I said I would split this into two parts because the first post was getting long. Predrafting, drafting, revising, and editing have brief (or not so brief) explanations in The Writing Process. At some point I should go into further detail the expectations of each level on their own. But that’s for some later date.
Right now, I will focus on the basics of the final stages: formatting and publishing.
Formatting cannot be done until you decide where and how you’ll publish. A ebook publishing site like Smashwords or KDP are able to take your .doc or .docx and turn it into the formats they sell as. That doesn’t mean you have to use those abilities. There are several upload types they accept. .doc is just easy and common to turn the document into.
For ebook formatting it’s not drop and go. Please don’t throw a random file at people. There is a way to make ebooks look better. Left alignment is fine, justified is better. Either create paragraph formatting with an additional space after the paragraph or indent the first line half of the normal tab amount (0.25 or 0.2 or 0.3 would suit well). Make sure there aren’t any weird bookmarked points. Give readers a table of context that’s linked to contexts. Many of the ebook producers automatically set up a table of contexts if you use chapter titles like Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. But it should be the formatting of the ebook that creates this.
Normal formatting should take into account where and when chapters begin and end. How do you want to designate the beginning or end of a chapter? Ebooks are normally the lightest when it comes to beginning and endings of chapter. I go with an larger font and bookmark. That’s pretty much it. When I’m going with print, I can add in random black and white pictures to start or end.
In ebooks you do not add page numbers. For anything you are printing, page numbers are a must. Headers and footers are required for print materials. Take care to make sure they match the story and contexts. Fonts should match. The numbers and letters should be easy to read. Endnotes and footnotes are typically not in fiction writing, but need to be noted if they exist in the work. This is where formatting can do damage. If you need such in your work, google how to add footnotes or endnotes in your program. It’s not that complicated, but it’s not easy either.
Always you should start with a title page. The title should be the largest item there. The only other thing that should be on this page is the author’s name.
For ebooks, I leave my copyright on the title page often. It’s easier than having two half blank pages before the story even begins.
For print stuff I am legit publishing, there should be a copyright page on the back of the title page. You don’t need much. The basic requirement is “Copyright [Year] [Author Name]” or “(c) [Year] [Author Name]”. You can make any statements here concerning copyright. Most of the words you add have zero legal power, so consider it just for fun. Normally my added notes get put on my dedication page. The bonus information associated to your publisher or numbers connecting you to your federal library, etc are all useful here. This is where they belong. In ebooks, you put the information of value there and move on. Print is different. Copyright information goes on the bottom of the page in a font size smaller than everywhere else in the book. Find whatever you are using your general font size and go one or two sizes smaller for the copyright. Do you have to leave it on the bottom of the page behind the title page? No. Does it have to be smaller than all other fonts? No. Just make sure ALL of the important numbers are listed under your copyright. If it was previous copyrighted, that should be listed. Check out a normal book from the shelf. There’s a lot of possible information here. I just mark it as my copyright. There’s nothing fancy with my stories that need bonus information.
After the copyright page, which should be on the back of the title page in print, there are several options. Acknowledgements, dedication, table of context, etc. You can put whatever you want. My suggestion, if it’s going to be more than a page in acknowledgements or dedication put it at the back of the book. A cutesy little one line or short paragraph about how you wouldn’t have made it this far without your lap cat is good. A full essay acknowledging every single person who helped you reached this point in life? No. That’s back of the book material. People are looking for the story not your life story (unless this is an autobiography, and they’d still not want to start with an acknowledgement page more than a few lines).
Table of context should be in the front of the book. If you want one. My poem books would have several pages of listed poems. Typically, I either would put in a table of context that isn’t normal or forgo it. Anything more than three pages needs to be reworked or forgone. Your choice.
I’ve mentioned the middle context a bit already, so I’ll skip to the back of the book. After your story ends, you can place an acknowledgements or other such nonsense. You can put the next book in the series limited to the first chapter or less. You can place fun side notes, recipes used in the story, or your playlist that you created for the story itself.
