Monday, January 23, 2012

The Self Pub Formatting Nightmare

You said it.  Formatting is a dirty word, is, was and probably always will be.  I stole my book back from my latest publisher due to irreconcilable differences.  I wanted to sell it, printed version, and obviously they did not.  I digress.  Anyway I've worked really hard to get a new cover, format the thing and get it back out there.

A joke!!!!  It's easy they say, just plug your book into our already formatted template.  "Great," says I.
I feverishly work to make sure everything is as I want it in this wonderful template, (which by the way only has 60 pages) and viola! I'm ready to go.  Right?  WRONG.

I realize that the rest of the 300 pages of the manuscript have no page numbers, no headers and I have no idea how to fix it.  I go back and read everything I can, and eventually figure out how to get the page numbers on, minus the Title page, Acknowledgements, etc.  Again, VIOLA!!!!

Not so fast.  I upload my hard worked manuscript, and to my dismay all the chapter headings are off, on the end of the page before.  In the middle of a page somewhere, or run into the chapter preceding it.  I groan.
In the end, I uploaded it at least ten time before calling support.

Now isn't technical support supposed to fix all your problems?  Silly me, that's what I thought.  I talked to one guy, who couldn't help me.  Said he had no idea how to fix the problem and I would have to talk to a supervisor, (all of whom had left for the day)  so please call back tomorrow.

I spent a sleepless night wondering what exactly I had done wrong.  Aren't you supposed to be able to plug something into a template and then not worry about it?  That's what I thought.  At least it worked building a website.  I digress again.

Next day I call tech support again, get the famed supervisor and ask my questions.  She says they have templates to help format it right.  I tell her it is in a template.  She asks what format I saved it in.  I tell her RTF.  (Sigh)  She has no idea what that is!!!!  You've got to be kidding right?  She asks what program I'm using and I say WORD.  She responds that there are just too many programs for them to know all about all of them.  (Isn't WORD one of the most widely used programs for writers?  Am I wrong?)  I sigh again.  Wondering if this is every going to be a book out there, published by me for my fans.(Yes, I do have them.  And all five of them have been waiting for Phantom Wolves for almost a year now)

The supervisor advises me to download the template again and start all over.  GRRRRRR!!!!.  However my dogged determination wins out and I do as she asks.

Now for those of you who are about to embark on this process, let me save you some time and aggravation.  First, download the blank template, not the one with words so you can see what it looks like.  Before transferring anything, embed your text.  In word, go to file, his the options, hit save, then check the embed font box, and uncheck the two boxes below it.  Now you're ready to start.  Copy your entire book and past it into the template.  Now your margins and gutters should be right.  Make sure your headers and footer(page numbers) appear on each page.  I'm telling you right now that they won't.  Go to the last page that contains the header and or footer, and double click on it.  It will open up the header box in word.  Then you need to link the header and footer to the previous section.  Then you should be good.  Now go back and take off the header on the title page, because you can bet it is there now.  Also if you're including a bio picture, make sure that the DPI is 300 before inserting it in your book. 

No Sweat, you say.  Just keep thinking that.  Your not done yet.  Now go back in and embed your font again, because if you don't you'll be sorry.  Now save it in a PDF format and try uploading it.  Hopefully it works this time.  If not start all over, don't think you can fix the one you've already spent so much time on, it never works.

Okay, so there you have the two-hundred fifty steps to formatting.  My friend, Leslie, paid someone fifty bucks to save herself the headache, smart and rolling in the dough girl.  For those of us without that luxury, here's a toast to our living nightmare.  Any questions?


  1. Hey, we all have to struggle, cry and beat the nearest thing. Isn't it fun? I did have Bob do mine but also learned how to do it myself for next time. Congrats kiddo.

  2. I worked on the same thing last week and finally shoved it away from me to give myself a break from bashing my head against my keyboard. (Still haven't ventured back.) I have instead turned my attention to designing a padded keyboard while my forehead heals.

  3. Where is your cover?

    This is why I pay someone else to do my formatting!
    Good luck!

  4. I'm spending the $50. Just reading this gave me hives. Your eyes will stop twitching eventually...I promise. Thanks for your "words of warning."

  5. Wow. I will head your plea. And, yes, you are right, I've been waiting for phantom wolves to come out the day you finished it.