Hello SErs. Harmony here. As promised earlier, here is the second installment in the post series dedicated to taking a step-by-step look at how to get your finished manuscript from your computer and on sale on Amazon in both ebook and paperback.
If you’d like to take a look back at the planned outline in that post, then here’s the shortlink: https://wp.me/p7OGru-29c. And here’s the link to Part 1: https://wp.me/p7OGru-29t. To make it easy to browse back and forth, I’ve set all links to open in new tabs. As this series progresses, I will update the links for you so that each post includes links to all past posts in the series.
So, here’s Part Two: General Formatting Necessities
Whatever software you’re writing in, there are a number of tips and tricks you can use as you type to help ease the burden of formatting and editing later on.
Top Tip One: How to avoid this little hiccup …
No matter what word-processing program you’re using, this one is an easy fix and entirely avoidable. Simply add a letter after the dash–I use an ‘m’, but it really doesn’t matter–and then add your quote marks (whether double or single). The quotes will then appear the correct way rather than backward.
Once the quote mark is there, facing forward, you can delete the extra letter, and the quote stays as it is. So that you get this clean formatting …
Top Tip Two: How to make an Em Dash
The publishing standard these days for separating sentence clauses or showing an interruption/sudden cut off in dialogue is something called an ‘Em Dash’. This is longer than the old style ‘En Dash’, and never, ever, should you use a mere hyphen (-) for the job.
To get an Em Dash you need to do the following …
Type your word, then type two hyphens with no spaces before or after, then type your next word (or letter) and hit the spacebar key.
You will see a long dash, which is an Em Dash, which I have illustrated in Top Tip One on avoiding backward quotes. It really is that easy. If you put in a space before and after, you will end up with a shorter En Dash.
Top Tip Three: Set up for chapters as you write
Never, ever, ever rely on lots of hard returns to put your new chapter on a new page. As soon as you convert to an eBook, you’ll have major problems with this method. At the very least, in MS Word, insert a page break. Better still, insert a section break. By using a section break, you set up your document ready for adding headers and footers and page numbering which will, eventually, allow you to avoid the mistake of showing either the author name or book title (or both) on the first page of a chapter. Also, if you do this for each of your front pages (title, copyright, etc.), you will avoid the error of having any page numbers or other attributes on these and any front blank pages. If you’re working in Scrivener, this is as easy as setting a new folder with a text document for each new chapter. Below, I show you both methods …
- MS Word:
To see the (blue) formatting on your page, you need to select the ‘show formatting’ button …
Add a new folder, and then add a new text document, and title them accordingly …
Click on the ‘Add’ symbol. A dropdown menu will appear, showing you the option of either a folder or a page. Add the foler first, and then add your page. You will see how I have titled mine for the novella I published just before Christmas …
This set up will help with compiling into various book formats later on.
Top Tip Four: Don’t use tabs.
Again, this is more pertinent for MS Word users than for users of other platforms such as Scrivener. This is because the formatting is not stable, and any conversion to eBook will mess it up. Instead, use your paragraph formatting options to set your indents. Or, alternatively, you can use the ruler at the top of the page to drag the arrow next to any text you wish to indent further from both the left and the right margins. It is worth noting that a book I tried to format in word (before I purchased and began using Vellum) just would not keep any indents I set at all upon conversion. I spent hours and couldn’t get around the issue. The gremlins of MS Word struck again, lol. Regardless, the above two methods will look after you a lot more than using that tab button.
Top Tip Five: For more indepth information on how to transform your book from MS Word into an eBook, please see two old articles of mine …
Top Tip Six: Set your font style and size, and line spacing, and paragraph indents before you begin.
If you take care of these basics right at the start, you will have consistency throughout your manuscript, and this will take off a lot of pressure when it comes around to revision time.
That’s it from me for today. I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and I’ll see you all again on Friday, February 7th.
©Harmony Kent 2020
(If you're reading this post on or after February 7th, 2020, then here's the link for Part 3 in the How to Publish with KDP series: https://wp.me/p7OGru-2ah. Please note, the link won't work until February 7th, 2020.)