DIY Publishing 101, Part 5 – Format Your Files for Printed Publication

This is part five in an ongoing series about DIY Publishing. Previous installments can be found here: One, Two, Three, and Four.

Format Your Files for Printed Publication

Formatting for Dead Tree is both more complicated than ebook formatting yet slightly easier. It’s more complicated because there usually are more paragraph and heading tags, and then there are the lovely section breaks if you are using Microsoft Word that have a habit of blowing up or behaving not as intended.

The nice thing about print is that the layout you design is the layout that will appear on the printed page. With the ebook, text flows according to the size of the font the reader chooses.

Since I used CreateSpace for the printed version of CHICAGO TIME, I used their templates for both the page layout and the cover. Using their Word template, with CreateSpace’s paragraph styles, headings, and section/page breaks, should have made the process very easy.

On the whole it was. But as is always the case, something unexpected did show up.

There was a font someone had put inside the document for the page layout that kept coming up as not being supported whenever I submitted the document for approval. This happened several times. I ended up having to do a search in every single header and footer, in ever single section on every single page, until I found every offending font usage and deleted it. Ah, the joys of Microsoft Word.

Once the files has been approved by CreateSpace, then you need to proof the your book. You need to make sure the cover will wrap around your book properly and the text appears on the printed page as you intend.

CreateSpace gives you two options for proofing the book: digital and printed. The digital option gives you the opportunity to view the file online, page by page with the cover, or as a PDF that you can download to your computer and view. This can be done as soon as CreateSpace determines your files meet their submission requirements.

For the printed proof option, CreateSpace will print a copy of the book with the cover and mail it to you. This takes a few days.

I opted for the digital proof and viewed my novel online. If I found something, I fixed it in the document. When I was done, I resubmitted the file. Once the files were approved, I did another round of proofing, and had the book sent to be readied for sale.

[RANT: I’m going to rant a little about Microsoft Word. I spent over a decade as a technical writer, creating documentation for many different kinds of hardware and software. Places where I was allowed to use FrameMaker made my day much easier. Places where I was forced to use Word gave me daily headaches.

Word is an excellent tool for word processing. It’s a dreadful tool for desktop publishing. Any technical writer who tells you they think Word is a perfectly fine tool for performing desktop publishing is a technical writer who should not be allowed to write documentation.

Word is unstable. Section breaks don’t always work as they should. For a time there were those wonderfully unstable Master Docs. Every time I ventured to use them, my documents became corrupted and I had to start all over with them.

These are problems I never had while using FrameMaker. With FrameMaker I think I had corrupt documents maybe twice in all the years I used it for various employers. With FrameMaker I created complex training documents that used all kinds of conditional text for for the Instructor and Participant guides, and whole manuals that ended up being converted to PDFX and uploaded to a server on the other side of the planet, all without a problem.

End of RANT.]


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