Palmerston North, New Zealand

Formatting Professionally

Formatting Professionally

Professional Formatting

Why am I writing this post?  Mainly because I want to know how people format their books and how long it takes them.

I have seen people charge $25 to format and saying they can format in a couple of hours.  I’d hate to see what their work is like. I won’t apologise for saying this either.  I can’t see how a book can be professionally formatted and correct in this time period.  

My question is – What didn’t they do?

Is the paper size correct for the manuscript? (print)

Are the indents correct for the paper size?

Are the Headings in the right position?

Is the spacing the same throughout after headings, chapters and paragraphs?

Is each Header set up correctly? Does it need a page break?

Are the page numbers on the correct place for the client? (Print)

Do the Links work in the ebook?

Are the Chapter Links at the front of the ebook?

In print are the blank pages in the correct place?

Is the manuscript justified?

Honestly the list goes on. So many writers use TAB and Spacebar indents it can be a nightmare. DON’T USE TAB INDENTS OR THE SPACE BAR…EVER. Why? Because we have to take them out so we can format your manuscript correctly. Then there is spacing where spacing shouldn’t be.  How can you do all this in two hours for a novel.


Perhaps in a short story or novella. Certainly not with poetry or full length books or children’s books, especially those with illustrations.  I know on average we can take me from three days (this also depends on client replies and other work). We usually give a minimum turn around of two weeks to make both ebook and/or print to a professional standard.

Once the manuscript is finally approved by a client then an invoice is sent out.  We don’t work with royalties. This mean you pay once and we don’t take anything else. If you want to know what your formatted book should look like then go look at a traditionally published book – 95% are done correctly.  There are many variations and you need to work with someone who is able to do the different formats the client wants or needs.




18 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Claire Plaisted – Indie Author and commented:

    Formatting Professionally

  2. It took me days on end to format my book and even after that, I still had someone else go over it again.

    • It is always good to have a second pair of eyes. I am training a contractor at present to assist in my business. As you know from formatting yourself, there is so much to catch. I trained by learning as I go, and things still change. You have to learn to meet clients needs. I’m glad you are doing so well Jacqueline. 🙂 I know there are many authors out there who are great formatters too. I’m just tired of seeing books so below par it makes me shudder. Best wishes with your work.

  3. Thats very well put Claire.

  4. I’ve progressed to the point where I format while I write. If you’re using Word for your final copy and you have a good template you can drastically cut down on your formatting time. It helps that I have over 30 years of document formatting experience for government proposals where formatting incorrectly can result in your proposal being eliminated from contention. If I were to add up my formatting time over the course of the book, it might be substantial, but at the end of the process, the work I have to do to complete the formatting is minimal.

    • I must admit to doing the same. Format as I write and it does cut down time. Though I still do double checks. For clients the basic format isn’t to hard, it is when we get to the final document I go through with a fine comb – so to speak.

  5. […] Source: Formatting Professionally […]

  6. Reblogged this on Wind Eggs and commented:
    My most important tip about formatting is this:

    Learn the specs for eBook and POD formatting.
    Set up your formatting before you write. (I use style sheets, and style names that correspond to HTML code: paragraph, heading 1, etc.)

    Publisher Claire Plaisted provides a few rules of thumb to keep in mind.

  7. I’ve been a user of Word for years, and I’ve always picked my formats and styles way ahead of time… When I built my first website, and then became a blogger, these habits carried over naturally. It also helps having the styles setup with the correct hierarchy of what styles follow them, (if any), to make formatting flow more naturally as you type.
    I remember the one time I tried to do a project without styles, and regretted it. I had to set the base format for the whole document, and then go back and pick-out the headers and all the other things that needed different styles…. NEVER AGAIN!

  8. manonfirewy says:

    I didn’t have the luxury of paying someone to format my poetry novel. I shared it on Wattpad for a few months to get good feedback while selling it on Amazon. Per their restrictions, I had to remove it from Wattpad once I enrolled it in Kindle Select.

    After that, I began work on the paperback edition of “I Will Go With You”. Since it was my first encounter with self publishing, it took me many hours to complete to my satisfaction. I’d say around 20 hours went into editing a 115 page poetry book.

    My suspicion is that anyone promising to edit your book in a couple hours is likely using some sort of template formatter that does most of the work for them.

    • When I format for clients I generally go through the document about five times, two of which are edits from the client. Many do use templates, i made my own standard one and that is all it is – A standard template. This is changed and updated for each and every client. As for poetry books. They can be even harder to do, again it all depends on how you wish it to look. I’ve seen some really good ones though have only formatted one poetry book as a professional. Always learning and happy to help. Best wishes with your work. There are a few groups on Facebook you maybe interested in…if you need marketing assistance. Some are free too…

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