What you really need is an About the Author note. Don’t leave it off. Don’t ignore it. It’s not so much telling your life story, but more of a quick note saying your author key points and how to reach you. A list of other stories can also help. Stories within this series can be placed in the front of the book. All other stories need to stay in the back. Give us a way to contact you. Don’t make us search for it. An email, blog, website, facebook page, instagram profile, twitter, etc. Any way at all. Do not put your address. Your hometown or town you live in is fine, but don’t say exactly where you live. That’s creepy.
Before you can publish in whatever format you are looking for, most need a cover. There are two places you should spurge on if you can when it comes to publishing: editing services and cover design.
Because those sell the books the most. A good cover makes a huge difference when it comes to marketing. People pick up books based on covers all the time. People will give you a chance based on a cover alone. It’s that or reviews. You need one or the other to sell books. (Look at my failing to prove that.)
Editing will get you to the next level. Find a good editor who can get you to the basic standards of college educated individual. Just because you are writing for someone lower in education level than that doesn’t mean your editing can fail to meet those standards. Reading is supposed to teach rules of grammar, sentence structure, and context clues. A good editor would be worth their weight in gold. I hands down would tell you to spend your money on editing before cover design even.
Reviews sell more than covers do. You can always change the cover later on down the road when you can spurge on it for a new surge of marketing. But once it’s published, it’s hard to revisit the editing phase. You don’t want to put out something less than your best. A proper editor will help you reach your best.
So you think you’ve managed to format it right. Good. You think you have everything organized right. It looks good.
Test it. Turn it into a .pdf and read over it. Skim if you want. Check all the formatting you did to see if it worked right. Did everything turn out alright?
When dealing with a paperback or hardcover print edition, get a proof copy. Don’t pass on it. Until you are an ace at formatting paperbacks, assume you made an error. There’s been times I jumped the proof copy and regretted it. I had to get a new file up ASAP while it was available to the public. Not good.
If you have the final edits done and formatting done (or you think so), plan the date for your publishment.
I am suggesting you don’t hit publish right away. (Ignore the fact I do more often than not.)
Pick a day to publish. Ask around for interested parties for an ARC. Advanced Reader Copies get you reviews on the day it’s published. Give those readers a little time to read the book and get you a good review.
If you are given a chance at using preordering, go for it. It gives people a chance to write up the reviews for their ARC. It also gives people who love your work already a chance to buy it the day it comes out.
Pick the publishing day after you have a final story. You pick the day after the formatting is all done. You pick it for a month after you’re finished. Perhaps you’ll find a tweak here or there to make it better, but it’s done. Do not pick a day to publish until it’s done.
This is all useful to know. It’s useful to follow.
I don’t follow all of it. It’s not that I don’t know the proper way of doing things, but waiting a month after finishing a story, spending that month drawing attention and getting notice is more than I can handle. I would need someone to take over as marketer before I can follow these suggestions.
I struggle to stay on task. I struggle in a lot of ways. Even finding an artist to make my cover or make artist renderings of my characters is a lot for me. I can’t do it.
In the same frame, I can’t look for an agent or traditional publish in any sense. It takes a step my body and brain has a problem with.
It’s not a fear of rejection. That may have been part of the problem in the beginning. And perhaps it is still a piece of it. But I struggle to talk to new people in general.
This is part of my disability. I get it. I know it. But it means I’ll only get so far. And I’ll make people hate me easily and readily. It’s more than being different or weird.
It feels more as if I’m bad at life.
Knowledge is good. I have a lot of it. But I can’t use it. Like knowing I should be getting everything ready then waiting a month while spending that time getting readers interested. I can’t do it.
Being aware of the best option doesn’t make it possible.
Perhaps it’s best you ignore this. Maybe I know nothing. Maybe this was just a waste of time.