How To Format A Book – A Self-Publisher’s Guide
Whether you’re publishing an ebook, a kindle book, or a printed book – it’s important that you get your formatting right. The formatting of your book is all about how your content is presented on every page.
It’s specifically about your fonts, sizes, styles, headings, page sizes, and pages. By formatting your book, you make it look professional and easy to read.
There are many online services and software that you can use to do this for you. But if you can do this by yourself, you save a lot of money.
That is why we’ve written this article for you. This is a guideline to help you know how to format a book.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
- Formatting & Why It Is Important?
- What Types of Documents Do You Need?
- How To Format Your Book For Kindle Amazon
- How To Format Your Book For Print (Hard-Copy)
- How To Format Your Book For Digital (Ebook PDF)
- Alternative Option: Hire Someone Else To Do It For You
Book formatting is the way you’ve styled and designed your document. It is especially critical for textbooks with little or no images. These are typically Ebooks (PDFs) which usually unable to appear properly on devices using platforms like Kindle.
Book formatting is a critical element in publishing any type of book.
Here are a couple of reasons why:
1). Give your readers an enjoyable reading experience.
Poor formatting is one of the biggest mistakes authors make.
It could be due to the small font sizes, lack of paragraph breaks, or poor use of heading styles.
The purpose of formatting is to make it an enjoyable and easy experience for your readers. If not, they could leave negative reviews. Ultimately, it could affect your conversions and sales.
If you read the top-selling books, you will notice that they all have standardized styles in their textbooks.
They have standardized texts, fonts, font sizes, and text alignments.
So if you want to look professional, follow a standard interior design.
It is especially important to do so when you decide to sell your book in different formats – Kindle, Hard-Print, and Digital.
Here’s a Tip:
Look at the Top 5 books in your niche.
Take note of their standardized styles.
You can either model their formatting designs or use them as guidelines for your own.
Formatting requires a bit of time but it’s not a heavy task.
If you prefer someone else to do this, consider an assistant or word-editor on outsourcing sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
The easiest formatting tool amongst all word-processing software is Microsoft Word.
The key benefit is that it allows you to save your documents in different formats for various platforms such as Kindle, Paperback Publishing, and Digital Ebooks.
These formats include PDF, RTF (Rich Text Format), Txt, Doc, etc.
Other platforms, such as Nook or Lulu, requires you to publish in Epub format.
Here are the required documents for the various platform channels you may be considering to upload your book to.
- Microsoft Word (Doc/Docx)
- Adobe PDF (PDF)
- Rich Text Format (RTF)
Most Doc/Docx files convert well to Ebooks. However, some files with complex formatting may not convert as well.
Always use the previewer to make sure your book is converted successfully, especially if it has graphics or tables.
Readers can choose to view Kindle books in different font sizes, so numbers, fonts, and margins aren’t a worry.
To avoid chapter mix-ups, use the “page break” feature in Microsoft Word first, so that your sections are easily divided.
Generally, this type of document is a Doc/Docx file. If you want a hard-copy version of your book, the easiest way is to print it from Microsoft Word.
Ebook’s file types are typically converted into PDF.
This is the most common type of document to be given to consumers over the internet.
You will find some PDFs with locks on them. This prevents possible copyright and editing rights to the original document.
Though, most times a lock is not required.
Many readers usually keep the PDF documents downloaded on their laptops or like us, print them out for hard-copy reading purposes.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This is a 10-13 digit number code that identifies books that have been published since 1970.
You’re going to need an ISBN for each type of format that you choose to publish, whether its kindle, digital, paperback copy or audio.
An ISBN helps your book get known either through online or offline stores.
Without one, your book is nonexistent to the global chain of readers out there.
Amazon does offer one free ISBN for kindle versions but you will still need to purchase an ISBN if you want to publish in other formats.
For more information on how you can purchase an ISBN, check out Bowker.com, the official ISBN agency. You’ll find everything you need to know about how much an ISBN cost and how to get it.
Knowing how to format your book on Amazon Kindle can be a little daunting and unpleasant at first.
But once you become familiar with the setup and the process, you’ll be able to format your book within an hour.
The first thing you need to do is set up the first few pages of your book.
NOTE: You MUST have these three pages BEFORE the first chapter in any book you choose to publish – kindle, paperback or digital.
These pages compromise of everything before the first chapter –
- A title page,
- copyright page,
- and a table of contents.
