You’ve finally finished writing your book. Now what? What do you do next? New authors typically have many questions about how to proceed with their book formatting. Of course, it depends on where you plan on publishing your book. Keep in mind that each publisher has their own requirements.
Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) Requirements
Since KDP is one of the biggest publishers out there, we will use them as an example. This is for a print book. Amazon has a long list of requirements that must be met to publish your book on their platform. You can get this information from KDP for a paperback manuscript.
Setting page size and margins
A few key terms before we begin:
- Trim size. This is your printed book’s width and height. The most common trim size for paperbacks in the U.S. is 6″ x 9″. However, you have several other options.
- Bleed. Books with bleed have elements that extend to the edge of the page. Accounting for bleed is important because it prevents a white border from appearing at the edge of the page when the book is trimmed.
- Margins. Every page has three outside margins (top, bottom, and side) and one inside margin (also called the gutter). Margins ensure your text isn’t cut off during manufacturing. Set your page size before you set your margins. Why? Margin size depends on page count and on whether you have elements that bleed.
Use the styles function in Word to ensure your font and spacing is consistent. Styles also saves you time. This is because you don’t have to format the font and spacing for each part of your book.
Formatting chapters (section breaks and chapter titles)
This step is important because of the following:
- Section breaks. To ensure that your content begins on the correct page, use section breaks. Section breaks allow you to change the formatting of a specific section without affecting other sections. Add a section break between the front matter and book body to distinguish these parts of the book. Also, use section breaks so each chapter title page starts on its own page.
- Chapter titles. When you format each chapter title page, apply the Heading 1 style to each chapter title. In addition to the consistent look that Heading 1 provides throughout your book, using Heading 1 tags the chapter title so that it will appear in the table of contents, which is explained in Step 9.
Formatting front matter
Front matter are the sections that come before the first chapter. Some elements are expected and others are optional, but there is a standard order.
Tip: Right-facing pages are odd numbered pages in printed books because the first piece of paper is on the right side, facing up from the open, printed book. The back of the cover is the left-facing page.
Some books have different pagination styles between the front matter (Roman numerals) and book body (Arabic numerals). If you’re unsure whether to use different pagination styles (it’s not typical for novels), find books with content similar to yours to get an idea of what readers expect. To achieve different pagination styles, you have to use section breaks.
Alternating headers between the book title and author name is common in book design. To achieve different headers for the book content and front matter, you have to set up your file using section breaks.
Formatting chapter title pages
Using a First Paragraph style and drop caps (a large capital letter typical for the first letter of the first word in a chapter) gives your chapter title page a professional look. If you want to use a drop cap, you might want to create a First Paragraph style with no indentation so that the drop cap lines up with the paragraph alignment.
You can get more information from KDP for a paperback manuscript.
Successful Book Formatting
Formatting is critical to your success as an author. Therefore, without professional formatting, your book may not get the attention that it deserves. This is where Blue Crab Books comes in. We will provide you with the best quality service for your book and the best reading experience for your audience, but at an affordable price.
Print and eBooks
We provide formatting for both print and eBook formats.
Our book designers will work with your manuscript to create a layout that aligns with your theme and the message of your book. Blue Crab Books will send you the proofs for our designs for you to review and approve.
It is our goal that you are happy with the end results. If your happy with our book formatting service, then we are happy!
For more information, see Formatting Tips for Your Manuscript
If you still have questions, see our FAQs.