Monday, 11 April 2016

A Guide to Self Publishing - The Hard Copy Document

Creating the Hard Copy Document

If you chose to engage either of Createspace or Ingram Spark or any other printer for that matter, you will need to create a beautiful and professionally formatted book. This is actually not as difficult as it may sound although it does require patience. The input document for Createspace and for Ingram Spark is a PDF document. You can use anything you like to create that but the pdf must contain all the fonts used in the document as embedded fonts, must have page sizes the same size as your book and must conform to a level of PDF that the printer can use. Fortunately, Microsoft Word can create the PDF document and Createspace provides a convenient Word document template to get you started. I would recommend using this template because the gutters, margins, page numbering etc have all been set up for you. Once you have formatted the document it's a simple matter to print to PDF. I used Microsoft Word 2011 on a Mac.

The first step is to select the size of the book you want to make (I chose 5x8 as most paperbacks seem to be about this size) and download the Createspace template. Then copy and paste the contents of your book, preferably unformatted, into the template.

Suggestions on how to make your book look professional
  1. Don't use fifty different fonts. I recommend you use two fonts. One for all the text including acknowledgments, dedications, copyright etc and one for chapter headings, the book title and the author's name on the front page. You can use italics and change the size of the fonts but keeping the font count down will make your opus look consistent.
  2. Use a serif font for the text, they are easier to read.
  3. Create a style for all formatting elements. Resist the temptation to just indent that paragraph or centre that bit... Create a style for the format and apply the style to the text. Please. Don't do it for me, do it for yourself...
  4. You need page numbers. They come for free in the Createspace template. The Createspace template will also contain headers for your book name and author name. These are not necessary but do add to the look of your page. I decided to keep the headers but changed the text colour to grey so that the header text stood back from the content text. I left the page numbers black.
  5. The first paragraph of a chapter should not be indented. Create a style based on the normal style called 'No Indent' and change the left indent to 0pt.
  6. All other paragraphs should be indented by .78" or so, whatever looks good to you.
  7. All chapters should begin on a right hand side page when the book is open. If you need to insert a blank page to make that happen, you'll still get a header and a footer on the blank page and that is not how a blank page should look. To do this properly, you will need to add some odd and even page section breaks to overcome this.

Adding Odd and Even Page Sections

Chapters should start on an odd, right hand side page relative to the open book. Right hand side pages of the book are called odd pages because the page numbers on these pages are odd. If you view two pages at a time in Word, the right and left pages will be on the opposite side. (Odd pages should be on the left hand side in Word). If in doubt, look at the margin. The widest margin is in the centre of the finished book, therefore odd pages have the widest margin on the left hand side.

If you do find a chapter that ends on an odd page, go to the bottom of the last page in the chapter and insert a new Even Page Section Break. On my version of Word that's in the "Insert" Menu under "Breaks". On the new even page section insert a new Odd Page Section Break. On the new odd page section hit delete once. The start of the chapter should now be on the start of the new odd page section you just added.

The headers and footers in the sections will still appear because they will likely be set to "Link to Previous". Highlight the header (double click) and uncheck this item in the header properties for both the even and odd page sections that you have added.

Copy the header you want on the new odd page section from the previous chapter's section and paste it into the new odd page section, where it will likely be missing. Do the same with the page numbers. Ensure the page numbers are justified correctly in the new section, and you will probably need to restart the numbering for the new odd page section. If you have done this correctly, Word won't let you put an even page number on an odd numbered section so you need to skip the page number of the blank page and continue from there. That's consistent with the page numbering in the greater majority of books.

Now you should be able to go to the new even page section and delete the headers and footers.

Spend some time now making sure everything is aligned correctly, everything flows correctly, the page numbering is correct and all the text is formatted correctly. If you have quotes in your text or poetry etc you'll need to make sure that is formatted correctly. Remember, create a style for all formatting!

You should now have a beautiful looking document that you will be happy with for the rest of your life. If not, go back and fix it! No-one will fix it for you!

When everything is aligned correctly, it's time to commit the file to PDF. You are about to reach the point of no return, well, at least the point where the revisions start...

If you chose a 5x8 size book, you have to print that on a 5x8 size sheet of paper right? If you tried to do that on a printer, the printer would complain that the book's page size doesn't match the paper in the printer. No problem! We're only printing to PDF! Select File - Print if you are using Word and in the Page Setup dialog you need to create a Custom Page size with those dimensions which you might like to call "5x8". That is now the page size for the document. Click Print to the PDF Writer on Windows, or Save To PDF if you are on a Mac.

If you've made it this far you've done it!

Open the PDF and check that all fonts are embedded. For some reason Preview on the Mac doesn't show the file properties so you may need to download the Adobe viewer or alternatively check the file on a PDF viewer in Windows. Make sure the page size in the PDF looks like the page size of your intended document and not just an A4 size.

Check the PDF to ensure all formatting has come out correctly and that you have produced an item that you will be happy with for the rest of your life. That PDF is now ready to go to Createspace and Ingram.

Time to create the cover art...

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