- (Optional) Dedication and Preface pages. If you want to add in these pages, you can.
1) Your Title Page
The title page is the first page in your book with your main book title, a sub-title, and the author’s name.
So in your word processor program, create a new first page. Enter your title, subtitle, and author name. Center-align the text. Then set a new page break after the final text on the current title page.
2) Your Copyright Page
The next page is the copyright page.
This will have the same formatting as your title page, except your copyright information or text will be aligned at the bottom of the page.
3) Table Of Contents
The table of contents is an important page in a book. It works as a guide for your readers to know what your book is about and what topics you will cover in the chapters.
In addition to that, it makes it easy for someone to navigate your book online, especially in Kindle.
This is because when you publish Kindle books, there are no page numbers.
Your table of contents will then become the navigator of your book.
When digital readers click on a chapter or title, they go straight to that page or section in the book.
Remember to set your chapter titles into a “Heading” style of your choice. This allows you to create your ToC easily without manually typing each chapter title again.
There are 6 Heading Styles.
We personally use Heading Style 2 which is Roboto-font, size 16 for chapters.
Heading Style 3, 4, or 5 used for subtitles within a chapter.
Once you’ve assigned a “Heading” style to your chapter titles, you can insert your Table Of Contents into your word page.
Most word processors should have a setting where you can automatically add in a Table of Contents.
(Here’s how you create your Table of Contents with Microsoft Word):
- Go to References in the top menu bar.
- Click on Table Of Contents and you will see a drop-down list with a few style designs.
- Choose one which you like and you’ll see your table of contents appear.
- Uncheck the box for “Show Page Numbers” and set the “Show Levels” box to number 1.
- Click Ok, then you’ll see your ToC on the page.
For a professional Table of Contents page for Kindle, add bookmarks that link to your titles. This is how we make it easy for Kindle readers to navigate our books.
Okay, so those are the few essential pages of your book and that’s how you format each one. We’ll discuss more formatting tips later in this article.
4) How To Upload Your Kindle Book
Now let’s talk about uploading your book into Kindle.
First, save your book as a Filtered HTML Document.
- In Microsoft Word, click File in the top-left corner then Save As in the menu.
- Then select Web Page Filtered (*htm, *HTML) from the drop-down menu.
- If it asks you if you want to Remove Office Tags, click Yes.
If your book contains images, you’ll need to compress the file.
- Navigate to where your book has been saved
- Right-click on the file (HTML format)
- Select Send To and then Compressed (zipped) folder
A new folder will appear. Drag your file into this zipped folder to upload into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
When you’re ready to publish, use this file to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing.
With Kindle taking over the ebook world, you would think that rarely anyone would buy the hard-copy version.
People still prefer to buy the physical version of a book.
We tend to treasure things that we can hold physically like new Nike shoes or new iPhone 7.
A book is no different.
From a marketer’s point of view, this stands as another way to double your income.
However, print copies cost more than digital.
Knowing what is the best way to go about formatting it?
Formatting a paperback book is no different from formatting a Kindle book.
If you’ve followed through with the format for a Kindle book, then half the work is already done.
The benefit of submitting your book to Createspace especially is, its owned by Amazon.
If you ever wondered how authors were able to sell both kindle and hard-copy versions of their books, well this is it!
Best Practices For Printing Out Paperbacks:
- Use the Times New Roman font at a size 12 for your main text. It is the best font used for printing. Other Serif fonts may work.
- Your heading titles should be big, preferably size 18+.
- Use Sans Serif fonts like Arial or Tahoma.
- Allow an inch-margin for the top, bottom, and sides of your pages. This is in case something wrong happens when cutting out your pages. This also makes the book easier for readers to digest. (More explained below).
Here’s How You Change The Margins.
- In your word processing software, tap on the menu icon in the top left corner.
- Choose Layouts then open up the Page Setup Tab.
- You should see a window popup with the text: top, bottom, left and right. Set all their boxes to 0.9 inches.
- Set the gutter size to 0.2 inches. The gutter is where the binding of the pages will be. You need to allow at least 0.2 inches.
- Make sure to check the box that says “mirror margins” so the extra space can be applied to all the pages for double-sided printing.
- Change the page size to 6″ by 9″. Most novels and non-fiction books are 6 inches wide and 9 inches high.
