for the Writers

How I made my book look like a book

In a timeline of things to be done in the journey of self-publishing, on one end is the writing and editing. And on the other end is the selling and marketing.

But there’s a whole lot of in between that doesn’t really get talked about.

If you type a jumble of words into a Word document, that doesn’t look like a book. And so once I finished my 6 steps of editing, I moved on to researching how to make my book look like a book.

You can of course hire a book designer. And you probably should. But I wanted it to look book-ish for my beta readers, and I wasn’t about to pay for that. Plus I thought it’d be fun to figure out what all goes into it.

Disclaimer: I probably don’t have it all right, and I certainly don’t have it all here. This is just the steps I took after alot of research but without knowing everything professionally. Heck, I could even be completely wrong on something. This is more to give you an idea of what goes into it, what to think about, and what to research. This is certainly not a complete how-to.

 

Turning a manuscript into something that looks more book-ish

1) Fonts

There’s only certain fonts that work for books. Visually pleasing and easy for long reads. Plus you have to make sure the fonts you choose actually work well together, not just alone.

Serif is recommended for body text, and sans serif is recommended for other content. Also, Times New Roman is bad! Baaaad! Like it’s designed for newspapers to squish words together to fit on the page and it’s not great for long reads. That’s the main points I got out of my research.

Beyond that, you need to actually research which fonts play well on a page together. It’s kind of a toss-up if you’re not a graphic designer or at least more experienced with typography.

After some research, I chose to go with Corbel for the chapter titles, Palatino Linotype for the non-story content (page numbers, table of contents, etc.), and I went with Bookman Old Style for the story.

2) Spacing and Indents

I went with font 11pt with a 15 pt spacing. I indented at 12 pt.

From what I found, fonts are usually 11 or 12pt. Spacing is debated; some recommend single, and some slightly more than single. Indenting should be less than the amount of spacing.

Also, with Bookman Old Style I found the spacing between letters to be a tad close. I adjusted the font spacing to .5″.

3) Justify the text

Once you do this, you got to watch out for weird formatting. A huge space in a certain line. You may need to adjust spacing, indents, or minor edits to make that work well. The font spacing also helped with this.

4) Make mirror margins

Each page of a book has a side that goes into the center of the book where its bound, and a side that is on the edge. The bound side needs more space, but which side (left or right) that’s on depends on what page number you’re on (odd or even.) So you have to go into settings and select “Mirror Margins” for it to know you’re switching sides for each page number.

I found it was recommended to do .5″ outer margin with .8″ inner margin, and the top and bottom are 1″.

5) Page and section breaks

I inserted a page break before each chapter. Then I entered a section break (odd page).

The “odd page” option means that the next chapter always starts on the right side page, not a left side page. So there’s a blank page if needed there. Some books do that, some don’t, and I couldn’t find a particular reason of one over the other, so I just chose what I liked best for this book.

Psst! The section break helps with page numbering. Don’t skip that part. 

6) Header & Footer content

Here was the tricky part. I actually had to do this 3 times to figure out, because you have to watch the “Link to Previous” button. You don’t want it linked to previous for the stuff before the story or the stuff after the story, because you usually don’t put page numbers there.

Next you make sure you have “Different first page” and “Different odd & even pages” checked also.

You can of course copy whatever book you like with what you want style-wise.

For the first page, I put just the page number in the center of the footer. No header, which detracts from the Chapter title.

Then for the other pages, I had no footer, only the header. Odd pages had the page number and my name on the right side (the edge of the book), and even pages had the page number and the book title on the left side (the other edge of the book).

7) Make chapter names style the Header style

Those Style options in Word aren’t just handy dandy ideas for you to use. You can actually change them to be whatever style you want. So change the Header style to be whatever your Chapter titles formatting will be. Then make all your chapters that Header style. That will allow for the chapter titles to automatically be pulled into the Table of Contents page.

8) Make proper spacing between chapter title and story content

It’s not like the chapter title is actually at the tippy-top of the page and the story content right underneath. There’s a whole chunk of space to make the title stand out and give the reader some breathing room. Once again, look at some books and see what seems right to you. I just played around with it until it looked right.

Psst! This is another item you can play around with to get rid of lonesome words or lines on the last page of a chapter.

9) Insert Table of Contents

This should be more or less as simple as choosing Insert Table of Contents and deciding what that formatting will be. The chapters should automatically drop in from the above steps. And then make sure you choose the option to update page numbers if you make any changes to the document after inserting the Table of Contents, because it won’t automatically update. It won’t do anything until you click the button for it to update.

 

I think that covers all or at least most of how I designed the book.

