The greatest aspect of self-publishing is having total control over your creation.
The greatest drawback, naturally, is having total responsibility.
Having to format “The Percussionist’s Wife” for paperback publication requires all the skills I learned as a newspaper copy editor. If you don’t pay attention to the fonts of your page numbers, if you don’ know how the difference between a hyphen and an em dash or if you don’t care if the color of your cover uses 35% yellow or 48% in the golden background, then you’ll probably want to outsource the formatting and design of your words.
I, however, love that kind of work. But it takes a lot of time to get it right.
To make it easier (“easier” is relative if you’re a control freak like I am), here are a few tips:
- Use the templates self-publishing companies offer.
- Use the same font throughout the book. You can get fancy with multiple fonts, but that’s multiple things to remember, too. I used Garamond. Remember, each font has its own options — bold, italic, all caps, etc. — to add interest.
- Create a formatting checklist for every chapter. For example, I had three returns at the top of every chapter, the first four words of every chapter were italic, every paragraph was indented 0.2 inches and I scrubbed the manuscript for unnecessary quotes. Check the details on every chapter.
- Print your formatted manuscript before loading to the self-publishing company. Seeing a printed version tends to spotlight mistakes. Even better: Read passages out loud.
- Spellcheck multiple times. I found February misspelled in a late draft because I added the sentence late in the editing process.
We’re getting close now to publication day! I can’t wait to share my book cover — I’m so pleased. Stay tuned!