Saturday, August 4, 2012

Formatting an e-book short story collection as a 5 x 8" paperback.

(Set page size to 5.0 and 8.0)

Formatting a short story collection as a 5 x 8 POD print on demand paperback isn’t that much different than any other book.

Since I already have my collection, ‘The Paranoid Cat and other tales’ published as an e-book, I basically use the same file by copying it from a folder and pasting it on my desktop. I re-label it with ‘Paranoid Cat POD.’

A step-by-step process.

Step one is to put the cursor at the end of the front matter. Then click on page layout, click on breaks, and then go down and click on page break/section break. I’m using Word for the entire job. I make nice, simple paperbacks. I read somewhere that a good formatter can do this in about two hours.

Next, I scroll down all the way to the end, and put the cursor just after ‘The End’ and add another page/section break as before. Now we have three sections to the book.

The second step is to scroll down and put the cursor at the end of the last line of each of the stories in the collection. Simply click on page break. These are all in the same section, which is important.

Page size.

Step three is to define the page size, as my e-book .doc file is fine in an 8.5” x 11” size, but my paperback is 5 x 8. Again, this is found under the page layout tab. Click on size. Use the buttons to change from one size to another.

Margins and Gutter.

Next comes the margins. I am using 0.5” at the top, 0.6” at the bottom, 0.4” on the outside edge of the page. I’m using mirrored pages left and right, which is also located under size. The mirrored pages should only be for your text and not the front and end matter.

For my gutter, about 0.712 is the usual, and you can fiddle with that under margins, which is in the page layout section as well. The gutter increases in size with the number of pages. I’ve seen a book with zero gutter, and the text begins in the glue. It’s essentially unreadable. ‘Nuff said.

At this point, I went to Collections Canada ISBN service website and got myself an ISBN number, inserting it into the front matter. A paperback and an e-book of the same title have different ISBNs.


Next step is to scroll through the book and make sure all the story titles—what would correspond to chapter headings in a novel, are all down the same number of spaces. I will be using six 12-point spaces with zero trailing space. The important thing is that they are all consistent.


Now, it’s time to put the page numbers in. Sometimes I have trouble with it, as there is more than one way to get to the edit footer or format page numbers interface, but suffice it to say that you want the first page of your text to start at number one, and you want it on a right-hand page. Obviously, no book begins on a left-hand page. You do not want page numbers in the front matter, so make sure you click on ‘link to previous section’ if it’s highlighted and make sure it is turned off.


A similar process works for the headers, which in my PODs are very simple. I have the title, a comma, and then ‘by Louis Bertrand Shalako.’ It appears at the top of every page in the text, but not in the front or end matter at the back.

When you check your file, go to the end of the book and check for headers and page numbers. You can put the cursor in the header or footer and click, and a box will come up, ‘edit footer,’ etc. Make sure to click ‘link to previous section’ if it is highlighted in yellow, and turn it off, otherwise the page numbers will disappear in the previous section. Concerning footer style, I use the one called ‘tildes.’ And I use 10-point, usually in bold for page numbers. Cambria is nice font, which goes well with Times New Roman, which I use for text. For my headers, I usually go to a nine-point face, again in Cambria. For this I click on the format dialogue box so that I can pick a colour, and for this I use grey as opposed to black. That way the header is there, but it’s also unobtrusive.

The page numbers are far more important, and so I make them easier for the reader to see.

For a paperback, the final end matter doesn’t have to be mirrored, and you may have to turn this off, making sure not to link to previous section when you do it. Otherwise it has a tendency to stick out too much and Createspace will notify you that it’s outside the printed area of the page. The same is true for the front matter. It’s entirely a matter of taste as to whether front and end matter is centred, or justified left, or justified to both margins. A sentence with few words will stretch in an unattractive manner when justified on both margins.

For the text in your paperback, bear in mind my e-book is running a ragged right margin, so I’ll have to go through section by section and right justify everything. I do it section by section to avoid messing up the centering for the titles and scene breaks.

Inserting the proper number of blank pages.

Now, for the front matter, you put the cursor at the beginning of your copyright information and then insert three blank pages. The third one is your title page, my title is 18-point and my name is 12-point, and they are in bold Times New Roman. Next comes your copyright page, and then insert two more blank pages to separate the text. This is section one.

At the end of the book, simply insert enough pages so that your book ends, there is a blank, and then your author bio, links, next-book preview or whatever falls on the right hand page when you visualize your book in your head. This will always be an odd-numbered page, as the book started off on page one. A book will always have an even number of pages when going by the Word document page counter, that’s because every page has a back—it’s really a sheet of paper, even though we’re doing it all by computer.


In other notes, for headers with the author name on one side, and the title on another, sources say you can do this with Word, but I have no idea. I have done it successfully, including mirrored page numbers on the corner of the page, (rather than centered) using Open Office free software.


(The book has three separate sections.) 

1 comment:

  1. You could not have shared this at a better time for me because I am trying to format my first short "story" for publication. Thank you for breaking it down so it is so easily understood, even by a newbie like me.


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