Blue View – Publishing Your Own Book – Pt. 1

Marcie’s Second Book

Marcie’s Second Book

Whether you’ve just finished writing the ‘Great American Novel’, a collection of travel vignettes, or a compilation of old family recipes, you may want to take the next step; put it into book form and publish it. Maybe you’re hoping that it will become the next NY Times bestseller or maybe you just want to send copies to friends and family – in either case, the process isn’t that expensive nor that difficult.

There are probably hundreds of books available that cover every aspect of self publishing and I’ve purchased a goodly number of them. Some of these books were great at explaining the overall process, but provided very little actual detail. Others were quite technical and provided all sorts of detail, but I’m not really interested in getting an advanced degree in book publishing – I just want to get our books from the manuscript level to the published form in as simple and easy a method as possible. We average about a book a year, and with the rapid changes in technology coupled with my poor memory, I find myself having to relearn the process with each book, anyway.

My solution was to figure out a format and style we like, then document the process, in as much detail as possible, that we use to convert our manuscripts to book form. We are working on our fifth book at the moment, and while that is far from making us experts on the process, I do think we are starting to get the hang of it. I thought it might be interesting to do a series of blogs on the steps we take to publish our books in both printed and eBook format. If you like the format and style we use with our books, you can follow our process to publish your own book in a similar style. You can also modify the style and format of your book to better suit your needs as desired.

Emphasizing the key ‘take-away’ from the previous paragraph, we are far from being experts on the subject. If you have ideas or suggestions on how to streamline or improve our process, we welcome your input.

Let’s start with a little discussion on the differences between printed books and the various eBook formats.

Printed Books.

  • Size. You determine the book size, which can be just about anything you want, from small pocketbooks to coffee-table sized. I like the oversized paperback size of 5.5” x 8.5”.

  • Font and font size. You select the font from any of the 10,000 or so available (I exaggerate a little – but not by much), and use whatever font size you like – typically 8-10 pts. for footnotes, 10-14 pts. for text, and somewhat larger fonts for chapter names, headers, etc.

  • Cover. Hardcopy books require both a front and back cover.

  • Page numbers. Hardcopy books usually have page numbers. Often, the page numbers use i, ii, etc. for the ‘Front Matter’ (the pages prior to the Table of Contents) and then 1, 2, 3, etc. for the remainder of the pages.

  • Table of Contents. Most books include a Table of Contents. If the style and formatting are done well, creating a TOC that includes Chapters, Section and/or Sub-sections, complete with page numbers, is simple and straightforward.

  • Headers and footers. I like to use the footer for the page numbers, the header on the left pages for the author name and the header on the right pages for the book title. This is easy to set up and/or modify with modern word processors.

  • Page layout. Each page can be set up just the way you want it – paragraph spacing, placement of graphics and captions, widow and orphan control. Often, a paragraph will start on one page and continue to the next. When only the first line of the paragraph appears at the bottom of the first page, that line is called an orphan. When only the last line of the paragraph appears at the top of the next page, that line is called a widow. Both are undesirable.

  • Exported file. Once you get everything positioned and arranged the way you want it, the file is exported as a .PDF file, which is essentially a picture of each page. The printed pages should look exactly the same as what you see on your screen, except at a higher resolution – and probably better color quality.

  • Front matter. The front matter, especially the copyright pages often differ between the printed and eBook versions.

David’s First, Second and Only Book

David’s First, Second and Only Book


  • Size. The page size is totally dependent on the eReader you are using, whether it be a smartphone, a tablet, one of the dozen or so Kindle models available, one of the Nook models, a Kobo or a Sony… or a PC for that matter.

  • Fonts and font size. Each eReader has a limited selection of fonts, and which fonts are available varies depending on the type of eReader being used. The person using the eReader either uses the default font or selects one of the available font options on the device. The same is true for the font size – the user selects whatever font size is preferable.

  • Cover. Only the front cover is shown on eBooks.

  • Page numbers. Most eBook formats don’t include page numbers.

  • Table of Contents. It’s quite easy to include a TOC in an eBook, but rather than using page numbers, since most eBooks don’t include them, the entries in the TOC are linked to the location in the book using hyperlinks. These can be automatically generated.

  • Headers and footers. Most eBooks don’t include headers and footers on each page.

  • Page layout. The amount of text and graphics that can fit on the screen of an eReader depends on the screen size, resolution, font and font size. You might work really hard on your PC, getting a paragraph to fit alongside the photograph it’s describing, but the two may not even end up on the same page on a eReader. For that matter, the photo and its caption will often be on different pages.

  • Exported files. Most eReaders can use .EPUB type files except Kindles, which use .MOBI files.

  • Front matter. The front matter, especially the copyright pages often differ between the printed and eBook versions.

It would be great if we could just write the book, paste in whatever graphics and photos we wanted, then push a button and export it into either the print version or a universal eBook format. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that easy - but we can make the job easier using templates. That’s the topic of next week’s blog.