or How I Keep My Blood Pressure Sky-High
by Pam Headrick
A Thirsty Mind Book Design
also writing Romantic Suspense
as Min Edwards
Sure, you can start out with a Word file. But if you’re going to format your own novel, you MUST learn all you can about Word Styles. This is imperative. Styles will save your life and the life of your book. Word offers lots of tutorials on ‘How to work with Styles’ so watch them . . . over and over.
And stay away from that tab key. Tabs are bad in this digital age. Let your Normal Style carry the weight. Modify the style . . .
Normal/Modify/Format/Paragraph/Indentations...Special/First Line by 0.25” or anything else up to 0.5”. I think one-half inch is too much for an indent though. I always use 0.25-0.30.
Another thing to remember is that your novel might be read on the screen of a smartphone. That’s small. Never hit that ‘Enter’ key more than four times to make blank lines. And never make any heading larger than 18pts. More than that and you’ll get weirdness on a small screen.
The last step in saving your Word file to go forward is make sure that the widow/orphan control is OFF any of your styles. Modify/Paragraph/Line and Page Breaks/Pagination/ do NOT check the box next to Widow/Orphan control. If this is left on ANY style then you might find truly odd formatting getting in your face when you’re previewing your ePub file later on down the road.
Word to HTML
This is the next step. When you’ve mastered Styles and think you have a beautiful looking document worthy of your story, then ‘save as Webpage-Filtered’. That gets you an HTML code file. But since it comes from the Word document, you’ll have to edit it. Don’t be afraid. There are just a few things that you’ll have to edit out. Open up that HTML file in a text editor. Notepad comes with Word, but there are others.
First edit: Replace. Find: clear=all. Replace with: . Don’t put anything in the Replace line. This code sneaks into your file when in Word you use the Page Break function.
Second edit: Replace. Find: border=0. Replace with: . Don’t put anything in the Replace line. This code pops up sometimes when you’ve included an image in your Word file.
Third edit: Replace function again in the Notepad. Find: id=. Replace with: . Nothing in this box. Id= crops up in all kinds of instances. Images, some weblinks. Delete if the code says id=Picture #. But be careful . . . sometimes this id= code shows up elsewhere. If so, leave it alone unless during the validation process it’s flagged. Then you can take the instance out.
You’ll also have to edit your Style sheet (this is all the code right above your text in the HTML document . . . you’ll recognize it)
Find all instances of the Style Flush (FlushItalic, FlushBold, Flush12, Flush6... these are all Flush styles I use). See the sample below and the code in red. This won’t be in your Style sheet if you’ve saved the HTML from Word.
p.Flush, li.Flush, div.Flush
font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;}
You’ll have to add this text into each of your Flush styles. Of course, this is where the whole ‘working in Word’ will trip you up. By the time you convert this HTML file into an ePub file, this whole stylesheet will look different. The ‘text-indent:0in;’ will morph into ‘text-indent: 0;’ But it’s critical to have this line of text. If it’s not there, then you might not see any lines of text flush-left when you get your novel converted into an ePub or mobi.
Many indie authors use other programs to convert their documents to an ePub format... Scrivener, Legendmaker, Adobe InDesign... so if you’re not using Word as your basis then you’ll have other issues. But I’m set in my ways and have used Word since the 80s. This is my method and I’m stickin’ with it.
HTML to ePub
This is pretty straightforward, and by this step in the process you’ll have a good HTML file. I use Calibre as the next step (a free program) but there are other programs. I just find that Calibre works for me, and for my clients.
After you get your Calibre ePub, you’ll have a chance to preview it. If you see a problem, there is a new ‘edit’ function which pulls up the HTML code. And if you’re confident in your HTML skills, then see if you can fix your ePub. Sorry, there’s a long learning curve to this formatting stuff. And even though I’ve been doing this for years, there are days when a seemingly simple novel becomes a recalcitrant mule. Several times, I’ve had to go back to Word, convert to HTML and start over. Those are the high blood pressure days. Thank goodness, it doesn’t happen often.
