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:
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.
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.
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.
Good rundown of the products.
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.
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.
Thanks, Diane. This is great to know.
Really informative. Thank you, Diane.
Great post! Bookmarking to reference later.
Great information. I've formatted my own, but I so much prefer to pay someone to do it. Boring! At least for me.
Pat, that's a smart way to do it.
Lee, I love detail work and enjoy formatting.
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.
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.
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.
Diane, thanks for the info. What do you think of Scrivener? Is that just for ebooks or for paper copies too?
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.
I still work with others to do the formatting, but need to learn it. Thanks for the tips/products/info.
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 ...
Getting this news out to all the S/P authors I know. Thanks, Diane. Excellent post.
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.
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!
Haven't written a book yet, but seriously considering it. :)
Thanks for these helpful tips.
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.
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