This post is the forty-fourth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
Over the past two weeks, I have covered what you will want before (front matter) and after (back matter) your story. However, before you can upload your story to Amazon, Smashwords or any other e-book retailer (Kobo, Barnes & Noble) you will need to make sure your novel is in the proper format.
Now if you are computer-savvy, this is something you can do for yourself. But for those who don’t feel up to doing it yourself or just don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can hire someone to format your book for you.
Note: Draft2Digital (a competitor of Smashwords) takes this question out of the equation by doing the formatting for you.
Option 1 – Do it yourself
There are directions to follow on Smashwords and on Amazon. Actually, Amazon recently introduced Kindle Create, which is an online tool that lets you format your manuscript for the Kindle. I used it on my last book, and it worked great. I will say that I always do my own formatting. I like to use the Smashwords directions before I do anything else.
Advantage – It is free. If you are relatively proficient at MS Word, it is not difficult to follow either guide.
Disadvantage – if you aren’t proficient in MS Word, or you don’t own/use MS Word you could produce an improperly formatted book that will prevent or delay the publishing of your book. Also depending on your level of proficiency, it can take a while to follow all the formatting steps.
Option 2 – Hire someone
As I said, some authors would rather leave the formatting to the professionals. Just remember that when you hire someone to format your book that is all they are doing. They are not proofing the content.
Smashwords offers a list of formatters (as well as cover designers).
Advantages – Hiring someone who knows what they are doing can take less time and relieve you of having to worry about the formatting being done correctly.
Disadvantage – It cost money. The average rate can vary from $30 to $100 depending on the complexity or condition of your current file. It also can take longer depending on the turnaround time of the person doing the formatting.
Note that if you publish on Smashwords, they require a specific notice as part of the front matter that you will want to remove for submission to Amazon and other providers.
The most important thing is that you follow the guidelines provided by Amazon, Smashwords, or whatever other e-book publishers you are using so that your book not only meets their requirements but looks professional.