Rule Zero of Self-publishing

A while ago, I wrote about the Ten Home Truths of Starting in Self-publishing

It seems I forgot something that is so basic that I more or less assumed that everyone would know this:

Learn how to format a book.

Sub-rule number one:

Learn what the formatting conventions are for your genre. For the basics, you don’t need a course or how-to guide or any other hocus-pocus. All you need is to pull a book off the shelf. Copy its formatting. It’s not that hard, right?

Most specifically:

– A book has indented first paragraphs (fiction) or empty lines between paragraphs (non-fiction). Not both
– Indents are about 5mm. Not 20 or 25 (this is the standard Word provides)
– Paragraphs are left-justified with the ‘fix ragged margins’ option turned on. This provides a neat right-hand margin while keeping sentences with just a couple of words together.

Sub-rule number two:

Pleaseplease get yourself some decent software to do all this stuff. In the previous post, I spoke of investment in your book. This should be your first investment. GET SOME DECENT SOFTWARE! I see people struggling with OpenOffice or other free shit that just can’t handle the demands, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Take note of the second half of that sentence. If you’re a layout whizz or a computer whizz (or willing to spend a lot of time), sure you can get many of the free programs to do the job, because you know what it is supposed to do.

If you don’t, just FFS spend a few bucks and get some software.


4 comments on “Rule Zero of Self-publishing

  1. I AM a software professional, but my time is too valuable to do stuff by hand when MS Word will do it for me and save me lots of writing time.

    • Exactly. It is all ery well to use free shit when you’re doing something simple, but when you start formatting, and you want th eformatting to be reliable, especially for print, you need reliable software that is up to the task.

  2. If they’re struggling with OpenOffice, they’re probably going to struggle in Word. The big difference is that there are lot more people who can help you learn Word.

    • They’re struggling because Open Office has known issues with formatting and compatibility, and no one has fixed them so far.

      Maybe Word has some issues, too, but because you paid, you can bitch about them online, and @MSAU will answer your questions. Because what I paid for Word employs this guy to do this.

      Also, because I paid for it, I have a right to complain, and MS has an arse to cover (a very big one, I must admit). Same applies to Adobe, or Scrivener, or any piece of software that costs. It has a person who is at the receiving end of the buck if there is one to be passed. People do not like handling bucks, so they solve the problem.

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