Saturday, 11 August 2012

Guest Post: Formulaic Formatting by Paul Carroll (Balor Reborn Blog Tour)

It is my pleasure to welcome Paul Carroll to my blog today on his Blog tour discussing different aspects of what it took to write, edit and publish a book in a week, Balor Reborn (more about the book below). Today he is talking about:

Formulaic Formatting

When taking part in the Writing Olympics, you have a choice about your formatting. You can choose to sort it out before you begin writing, or you can change it all at the end. Either way, it's pretty simple to get things right in a way that allows you to publish in multiple formats at once. Using the following guide, I formatted my book, Balor Reborn, for PDF, Epub and .mobi, with it being suitable for the Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, if or when I decide to use it for the book. At the same time, with some minor adjustments, the book is then ready for print publication.

The first thing you have to remember about ebooks is that the font doesn't matter, in the end. E-readers, usually, come equipped to allow you to change the font type, size and, in some cases, colour, so there's no point wasting time deciding on which one looks best. Pick one of the basic fonts that can be read by most computers: Times New Roman or Arial are you best bets. Then, move on.

Unless you're doing a print book, you don't need to worry about changing the size of the page. This includes the use of margins: e-readers don’t take them into consideration, so neither do you. This means you can save yourself a lot of time in doing work that would otherwise require some attention. On that same note, avoid the use of Headers and Footers. Again, e-readers don’t register them, so you’ll only lose them in the process of publishing your book.

Next, and very importantly, we need to talk about... page breaks. You didn’t think I was going to say Kevin there, did you? Anyway, page breaks: they’re essential, and you won’t even notice much difference. When you’re going onto a new page, as in starting a new chapter, do not press the Enter/Return key multiple times to go down a page. Ever. It will only result in massive blank spaces on the ebook. Instead, in Word, go to Insert, and click Page Break. It’ll bring you to the next page, and the e-reader will recognise what you wanted to do and replicate it no matter how big the font is the reader chooses. Is that handy or what?

With page breaks sorted out, we’re on to indents. You know when you press Tab to indent each paragraph? Or when you decide to press the space bar a dozen times? Don’t. Ever. When people change the font size, it’ll really mess things up on you. Instead, highlight your text (Ctrl+A to select everything at once) and click on Line spacing in the toolbar. Head to Line Spacing Options, and where it says Special, choose First Line. Change the box beside it to 0.5 inches. This will ensure a consistent indent in your book.

If you’re like me, and you sometimes choose to have a break in a chapter (actually, there’s at least one in every chapter in Balor Reborn, as far as I can recall), you’ll be tempted to press Enter/Return to create the space between paragraphs. Again, don’t. It’ll cause problems. Instead, when you’re inserting this space, click on the Line spacing again, and click Add Space After Paragraph. It’ll leave a gap that e-readers will register comfortably.

How about contents pages? Do you use those? Depending on how you publish your book, you’ll need to do one of two different things. We’ll start with PDF.

1. Highlight your chapter heading. This could be “Chapter One” or a name you’ve given to a chapter. Just get that line highlighted, and move on to step two.

2. Insert a Bookmark. Bookmarks can be found in the Links section. I tend to follow an alphabetical system – a, b, c, d, etc. It makes it easy to keep track of everything in a system that doesn’t allow for you to use numbers as Bookmark tags.

3. Type up your Table of Contents, if you haven’t already. This will go after your dedication, but before your Preface and/or Prologue, which go in that order before Chapter One. My personal preference is to include the Author Biography and Acknowledgements in that order at the end of the book. It makes it easier for people to get straight into the book.

4. Highlight each term in your Table of Contents that you’ve added a Bookmark to in the text. Click Hyperlink in the Links section, and apply the correct Bookmark (note: click Place in This Document, to access your Bookmarks.)

For .mobi and Epub, there’s a slightly different system to use.

1. Type Table of Contents. Highlight in the same way you did for the PDF chapter headings, and add a bookmark: toc. Exactly that. It’ll register in the background with e-readers, including the Kindle.

2. Highlight each item you want to include in your Table of Contents and change the Style of the text from Normal to Heading 1. When you’ve done that to each location in the book, move on.

3. Back at the Table of Contents heading, click References, and then Table of Contents. From there, click Insert Table of Contents. A box will come up on screen. In General, change the levels shown to 1, and click OK.

And there you have it, a functioning Table of Contents in PDF, Epub and .mobi. If you have Adobe, you can save your file directly to PDF. For the others, you need to save the file as a web page. Download Calibre, which is what I used, and add the web page file. Its Table of Contents should have been made using method two. Publish the book in Epub and .mobi formats, and you have your book now available to sell in all three file formats.

The best part is, when you decide to publish directly to Kindle, you simply need to take the Word file with your .mobi Table of Contents as save it as a Filtered Web Page. That’s all you need to publish with Kindle, with everything else fitting into place perfectly. The book is also capable of being published with Smashwords, if you use the Word file used to create your PDF.

And there you have it. It’s simple, when you get used to it, and it allows for you to control how you publish your book. It also allows for your book to be read on just about any device currently being used that accepts any of the above three file formats. Does it get any better than that?

Paul Carroll is a writer from Dublin. He is studying to be a teacher of Religion and English at second level, while working in a bookshop at weekends. His 'free time' is divided among assignments, fiction, poetry, articles and blog posts, as well as college Drama and almost weekly trips to the local cinema.

He has been writing since the age of twelve, with a love of words going back further than he can remember. When he isn't reading or writing, he likes to make use of social media, bake, and talk to friends. Often, he'll watch a horror film alone in the dark for the sheer joy of it.

He can be found online at

About Balor Reborn
Old Ireland is returning, as an ancient evil arrives in Dublin. A single glance from his eye is all it takes to kill.

Stephen Fox is haunted by the memory of his wife, and suffers from guilt at abandoning his new-born son. The spirit of the tyrant Balor has come back to take his vengeance on the country. A hero must rise in the unwilling form of Fionn Murray, a university student with a mysterious past.. As a world of wonder unfolds around him, and with no one but his house mate Michael at his side, he’s left with the choice of running, or facing the evil that could consume the world.

Based on the old Irish myth of Balor of the Evil Eye, Balor Reborn is the first in a series that seeks to revive the magic of Ireland. It was written and published in one week.

It's available to buy on PDF, Epub and Mobi through:

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