Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Never let anyone tell you that all an Indie Author does is write! #amwriting

Moving on to #5

A formatter – again you can hire someone. At the beginning I did so and it jumped up and bit me in the ass. It’s much better to learn how and keep control of all your work.

I can only speak from my own experience about the formatting issue. And I will tell you that if I knew then, (when I first started) what I know now, (famous last words) I would have done things very differently. I would never have hired a professional.

Instead, I’d have found a top-notch program that works as well as a professional and done it myself. Which is what I ended up doing last summer for most of my books...  approximately 20 of them. And let me tell you – it was a lot of work and worth every minute I grumbled my way through it.

The thing is, when you first begin this writer’s journey, there is so much to learn that one gets overwhelmed. A person believes that they can’t do it all. That they need to pay a professional to do this stuff for them. As far as the cover art and the editing, I totally agree. But when it comes to the formatting, nowadays, it’s not that difficult.

Trust me… It kind of like the old saying – if I can do it – any dummy can.... truly!!

Early last year, after one of our local RWA meetings, I was having some wine with a few of the other authors in the group and sniveling about how my formatter had dropped the ball yet again and was keeping me waiting until the very last minute for my formatted manuscripts. One of the ladies became interested and mentioned a program called Pressbook. She explained that it was a template kind of deal where one followed the instructions, copy and pasted the manuscript into a form, added in the Book Information such as the ISBN, the copywrite, etc and it was simple. Once you chose the appearance from a number of styles they have there for you to peruse, you click on export. Within a few seconds, for the low cost of $20, you’ll get the prettiest little pdf, epub and mobi files you ever did see.

Thankfully, there were a lot of how-to videos to watch that made this possible for me to learn quickly. With very little skill, taking approximately an hour or two for a book (depending on the length), I was able to accomplish what I had paid mega bucks to have done in the past. And… all I had gotten for my money and the years I’d stuck it out was a mobi format – nothing else.

So… find yourself something similar. I know a lot of people use Scrivener, others use Microsoft Word and still others use Adobe InDesign. For me, I never had any real experience with any of these. Once my formatter had begun to drop the ball, was hard to get a hold of, taking way too long with the work and wanting to charge me extra for the epub files, (you see - I’d decided to begin spreading my work around the other venues) it was time to do something different. And I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did make the change.

For me, Pressbook has been terrific. I can store all my manuscripts in the site and access them any time I want to and from any computer. This is huge!!! Therefore, all my book files are altogether and safe. Whenever I want to update the “Also Author of…” page - no problem. I make the changes in the new book I’m formatting, and then when I have time, I go into the other books and copy and paste the new page and press the export button. Seconds later, I have the files and can go and upload them wherever they need to go – Amazon, Kobo, Apple, etc. I don’t have to go and beg anyone to do this work for me and then have to pay them.

An added benefit I love about Pressbook is that you can also pay another $80 and have that file made into a paperback pdf. That’s so cool!! (BTW – they often have sales with up to 35% off so I nab a discount for one of my paperbacks every time and get to save a lot of money that way.)

Okay - Just a small note to end this debate… if in fact you really can’t handle doing the formatting yourself, then please do find a good formatter, one that doesn't charge too much and has a good turnaround time – and REALLY good references. Because, let’s face it, no matter who does the work, it has to be done. Your product has to be perfect to compete against others who know better than to publish amateurishly formatted material.

I hope I gave you lots to think about...

You hate me now, don’t ya??

**From now on, I've decided I need to follow my own advice. I tell everyone how important it is to make friends and get exposure so the readers will recognize you and want to follow you down your path as an author. So therefore, from now on, I’ll be making a concerted effort to invite those who read my blogs to please follow me on my newsletter also.

I really do only write once a month or so and I've been told by many that they like my newsy letters. Guess it’s because I feel like I’m writing a letter to friends rather than a business blurb about my books.



  1. I also format my own books. I use a combination of Calibre and Sigil. It took a little bit of time to learn how to use the programs, but I love having control of my manuscripts and creating them at zero cost.

    1. I've heard of Calibre but never Sigil. Goes to show you that there's a lot of different choices for people to use...to have control. Love that work!!! :-)

  2. Great article, Mimi! I use Scrivener for most of my formatting, but still haven't bothered with Smashwords so I pay to have that done. The formatter is a friend/author so she understands the importance of time. One day I'll preset Scrivener to do that, too. I've always been artsy, so enjoy creating my own covers. One thing I will not do though, is attempt to do final edits on my own work. Sometimes even 6 eyes miss major problems, so 2 can only end in disaster. Thanks for the tip about Pressbook. I love learning about new resources :-)

  3. Hi Dariel, I know Scrivener is a wonderful tool but I've just never had the time to figure it out. I'd like to take a workshop sometime to really learn it so I can use it the way it was meant to be used. Glad you have a friend to help you out with the formatting for Smashwords. I've done quite a few of my books for them and it's a real pain to get them through that #@@!# meat grinder :-) I tend to put off that chore and just get them up everywhere else. :-) Totally agree about the editing...even 6 eyes have missed mistakes in my case and thankfully, wonderful fans have stepped up and let me know of a few small oversights. :-)