NaNoWriMo

The Great Formatting Conundrum & What To Do About It

I recently received a question over Twitter from someone asking if I provided formatting services. It’s not uncommon since so many independent authors are in need of e-book formatting. I’ve written about this topic in passing before but I decided to cover it in more detail today.

First let me say I do not offer formatting services. I’d be open to in the future if the need arose for more immediate income. However, I’m neither experienced enough yet nor do I have the time to run such a service while publishing my own fiction.

Word Styles

However, having formatted my own short story as an e-book – as well as intending to publish a few more short projects in the future – I do have some insights to offer for newer writers with questions. Most everyone advises that an author farm formatting out to someone who knows how to do it properly. It’s not terribly expensive for a novel and doesn’t require a long turn around time. But for shorter projects you may want to save the money and do the work yourself.

Formatting Resources

In either instance here are some resources for formatting:

  • Want to find formatters? Visit this link by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, for his list of self-publishing related services. It includes people who offer formatting services with their pricing as well as illustrators and editors.
  • Want to do the work yourself? Download Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide. This includes how to format your e-book so that it’s ready for submitting to Smashwords. I also found it effective for uploading to Amazon.

Tips

Scrivener StylesWith that information in mind here are some tips regarding formatting if you decide to give it a go yourself:

  1. Do not use your original manuscript. Create copy of the manuscript from which to work. This way if you mess it up you have no worries about it and can easily start over.
  2. Start learning with a shorter project. Once you have experience try something longer.
  3. Format correctly from the beginning. Read the Smashwords Style Guide for specific instructions on formatting your work with e-book publishing in mind.
  4. To begin formatting, remove all the bad formatting. Copy all of the content to a text editor like Notepad and then back into your word processor software to remove all the incorrect formatting. Again the style guide has detailed instructions for this process.
  5. Learn about Styles and use them when formatting an e-book. Styles are used in Word and are quick way of using preset formatting for different font styles. You can create Styles for titles, first lines, etc. These are also available in Scrivener. (take screen shots of Word and Scrivener styles)
  6. Create and use internal links. When you are formatting your manuscript to e-book conversion you can create internal links. These are important for use in e-book readers so anyone reading can move throughout the book with ease. One of the best ways to use this is to link your table of contents to each chapter heading or title and then each chapter back to the contents.

Final Thoughts

Many people have an aversion to formatting as if they might ruin their book. As long as you don’t work from the original you are free to play around with the process and learn. Once you’ve formatted even a short e-book you’ve gained valuable skill. Even if you do not want to format your novel you certainly know what to expect with a finished product when paying someone else. In the end it’s up to each person to decide what’s best – hiring out the work or DIY – but learn about the process some as well. Who knows, you may find you like doing it and launch a secondary income stream formatting for other authors. Regardless, I’ll follow up on some of the tips with some future posts on this subject.

Have you tried formatting an e-book? What keeps you from trying? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. To find out more about my current novel, The Bow of Destiny, click one of the link banners on the sidebar.

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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As a note, I do not work for or support any services for Smashwords. Please refer to Smashwords for questions and support.

 

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NaNoWriMo Preparation & Scrivener Pt. 4: Execute the Plan

Scrivener is a powerful writing tool. I write about it weekly with tips and usage ideas. To read more of my posts click the Scrivener tag or category at the end of the page.

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NanowrimoAs I wrote last week, I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo and suggested some features of Scrivener to think about using during next month’s writing scramble. I’ve also offered some tips to leverage Scrivener as you organize your outlining efforts. Last week I suggested 4 overlooked features that may save you writing time, improve your efficiency and help buoy your creativity. But what are my goals and how do I intend to approach my daily writing? Here are the basic points of my overall plan and daily work-flow:

  • I’ve set my goal to 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo and in my Project Target. I hope to exceed this goal but I’ll make it conservative during my first writing rodeo.
  • With my outline finished, I’ll use my writing layout daily, referring to my notes as necessary. However, I plan to go over my notes before starting each day and have an idea of that I’m doing. I’ll keep in mind that my outline and ideas a somewhat fluid.
  • While writing, I’ll go into full-screen mode with a background. This way I can just write as I turn on some music to keep me going.
  • When I’m not in full-screen, my Project Target will be on so I can see how I’m progressing – I like to watch this as a little encouragement as the line grows and changes color from red to green.
  • Scriv Button 2At the end of each completed writing session, I want to record any ideas that I’ll need for the next day so I’ll know where and how to start my writing.
  • I hope to record my daily progress in my NaNoWriMo but I’ll also keep a spreadsheet too.