  • Anything I missed or did wrong?
  • Anything you’re doing differently?
  • What are you currently researching for your book design?

Let me know in the comments below.

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for the Writers

My 6 step process to editing a book

 

I passed the writing phase for “I Know You Like a Murder” and was on to the editing phase. When asking writers further along in the writing journey, I found that most don’t have a step-by-step system for their editing, they just read through and edit whatever they see needs fixed.

I collected a list of editing resources for everyone who might need it, and then I set out on figuring out my editing system. This isn’t necessarily the best system and it’s not necessarily the one that will work for you, but this is a first step for me – and maybe for you – to finding the system that works for us as individuals.

Note: The items I link to in this post are free online resources. Though some have paid options, I used the free version and it was very helpful. 

1) Edit what I already know needs fixing

When we’re writing, we’re supposed to just keep writing. Not stop and edit as we go. And inevitably as I go I realize there’s something that doesn’t work for the story that I need to change a couple chapters back or whatever. So while I write, I make note of it on my Trello board (a great free task manager system, check it out). So my first step in the editing process is going to that Trello board and seeing what needs done, then doing it. Easy peasy.

2) Edit what’s boring

It’s more than just what’s boring, but that’s what I’ve found is easiest to track what I’m wanting to change. I read through the story and think – where am I bored? Where does the plot fall flat, or the characters get annoying, or the wording just not interest me? Those parts I change, or even remove. Then I re-read through the story again with this new draft and ask again – where am I bored?

3) Get rid of blehh words

Then I look at my list of most frequently used words. I do this right in my Scrivener software (this costs money, but you can do this step for free with this online text analyzer).

You’ll see “the” “and” and “a” used alot of course. But look for other boring words, words that suggest lazy writing. For me, “was”, “get”, and “here”, were much overused and I found myself changing those sentences alot. But I spent an entire day going through the list of boring words to see which ones were actually problematic. Besides that, look for words you overuse that maybe you don’t want to – maybe you describe everything as “glorious” and you should switch it up to “magnificent” or “stunning.” Or maybe you just need to find some way to show it’s glorious without telling the reader 😉

Another thing to look for is something your narrator or protagonist wouldn’t use personality-wise. For instance, my narrator used “maybe” alot in her sentences. Only, that’s not the narrator’s character at all. My narrator is actually very forceful, hyperbole, over-the-top, absolute. Not wishy-washy “maybe”ing around the statements. So I took out alot of “maybe” too.

4) Hemingway Editor time

This may have been my favorite tool I found. I check the readability grade isn’t ridiculously high for some obscure word. And I see all these potential sentence-level problems color-coded that I can look through and change as needed.

5) Use that program spell-checker

Hey, I might miss something. In fact, I say “alot” alot instead of “a lot.” You probably noticed 😉 That’s where Scrivener or Microsoft Word’s spell-checker comes in handy. I quickly run through it and make sure I didn’t miss anything grammar or spelling related.

6) Hear someone else read it

Maybe you don’t have a person to read it, and that’s fine, because you can have a robot read it. It’s like Siri but for your book 🙂 Maybe this step should have come earlier, but I wanted to save this as my final fail-safe type step. I think it’s perfect, now let’s see if it is. Let’s hear someone else read it. Let’s see where it sounds awkward or jumbled, and let’s see what I wouldn’t want to hear someone else reading. Then of course I changed whatever felt weird there.


 

And that’s it. After that, I got ready to send the book to beta readers. I’ll do a post about that “got ready” part, because that wasn’t particularly simple.

What’s your steps for editing or resources you use? Would love to hear in the comments below.

for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives, Stories to Read Right Now

Stories on why we create

Creativity isn’t finite. The more you give, the more you have. That’s a philosophy I want to live by, and Ksenia does too.

Ksenia Anske sends cards with personalized stories to her readers. So when she sent one for my writers’ group, I volunteered to facilitate our writers prompt and had everyone write her a story back.

Ksenia

Because stories are meant to be shared, and a writer can only hide their stories for so long before some need to spill out, even if it’s in short form 🙂

And now we’re going to share those stories with you, stories to encourage you to create.

Jenn

“With this final bit of paper and fragment of graphite I beg of you to continue on what I can do no longer. I brought their gruesome reign into the world and now with these last meager strokes I must pass the mantle onto another. They came from my mind you see, in murderous retribution. The misshapen wolf-child led the way howling in agony that I had abandoned him. My mind had pulled the sparks of his essence together but I had trapped him there. But he escaped, and he brought the millions of forgotten characters with him. The creatures control my mind, and have managed to get a link to every human brain. If I stop writing (I haven’t much longer now) without another to take my place the world ends. Pick up your pen. Go.” – by Jenn Wieland

Kim

“There once was a woman who decided to try writing. At first she was thrilled and excited, but then she met the rejection monster who gnawed at her amazing manuscript.

