I self-published my first mystery in 1995. In those days, Pagemaker was the formatting program of choice for print books, but it was cumbersome to learn and use. By 2008, when I self-published Fatal Encryption, Word had become a popular means of formatting a book.
After working a traditional publisher for several years, I’m returning to self-publishing for some of my novels, while staying with a traditional publisher for others. Because I’d forgotten so much about formatting a print book, I searched for and found a few how-to blogs, and YouTube videos to help me properly format the book for CreateSpace.
Despite the online help, I wish I had made better notes when I produced Fatal Encryption. The basics are there, but the details about creating the header weren’t written down, so doing it after all this time stumped me. Not all of the blogs addressed headers satisfactorily or offered the types of suggestions that I needed.
Formatting a book is time-consuming and frustrating if you haven’t done it before. So, my best advice for self-publishers is to make notes as you go along. There’s a lot to think about when setting up your basic page layout. Important steps, like remembering to right justify the text, or not indenting the first line of a new chapter, or creating the correct line spacing, are details that are quickly forgotten down the road.
I’m typing up notes as I do all this now because I don’t know when the next self-published novel will appear, but at least I know that I’ll have detailed notes, not to mention the bookmarked how-to blogs, for next time.