Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Simplistic, Step-by-Step Guide on How to Prepare Your Ebook Novel for PRINT folks.

I have struggled a lot with my print book formatting. It seems every time I do it, I forget a step or just plain forget how to do it. Sometimes I feel like a real dummy!

So, I thought it might be nice to record a list of steps I use when converting my eBook to print book format (ultimately to a pdf file). My references below are based on books I wrote created with a docx file, using Microsoft Word on a MacBook Pro. But if you’re already proficient with Word and have created your own eBooks, it shouldn’t matter which platform or computer you’re using.

You may want to read another article I wrote a few weeks ago first, however. It covers the timing of the release of your book versions (eBook, audio book, print), because it really does help you cut down on typos, and the whole process is easier if you go this route. Here's the link.

The following guide assumes you have already successfully formatted your book for eBook usage, that you use headers for your chapter headings, and “normal” text for the body of your book. If you haven’t done this yet, I strongly suggest you watch the many videos on YouTube that will teach you how to create a mobi, ePub, and pdf version of your eBook for Amazon or other venues. And be sure you have done it all correctly by using the Preview feature to page through every single line of your eBook before you release it. Of course, if you goof up, it’s not biggie. You can fix it by reloading a new file.

Depending on your book, this article may be too simplistic an approach. But if you don’t have photos or graphics, if you’re producing a straight-forward novel, and if there’s nothing else “fancy” about your book, this could help you. If you’re creating a cookbook with recipes and illustrations, you will need much more in depth knowledge than I share here!
You may also look up many videos on YouTube which help with this process. I use CreateSpace, an Amazon company, to create my print books, and I am very happy with them.

I’m assuming if you’ve already learned how to do the eBook part of this process, you will have no problems registering and following all the steps at CreateSpace. If you do, however, use their support system via email or phone. They are very good!

I’ve had unique issues from time to time with footers (strange spacing issues), special fonts, creating a nice image for the title font, or other weird situations. But today I’m just going to give you the basics, and if you have strange things happen on the side, search for an answer online. I’ve found help that way which thankfully saved me and helped me solve some bizarre issues.

A Simplistic Step-by-Step Guide on How to Prepare Your Ebook Novel for PRINT
 copyright 2014, aaron paul lazar

1)   Decide what size print book you want. I usually choose 6”x9”. It has a very nice look and feel. Go to your “File/Page SetUp” menu and choose “manage custom sizes.” Then enter 6” x 9” (or size of your choice). If you already have a slew of books, especially if they are in a series, think about uniformity and how they will look stacked together on a shelf. You want to keep the sizes the same, if possible.
2)   BE SURE TO SAVE THIS FILE WITH “PRINT BOOK” in the title, or in a new folder, so it doesn’t change your eBook file!
3)   Select the main body of your text and change it from “left justified” which you probably used for your eBook, to “justified,” so it spreads out evenly across the page from left to right. There is another way to do this more globally, using styles. But many folks aren’t familiar with that process, so I’m using the manual example here.
4)   You will have to go back to your title page, dedication page, acknowledgments page, chapter headings, etc. now to be sure they are centered. (Again, you can do this globally by using the header style setting – but that’s another whole article. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that show you how to use the Styles features in Microsoft Word if you are interested.)
5)   Next go to “Format/Document.” On the “Margins” tab, click on “mirror margins.” You can use whatever spacing you want within the Create Space guidelines, but I chose the following, and it works well on my book size of six by nine inches.
a.     Top: 0.57” 
b.     Bottom: 0.57”
c.      Inside: 0.91”
d.     Outside: 0.57”
e.     Gutter: 0.0”
f.      Header: 0.50”
g.     Footer, 0.50”

6)   Double check all your Headers, such as Chapter Names/Numbers. Be sure that you don’t have a tab on this line, because the chapter heading will not be centered properly if so. Remove all tabs for centered headings.
7)   If you want to fancy up your text a little, take the first few lines of each chapter (beneath the chapter heading) and make them into another font. I use Copperplate Gothic Light, which is quite nice.
8)   If you use scene breaks, you might want to make them “prettier” than just three asterisks in a row or whatever character you use to separate the scenes. I use the wingdings 2 "e and f” in series. It looks like like a nice scrolled designBe sure when you center this that there is no tab which will offset it’s centered position!
9)   If you have links to your social media in your eBook, you will have to spell them out in your print book. I realized this too late and now have to go back and update a bunch of my print books. But we live and learn, and I make no claim to being brilliant, LOL.
10)  I use hyperlinks in my eBook, which just show “Facebook,” for example, with an embedded link. When they click on the link in the eBook, it takes them to my author page. But in the print book, you need to spell it out, like this:
11)  Headers and Footers are next. They can be a real challenge, and it took me a long time to get it right. I’m not sure I still have it right, but here’s what I do: 

