Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Final formatting . . . and Russell Crowe

Someone who read Standing Stones recently commented: "You mean you typed the whole thing?" Oh, if she only knew.

For self-published writers who work with minimal budgets, once the story is complete, the next step is to prepare the book for publication. My books are published through Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle, both at no cost, although both offer editorial services for a fee.

This morning I uploaded the interior of Years of Stone, a whopping 380 pages. What a big thrill. The layout and page numbers are perfect, the graphics uploaded (including a beautiful map), and I'm just waiting on the final cover before I press that 'publish' button.

What I learned this time around:
  1. Plan to proofread several times. Translated that may mean 4-8 full read-throughs. You may be looking for different issues in content and formatting. Don't worry about how much time it takes. Allow a few days between proofreading the whole mss each time. 
  2. Anticipate tearing your hair out by the roots before you get those page numbers just right. Page numbering is suppressed for that first page of the story before the numbers then run sequentially. Oh, the horror of headers and footers! Fixing these in Word requires many trips to the 'how to' pages, understanding sections and those great commands SAVE and NEXT.  
  3. Once page numbers are correct, yes, go back and revise your Table of Contents!
  4. Doublecheck any graphics inserted into your mss meet the minimum of 200 kb. You don't want to go forth all blurry.
  5. Doublecheck those inside margins (called 'gutters'). The longer your book is, the larger your gutters need to be. If your gutters aren't large enough, the text will look like it 'bleeds' into that inner margin, making the book hard to read (I used 0.75" for a 380 page book). 
  6. Plan to proofread online after final formatting is complete AND once again when the physical proof copy arrives. Don't be dismayed if you need to order a second physical proof. 
  7. Proofread your physical proof copy all the way through and not just spot check. Sometimes font sizes or page breaks are affected when your publisher converts your files to "print ready." Double check! Double check!
If all this technical formatting dismays you, consider hiring a professional. If you like a challenge, though, do it yourself!

Russell Crowe (Wikipedia)
What does Russsell Crowe have to do with self-publishing? 

Nothing! But a friend suggested he would be absolutely perfect as Mac McDonnell in Years of Stone, the story of a man transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1842, and Deidre, the woman who followed him to that rough and tumble penal colony. 

Should I write him? What do you think?

Two resources I found helpful for final formatting:  Kelly's "Step-By-Step Guide to Formatting Your Book's Interior" and Susan Harkins, "10 Steps to Setting Up Page Numbering in Word Sections."


  1. Good things to know.
    I just bought Standing Stones. I'm excited to start reading.

    1. Thank you, Judie. I hope you love the story. Please let me know what you think!

  2. sally9:00 PM

    Absolutely..........write to him, and maybe send him a copy of the book. He'll understand why he's perfect, if he reads it.

    1. Thanks, Sally, for just saying "Do it!" I just might. Maybe. After the final proof is done. Maybe. But Russell Crowe does bring heroic depth to "Bend, don't break!"

  3. Yes, write him and send him the book! At the very least he will take it as a compliment that you think he would make the perfect actor for the character in your book, and at most... who knows what could happen! :D

  4. Thanks, again, for giving the rest of us assistance in self-publishing. I have no doubt of its tedious elements but I am looking forward to the challenge, should I get there. Thanks, Beth!