Change the page size to 6″ by 9″. Most novels and non-fiction books are 6 inches wide and 9 inches high.
- To change your book size, open up the Page Setup window again and change the paperback size to those numbers (6” wide by 9” high).
- Make sure the box for Portrait has been selected.
In saying all of that, if you want to distribute your book to a wide set of audience, then you need to follow some…
Basic Formatting Rules:
1. Make sure the total page count is an even multiple of four.
You need this to have your book printed out correctly.
If it isn’t an even number (i.e. 76, 156, 180), you will need to add in two extra pages. These could be added to the back of your book.
2. The other side of your title page should be kept blank.
3. The table of contents has to start on the right side of the book.
4. Check your print document out BEFORE submitting it to any publishing platforms. It may take a few revisions before you get it right.
The most common lead-magnet or “FREE” gift that is given on a landing page is typically an ebook or short report.
Something value-packed and short so that leads can digest easily and quickly.
Let’s say, for example, your landing page is targeting “Weight Loss for Teenage Girls With Pear-Shaped Body Figures.”
There are plenty of possible short report ideas that you can offer.
Here are a few.
- The 10 best workouts to target your glutes & thighs for teen girls
- Burn your thigh-fat with this lower-body meal plan.
- The #1 trick to burn thigh fat
- How to lose weight for pear-shaped bodies in 5 simple steps
If you don’t want to write from scratch, you don’t have to.
Amazon Kindle is one of the biggest ebook selling platforms in the world.
You can research and find plenty of reports and informational ebooks for as little as $1.
The more unique you can spin it and put your own “taste” in, the more effective it will be to market it.
Alternatively, you can get someone from the other side of the world to manage this stuff on sites like Upwork or Fiver.com.
If you’re a content creator yourself and have already written your ebook, you’re steps ahead.
Now all you need to do is to turn that into a PDF format, if it isn’t already, and use it as a potential lead magnet for your list.
You can also publish it on your website or upload it directly to Amazon Kindle.
Having it on Amazon & ranking it for a specific keyword is a great way to drive organic traffic. Plus, it will keep your book ranking at the top.
So let me walk you step-by-step how to convert your document into a PDF.
- Open up Microsoft Word. Click File in the top-left corner & select Save As.
- Check that you are saving the file in the correct folder.
- On the file-type dropdown, select .PDF as the extension.
More Formatting Tips:
1. Always double-check your work.
Once your file has been uploaded to Kindle or any platform, always check it because sometimes the file can become corrupt.
2. Use indentation instead of tabs or spaces.
This can be found in the layout tab.
Select the paragraph tab located on the lower-right corner.
You can set your preferred indent number or set “special” to First Line and enter 0.5 to indent your first line.
3. Change spacing after paragraphs by going to the Paragraph box used to set indents.
Enter a value in “After”. Most content-creators use 10.
4. Insert page breaks in your chapters.
At the beginning of each chapter, select “Ctrl + Enter”
5. Insert images rather than copy them and paste to avoid formatting mistakes in Kindle
6. Do not use headers or footers when formatting your book.
If all the formatting work gets too tedious for you or you find yourself in a pit of frustration practicing it, then you can outsource it out to someone to do it for you.
Finding freelancers who can format your book is easy.
However, their charge rates will vary depending on the number of pages and images you have in a book.
So be mindful of their costs and what formatting purposes do they serve for – Digital, Hard-Print, and Kindle.
Freelancers will bid to the nearest price that you are willing to pay.
You can also check out their past reviews and book for an interview.
When they return your work to you, make sure to double-check again.
You might find mistakes that the freelance or the editor has made.
Read through it thoroughly and run a spelling check.
By doing this, you can save yourself a bit of money.
Even if you are going to send your friends a copy, ask them to mark where mistakes have been made.
They are both online editing software that helps you proofread your writing.
They will identify grammar and spelling mistakes in your document and give you suggestions on how to improve your writing.
You will also get a readability score that tells you how easy it is to read your content.
Remember – formatting your book is just as important as having a professional-looking book cover.
The goal of formatting is to give your readers an enjoyable reading experience.
To achieve this, you will need to have a standardized interior design – fonts, styles, sizes, and more.
At first, it will take you a while to understand how to format and structure your writing.
But once you’ve done a few, it will get easier and faster. And by doing a lot of formatting, you’ll become aware of it when you are writing. Therefore, you won’t have to go back and edit again.