Saturday, August 13, 2011

Formatting My Novel.

c2011 (S)

After editing my fifth novel, 'Shape-Shifters,' the next step is to prepare the thing for formatting. (Because this file has been around since 2008, and it has been through a few crashes and software upgrades, this involves the 'nuclear option' for cleaning the source file of all glitches and bugs.)

This entails grabbing my bio from the short story folder, and copying and pasting in the front matter from another book. Then I simply change the title and ISBN number. I went to Collections Canada's website, where I have a publisher's account. I get my ISBN's for free. That being said, Smashwords and other publishing platforms also provide ISBN's, often at no charge. Smashwords just bought another 50,000 ISBN's according to a recent blog post by founder Mark Coker.

What I do then is to save the document as a .txt file. Then I hit the ctrl and A keys, and save the whole thing again with my mouse...paste that into a new document, (a .doc file.) Since the default on my program is a .docx, and Smashwords requires a .doc, I don't really need the .docx. 'Save as' a .doc file. Paste the .txt novel into it. Take the .docx and stick it into the recycle bin. It's there in an emergency, otherwise it's a hazard on the desktop. Right now, I have a .doc file with the file name, 'Master ShapeshiftersAug1111.doc.' I don't want to put time and labour into the wrong file, and in the past I've had problems with version control--you want to upload the most recent, updated version of a file, each and every time.

Use 'find and replace' to remove all space-bar indents. Click find, hit the space bar five times, click replace, and enter nothing. Click 'replace all,' and this should remove all of them. Turn on pilcrows to look for little dots made by the spacebar.

Otherwise it just makes you look dumb.

The title of the book is right at the top, and it is 14-pt. All chapter titles are 12-pt. The subheadings are 12-pt. There are three spaces between chapters, and no more, 12-pt Times New Roman, and 12-pt lines. Paragraphs are defined with a .25 indent, first line only, and spacing is single, at 1.0. There are links fore and aft. My bio is very short.

I use three asterisks as scene breaks. There is one 12-pt line before and after, and the break is centred, as is the front matter, with no indents. Chapter headings, the bio, have no indents. On my last upload, the only problem was that my marketing image was too small. This time I made sure the image is 600 x 900 and I have full confidence of nailing the Premium Catalogue with the simple click of a mouse.

As soon as it's published, download Kindle and Epub versions, and check them out using Kindle for PC and Mobipocket reader for the Epub. Check every bleeping page. Trust me on that one. It's worth doing.

Once you are sure the file is clean, simply save it as a .html and upload it to Amazon. By clicking on all distribution channels, (Smashwords,) and with your ISBN number, you're good to go. The global e-book market awaits you.

Notes: I'm holding back on my fourth novel, and probably my sixth novel, both science fiction, until a later date. I have over 30,000 words on my seventh novel, detective fiction, and I need to get back to writing and submitting short stories, which is obviously part of a credible overall marketing strategy.

My Amazon account is separate from Smashwords. Goodreads, Lulu, Google Books all have their own source file requirements, so read and check all that stuff carefully. When uploading to Google Books, the file name is your ISBN number with no spaces and no hyphens. It's not as complicated as it sounds. One thing at a time and a little focus is all it takes.

Anyway, the last thing I do is turn off spell check and grammar check, and turn off the pilcrows. All I would add is, 'and proof-read the book as many times as you can stand!'

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