Don’t use Calibre to make a mobi file for Amazon though. Amazon hates these and will sometimes reject them. Just use the program to make an ePub file.
Calibre ePub to Sigil ePub
It’s important that your book have instructions in it. We call them Guides and you get those by uploading your Calibre ePub into Sigil (an ePub editor . . . free).
Set your Guides by right-clicking on the HTML file in Sigil that contains your Title page. Yes, after taking your HTML file through the Calibre/ePub process you no longer have just one HTML file, but a file for each section or chapter in your book . . . anyplace that you’ve inserted or built-in a page break. So, Title Page html, this is usually the second file in the file list on the left side of your Sigil program when you open the ePub in Sigil... Semantics/Title page, right click. Then again, on the file that contains your Table of Contents, Semantics/Table of Contents. The last Guide is for the location where you want your reader to begin enjoying your book. Semantics/text. Sigil automatically selects your Prologue or Chapter One as ‘text’, but you may want your book to start on a reader letter. Find that HTML file and choose that as ‘text’ instead of Chapter one.
There really aren’t many pitfalls to Sigil except during edits. I get a lot of requests to edit a book that I’ve formatted months or years before. And it’s very easy to just change a word here a phrase there. But . . . sometimes these edits include a “ or a ‘. Maybe it’s just my Sigil and me, but when I put in a line of text with either of these things, Sigil by default uses straight quotes. I just find an instance within the HTML where these things occur and copy/paste them where I need them. A pain surely, but it works. There’s probably a place in Sigil where you can set the default of a quote to a curly quote (smart quote) as you can in Word, but I’ve never found it.
Another thing that you should be aware of in Sigil is the Book view and Code view. I use Book view when I want to insert links in the text during editing. I use Code view when I need to edit the text itself. You just have to be wary of sneaky little code phrases that drop in during your edits . . . which is why I don’t edit in Book view.
The International Digital Publishing Forum (http://validator.idpf.org/) is the final step in converting a beautiful ePub file, which can be read on most reading devices (except Kindle of course). You need to always validate your file before uploading it or before converting it through KindlePreviewer to a mobi/Kindle file. This nifty little online program can find all kinds of errors. Of course, if you have an error the list below those words... your file did not pass validation... is to most people gibberish. It’s in code for gosh sakes! But mostly the errors are ones that I’ve warned you to delete from your HTML file (clear=all, border=0, id=? and the pesky little phrase right above the start of your book <body lang=EN-US link="#0563C1" vlink="#954F72"> or similar wording. You have to delete the ‘link="#0563C1" vlink="#954F72’ from this line of code. The explanation is too long to get in to now, but believe me, you have to delete this if you want a clean validation.
Some miscellaneous tips
Fonts: There has been much discussion online recently about the use of fonts installed on your computer with programs such as Word. Those fonts are licensed for print . . . not for digital use. I don’t believe anyone has gotten a letter from a disgruntled font designer yet, but it’s a copyright issue and as authors, we need to be sympathetic. I almost never embed a font into a digital file and if a client wants a specific font for a heading or title, I warn them that they need to buy a digital license for the font. I don’t get the request often but it still worries me. Times New Roman font is the suggested font to use by the Kindle formatting guide. Kindle suggest this because it’s easily overridden by fonts offered by the different reading devices. Kindle and iBooks on my iPad have Georgia, which takes the place of TNR. Other devices offer similar fonts. It’s always good to give the choice to your reader.
I use the already setup templates from Create Space—5.25x8, 5.5x8 and 6x9 are the most common ones.
The time consuming part of print on demand formatting is making sure that you don’t have an orphan line sitting by itself on an even page (the odd pages don’t matter so much). Also you should probably watch your word spacing. In text justification, (particularly when you don’t use Auto Hyphenation which I don’t normally) you’ll have some pretty wide spaces forming. I tweak these places using Font/Advanced/Spacing . . . then Condensed by 0.2pt or 0.3pt. Choose just a line, maybe two or even just a couple of words that are widely spaced. This works well and translates into PDF almost always . . . but it’s PDF and nothing is 100%.
