Monday, December 14, 2015

Print Book Formatting Programs - Which One Should You Use?

The ease of self-publishing has lured many writers into publishing their own books. Publishing an EBook is cheap and the formatting and conversion simple. The author’s book can be for sale within minutes of upload.

While it’s a thrill to see one’s book for sale online, nothing beats holding a print book in your hands. There are costs involved though. And many more details, including formatting for print, which is different than formatting for EBook. What are the options?

There are dozens of programs you can purchase or use, including:

InDesign
QuarkXPress
PagePlus X9
CorelDraw X7
Microsoft Publisher
PageFocus Pro
PageStream

Let’s look at cost first. At the high end, we have QuarkXPress, which is $849. to purchase new. (The upgrade is $349.) At the low end, we have InDesign, which is no longer sold as an individual program but rather “rented” from Adobe Cloud for a monthly fee of $20. (Upgrades are included free.)

Most of the programs will come with a learning curve. It takes some instruction reading and playing with the program to figure out how to use it properly.

Many of the programs also come with options to convert the print book into EPub. InDesign, QuarkXPress, and PagePlus all have this feature.

It also depends on whether you have a PC or a Mac. A few are not available for the Mac.

And of course, you have to consider the ease of inserting tables, graphics, images, and other extras you want to include in your book. From those listed, PageFocus Pro and PageStream are more limited.

Top Ten Reviews offers an excellent comparison of the ten best print book formatting programs available. InDesign, the program most traditional publishers use, scores perfect in every category.

You’ll notice one program that many authors use that’s not listed here or there - Microsoft Word. While fine for formatting EBooks, it was never intended to format print books and the results are often amateurish. For a professional look, avoid using Word.

If formatting your own book seems like a monument us task, you can always hire someone to format it for you. We have many listed on the Self-Publishing page here and several of our IWSG members format print books. (Myself included.)

But if you’re ready to tackle formatting yourself, do your research and get the program that best suits your needs. Because hopefully, you’ll be using it for years to come.

21 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for the tips, Diane! There are definitely pros in learning how to format our own books. Glad to know there are some less expensive but still professional options for programs.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good rundown of the products.

Pat Hatt said...

I used one for my first one and then just cheat and copy and paste my latest work within the first book, delete the first book, save it as new book and voila, formatted how I need it with little work.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic tips. I'm very lucky to have a super CP that does my formatting for me, but last year, I sat down and learned basic formatting.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks, Diane. This is great to know.

Michelle Wallace said...

Really informative. Thank you, Diane.

Lara Lacombe said...

Great post! Bookmarking to reference later.

cleemckenzie said...

Great information. I've formatted my own, but I so much prefer to pay someone to do it. Boring! At least for me.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Pat, that's a smart way to do it.

Lee, I love detail work and enjoy formatting.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm glad to leave that to my publisher though I think I could do it. This is invaluable info for indie writers. It's great to have print books for booksignings.

Robyn Campbell said...

Wow, what a great post. I'm working on a children's writing book. This is invaluable. I do want to have print books besides ebooks. Cannot thank you enough! Merry Christmas.

Nadine_Feldman said...

I do my own layouts because it gives me the opportunity to do another edit...even though I work with an editor, there's something about seeing the manuscript in book form that causes me to spot things I want to change.

I use InDesign, which is a bit quirky sometimes. Also, since I don't do layouts frequently, there's a certain amount of re-learning I have to do with each book. I'm working on one now that's going pretty well. Also, I'm not wild about the Convert to ePub feature. Last time I did it, it didn't work out so well for me. We'll see this time around if it's "user error" (probably is) or the software.

Stephen Tremp said...

Diane, thanks for the info. What do you think of Scrivener? Is that just for ebooks or for paper copies too?

Ann Bennett said...

In reading some self published books, I come across spelling errors and a few unintentional grammatical errors. One eBook's spelling errors made me suspect the software, etc. I knew the writer and I just did not think he would allow that many typos to happen.

For this reason, I would always use an outside editor and formatter, then proofread one more time afterwards. Thanks for the review of formatting software.

Dean K Miller said...

I still work with others to do the formatting, but need to learn it. Thanks for the tips/products/info.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - what a great post - with an interesting link. Thanks. I too noted Pat's idea - and will bear that in mind when the time comes ...

Cheers Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Getting this news out to all the S/P authors I know. Thanks, Diane. Excellent post.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Nadine, I don't often use the layout feature. The ePub conversion is tricky, especially if graphics are involved. But there is a way to anchor them.

Stephen, I've heard others mention it, but not sure if it's up to print standards.

Ann, that is wise.

Yolanda Renee said...

While I'm still operating in the red, so it's CreateSpace for me and Word too. Once I actually, if ever, make money at this book thing, I'll consider spending money and having others do it, until then, it's all done on the cheap. Which may also be why I'm in the red, still. Double edged sword! But the condo on the beach isn't going to fund itself! :)
My publisher has done less than even I have in regards to getting my books out there, but YA is really their thing. My books don't fit - so why did they agree to publish in the first place? Good question!

Lux G. said...

Haven't written a book yet, but seriously considering it. :)
Thanks for these helpful tips.
Happy Christmas!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I'm with Yolanda . . . If I ever get to actually earning some money, I might spring some of those big bucks. Otherwise, word and createspace, with a little publisher get me by. And, I haven't had any complaints about formatting. In fact, I've had a few compliments about the professional quality of my paperback books, which always surprises me. I think it helps that my husband helps me with the final stages. It also makes a difference when you go for the cream paper instead of the startling white in createspace. Sure, it costs more per POD book, but readers notice those small differences. I've been thanked for the cream paper and the readable font.