I’m one of those hands on learners. I have to try and fall on my face a few times (usually more) before I get something right. I’m not claiming to have everything right now, but I’m doing some book publishing activities correctly. Let us go through a brief list of what I’ve learned and maybe I can save someone else a few times of falling on their face.
Book formatting in Word – I use the 2003 version.
Use the ‘mirror margins’ setting and a gutter, which is like an extra margin for the inside.
Set page number alignment to ‘outside’ or page numbers will end up on the right.
Don’t put text too close to the page numbers because that looks weird.
Do not use tabs for indents. If you tab over for an indent, smashwords will reject your file. You have to move that top little triangle on the ruler. Also, you only need to take the indent in 2 notches or so.
Non-book formatting learnings
Weird plus complicated don’t mix well for the general reading public. This conclusion isn’t based on a survey or anything. It’s just a theory of mine, really. I can be weird or I can be complicated, but I probably shouldn’t be both.
Free is the best advertisement. This is a new one for me, so I don’t have much in the way of free out yet. Think about the first time you read your favorite authors. Did you buy a book first? Or did you check it from from a library or borrow the book from someone else? People like free stuff, and if they like your freebies well enough, they just might buy a book some day. This is also free marketing for the person trying to sell books, as there are many websites on which an author can post free downloads of their work.
What else? Ah, yes. READ DIRECTIONS and FORMS. I have a tendency to be a scatterbrain. When I switched from lulu over to createspace, apparently I didn’t read the part of the forms that would have 1. Listed my book for sale on amazon and 2. Added keywords to make the book come up on searches. DUH! Big brain! I delayed my own book availability/searchability. Is searchability a word? I’m thinking no.
I need to read my book a minimum of five times (plus have one other editor) in order to catch most of the things that are wrong. Having a cooling off period is very important too.
Have an editor, any editor. Even if you think you are supreme word king or queen, someone aside from the author needs to read that book. They will catch things the author won’t guaran-effin-teed. Even if the reader doesn’t have the proper training to pick out many grammar mistakes, they will give a reader’s perspective – a what the heck does that mean? Or a this can’t possibly happen/exist. Minimum qualifications for editor should be – reasonably good grasp of the language and acceptable reading comprehension.
And finally – if the goal is to have the book for sale on amazon, then use createspace instead of lulu. They are cheaper and faster. Seriously.