The brave writer stabbed the dreaded monster with her mighty pen. The monster shrieked and died at her feet. The amazing writer skinned the beast and made a cloak that she wore in the frigid winter.

The amazing writer walked proudly down the published road with her rejection coat wrapped around her shoulders.” – by Kim Kouski

Andy

“Once upon a time a young girl named Ksenia yearned to be an author, a writer. Over the years she succeeded but oh, she grew so weary and discouraged. Then one night she had a dream. She seemed transported into fairyland, with castles and dragons, knights – and a blight – a blasted desert where nothing lived. She asked a handsome knight, ‘Why? Why is fairyland blighted?’ He said sadly, ‘Those are the regions of fairyland where our goddess Ksenia has never written about.’ The end.” – by Andy Zach

Yasmeen

“Once upon a time, there lived a sixteen-year-old girl who found a book buried beneath a pile of ruins… The girl had never seen a real book before, let alone written words and paper. This book had a red toy train on the cover.

Books were only something people have heard about – a distant memory for few. And here it is… the last book in existence wedged between her fingers. ‘Our race can be saved!’ the girl thought. ‘Finally our world will not be mute and the curse will be broken.'” – by Yasmeen

Amy

“As the dancer danced, flowers popped up around her toes and danced with her. They danced the words – the flowers and her – until a flower castle appeared. The dancer danced the word “wing”, and up sprouted the wings and lifted the word dancer to the tippy top. ‘I will make my home here,’ she danced.” – by Amy L Sauder – uhh, me 🙂

KseniaStoriesPhoto.jpg

So that’s the stories. Now go out and make your own creations! And then share it with the world, give it away in some form somewhere 🙂 Pass on Ksenia’s enchantment ❤

(Psst! If you want to know more about Ksenia who started this story card thing for me, you can see her website, social media, and read about all the ways I want to be like her when I writerly grow up.) 

 

for the Writers

10 writing experiments to avoid

My friend was going to do a writing experiment, but was worried I as her writing coach wouldn’t approve. So I sent her a comprehensive list of all the experiments I disapprove of. If you’re thinking of experimenting with your writing, here’s a cautionary look at what experiments to avoid.

  •  Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you refuse to write until 5 years have passed.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you only write when inspired.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you never write again.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you only research your novel but never write.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you talk about your idea but never write.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you always say you’ll write “someday.”
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you’ll write when you retire.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you open up Facebook instead of write.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you binge on movies and books and then talk about how you could write better, but you don’t actually ever write it to write better.
  • Oh no, you’re doing a writing experiment that somehow keeps you from writing entirely.

If you get any idea from this list, know that if you have a writing experiment in mind, I probably wholeheartedly embrace it! In fact, I think the best stories come from being innovative, playing with words, and experimenting.

curtis-mac-newton-19378

 

If you’re looking for permission to think outside the box, the building, the rules of story, the world of writing, consider this your invitation. Dabble all you want. Just keep writing 🙂

for the Bookworms, for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Why I wanna be like Ksenia Anske when I writerly grow up

Although, let’s be real: Ksenia and I don’t plan on actually growing up in our writerly lives. It’s more like staying daydreaming children forever, but then pretending to be grown-up long enough to do the business stuff.

I don’t remember how I discovered Ksenia. But I do remember what stuck in my mind about her:

  • She said, “Reader, you are my publisher. Share my books.”
  • She gave away her books for free, as in all of her older drafts of her story were publicly available to read (maybe still are) and you can even still download her stories for free.

Why did that grab my attention? She saw the value of her readers. That readers are what make or break a story. That’s what I want my philosophy to stay forever.

And she has a mindset of abundance, not scarcity. Those are artistic buzzwords right now, but they ring true. Artists can tend to want to hoard their ideas, their best work for themselves, as if there’s a finite capacity. But we need a mindset of abundance, that we can throw it all out there and celebrate others successes too, because creativity is infinite.

Why else do I want to be like Ksenia Anske “when I grow up”?

