Saturday, 4 February 2012

How to Format your Novel for POD

You have written your novel, now you want to self-publish via print-on-demand on a self-publishing platform, such as Createspace. What is the best book template for your novel? Page formats, paragraph settings and font styles are crucial to the overall appearance of your novel.

The Best Book Format for Novels

Writing a word-perfect novel with a compelling plot is only part of the picture. Making the book look good in print is another matter. A well-written book will be letdown if the appearance is anything but professional. Fortunately, there are tools aplenty on any Word program to enable the writer to make a book look good in print.

The Best Book Template for Novels on Createspace

You might have saved your novel on a Word document or similar. Before experimenting with the page format, save a copy of the file in case anything goes wrong.

Firstly think about the dimensions of your novel in paperback. CreateSpace’s self publishing platform offers an array of book sizes. It is up to you, but I favour 8”x5”, which is most consistent to the size of novels. Open a new document and select ‘page layout.’ This can be found at the head of the Word toolbar. Set the page dimensions to 8”x5”. Set the margins to mirrored format, the outer edges, 1.9cm; and 0.33cm for the gutter (the binding edge of each page). The thicker the book, however, the wider the gutter needs to be (a 600-page novel requires a gutter of 2.5cm) You can download a template from Createspace, but I would rather use the template as a guide and tinker with the settings myself.

At this stage, you can insert the page numbers. I prefer to insert the numbers centrally at the foot of each page.

Book Templates for Novels

It is time to copy and paste the main body of text from the original document where your novel is situated and place it into the new document. Select ‘all’ by holding down ctrl and A, then copy. Paste the text into the new document. Whilst all text is still highlighted, use the ‘fully justified’ setting. This will make each line of your novel equal in length.

Paragraph Settings for Paperback Books

Indentations and paragraph styles also need setting up. Never use the spacebar to indent paragraphs as this will look ugly. Backspace any you have inserted. Eliminate empty ‘returns’ between paragraphs. Highlight the entire text by clicking ctrl and A. Click on the small box next to ‘paragraph’ (if viewing the Word toolbar on ‘home’.) Under ‘indentation’, select ‘first line’ and indent by 0.3cm (a standard setting for paragraphs in books.) The first line of each paragraph will be indented. Check throughout the document to ensure the formatting is how it should. Backspace the first line of text beneath each chapter.

Suggested Font Style for Novels

There are many font styles to try for the main body of the text within your novel. Take a look at a published novel that looks good to you and emulate the font style and page setting. To get an idea of how the text would look, highlight a section of text in Word and click on the fonts menu and then simply hover the mouse over a font style. The list of font styles which would be suitable for novels can be found below. The choice is up to you but avoid scripts that are hard to decipher or too fancy. Fonts sized 10 would be ideal, but use a larger size if the novel is a teen novel or a large-print book for the poor sighted.

Suggested font styles for novels: Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, Cambria, Segeo UI Light, Levenim MT, Candara, Century, Corbel, Garamond, Georgia, Gisha, Iskoola Pota, Miriam, Simplified Arabic, Times New Roman, Tahoma and Traditional Arabic.

Chapter Heading Styles

There are many chapter heading styles to try. I simply number my chapters by using the number figure underlined and in a slightly larger size than the body of text. Alternatively, you can express your chapter headings in words, bold it, underline it or use a larger font. For unity, I would use the same font style throughout the novel.

Provide space between the chapter heading and the start of the text. You can return a set number of times beneath each chapter heading (around 10 or so, remembering to use the same font size for the lines). Or you can set the lines spaces by clicking on the small square next to ‘paragraph’ (on Word home). Under ‘spacing’, set the amount of returns you need (in points) within the field ‘after. This will create the desired space between the chapter header and the main body of text.

Copyright Page Settings

Remember that the first page of your novel is page 1, and odd pages will be displayed on the right-hand side of each double page. Put the title page on page 1 and the first page of your novel on any odd-numbered page. You can place copyright details (I prefer a small font for this, around point 8 or 9) centrally on the copyright page. You can add a graphic or image within the pre-matter to give the book some flair. Airbrush some of the background out in your chosen photograph in ‘Paint’ to isolate the design on the page. Insert the image into the book (but don’t compress). It doesn’t matter if the image is colour, as the POD setting will be black and white anyway. Creating a table of contents is a lengthy process, so I have described this in a separate article.

Uploading the Novel into Createspace

Once you are happy with the look of your novel, embed fonts into the file by clicking on the office button on the top left. Click on word options, and then ‘save.’ Tick the box ‘embed fonts.’ Doing so will ensure the fonts and page settings appear as they should in the print copy.

Save the file as PDF by clicking ‘save as’ and selecting PDF for print. This will create a separate PDF file. Under the 2-paged view, go through the book to ensure everything is as it should before uploading it onto Createspace (or similar self-publishing platform.). You should have a book synopsis and book cover design prepared (covered in separate articles). For a straightforward novel with no intended colour images, or elements that fall outside the margins, select ‘black on cream’ (although black on white is available if preferred). Select ‘no bleed.’

Internal Book Previewer

If publishing on Createspace, you will be able to preview your book’s interior as how it would appear if in print in the book preview. This view should be the same as the 2-paged PDF view described earlier, but I always check this over too. Formatting errors or typos can only be amended by deleting the PDF file (as it is read-only), amending the problem on Word then saving as PDF again. Upload once more. Once the book looks perfect, submit for review. This takes a few days.

How to Format Books for Print on Demand

Getting your novel to look great in print depends upon page formatting, font styles and paragraph settings. Without these considerations the novel could look amateurish. Try out different font styles and observe paragraph settings so that they conform to the standard settings of novels. Check out each page under the book previewer to ensure the overall appearance of each page is as it should. I always order a proof copy of the novel initially to uncover hidden issues with the print version.

More Advice on Self Publishing Novels

Beginner's guide to publishing on Createspace
Design your own book cover
The quality of my book is patchy
Writing the synopsis of your novel

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