Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Taking the Mystery Out of Formatting

When I began entertaining the idea of self-publishing my novel Finding My Escape, the one aspect out of the whole process that daunted me the most was the idea of formatting for the various e-reading devices.  Writing I could do.  It's my passion.  I wasn't overly concerned about editing or proofreading.  My mother was a high school English teacher with a strong understanding of the elements of style.  I wasn't even overly worried about marketing the book.  But formatting?  Major dread.

So there my book sat, completed, edited, re-edited, proofread, re-proofread.  I even paid an artist, to do an awesome cover.  (Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.)

I'd run out of excuses.  There was nothing left to do (unless I wanted to try to publish traditionally, but that's an entirely different topic).  So I set myself a deadline.  August 15.  My late father's birthday.  *sigh*  That was two weeks ago.  In that two weeks, I talked about formatting, I posted about formatting, I complained about formatting, but did absolutely nothing toward getting the book ready to e-publish.

Friday the 12th rolls around, and I drag out every paper and e-book I have that has anything on the subject of self-publishing.  I picked up Zoe Winter's Becoming An Indie Author (on my Nook, of course), and zipped to the section on Smashwords and read it.  Twice.

Okay, I thought, you can do this.  I went to the Smashwords site, and followed every single instruction about unformatting and reformatting my book (which BTW are very detailed and written in easy-for-a-non-techy-to-understand English).  I read with trepidation, the list of formatting problems that could cause your book to be rejected.  After about three hours of cleaning up bad tabs, straight quotation marks, and page breaks, the manuscript was ready.  I took a deep breath and pressed send.  About ten minutes later the results came back.  Rejected.

What?  Rejected?  After I scraped myself from the ceiling, I scrolled down the list of possible problems and found:  Font size exceeds 18.  The only font that could have possibly exceeded the suggested 18 point was the title.  I changed that to 18 and pushed send again.  Accepted!

So here's the point.  I'd spent weeks months postponing publishing my book because I was terrified by the thought of formatting it.  When I actually sat down to do it, it turned out to be no big deal.

So what's holding you back from completing your goal?  Is it fear?  Why not dig in, face the situation, and take the mystery out of it.  You'll be glad you did.

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