Auto or manual hyphenation can also be tricky, particularly if you find an error in your text after you’ve saved your manuscript to PDF. You could of course go back to your formatted Word file which is how you got to PDF in the first place. However, if you’re anything like me you have flourishes, front plate, excerpt images or just pretty pictures (I end my Acknowledgments section in every book with a picture of my Zach . . . a German Shepherd. He’s classically handsome, so he deserves to be immortalized in digital and print). And Adobe Pro, as wonderful as it is, doesn’t translate hi-res images very well. So you have to re-insert them every time you edit the Word and save it as a PDF. This gets time-consuming.
Anyway, the point of this hyphenation warning is that the hyphenation is locked into the word. Example: al-though or gain-ful. That hyphen is there forever. So if you have to edit a paragraph which has a hyphen in it somewhere, be sure that you go over the whole paragraph and make sure that your hyphenated words don’t now reside in the middle of a line where that hyphen sticks out like a sore thumb. I know what I’m talking about. Just yesterday, this happened to me twice. Thankfully, I have a very understanding client.
Print formatting is almost stress free, except when it’s not. Such as:
Cyrillic alphabet: I found out just last week that Adobe Pro does not like the Cyrillic alphabet. Thank goodness, my client only had a few phrases in his novel, but those took an inordinate amount of time to tweak to perfection.
But mostly print formatting lets me wallow in my creative juices. Digital formatting is technical, print formatting is art.
There are many more tricks, tips, and pitfalls for formatting in both digital and print, but I don’t want to scare you off. If you’re an author, leave it to a professional. You need to be writing.
Thanks for letting me bend your ear today. I’m always available to answer specific questions about formatting concerns (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can check out my formatting blog at AThirstyBlog.com for issues that have popped up in the last few years. You may have your problem solved there. Or drop by www.athirstymind.com to see the services that I offer.
And if you’re interested in my writing life as Min Edwards and how I use my formatting knowledge to style my own books, just look at www.MinEdwards.com . . .
A man surrounded by guilt, a woman surrounded by heartache.
Annie Alexander has spent the last years trying to get past her husband’s death in combat. Her organic farm is beginning to thrive. Her daughter, Caroline, is obsessed with all the farm animals. Their goat, Anita, is literally a pain in the butt. But just as Annie thinks she’s recovering her life, a visitor comes.
Major Andrew Meacham arrives on Annie’s porch one snowy night and turns her world upside down. Then he’s gone as quickly as he came, like a phantom.
Months later Drew Meacham returns to Annie’s bucolic farm—this time he brings trouble. Yes, he’s a danger, but he’s also Annie’s salvation, teaching her to love again. Will the danger that follows Drew destroy them all, or will he be the man that Annie needs.
Min Edwards is the pen name of archaeologist, former bookstore owner, and proprietor of
A Thirsty Mind Book Design, Pam Headrick.
She has lived in many countries in her life: England, the Philippines, Cuba, Texas (yes, Texas thinks of itself as a separate country), gathering experiences for her writing along the way. She earned Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees from Texas Tech University and The University of Texas at Austin in anthropology/archaeology with minors in art, geology, and geography, but she spent her early career as an archaeological illustrator of some renown. Radically changing track in 2004 and opening an independent bookstore in an affluent community outside Austin, A Thirsty Mind Words & Wines (one of the first bookstore/wine bars in the country), started her on the road to careers in bookselling, eBook formatting and ultimately writing.
In 2011 she, her son and Zach the dog moved to her small coastal property, Pheasant Cove Farm, in Downeast Maine. She continues her book design and writing careers in the office of her Greek Revival farmhouse (built in 1836) surrounded by acres of woods populated with pheasant, chickadee, hummingbird, woodpecker, moose, deer, raccoon, porcupine and the occasional weasel—she’s overrun with critters. She also enjoys her own private beach!