A Question of Formatting

So the one thing I have learned very quickly about self-publishing is that there is no one format that works for all channels when launching your book on either paperback or eBook. However, if you get it wrong, it has a major impact on the look and readability of your book, and potentially the response from your readers.

Readers don’t want to figure out the formatting; they get frustrated by page breaks in the wrong spots, and blank pages, or worse, text that is ever-changing in font and style throughout an eBook or paperback. I have learned to become pernickety about how my books are formatted, and I’m still not sure I always get it right. I spend hours launching a draft, checking it page by page, and then re-doing it again, until I’m satisfied.

Then, there are the picture or illustrated books. Now that is a completely different story. It is actually easier to publish in a paperback format, as you can save any file to PDF and voila, you’re done. But… putting these illustrations alongside their text into a kindle or ePub file is another story, and a whole art form unto itself. However, I personally would not want to get this wrong. Firstly, most illustrated books are aimed at younger readers, and attracting and keeping their attention is important to a book’s success. Illustrations that don’t format well with the text of a book, is the first failure in my personal view, and will ultimately lead to disinterest from younger minds and imaginations.

I tried multiple free Internet sites to convert my books, and most of them failed miserably. In the end, I hired someone from Fiverr.com to help me with my quest, and despite the small cost, it was well worth it to know that my book would look the way I wanted it to on an eReader device.

Smashwords will quickly convert most word documents into a good Kindle (.mobi) file suitable for Kindle. If pictures are involved, it may not work as well, but generally the files if checked can be amended (just be aware it may take a few goes). Again, however, I strongly recommend hiring the services of someone who knows their formatting, especially if your book has illustrations or diagrams, to ensure that you get the best effect for your readers.

Formatting is not something to take lightly. The key simple rules I follow for any book are:

1. Chapters should start on a new page.
2. Paragraphs should be clearly defined.
3. The font should be consistent in style and size.
4. Remove blank pages (where possible).
5. Keep it simple (this is the best way to keep it compatible for all eReader devices).

As always please reach out to me if you have any questions or need further information on your publishing journey!

Why Do You Want to Be an Author?

What makes you want to be an author?

This is the question you really need to ask yourself before you publish. Are you in it for money, fame, readership, kudos, or just to ‘see how it goes’?

Once you answer this question you can then decide which route you’d like to pursue in getting your work published.

Getting yourself signed up with a ‘publisher’ is difficult, but if your work is good and its fame you’re seeking – this may be the fastest route. Money, well dependent on your contract, and how good your publisher is, that could quickly follow. However, from my own learning, research your publisher, as them where they will publicise your work, and how they will market your book. If they are a small publisher they may not have the aptitude or contacts to go beyond their regional means, which in turn does your book no favours.

Now, self-publishing is another story. However, it is up to you, one hundred percent, no going back, and your success is dependent on your ability to network, market yourself, and position yourself to your intended audience. It’s harder than you think.

However, in self-publishing, the royalties are all yours, and you control your book’s direction, whichever way you take it. You just need to decide what you want from your book, what you’re willing to invest (in either time, money or resources) and more importantly, who your target audience is, and where to find them!

More to come on this subject with future blog updates.

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Want to Self Publish?

So you have written a book? Finished that manuscript? Or maybe you are thinking of writing a book?

Not sure where to start?

Firstly, I will say that there is no one clear path for authors today.

However, I’m often asked a lot of questions by new authors and aspiring authors, what did I do?

Sadly, there is no exact science to success, but there are certainly some things you can do to give your book the best chance possible.

I have heard and seen much criticism for self-published authors. Much of this has been because of the ease of getting your book now on kindle or paperback via Amazon, Smashwords or Ingram without any vetting via an agent or proven publishing body. The thing is, if your book is bad it won’t sell. Fact! So regardless of being backed by a publisher, agent or doing it alone; the book needs to be attractive to the general public.

Without a doubt, there are some pretty terrible books on the market. However, I have seen these books represented by publishers as well as self-published authors – both of which I would never touch. From my experience, self publishing is what you make of it. If you want to be successful and you put the effort into your work and marketing it – you have a much better chance of succeeding. Like anything, nothing is guaranteed. But if you don’t try, you don’t succeed.

My advice, is to take the plunge, get your book ready, do your homework and just go!

If you would like any advice, guidance or help on your self publishing journey please contact me at mcgrathhouseltd@gmail.com