Here's a picture of me with my copy of Monarch. This was one of my final drafts. It was a nice experience to be able to ship this book to some beta readers and to be able to hold it as a real book in my hands as I took a red pen to the pages. I saw things differently that way. But in order to do this, you need to know have some basic formatting skills. Once you have those, you can usually branch out on your own to learn whatever else you need.
Here is my super-simplified step-by-step guide to formatting a manuscript for printing - from the experience I've had, at least!
(1) Choose Your Printer
You have several options in this arena. Here's what I have found out about some printers. If you have more info to share, please do and I'll add it here to the list.
Quality - Good
Cover - Fair - the color printing doesn't seem as slick as others I've seen - it's more pixelated
Binding - Good
User-Friendly - Good
Quality - Good
Cover - Great - the color printing is really nice! I'll talk about some setbacks down below
Binding - Good
User-Friendly - Good
I don't know! Anyone willing to share some information here? All I know is that you do have to purchase your own ISBNs and have your own publishing name/business even if it's just you
Small Printing Press (this is limited to two books I've seen)
Quality - Excellent, that I've seen
Cover - Excellent
Binding - Excellent
User-Friendly - Don't know
Here are some photos to give you an idea of the quality and issues with your printing options. For all photos, I've uploaded high resolution copies. Click on the picture so see more detail!
This set is Lulu printed books:
This set is CreateSpace books:
This set is small press/publisher books:
Jamie DeBree was kind enough to send pictures of a Lightning Source book:
Doesn't appear to be too much difference, huh? Let's get CLOSER! Here is a close up on the bindings. I personally think the lack of "glue" on the small press books looks SO much nicer. One reason to go that route, but it's more expensive...or you need a small publisher to accept your manuscript.
The one here is from Lightning Source:
Here is the wear-and-tear of the books:
These ones are on Monarch, a Lulu printed book. If you click on the photo to see it larger, you can see the printing quality of the cover as well. The book hasn't fallen apart at all. The bends seem to hold up pretty well.
The cream one below is a Lulu printed book. Notice the raised area where the glue for the binding spilled over to the front and it creates a "bead" underneath the cover. That's not the prettiest thing, and a big drawback, I think, to this type of binding if it's not handled correctly.
This book below is a small press book, Immortalis. It got crunched on my shelf, but it has held up well.
This one below is a CreateSpace book, Cinders. I really hate this flaw...the beautiful glossy cover has a film over it, which is gorgeous until it starts to peel! I've had other readers who own this book tell me they haven't seen this happen on their copies yet, but I handled mine a lot, so I'm sure that's why this happened. Also, I've this happen on commercially published books. It's nothing to do with the printer, but that type of printing.
These shots below are of the printing on the inside. The first one is of Son of Ereubus from Rhemalda Publishing, a small publisher. This is the nicest printing! Nice and crisp, and lovely paper.
This one is Immortalis from a small press. It's white, thick paper, and the printing is nice.
This one below is of Cinders, done through CreateSpace. It's done on their cream paper, and I love it. The printing is nice, as well, and is the same quality as Lulu, although Lulu's cream paper is thinner. The page isn't crooked, sorry. I had a hard time taking the picture and holding the book at the same time!
And here is one of Blood Lust from Lightning Source:
All right. There you have an idea of quality!
(2) Choose Your Formatting Software
I've used QuarkXpress and Word. That's it. I used Quark about 9 years ago, and I loved it, but I don't have it anymore as it was the property of the university I attended. So...being the cheapskate I am, I just use Word for all my formatting. There are pros and cons to this. Katie and Jamie helped a lot in yesterday's post about formatting if you want more information on formatting software.
What I can help you out with today is to tell you these simple guides.
(1) For Word, it's pretty easy to format if you're going to stick with something simple! And, honestly, simple is almost always the best option when it comes to a reader wanting to immerse themselves in a book, not pretty formatting. The only things you have to know how to do are how to set the page size, line spacing, page numbering, and headers and footers. It's not more difficult than that! Any printer you choose to go with will give you guides on the margin spacing you'll need.
(2) Do Google searches. It's not hard! Figure out how to manipulate line spacing and headers, etc. As you can see on my Cinders page up above, I used some wider spacing between the lines and paragraphs. If you can't find help online how to do this, email me. I'll help.
(3) If you need to convert your file to a PDF, I highly suggest using dopdf.com if you don't already have the software. This one is free, easy to use, and doesn't put a stupid watermark over everything.
(4) Word is really, really bad at doing drop caps. If you want to do that, you might be better off using a different program.
(3) Choose Your Book Size
This can be a tricky one. All these books are 6x9:
I don't necessarily like this size for a novel unless it's a huge, long novel. For my book, Cinders, which is a novella, I went with a smaller size. These CreateSpace books are 5.25 x 8:
You can kind of see the differences in sizes here, but I took the picture at a bad angle, sorry. To really see the difference you have to hold them and open them up.
Also, you are severely limited, unfortunately, by what your printer offers. CreateSpace, nor any other print-on-demand publisher I can find, offers 5 x 7, the trade paperback size you see in grocery stores all the time. They also don't offer the publisher-grade paper, either - that flimsy cream paper you see on mass market paperbacks. Lulu offers this, but only on 2 sizes and they don't let you do an ISBN (so far) with this option, either. I'm not sure if WordClay or Lightning Source offers these? Anyone know?
(4) Format, Send It In, and Sell (or use it to edit)!
This is much easier said than done, but CreateSpace at least offers a formatted file you can download and use, as well as offers a formatted template for your cover so you get the spine width correct. A huge drawback for Lulu is that I've never been able to use their pre-formatted templates. They never work for me...they'll never upload. I don't know what I'm doing wrong there, so I'm stuck using their crappy cover software online and it's severely limiting, especially for the spine.
As far as CreateSpace goes, from my experience, it was a pretty simple process, although a little more time-consuming than Lulu, and I had to wait for a few things to be approved. You are also forced to order and pay for a "Proof Copy" of your book before you can get the book up on Amazon. They print "PROOF" on the last page, too, so you can't even sell it! I DETEST THIS. I wish they'd do away with it. I have already complained to them. If you use CreateSpace, you should complain, too. Hah.
Anyway, this is all very simplified, but it's already 11:20 my time and I need to get this post up! I hope this has been helpful for you! Let me know if you'd like more or different information in this arena.
Why Self-Publishing Is Better Than You Think Series
Do You Want to Jump the Fence? - August 26th
The Vase - September 1st
What Going Indie Will Cost You - September 8th
Whither The Author-Artiste? - September 9th
Influences & Self-Publishing Might Just Stink For You - September 16th
The Absolute Nightmare (or not!) of Formatting a Print Book - September 22nd
Cheaper Than Kinko's - September 23rd
Don't Listen to Me - September 30th