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By Yvonne Perry
I’ve heard it said so many times, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I don’t know where to start.” Well, it’s no more difficult than learning to play the piano, I tell you! Joking aside, here are some pointers that will help you get your rough draft book ready for the printer.
First of all, you have to actually get the book into an electronic format. I suggest you type up your text into a Microsoft Word document. The printer may prefer the document to be sent as a portable document file (PDF) by using Adobe Acrobat, Quark, InStyle or some other layout program. Using styles in Word can present an unstable document when opened in a different version of the program. But, for the typesetting, editing and formatting phase, I find Word does a great job.
Does Size Really Matter?
Yes, when it comes to cost savings it does. The average paperback book size is five inches wide by eight inches tall which is one-half the size of a sheet of 8.5 by 11 inch paper. Finished size for hardcover books is 5.5 by 8.5 inches because the cover overhangs the paper’s edge. However, the page size and setup is the same for paperback or hardcover. You’ll need to select page setup from the file menu and open the tab called paper size, then type in the above mentioned page dimensions. In order to get the margins to print correctly and allow enough room for binding you need to set up your page with ½ (.50) inch margins on the top, bottom, and outside margins. Be sure to click on mirror margins and set the inside to ¾ (.75) inches. Most people my age wear readers or need bifocals, so a comfortable reading font (typeset) sizes for book print is between 11 and 12 points. Verdana is my favorite font because it is easier to read. I find that Arial font is hard to read because the i’s and l’s are too close together. Each line should have about 50-60 characters, including spaces. Each page should have approximately 40 lines. This should give you about 250 words per page.
Learning to use styles can drive you crazy, but if you are up for the challenge the feature can save you time. It allows you to create uniform text, paragraph settings, character spacing, and other qualities to selected portions of text. You can have the title in one font size and bold style, the chapter headings in a smaller font such as Times New Roman, and the body text in Verdana or whatever font you like best. Using styles will give the book a consistent look. Another advantage is when you change an attribute of the text in one paragraph, everything with that style will automatically update throughout the entire book. Pretty nifty!
You’ll need to have headers and footers with chapter titles and page numbers. These are added by selecting “view” from the MS Word toolbar to open the header and footer. Then, type in your chapter title, author name or the book title, add the page number, etc. Section breaks will need to be created in order to define and customize the chapter headings. Use “insert” also on the MS Word toolbar to add a section break.
Self-publishing means you have to do everything yourself or else outsource various tasks. As writers we can get so close to our writing that we can’t see our own typos. Even if you are an excellent writer, you will still need to have someone proofread your book because whatever you send to the printer is what is going to be printed.
If you are thinking of self-publishing your book, you should read Peter Bowerman’s book “The Well-fed Self-Publisher” ISBN 0967059860. It could save you a lot of time and money!
Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS). She and her team of ghostwriters are ready to assist you with writing and editing for books, eBooks, Web text, business documents, resumes, bios, articles, and media releases. For more information about writing, networking, publishing, and book promotion, or to sign up for free email delivery of WITS newsletter, please visit http://www.writersinthesky.com New subscribers receive a free eBook Tips for Freelance Writing.