Writing is simple. We put words to paper, edit it, polish it, and then…we forget an important step. Manuscripts in Word are usually not going to cut it when trying to publish your ebook or paperback. You have to do some interior design to get it to the right dimensions, specifications, and look that you’re going for.
There are a bunch of tools out there that you can use to format your manuscript to make it ready for publication. If you’re self-published like me, then you have to put in a little more elbow grease to get it looking more like an actual book and less like a word document.
Some tools are free to use like Kindle Create from Amazon which builds your ebook and paperback for you. All you have to do is upload your polished manuscript with just the chapters of your story and it automatically locates them and spaces them out. Then it’s up to you to add in the front and back matter.
The front and back hooby whaty?
So, front matter is the front content of your book. This would include pages like:
- Title Page
- Copyright Page
- Table of Contents
- Author Notes
There are a lot more pages you can add here, but I think you get the picture. Word of advice: don’t forget to add in a blank page before your story starts. Otherwise, your table of contents page may be on one side with your first chapter right on the other when you open your book. Talk about strange looking.
Kindle Create allows you to add in all these pages or whatever you desire. It even has a nice template where you fill in the information making the process as simple as possible. Once you have your front matter, you fill in your back matter.
- Author Bio
- Author’s Previous Works
You may want to put a blank page in between your story and back matter as well. I like how Kindle features the author’s previous books because it allows you to insert links so those who buy the ebook can simply click it. It’s nice if you want people to keep buying books from you.
Kindle Create also has some customizable features for the chapter titles, subtitles, and paragraphs. I, personally, like dropping the cap on the first letter of each chapter to give it that ultra fancy look, but you can decide on what best fits your theme. And then when you’re finished, you can preview your book on different devices like a tablet, computer, and phone.
Now, this tool is all fine and dandy if you’re doing all your stuff solely on Amazon. However, if you want to use other platforms, I would suggest reformatting your book in accordance with their tools or requirements. A lot of platforms will have a post about how to format your book as a word document or pdf and you should follow those guidelines if you’re not using a tool that’s cross platform compatible (like Kindle Create as far as I know.)
You can always hire a professional to format your books as well. The best place to start looking would be with Reedsy, in my opinion. They have professionals from every part of the writing and publishing world who specialize in specific and broad tasks. And they’ll work within your budget.
All in all, your interior needs to be just as professional as your book cover. No one wants to pick up a book, open the first page, and see that it’s missing front matter or the chapters are off print. Make it professional and take your time with it. It’ll give you the results you want.