Sunday, May 1, 2011

How'd you format your book?

Yesterday went by in a bit of a blur as I finally got everything completed and sent off to the printer. There were a couple of small snags along the way, but I made the changes and the files were approved by the company. That means my proof copy should be arriving in the next couple of weeks. Horray!

I spent most of Friday and some of Saturday formatting my book. This turned out to be a much bigger project than I had anticipated. I had printed around 10 copies of the book at Christmas, and when I had sent it that time, I had left the file as a Word document. It was by far the easiest way format the file since it didn't require a lot of fiddling. The company had a template I used which meant I didn't even have to figure out basic spacing issues. However, Word doesn't give as much control as I would like. Plus, if I want to turn the book into an E-Book (which I do) I'd have to create it in a different program anyway.

So, this time I brought the manuscript into the program InDesign. This is where my graphic design training came in handy. The program is very powerful and that reflects in the cost. It's not something to buy if all you're doing with it is formatting a manuscript once a year. However, since I own it already, I put it to work, using guides on the master page to make sure everything lined up properly. The biggest thing that I did, which is also what took the most amount of time, was change my indents to make them smaller. This will make the pages look less clunky, and hopefully more professional. The problem was that when I pulled the .doc into InDesign, only half the indents came with it. So I manually had to go through every single paragraph and put in the space. I can only hope I didn't miss any, though I suppose that's what the proof copy is for.

There was probably some easier way to make those changes that I don't know about, and when I find out what that is, I may cry a little. However, this is all part of the experience of getting my first book printed. And perhaps there's someone out there that can learn from my mistakes.

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