Self-publishing how to–PART 5

From Rick:

Last time I sent you off to learn about Styles in MS Word. I will assume that you at least started to learn Styles. That being the case, you have no doubt learned that Styles is not a simple topic. However, they’re not all that difficult, and once you learn the basics, you’ll be glad you did. They will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Fair warning: To those of you who decided to ignore learning Styles because “I do just fine without them, but thank you anyway, Rick,” all I can say is that you’re not taking your writing seriously and you opening yourself up to problems and frustrations later on.

Let me be honest here. I did not start Punctuation For Fiction Writers using Styles initially. Because of the format, I found myself spending (wasting) a lot of valuable time on formatting that I could have used more productively for other things.

So, let’s finish up with the basic manuscript clean-ups we started on PART 3 of this series.

You should have done the following:

–Remove extra spaces between words, sentences, and before and after paragraph returns

–Remove tabs

–Remove extra paragraph returns (no one than ONE in a row)

–Convert line breaks to page breaks

–Convert to a SINGLE font and font size in the manuscript

If you have not done so, remove any and all text boxes and pictures. Yes, I understand you spent a lot of time putting those into your fabulous manuscript, but they don’t belong in there until the final formatting, and even then they may not belong.

Likewise, remove all headers and footers except for one header or footer with the page number for now. We’ll be fixing and changing that later anyway.

Hopefully you also went through and put in proper scene breaks.

Jaye Manus advised removing (and tagging for later fixing) centered text, italics, and other formatting needed later. IF you have learned to use Styles, then you can use them for centering text. You don’t have to tag italicized text, but be aware that if there is any chance that someone besides yourself will be working with the manuscript and cleaning it up, OR if you need to do a complete purge of all the junk in it, THEN you must tag these things. Otherwise, you will lose all your formatting and italics. I know all about that because I recently had it happen and had to replace all the italics from a backup copy. Here’s the article again to tell you how to do the tagging.


You will also need to tag or remove columns and text boxes for now. If this is going to be an e-book, those won’t work anyway. There IS a way to do some formatting in e-books with Jutoh. There was one table in chapter 16 of the punctuation book we needed, and it came out perfectly.

Assuming that you now have a clean (and edited) manuscript, your next step is to get it ready to publish. This involves several preparatory steps, not the least of which is the cover. We’ll be tackling book cover design very soon.

The manuscript needs some other additions. It needs a title page and a copyright page for sure. You may wish to include a dedication and acknowledgments. What you also need to be aware of is that if you are producing a print version, it WILL be different from the e-book version in some respects.

You should prepare your cover page and copyright page now. As a strong piece of advice, if you have acknowledgments, they should be put at the END of the book (at least in the e-book). The reason is that Amazon will let readers preview the first 10% of the book. If you put in extensive introductory material and the book is not a long one, all that readers will see are those introductory pages, not any of the text itself. Yes, I’m well aware that print books put everything up front, but e-books are different. Besides, readers do NOT care about your acknowledgments, so put them at the back.

Here’s an example of how too much introductory material (front matter, it’s called). One of my writer friends (a noted poet) recently had a book of his poetry published by a small press. It’s a short book (6500 words) and it has an introduction. By the time I’d wound through the front matter, the 10% preview was used up and all I saw was the first line of the first poem. This book was not self-published, but was published by a small press. This told me that the publisher is used to doing print books and isn’t as savvy when it comes to e-books. Don’t fall into this trap because it makes you appear unprofessional.

Therefore, you will need TWO separate manuscript files: one for the print book, one for the e-book. One reason for this is that the print book will need a header and/or footer for the book’s title, author, and page number. You cannot use headers and footers in e-books the same way you put them in print books. You need to use special formatting, which I am not going to cover in these posts.

Your copyright page should be kept simple. You don’t need to spell out all the penalties and copyright rights for readers. That and your dedication page should NOT exceed two pages total. You can check out the copyright pages I used in my books as examples, or you can look up other suggestions online. Note that Smashwords suggests special wording for “Smashwords editions,” this is not necessary. You can use a single copyright page for all your versions.

Here’s what I’ve used for copyright notices. You really don’t need anything else.


Copyright 2015 by XXX

All rights reserved

Except for the use of short excerpts for noncommercial review and instructional purposes, as permitted by current copyright law, no part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the authors or their authorized representatives.


Another thing you’ll need to think about is a great promo synopsis for your book, something around 100-200 words telling what the book is about. We’ll also cover that to some degree, but if you think these are easy to write, you are deluding yourself. They are HARD, and I always struggle with them. This synopsis will be on the back of the print book as well as on the sales sites (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.), and this needs to be clean and very well written because, like your cover, it’s one of the first things that potential buyers see. A sloppy synopsis will likely lose you the sale.

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