Working With Formatters

Quite a few of my clients have come to me to have their books formatted, and then found themselves unable to update their already published works with their latest releases because they don’t have the formatted Word manuscripts on file. That’s fine if the formatter who worked on your previous books is available to do the updates. Hopefully the formatter is still in business and findable, or even alive. Things happen. If you have the formatted manuscripts, either your current formatter, or yourself, can do the updates in minutes and have the incarnations required by the various publishing platforms quickly. If you don’t then you either leave them as they are minus any future updates or have whatever manuscripts that you do have on file reformatted, which is a waste of money.

When hiring people to work on your book, here are a few things to take note of before sending your manuscript over and making payment:

Decide what you like and want in the beginning for all versions of your book. Have a look at published eBooks and paperbacks and make notes of what you like and don’t like. If you aren’t sure, discuss first to see what the formatter can offer you.

Make sure that the book is ready to be published as far as editing and proofreading are concerned before sending it for formatting. If you’ve used Word’s Track Changes for editing or proofreading, make sure that these aren’t still visible. Your formatter will know how to do this and should do it for you, but if you’d rather do it yourself it’s simple in Word. Click on the Microsoft icon in the top left hand corner.

Select PREPARE and then INSPECT DOCUMENT

Click on Inspect

Click on REMOVE ALL. Obviously you must be sure that you have totally finished with any changes before doing this, because it really will remove all. You might want to keep one manuscript with revisions still viewable for a while, and save a new document to send to your formatter.

Have all your images ready in high resolution JPG/JPEG files, and send as attachments for the formatter to insert. Nothing less than 300DPI for CreateSpace.

Have your front matter and back matter ready, together with author photo and high resolution already published cover images if you are using them.

Have a list of your links to social networks, as well as instructions on how and where you’d like to see them in your books.

Find out what the formatter supplies. INSIST on the final formatted manuscripts for both print and eBook, as well as the MOBI and PDF files that you will use to upload.

Even if you have no desire to ever have anything at all to do with formatting, make sure that you at least are aware somewhat of the process. Don’t feel that you are being rude or unreasonable by insisting on ALL the relevant files—you’re paying for them, and the final manuscript that gets converted to ePub and so on is much more important to you than the actual ePub. Anything could happen. Something might happen to the formatter, or you might decide that you don’t want to work with that particular person again, but find yourself obligated to return to them again and again because otherwise you have to format backlist books again which is an unnecessary expense.

Finally, take note that you want a formatted Word Manuscript to load up to Smashwords, and not an ePub unless you have a really image heavy or otherwise fancy book. In that case make sure that the ePub is a top quality custom design. Also take note of what Smashwords has to say about formats produced from ePub uploads:

Unless you also upload a .doc file after you upload your .epub file, we are unable to create ebook files in other formats (PDF, MOBI, online HTML, reader, etc). If you only upload an .epub file, your book will not be available in the multiple formats produced by Meatgrinder, and not available for online sampling through HTML or Javascript readers at the Smashwords Store, or available through partial sample file downloads. Our retailers, however, will generate samples. We may add partial sampling or other auto-generated formats at a future date.

Unless you have InDesign and are able to use it, you won’t be able to update those files without it, but having them will save you money in future if you need to hire someone again to tweak or change your book in any way. So, your list of file receipts from your formatter should be (even if you don’t think you will need all of them, get them and keep them):

Formatted eBook as a Word document

MOBI file for upload to Amazon

MOBI file for use as email attachment to reviewers or for gifts and prizes

ePub for use as you choose

Formatted paperback as a Word document

PDF for upload for CreateSpace (print on demand)

Formatted for Smashwords as a Word document

Smashwords ePub if required

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16 thoughts on “Working With Formatters”

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Jo Robinson takes us through the process of submitting your manuscript for formatting with detailed descriptions and illustrations. The formatting of your book is an area that I see many criticisms about from reviewers and it is important that you work with your formatter to get it right. Jo’s posts on self-publishing are excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So good to see you here. You did a marvelous job with my book and I am so very proud of it. 🙂 Glad to know you are still at it. I am half finished with the first draft of the second in the series and although I thought I would be done by the end of April, doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

    Like

  3. I didn’t know about Inspect… thanks for the tip. I’ve always uploaded a word doc to Amazon which then auto converts it to Mobi… is it better to convert to Mobi before uploading to Amazon?

    Like

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