a.     Go to page 2 of your book, and hit “View/Header and Footer.”
b.      In the Header/Footer formatting section, select, “Different odd and even pages” and “Different first page.” (you don’t want headers or footers on your title page!)
c.      From my observations, the author’s name goes on even page numbers, and the book title goes on odd page numbers. When I hold my books in my hand, that means the left side page has my name on the top, and the right side page has the book title on the top. If you want it reversed, then just switch the following directions.
d.     Go to the first even page header. Type your author name in the header section. Put one line break beneath it, to separate it a bit from the text. I usually make the size one or two sizes smaller than the body text. Center it, and make sure you have no tabs active so it will really be centered on the page. I use the Copperplate Gothic Light for the header texts.
e.     Go to the next page (odd). Type your book title there, with the same instructions as above for font size and type, spacing, centering, no tabs, etc.
f.      Hit Footer.
g.     Select “different first page” and “different even and odd pages.”
h.     Choose a page numbering format that you like. There are many canned formats. I’ve seen page numbers on the “outside” of pages on the header and/or footer, or centered in the footer. Your choice! Be sure you select this for both even and odd pages if you want it on the “outside.” You’ll need to customize each footer and make the even page “left justified” and the odd page “right justified.” 

12)  Save the file as a pdf. Be sure to organize this file and your new “print” file separately from your eBook files. I suggest dating the file name as well, because you will likely have iterations. I name mine, for example, “Sanctuary, Print DOC, 10-30-14, a” because if there are errors in your formatting, you will have iterations on the same day. Using the a, b, c, denotes the changes, and you can erase the previous ones when you’re done. I also put the DOC and PDF in the titles, even though the doc type shows it. It makes for less errors. And don’t forget, you won’t edit the pdf version if you have errors, you’ll edit the doc version, then resave it as a pdf. Saving as a pdf keeps your special fonts from disappearing. Create Space doesn’t have all the fonts you may use. For example, if my characters are reading an entry from an antique diary, or reciting poetry, or singing a song, I usually try to pick a different font to make it stand out. Using the pdf preserves these fonts.
13)  Now comes the really important part. After you register your account on Create Space, enter all the pertinent data for your book, and load your book file, you have to check it out, page by page. Use the “Launch Interior Reviewer” to do this. If you get an error, don’t feel bad. I’ve had errors almost every time I format a print book. I have to go through the whole process, fix my mistakes, and reload the book to their site. It’s an iterative process at best, but maybe you’ll be lucky and nail it the first time!
14)  Book Cover Caveat: I use a professional cover designer to make all my covers. One of the files she gives me is for the print book. Just before you load your cover up to Create Space, you will have to tell your cover designer several things: Black and white or color image, white or cream paper, and number of pages (as determined by final file in Create Space, not what you see on your docx file.) She will send you a new file custom formatted exactly for your number of pages. This is important, as the spine size has to be “just right.” If you are better than me at all this, you can buy books on how to create your book cover, or, once again, go search on YouTube! Maybe I’ll learn this eventually, but for now, I like the look of a professionally designed and formatted cover.
15)  After you are certain your book looks good, and after you have paged through it religiously to be sure there aren’t any extra blank pages or improperly centered chapter headings, then save it, and order one (1) proof copy. You really need to examine the print book in person before you order any more for your next book signing.
16)  It might be a good idea to have your spouse or a friend review the print book, too. Once you’ve approved the print book for sale, it’s “out there,” and all your mistakes will be forever printed on customers’ copies.
17)  CreateSpace will have to approve your files, usually within 24 hours. If you are 100% confident that you have done it right, if you’ve made no changes that you haven’t proofed AGAIN with one physical copy of the book, then order your books for your book signings, etc. The prices are really reasonable (I pay about $4-5 including shipping for a book sized at roughly 250-300 pages.)
18)  Your readers will be able to order through Amazon and other platforms if you choose that option when you set it up. Be sure to fill in the section for the BISAC code, including author bio, synopsis, and tags, so your book can be sent to more vendors for sale.
19)  Remember, if you are on Kindle Select, your eBook only sells from Amazon. But your PRINT book can be sold at Barnes and Noble or anywhere else that CreateSpace sets up for you.

Good luck and happy formatting!

Aaron Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A bestselling Kindle author of 22 books, including three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at and watch for his upcoming release, UNDER THE ICE. Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of "cheap therapy." Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers.


Susan Whitfield said...

Wow! Awesome information. THanks, Aaron.

Aaron Lazar said...

You are most welcome, Susan! Have fun!