Do-It-Yourself Publishing — Part Two

Last time we looked at independent publishing of e-books. Now it’s time to do something similar to their printed cousins, paperbacks and hardbacks.

Why control freaks LOVE printed books:

Because they get to be in charge of everything–down to the tiniest dot and tittle. When it comes to self-publishing, that’s not a bad thing, unless the control freak in question can’t tell when he or she has created a piece of– Well, let’s just call it something awful. Then, some sort of intervention might not be a bad idea.

It all starts with the basic manuscript. If you have Microsoft Word, use it. It’s considered the industry standard and most on-line “service providers” like it. There are other word processors, and yes they all have their adherents, and yes, Word has more than their share of issues, not the least of which is changing the freaking layout every time they produce yet another freaking version in a never-ending quest to cram every freaking thing into one freaking program. (Full disclosure: I was quite happy with Word 6 which came out a couple decades and countless Shareholder Reports ago.) The bottom line: deal with it.

Since there are many free texts available on the internet which explain how to format a manuscript for printed books, I won’t go into details here. I can, however, make some suggestions which could save you time and aggravation. The easiest thing to do, of course, is pay someone to do it for you. But, if you’re anything like me, you’re not eager to part with hard-earned cash. Instead, you can go to, choose the page size you want and download a Word template.

Open the template in Word alongside your epic. Then just copy and paste your text into the already formatted chapters in the template. Also included are formatted pages for all the front matter–title page, copyright page, dedication, table of contents, etc. Pages are pre-numbered, and you can plug in your name and the book title in the header. Couldn’t be easier.

You then upload the .DOC file to Createspace; they work their magic, and in minutes you’ll be able to look at your now-formatted book on-line. If you like what you see, you can order a printed proof (always a great idea), or if you find something that needs changing you can re-open the template, make the necessary edits, and then upload the file to Createspace again. I typically go through this process a few times before I get it just the way I like it. But then, I change lots of stuff like type face, paragraph spacing, font size, etc. Why? Because I can! I’m a control freak; it’s what we do.

Now, if you’re really a control freak, just filling in a template that someone else built likely won’t be enough. Even if you fiddle with some of the settings. If you’re really into control, and you want to handle absolutely everything, then you need to invest some time in a desktop publishing program (DTP). There are several excellent applications to choose from, and they’ll all do an amazing job. You’ll have the full range of layout techniques at your disposal. The downside? Like everything else, it’s time and money. The price range for DTP programs is pretty wide. There’s perfectly adequate software available for about $100. I like a program called Page Plus (as of this writing, they’re on version 9. I use 8.) At the other end of the spectrum is Adobe InDesign currently available for around $200 a month.

There are also some open source DTP programs available, and I’ve heard some good things about them. I hesitate to suggest a specific one since I’ve never used them myself.

This article is by no means intended as an exhaustive survey of layout options. There are many service companies, programs and individuals who can and will help you, for a fee. My advice, if you’re going to be doing this more than once, is to learn how to do it yourself. You won’t regret the time spent or the money saved.

Next up: it ain’t a book ’til it’s got a cover.


About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
This entry was posted in editing, Memoir, novel writing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Do-It-Yourself Publishing — Part Two

  1. Gerald Flinchum says:

    A few words about self publishing,
    “Monkey See, Monkey Do!”

  2. Barry says:

    What’s a .DOC file Josh?

    • joshlangston says:

      A .DOC file is simply one saved in MS-Word format. Quite a few different word processing programs can save files as .DOC files, but for publishing purposes, those created in Word work best. Alternatively, .PDF files can also be uploaded, giving users an even broader range of choices. Mr? I’ll stick to Word.

  3. Pingback: DIY publishing pt. 2 – pdx vegabond

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