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.