What is Book Formatting

As an Indie Author, Once You’re Done with Your Manuscript, and It’s Been Edited and Proofed, You’ll Find Yourself Needing Book Formatting.


So, what is book Formatting? Good question!

We could write a long article about it, but this isn’t an instructional article on how to format your book. This is the quick and dirty version of about book formatting.

We gathered our most asked questions when it came to book formatting to make sure that we covered what you’ve been struggling to find answers to. This might not be how everyone does it, and some formatters might have their own route, so keep that in mind. Each person will have their own way of doing things, but the basics are all very similar.

When you hand over your manuscript to get formatted, there are a few things that will happen. One, the formatter will take your Microsoft Word file (the most accepted file and preferred file for us) and check it over for any issues.

When we are looking at your manuscript, we are looking at an option called “Show Characters” in Microsoft Word. This is where we look for any signs of PDF to Microsoft Word conversion problems. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it can be a mess. If we didn’t check for these issues before we started to format, then we could have huge issues that would produce a very badly formatted book. When you convert to PDF, you can add page breaks in random spots, headers, and footers inside your main body of text and add the end of paragraphs in the middle of a sentence. See the example below of what you don’t see till you show the characters. Imagine a whole book being formatted, and you receive the first draft, and half of your book has sentences chopped in half etc. This can cost a lot of time and money to get this fixed, so we need to do this first to ensure it doesn’t happen after formatting has started.


What it looks like to us when we check it out

Book Formatting Issues

What it looks like to you

Book Formatting Issues Clean

Next, we get it imported into InDesign, which is what we use to format books. This is where the magic happens! This is where the formatter starts applying styles to your book. This means your chapter pages get done up, each paragraph is gone through, and styles are applied to each. There are formatting rules that should always be followed. If you request something that we don’t think will produce a professional book, we will let you know. There are what formatters would call soft and hard rules in formatting. In the end, the author has the final say. We follow the Chicago Manual of Style Guide when it comes to the rules, and going against them can get you a bad review.


Believe us. It’s not worth it!

If you hire someone to format your book, you do that because you want it done right and done by a professional. Don’t take chances, as reviews can last a lifetime.

There are some things authors might request as personal preferences, and those are fine unless it’s as we mentioned above. If that happens, we will let you know. Here are some things you might find yourself requesting:

  • Fonts to use
  • Font Size
  • Hyphenation or no hyphenation
  • Leading (space between sentences)
  • Word Spacing
  • Bottom Margins Aligned
  • Uneven bottom Margins (some prefer equal spacing throughout)

Once the book has been formatted, you’ll get your first draft back. Read through cover to cover. This is where you find any final errors in editing/proofing. This can cost you a lot of money in edits, so make sure you get it professionally edited and proofread.

Book formatting is one of the things that most indie authors think they can skimp on. Publishing a book isn’t easy, and getting sales is even harder. The most important thing we can say is to do your research for each step of the process and do it right the first time. Reviews are vital for book sales, and if readers find editing issues and formatting mistakes, it could cost them potential sales. Amazon will also remove books that they feel are poorly edited and formatted if there have been several complaints.


What is Book Formatting? – Conclusion

There are authors out there every day who self-publish their books and get 1-star reviews and complaints to companies like Amazon about the bad formatting. Don’t be that author. If you want to make money, you must spend some money. The old saying you get what you paid for is quite true in this case. You need to think like a reader and check out other books. If your books don’t look like them, you have a problem. Bad book formatting, especially in eBooks, is becoming a big problem.

Consider professional book formatting as an investment in the success of your book!

At Indie Publishing Group, we’re proud to assist Canadian and North American authors in self-publishing their work. If you are in the process of writing a book and need any assistance with paperback or ebook formattingcover designprofessional editing, or uploading to self-publishing sites such as Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us.

Our experienced and professional self-publishing team is standing by to assist you with your self-publishing dreams.

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