BOD FinalWant to see how I’m doing? You are welcome to connect with me on NaNoWriMo but I’ve already displayed a widget of my progress on the sidebar. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to interact since my focus will be on the daily goal but I’ll do what I can. Even better, check out my abbreviated posts to see what’s really going on with me during the month.

Do you have a plan? How will meet your goals? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

Sign-up to receive my free ebooks today.

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Just as a note: I now have a marketing affiliation with Scrivener. For support questions, pricing, licensing and other concerns please contact the vendor. As such a buy ad for Scrivener appears on the sidebar. I’ve started this program since I like the product so much and want to offer readers the chance to obtain this software. I’m not required to write about Scrivener to be an affiliate; I just like it that much. You can also find my FTC statement on this site’s sidebar.

 

NaNoWriMo Preparation & Scrivener Pt. 3: Don’t Overlook These 4 Features

Scrivener is a powerful writing tool. I write about it weekly with tips and usage ideas. To read more of my posts click the Scrivener tag or category at the end of the page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

NanowrimoAs I wrote last week, I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo and suggested some features of Scrivener to think about using during next month’s writing scramble. I’ve also offered some tips to leverage Scrivener as you organize your outlining efforts. But what other features should you leverage as you prepare? Here are 4 more tips that seem rather small but could make a huge difference in your daily efforts:

1. Work on your layout: the Layout Manager is a way of organizing the visual layout of Scrivener to suit your writing needs. It’s meant to assist you by creating visual sets of features available based on where you are in your project. For beginning development & outlining, you could create a layout that incorporates the Binder and/or the Inspector being turned on. For strictly writing, you could create a layout that has only the editor available in the Scrivenings mode. Later you might progress to another layout for editing. You might incorporate the layouts for your development and rough draft phases to eliminate visual distractions while having just what you need available.

2. Choose your writing backgrounds: you can turning on backgrounds in full-screen mode while you are writing each day. This allows you to see a background of your choice while you write that might offer some inspiration. You may want to change these up regularly so you might gather pictures into one folder so you can set the background as necessary and write with different scenes each day or even change it several times a day. While the Layout Manager does not include this feature, just having a layout set and then going full-screen with a background might be just what you need to keep your productivity at its peak.

Project Menu 23. Set your project goals: I know I’ve hit on this one a few times but setting these goals can really help you know how things are going. Make sure you know what your daily goal is as part of your overall goal for the month using the Project Targets. Set your word target for the project and then daily targets. If you close the project each day then the daily goal will reset. If you close it during the day you need to record your word count from it to track what you’ve done. If you don’t close the project daily you’ll need to use the Reset button at the beginning of each day to get an accurate word-count. Make sure to record you daily totals somewhere – a spreadsheet, a table in your project or in your NaNoWriMo account.

4. Pre-load your Auto-Complete List: this little tool can save you lots of time each day. As a fantasy writer, I have numerous unique character and place names. This varies from writer to writer but for me, having these names – and even terms – set in the Auto-Complete List is a real time-saver and can even help later when editing since all the names and terms will be consistent. I’m loading these in my list each day as I think about what I need. I’ll even keep adding to it after the writing starts. It could really cut your time writing each day as well as reduce your stress. While you shouldn’t be editing during the month, many of us are tempted to correct spelling so this tool can even reduce that temptation which can save you even more time.

Are you in NaNoWriMo yet? If so, what are you doing to prepare? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

Sign-up to receive my free ebooks today.

Mailing List Artwork Mailchimp

Just as a note: I now have a marketing affiliation with Scrivener. For support questions, pricing, licensing and other concerns please contact the vendor. As such a buy ad for Scrivener appears on the sidebar. I’ve started this program since I like the product so much and want to offer readers the chance to obtain this software. I’m not required to write about Scrivener to be an affiliate; I just like it that much. You can also find my FTC statement on this site’s sidebar.