The road from book idea to complete manuscript is a long one, full of twists, turns, and challenges. When you finally finish your last revision, it can feel like you’ve reached the mountain peak and the hard work is behind you. Of course, then you double-check your map and realize you’ve still got miles to travel before you reach your destination of being a published author.
But don’t be daunted! Thankfully, today’s indie publishing community is a supportive one, and Reedsy is here to help escort you to your next milestone: formatting your manuscript to be press-ready.
That’s why we created the Reedsy Book Editor: a free formatting tool that any author can use to ensure that their trade book meets industry standards.
The best part (apart from the $0 price tag) is that you can turn your manuscript into a full-fledged book in just six steps.
Let’s get started.
Let’s get started.
Step One: Import your book
The very first step is to create the chapters or parts of your book. You’ll find the function to do so at the top-left of the Editor, right under the Reedsy logo.
Once you’ve finished setting that up, you can begin importing your manuscript — a fancy term for copying and pasting each chapter or part into the Editor. Any formatting that you’ve already done in Word, Google Docs, or Pages will carry over into the Editor when you copy and paste (including italics, bold words, links, headings, etc).
Once you’ve finished getting your manuscript settled into the Editor, the fun part starts: formatting!
Bonus resource: Get your manuscript to the finish line in the first place by developing a rock-solid writing routine.
Step Two: Format your manuscript
If you haven’t already finished formatting your manuscript before transferring it over to the Editor, don’t worry! The Editor’s formatting bar makes it a breeze — and maybe even a little fun! This is the part where you get to put the finishing touches on your manuscript and see your words start to actually look like a book.
The formatting bar offers two primary functions:
First, it allows you to style your paragraphs. Highlight the appropriate paragraph and select one of these options:
- A standard serif paragraph: this is the default option for any pasted content.
- Three types of headings (if applicable): H1, H2, and H3.
- Two types of lists (if applicable): numbers and bullet points.
- Quotations: an offset, italic version of the standard serif paragraph. Use this to highlight a paragraph — for instance, if the text is a letter or diary entry.
Second, it allows you to style and customize your fonts. Highlight the appropriate words and select one of these options:
You can also format your book with the “Add” function (the plus sign “+” at the top of the Editor). This function allows you to:
- Add an image
- Add an endnote/footnote
- Add a scene break (which you can see below)
Once you’ve finished formatting your manuscript, it’s time make sure your front and back matter’s t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted.
Bonus resource: Learn more about typesetting and the role a book’s interior plays in getting its message across to readers.
Step Three: Prepare your front and back matter
Reedsy offers ready-to-go templates for the following front matter components: copyright, dedication, epigraph, table contents, foreword, preface, and acknowledgement.
The back matter consists of your endnotes, about the author page, and “Also by…” page where you can tell readers about other books you’ve published.
Of course, you don’t need to use all of these options. Simply select the ones you want to include.
Bonus resource: Learn more about the different parts of a book, including the front and back matter.
Step Four: Add finishing touches
With the Editor, you can rest assured knowing that your book will meet industry standards. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be standard itself!
The exporting process will give you a few final opportunities to customize, including:
- The option to add drop caps.
- Three themes, including: Standard Reedsy format, Romance, and Classic.
If your book’s interior is ready to rock, it’s time to give it a cover.
Step Five: Upload your book cover
To do so, select “Book settings,” and then “Upload a book cover.” If you’re planning to publish print copies, ensure that the cover you upload has the appropriate dimensions based on the printer you’re planning to use!
This is an important step to get right because, despite what we’ve been told, people will absolutely judge your book by it’s cover. Here are few resources for you to consider while working on your cover:
- Book Cover Design: A Definitive Author's Guide
- The Back of a Book Cover: How to Build One That Actually Works (with Template)
- How to Choose the Right Book Cover Dimensions
- Top 7 Resources to Design Your Own Book Cover
And, of course, it’s always worth considering working with a professional cover designer. Check out the average cost of hiring a professional here!
Bonus resource: Learn more about book cover design for indie authors.
Step Six: Export your book
This is your last stop! If you haven’t already, it’s time to decide whether you want to create an ebook, print copies, or both. If you’re just focusing on ebooks, you’ll want to select the “.epub and .mobi conversion” option. If you’re looking to create print copies, ensure you select the “Print on Demand PDF” option.
The epub option will be compatible with all the major online retailers, including Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iBookstore, the Kobo Store, Nook Press, Google Play and NetGalley.
The PDF option will be compatible with all the major POD services, such as IngramSpark, CreateSpace, BookBaby, Lulu, and more.
Once again, if you’re printing copies, don’t forget to ensure that when downloading the file, you choose the trim size that matches the dimensions of your book cover! The available trim sizes are:
- Pocket 4.25 x 6.87 in (10.80 x 17.45 cm)
- Reedsy 5 x 8 in (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
- Digest 5.5 x 8.5 in (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
- Trade 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Bonus resource: Learn more about which ebook format you should choose, or about what the best service for print-on-demand books is for you!
Hit “Export” and wait for the Reedsy Book Editor to email you with your ready-to-publish files. You’re one step closer to being a published author! The top of the mountain is getting a little closer, and we hear the view of the other side is pretty darn nice.
Before we go, we’ve got one more bonus resource for you: a short video tutorial that will visually take you through all of the above steps.
Hi Alex and IWSG team - this looks to be an amazing resource ... wonderful to know about - as I definitely would like to get myself 'out there' ... so I will be exploring and listening to other readers comments - fantastic, so thank you to you and your team - cheers Hilary
This is excellent advice Alex, I recall the four books I've written although poetry the trip to publishing is the same hard, arduous work and editing but the joy when you see the finished product is well worth it.
Sounds like a great way to get things all geared up indeed.
Sounds like a great resource for writers who are self-publishing.I love all the in-depth steps. I'd need those for sure.
Reedsy has been one of my options for a few months now, even if I am some way off having my WIP ready.
Reedsy has come up with a very useful tool for Indie author. Seems like anyone could use this successfully.
This sounds great. Hopefully this software does a good job of stripping out all those special editing codes MS Word adds to its files.
Wow. I'll be using this. Thanks for the post.
Thank you for this step-by-step advice on how to use Reedsy. I am happy to use this hereafter struggling for years to make my book a published work.
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