Monday, July 2, 2012

The Journey of Self-Publishing #5: Formatting

Thoughts At One In The Morning is proud to present a blog post series for unpublished writers on the self-publishing world. I have asked four indie authors to share with you the different steps they have taken on their journey. They will discuss the writing process itself, the steps in between, and publishing itself. Please join us every week for a new topic on the journey to becoming an indie author!

Our Indie Author panel:
Marie Landry, author of Blue Sky Days
You can find her on her blog Ramblings Of A Daydreamer.

A.M. Hargrove, author of The Guardians Of The Vesteron series
You can find her on her blog A.M. Hargrove.

Avery Sawyer, author of Notes To Self
You can find her on her website The Teashop Girls.

Michelle Flick, author of The Owens Legacy: Revelations
You can find her on her blog Oh! For the LOVE of BOOKS!.
This week on The Journey of Self-Publishing:


How do I format my novel?

Michelle Flick: This depends on if you are doing traditional or self publishing. For all self-publishing - each place your upload to - has specific, step by step directions. Follow these to a T.

A.M. Hargrove: I hire a formatter.  At first I thought I would do it because I'm pretty savvy on a computer, but it ended up taking much more time.

Marie Landry: Go to Smashwords and download their Style Guide for free. It’ll tell you exactly how to format, and give you tips, tricks, and dos and don’ts. From there, if you’re uploading separately to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, they each have a specific way of formatting, but if you’ve formatted using the Smashwords style, you just need to make some minor changes.

Avery Sawyer: I used the style guide you can download for free at Smashwords. It only takes an hour or two if you following directions well.

Did you do it yourself or hire someone?

Michelle Flick: I did it myself - If you are literate in Word - you'll be fine.

A.M. Hargrove: I gave up and hired a formatter and she handles both epub and .mobi and does a great job. When I get the files back from her, I only have to upload and I'm all set.

Marie Landry: I did it myself. It really wasn’t that difficult - the instructions were simple - it was more time-consuming than anything. Going back to the Smashwords Style Guide for a minute, I do know that for people who can’t figure out formatting themselves, or simply don’t want to do it, there’s an email address inside the Guide where you can request a list of people who will do formatting, along with their fees.

If you did it yourself, how long did it take you?

Michelle Flick: Awhile - each site wanted something different from me. I had to organize which file belonged to which site. You have to read and follow the directions specifically.

Marie Landry: A few hours for the Smashwords version, and maybe another hour or so for the Amazon version. I thought it would take much longer, but as I said, the instructions were excellent and easy to follow. I think for my next book, I could probably do it in half the time.

Avery Sawyer: Two hours.

If you hired someone, how much did it cost you?

A.M. Hargrove: She charges $75 for both files (and it's based on the length of the book).


Thank you for the great advice on formatting!

Join us next week when our Indie Author panel will discuss in more detail Extras To Include, the little things (acknowledgements page, author page, bonuses, etc.) you need to add in to make the book complete.


  1. Formatting is the thing that I'm least looking forward to about self publishing. I'm not that great on the computer so there's every chance I could completely stuff it up and my ebook will be very badly formatted. These are great tips though. I am going to go download the smashwords guide right now.

    1. I hear ya. I don't think I have the patience to do it myself, plus, I have a feeling that I would miss one little thing and won't know what it is. I'd rather pay a pro to take care of it and set it up how I want it. :P

  2. Formatting scares me too. I'd so hire someone. ;)


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