  • Curly haired people goals!
  • Quirky personality
  • You are getting to know the person through every online engagement.
  • She is authentic – what she’s learning, what she’s done wrong, it’s all out there. You’re following the journey, the person, not just book sales promos.
  • She’s always learning and sharing what she learns. I’m sure paying attention.
  • She’s not afraid to work out of the box, experiment.
  • It all comes back to her READERS! They support her because she supports them. She listens to their feedback and engages with them.
  • Need proof? Anyone who read her last email newsletter, she requested their address and she sent them a card with a personalized short story.
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the story Ksenia sent me
  • Note the above bullet point also goes back to the concept of abundance rather than scarcity. She didn’t freak that she wouldn’t have enough stories in her for each person or that she wouldn’t be able to send cards to her readers because of the expense. She just said she’d do it, then she did it.
  • okay, I’m losing track of what these bullet points are for and when to use bullet points and when to not….
  • Switch gears!

I’ve read two books of hers:

  1. Rosehead. Magical realism at its finest. If you want a quirky read about a girl and her talking dog and a carnivorous garden, this is it! Everyone’s been looking for a book about a carnivorous garden, right? 🙂

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  2. Blue Sparrow. A collection of tweets on writing, reading, and the creative life. Motivational, inspirational, even instructional (mostly “KEEP WRITING!”). My favorite detail would be that it’s 140 pages long, with 140 tweets. Like an inside joke for us Twitter users 🙂 And to whet your appetite, check out a couple of the tweets:

 

So now you know what I’m working towards. Quirky writing. Lovable hair. Personable interaction. Perspective of abundance. And reader centered. Check out Ksenia’s work for yourself….you won’t regret it!

for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Guest Post: How Ghostwriting is Hurting the Book World

Olivia J has agreed to share her concerns about ghostwriting here, and you can check out my defense of ghostwriting on her site. What a fun collaboration ❤ Read the posts, then join the convo 🙂

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say,” -Anais Nin
 
The picture that started it all:
FullSizeRender (11)
 

This launched me and Amy L Sauder into a debate on ghostwriters, so here we are. 

Ghostwriting, or, more generally, ghosting, is not a new concept in the art world. Even Mozart himself was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthier, more famous men of his time. This process involves Person A creating a work, or even doing a varying amount of collaborating on a work with Person B, but then Person B getting credit. Sometimes this includes Person A’s name in smaller print on the front of the book, or not being included at all. Regardless, ghostwriters are paid for their work.

However, I have some criticisms, as per usual.

(For clarity, I’m going to be talking about ghostwriting concerning books.)

1. Exploitation of the Ghostwriter

Sure, ghostwriters consent to what they are doing. However, it still takes an amount of . . . castration to get very little or no credit on something you worked on. It strips away the integrity of the author. By no means am I talking about truly collaborative works, where two authors write a book together because that’s an entirely different process than ghostwriting. 

How ghostwriting exploits the author is that it takes away the beautiful creative control of the author: it strips the author of what they do best. By having a shadow, by having someone to always answer to, this confines the author. It confines the author even further because these authors sign contracts to write so many books for someone, or to have certain requirements when they write. There’s nothing more hellish that I can think of than putting a cap on the creativity of writing, by controlling and stifling an author. 

Don’t get me wrong, ghostwriting can be a way to launch the author into the publishing sphere, but rarely do I believe that that’s all an author should aspire to be. 

2. All About The Money

The problem is that by slapping a popular name on the cover, it appeals to the pervasive consumerism and fame obsession in this society. By having ghostwriters, it allows famous people to sell books, regardless of whether they are telling good stories. It only adds to the tasteless, bland array of fiction. James Patterson has so many books out because people pick the book up with his name on it and expect the same thing. Name recognition or fame should not sell books, even though publishing has become a toxic industry. 

FullSizeRender (10)The reason that authors like Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, etc. use ghostwriters is because of the high demand for their books. Or, rather, the types of stories they tell. This only indicates that these books sell because they have their names on them, not because of the title, cover art, or actual content inside, which is absolutely despicable. The promotion of ghostwriters only promotes writing as a business, not an art form. There should be a happy medium between the business of bookselling and writing as an art, but ghostwriters are not the way to achieve that goal. In fact, ghostwriters only push the flow further into the toxic business sphere. 

3. Cheapening of the Craft

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Sure, everyone can write a book, but maybe not well. This is not to discourage anyone from writing a book if they so please. But what ghostwriting does is that it cuts out a significant chunk of the struggle, the art of writing. 

People like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Zoe Sugg, and other celebrities don’t write a significant chunk of their books; however, they can still claim to be an author of a book. It takes all of the blood, sweat, and tears out of writing. Every ounce of pain, of late nights you’ve spent writing, every blank page, every scrapped draft all becomes for naught because someone who only pitched some ideas for a book is now credited as an author. 

