

There’s more, later, about final formatting, but this will give you clean printed proof copies that are also easy to use and see on your computer monitor.

Keep a full copy of your book at the end of each working day, save it in your book file, and put a few abbreviated letters from the book’s (tentative) title, like SPC or JJM, followed by that day’s date, like “JJM 3-12-13” as its title. Save a backup every day (or every few). Then just bring up the most recent file to begin work each day. Otherwise lost text insanity will invade.

Next week we will talk about final book prep that will work for direct submission to CreateSpace and Kindle (as examples).

See you then.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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