Publishing a book is achievable to do by yourself. However, if not done right, your book might not even sell 10 copies, if any at all. Properly formatting your writing before publishing can be the difference between readers accepting or rejecting your valuable work.
Read this article for an in-depth guide on how to follow standard formatting before attempting to self-publish your book.
It is to be noted that, while we mention steps to maintain a standard book formatting method, how you format can vary based on criteria and personal preferences.
Following is a list of aspects that comprise standard formatting.
- Font type: Choose black Times New Roman or Verdana as your font to maintain consistency with most content out there. Most computers come with Times New Roman as the default system font which is the ideal choice for books. Using stylized fonts is not recommended due to their lack of readability at times.
- Font size: The pixel size of fonts used in writing varies between headings and content. The standard size for content is 12 pts, while the titular heading should be 24 pts in block letters. Subheadings can range between 18 pts to 16 pts, also in block format.
- Page size: Standard page sizes vary between 6-9 inches and 8.5-11 inches, depending on the region. Keep a margin of 1 inch across the border of your page. The process of publishing may include trimming the pages from all four sides. The margin allows this to happen without forcing major structural changes in the book. If you’re going to be printing copies, consider using the gutter feature as well.
- Content alignment: Keep all content left-aligned to ensure consistency at the starting of every line. Some prefer to justify their paragraphs so the right side of the page is aligned. However, this can make noticeable spacings between words if you don’t allow words to be hyphenated. Titles should be positioned centrally, while headings and subheadings can either start left- or center-aligned depending on your preference.
- Spacing: Make sure you provide sufficient spacing between lines for a cleaner look; double-spacing is the standard. Writers habituated to using double-space after every period need to ensure they avoid doing so. Single spacing is the standard and should be followed accordingly.
- Page numbers: Do not forget to provide page numbers on each page. Roman numerals may be used on the introductory pages only.
- Page breaks: Transition to the next page with proper page breaks pre-installed into typical word editors. Avoid manual methods like pressing “enter” multiple times to get to the next page.
- Word count per page: Although this can vary greatly, using a standard 12 pts font generally accommodates around 280-350 words per page.
- Indentations: The type of indentations used in a writing may vary based on the genre. Thriller storytellers may prefer large indentations at the beginning of paragraphs, whereas informative writers might ignore this completely. Make sure you know what your genre uses.
- Word editor: This is the world-renowned standard for digital writing as it is greatly beneficial for authors and editors alike due to the seamless experience it provides.
The fundamental difference between self-publishing a book and using a publisher is in the name itself. Despite being more work for you, self-publishing does not involve complications like searching for an ideal editor and negotiating for approval.
Following is a step-by-step guideline to successfully publish your own book.
Step 1 – Finish Writing
The quality of your content is the most crucial aspect of your book. You can easily fix technical errors in formatting, but changing the quality, although possible, requires monumental effort. We suggest spending the majority of your time and effort in sustaining high standards throughout your writing, as readers mostly care about the content, not the formatting. No one will continue eating a dry cake just because it has pretty icing and a cherry on top.
Step 2 – Proofread and Edit
You will be amazed to find numerous errors in your writing once you finish and begin to read what you wrote. While in the “zone”, writers might make mistakes in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and the overall delivery of the message. Even a quick scan of what you just wrote might not be enough, as you would tend to “see” what you think you wrote. This is why it can be wise to have an outsider do this part as fresh eyes can pick up inconsistencies or repetition that you’ve become immune too. You don’t necessarily have to hire someone, a friend or partner might be enough.
If you tend to waffle too much, paraphrase segments of your writing. Maintain standard English throughout the book and check that you’ve followed British or American English consistently. Also, an in-depth examination of the narration, voice, and overall flair is necessary before transitioning into the next step.
Step 3 – Design the Cover
The importance of an attractive book cover can prove decisive for many readers when it comes to picking up your book and reading it. The design must capture and summarize the message of the entire book. You may decide to put a graphical design on the cover or go with an informative look. Take design ideas from other books of the same genre for reference.
Information like the book title, name of the author, his or her bio, a distinct logo, book reviews, a short summary without spoilers, etc., should be provided on the front or back of the book. Additional information may also be added depending on your choice.
Step 4 – Publish It!
Finally, when you feel everything is up to your desired standard, go for publication. This might seem like a difficult task from the outside but is much easier compared to the effort of writing the book in the first place.
Various self-publishing online platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), IngramSpark, Kobo, iBooks, and CreateSpace are some of the most popular. These platforms have their own set of rules and criteria that need to be followed if you want to publish there. Ready your content, submit it in your platform of choice, and wait for the magic to happen!
For new and aspiring authors, writing a book is a work of passion. While publishing it in a professional editorial and publishing company might be tempting, there are drawbacks to this. Self-publishing is a wonderful opportunity for such writers to get their word out to the world. A proper format, good quality of content, and a decent publishing platform are all an author needs these days to publish the book of their dreams!