Another problem is that celebrity (fiction) books combine two types of people: writers and non-writers, and this can create disastrous results. Sometimes, what the celebrity/non-writer wants to create or wants to happen isn’t exactly good concerning the objective parts of fiction. This leads to books on the shelves that aren’t the best they can be. Art should always be about making the best the individual can get, always improving. But by allowing half-assed work on the shelves just for money only cheapens writing itself. 

By allowing ghostwriting to populate the scene, it almost degrades the hard work and art that others create, just because someone had enough money.

~

Granted, there are exceptions. Autobiographies are one, because biographies are more of a historical account than a creative work. Biographies, and other nonfiction, don’t conform to the same genre conventions that art or novels do, which is where the problems arise with ghostwriters and books. 

Maybe I would consider ghostwriting, just for the money. But never, under any circumstances, would I make that my career or the only creative work I was writing.

Tread lightly, fellow authors,

~The WordShaker


Screenshot 2017-06-02 at 8.08.52 PM

Olivia J, The WordShaker is just that: a word shaker. She is a writer, artist, creative extraordinaire, and skilled in the ways of procrastination and being too blunt. She’s going to be a loving wife, mother, published author, speaker, and professional adventurer someday – and whatever else God has in store for her. Olivia has had three short stories published in her high school’s writing journal, and received merit awards for her art in numerous art shows, started and fosters her own creative writing club at her high school, and plans to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @olivia.j.the.wordshaker

How awesome is this Wordshaker!? 🙂 What do you think about ghostwriting? Does it add or detract to the literary world? Check out my Defense of Ghostwriting on her site (don’t forget to follow her while you’re at it!), then join the convo in the comments below.

for the Writers

13 tools for editing your book

As I began editing my story, I asked a bunch of writers – either that I personally know or through Facebook writers groups – what tools they use when editing their book.

I was shocked that most didn’t have a plan or a tool…they just wing it!

I’m sure most of us would like a plan of attack. And so I give you:

Tools to edit your book

Best part: Most of these are free!

Disclaimer: I have not used most of these. This is what either other authors have recommended to me or I have found through extensive googling.  But they look great! Take what you can use and make your plan of attack. Less willy nilly…but don’t ditch the willy nilly….We all need that too 😉

 

1) Microsoft Word shortcuts – ❤ My favvie!

This writer was thoughtful enough to list out each step of her editing process and all the shortcuts or steps she takes in Word to find and fix these common errors. This is the most practical item I’ve found in my search. Use it!

2) 25 editing tips – checklist

Woohoo, I love checklists. I know where to start, what to do, and when I’m finished 🙂

3 & 4) Developmental edits – list of questions here or here

These are called checklists, but more like a list of questions to ask as you edit. Includes questions on plot, character, dialogue, style, etc. Very thorough, so if you want to catch every nuance, this is the list for you. I think I’d read my manuscript 50 times to catch all these questions haha 🙂

5) Proofreading checklist – PDF

I list editing software below, but you want to check things yourself too. For readability, grammar, punctuation, spelling – here’s that checklist.

6) Natural Reader – text to speech

Does not require download, just copy and paste your words into the website to hear your story read to you – a great way to catch errors you might accidentally gloss over if you read it silently. It’s bold claim is that it reads it in a “natural” voice, hence Natural Reader.

Also available as a free download to read from PDFs, Word, and offline.

Paid version with more features also available.

7) Readable – readability grades

Free, with premium paid version also available. Copy and paste text in, then see various grade levels on the right. Also notes adverbs, passive voice, cliches, and lengthy sentences and words.

8) Hemingway app – readability and editing

Copy and paste into the website to see grade level for readability, adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read passages. Best part: all these are color-coded 🙂 Note: in my brief test-run, spelling errors got the squiggly like Word, but punctuation errors weren’t mentioned.

9) Text Analyzer – see which words you over-use

Do you constantly say everything is “glorious” in your novel? I mean, it’s a glorious word, but you don’t want to over-use it. Copy and paste your text into this website to see which words and phrases are most common in your story. Obviously “the” and “and” and major character names will be prominent, but what else do you say that may be too much?

10) Ginger – editing software & text to speech

Just download it to your device. It’ll check spelling, grammar, and more. As far as I can tell, it’s free.

11) Grammarly – editing software

This is more popular than Ginger, at least in my circle. Whether that means it’s better or not, I can’t say. This is also a free software download.

 



*The below cost money but were recommended to me by other writers. You might want to check them out 🙂 *

12) ProWriting Aid – editing software

Free version for up to 500 words at a time. Annual cost of $40-45 if you want to edit more than that at a time.

13) EDITS System – lecture

Costs $22. Lets you know what you need to edit where.


Have any recommendations of your own? Comment below with what tools, tips, or tricks help you tackle book editing 🙂