I’ve often been asked over the years about who formats my books. The answer is easy:  me.  And you can, too! Whether it is a picture book or a chapter book, you can format your own book! Often authors find this process intimidating and end up spending a fortune to have someone else do this task. Perhaps it is because they are unfamiliar with the different software available. Sure, there can  be a learning curve. However, isn’t there a learning curve with every new endeavor? Taking the time, which won’t require much, is worth the savings in the end. Unless of course you have an unlimited cash flow. Although, I’m not sure of how many children’s book writers can say that applies to them.

What program do I use?

Personally, I use what I  know—Microsoft Word. I work with it every day so it was my obvious choice for formatting both my paperbacks and e-books. Is it the optimal choice? I’ve heard others say not, but it works for me and it is simple to use. Learn a few tricks of the trade and before you know it you’ll have a formatted book.

Formatting in Word

Don’t have the time?

Still intimidated or just don’t have the time? You can make it even easier on yourself by buying a template such as the ones available at Book Design Templates. They offer several different styles that format both your paperback and e-book. I have not personally used these templates, however according to the website it is as simple as copying and pasting your material into their template. I must say, their prices are definitely reasonable and they even go on sale from time to time. How do I know? Because I subscribe to Joel Friedlander and I highly suggest you do, too! He is a wealth of information and I love his articles!

Picture books

I think one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is that authors have a difficult time formatting picture books. I haven’t done a picture book so I can’t weigh in on the trouble they experience. However, Book Design Templates even has a picture book template! Check out their design entitled, Story Fable.

Their template includes several pages such as a title page, storyboard page, illustration page, and story page. Interchange these pages as needed.

Picture Book Illustration

My biggest tip of the day!

If you decide to go the Microsoft route and try your hand at designing a unique template for your book or series, I want to share with you one of my biggest tips! When you complete your project and you create the .pdf file, you’re going to want to use a program other than Microsoft’s PDF save function. Download a free copy of doPDF. I can’t tell you all the technical reasons behind it, but for some reason it produces a great .pdf file and preserves the image resolutions for you to upload to your publisher or commercial printer.

Follow these print settings:

  • Insert the proper file name for the Save As or use the Browse button.

  • Make sure the PDF options box includes High Quality and check the embed font box!

  • I always click the box that says Open PDF in reader. After all, you want to review your final output!

  • Click OK.

They will also give you the option to buy or try novaPDF for free. I tried it. I much prefer the free doPDF. It is much more straight-forward and works great!

Using doPDF

The bottom line

I know you can format your own book! If you are savvy enough to write your own novel, chapter or picture book, then you are smart enough to produce a well-formatted book. Just remember, whether you format your own book or send it out, it is imperative that you have a proof-reader review your finished book. Preferably, more than one. Learn from my mistake! My books now go through an Editor, multiple proofreaders, and a beta-reader before hitting the final submit button! No matter how many times you read your own work, your eyes can easily miss something because you are too close to the project. Let someone with fresh eyes do that job for you! Also, make sure it is someone that can remain impartial and is not afraid to hurt your feelings. Their critique is not intended as a slight, but to help you improve.

I am in no way affiliated with Book Design Templates and this is not an endorsement. This article was my way of offering an alternative to those who are a bit intimidated to try to format their own books, yet still want to give it a try. I’m also posting this week’s blog article early because Book Design Templates is currently having a 30% off sale through Monday, February 20, 2017! If you’re interested–act fast! 

If you decide to tackle Microsoft Word and design your own book and have a question, let me know! Post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it!

Happy formatting everyone,

K. Lamb