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The Write Process: Formatting

Hurray! You’ve completed your manuscript and its run the gammut of editing. Now it’s time to format for publishing.

I am going to be honest. Formatting your manuscript for print can be a total pain. Formatting isn’t just an issue for self-published authors. A poorly formatted manuscript will quickly get your work rejected by agents and traditional publishers alike.

Formatting for Traditional Publishing

Thankfully, manuscript formatting is fairly straight forward. Most writing software already has a manuscript template or setting that cuts down on your work immensely. Still, it’s good to know what the guidelines are in case you need to format on your own. The following is a screenshot of a template for Microsoft Word.

The title page should include your name and contact information, number of words in your manuscript, as well as the obvious title and by line.

Headers should have the author’s last name, the title of the book, and page number.

The Body of the manuscript requires a little more work. If you have chapter titles, include them instead of the basic Chapter One. There should be one-inch margins and double spacing between lines. Text should be Times New Roman with 12pt font. Some Agents and publishers may require slightly different settings or additional content, but these are the basics.

Formatting for Self-Publishing

This is where things get more complicated. Most people skip this part altogether and rely on a formatting program or pay a professional to do it for them. How you format your self published novel depends on your genre and personal style.

There are some template available online, most of them are for word. How you format your self-published work also depends on what publishing platform you decide to use, and if you are publishing an Ebook or Print Book. Sites like Ingram Spark, Draft2Digital, Amazon KDP, and LuLu all provide either a template of guidelines for submission.

If you plan to publish with Amazon, the process isn’t as bad. Amazon provides users with a free formatting app, Kindle Create, for ebooks that simplifies the process immensely. While the app says it works for print as well, having personally used it, I cannot confirm that claim. Hopefully, there will be a way in the future as this is still in Beta testing. Below is a screenshot of Kindle Create using the word file from the manuscript template shown above.

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The Write Process: Alphas and Betas

I know in my Rules for writing a first draft I stated “not to talk about write club” but that was just for the initial output of ideas. Now that your draft is completed and you’ve given it cursory scrub in the first edit, it’s time to share the wealth. I am not talking about hitting the publish button just yet. Your draft is still just that a draft and it will go through several more drafts before it’s done. This is where alpha readers, beta readers, and professional editors come in.

Alpha Readers

These are the first people to lay eyes on your work. Their critiques can help you find the holes in your plot that you hadn’t noticed before. Tell you if your characters are relatable and give you input on how marketable your story may be. These are all good insights to have before shipping your work off to the editor or pitching your manuscript to an agent or publishing company.

Beta Readers

Betas are your final scrub team. They can also be the same group you used as Alpha readers or a completely different set of people all together. Beta readers will give you many of the same insights as Alpha readers but since they will have your completed and formatted work at their disposal they can also check for formatting errors and anything else missed in previous rounds of polishing. Most Beta Readers will also gladly provide reviews for your books in exchange for the opportunity to read your story before its published.

Where to Find Your Crew

The best place to find Alpha’s and Betas is within your own writing circle. People within your local writing group, other writer friends.

Family members you can trust to give honest feedback. I myself use my sisters and sometime even my mom to help me with my drafts. I am lucky in that they all are avid readers of the genre I write and really don’t care about hurting my feelings if they feel the story isn’t up to par.

I have also used writers groups online. Simply asking for people who would be interested in being a beta reader, although this approach is hit or miss. Out of the ten that said they were interested, only five provided emails to receive my work and out of those five only two actually provided feedback. One I traded critiques with but none were repeat customers.

By far the best experience I had online with finding critiques online was using the writer’s community of Scribophile. The site is a critique for critique format and while it takes work to get a good community, it’s definitely worth it in my opinion.

Check out Scribophile Here

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NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

NaNoWriMo has come to an end. It’s a bittersweet moment for me. I am glad I chose to participate and proud of the amazing output I was able to maintain throughout the month. This month of writing has given me both the inspiration and the confidence to push myself in not just writing but many other aspects of my life. Thank you to everyone who followed along with my journey and I hope you will all stick around to see what’s next in the Stellaverse.

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo Day 28

Community is Key

brass ornate vintage key on black computer keyboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Day 28 of NaNoWriMawesomeness! I was able to sit down and attempt to write for most of the day. I did more planning than writing to begin with. really hammering in my plot goals for each arc so I could get to the fun part of filling in the gaps. Again I cannot express the importance of having a solid group of writing friends. Even when I feel like I couldn’t possible write that day or even week, my group is there to cheer me on. While I have abandoned reaching a second 50K draft for NaNoWriMo, I haven’t given up completely on writing for the remaining days. I set a new goal of 15K words for the next couple of days and I am proud to say its looking to be quite possible.

 

Total Words By End of Day

11,411

Be a Perpetual Tourist!!!

Why do you ask? Being a “tourist” means you can get away with doing things that wouldn’t normally be acceptable.  See a fountain you would love to climb all over? A funny statue or cool mural you want in pictures? I say go for it!  Forget what other people think of you and have fun but don’t do anything illegal. As a writer, having this kind of attitude has helped me gain a plethora of experiences to draw on for scene setting and character development. Here are a few shots of times I’ve played “tourist.”

Be a Perpetual Tourist!!!
Farmer’s Market Monkey

Gas Station Art
Gas Station Art

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Skelephant Statue

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A part of the Moment

Tired from sightseeing
Tired from sightseeing

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Frame yourself

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Yummy, ice cream!!

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Try navigating your city using a map instead of your phone.

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Had to stop anyway, why not have some fun?

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This picture was taken when Planking was a thing.

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