Thursday, 25 October 2012

How to Format a Large Print Book for Self Published Authors

Sales channels for novels need not end with Kindle books, audio books or a regular paperback, but a novel in large print. Not only does this cater for specialist readerships’ needs, but also provides an extra sales channel for authors. Creating a large print book is not difficult and is free. Here’s how to create a novel in large print.

Sell More Novels in Large Print

Writing the novel is the hard work. Formatting a novel for paperback is easy only if you know how. But if you have already formatted a paperback you are halfway there. You may have noticed a ‘large print’ tick box on the Createspace site (Amazon’s platform for writers marketing books on paperbacks). Ticking this box after publishing your novel will place the book within large print listings. However, the books must be correctly formatted for the large print market before publishing it on this channel.

How to Format a Book for Large Print

Firstly, create a copy of the Word file where your novel is located. If something goes wrong, you can then start from scratch.

Once you have a copy file of your novel, add page numbers (if applicable). The books size options are diverse, but I have found after research that many novels in large print favour 5.5inx8.5in for page sizes. This means ample words per line will inhabit each page. Therefore, this is the size that I will use for my novels (but the choice is yours, as larger sizes are available; be sure to use a size that is available on the self-publishing platform.).

On Word (with your file open) click on ‘page layout’ which is found at the top of the screen, and then click on ‘page sizes.’ Set the pages to the size required. The system will automatically convert imperial to metric. Once done, it is time to set the margins.

Margin Settings for Large Print Books

After experimentation, I have found the following settings work well for large print novels of average length (which will be around 400-500 pages thick in large print). Click on the ‘margins’ setting at the top of the Word file, and then set the margins to the following:

Top: 1.5cm
Bottom 1.27cm
Outside: 1.27cm
Gutter 0.33cm
Inside margin: 2.22cm.

The only variable is the ‘inner margins’. A longer than average novel of 80,000 words or more, will require larger inner margins, as the book will be thicker than usual. Fine tuning will be necessary.

Font Size for Large Print Books

Large print needs to be 16 or 18 point. (I prefer 16 point). Select the entire novel by clicking ctrl and A keys at the same time, then change the font size to either of these. Click on the size selected and the entire document will be changed to this font size.

Of course, the higher number of pages the paperback is, the higher the production costs will be. This means large print books will be more costly than regular paperbacks, but there are still ways of lowering the page count without affecting the reading experience. I have noticed that Word’s style set (found on the top right of the screen on the ‘home’ page beneath ‘change styles’) will affect this page count.

Click on the small arrow beneath ‘change styles’ and a drop down menu will present itself. Select the entire document as described earlier (pressing ctrl and A) and make sure the style set is set to ‘Word 2003’. The spaces between each line is slightly less than on Word 2007, and I managed to save around 40 pages by preferring this Word style.

Large Print Fonts

I would keep to a simple font, of perhaps Times New Roman, Arial or Bookman Old Style. Avoid anything swirly of fancy, as this book is supposed to be aimed at the visually-impaired. Experiment to see which fonts save word counts. I use Times New Roman. At this point (if applicable) I will also set the paragraph indentations for the entire novel. Don’t ‘tab’ or add spaces to each paragraph. Select the entire document, and then click on ‘paragraph’. On the dialog box, select ‘first line’ under ‘special’, and then place 0.3cm under ‘by.’ This will indent all first lines of paragraphs by 3 points. Don’t forget to ‘justify’ the whole document too.

Large Print Format for Novels

Now check through the document to ensure that all is how it should be. You may need to delete blank pages and rid of indentations to first paragraphs to chapters. The copyright text might also need to be made smaller (few readers take note of this anyway). I would personally begin each chapter from the top of the page rather than by a few returns, and rid of unnecessary graphics or spaces. When it comes to large print, keeping page numbers and production costs down is more important. I will view the document under ‘print preview’ to get an overall view of the document’s formatting. Remember, the first chapter should always begin on an odd page (say 3 or 5).

Upload Your Large Print Novel onto Createspace

Once the Word document is how it should be, save it as a PDF. Ensure it is set to ‘standard publishing’ not ‘minimum size.’ It might be worth checking it through one more time. I will then upload it onto the online platform concerned (Createspace or Lulu). Createspace now enables you to ‘preview’ the book and will highlight any problems. If any live elements (such as text) falls outside the margins, this will be highlighted. A particularly thick book might require some tweaking with the inner margins.

Publish a Large Print Novel

Of course, you should have a great book cover and book blurb (or synopsis) prepared. Don’t forget to tick the ‘large print’ box when uploading your book. Every edition of the same title will require its own ISBN. To differentiate titles, I will add (Large Print Edition) or similar after the title but is not necessary. Once pricings and other domestic matters have been set, just wait a few days for the book to appear on the Amazon listings for Large Print Books.

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