Writing your story, whether it’s a work of the wildest fiction, historical non-fiction or an educational text, is a tremendous investment of time and energy. Just compiling and organizing your thoughts, carefully linking together words and phrases, and fastidiously editing for clarity and purpose—are time-consuming and difficult. And that’s only the first phase of creating your book. You’ll still need to edit the content thoroughly. And finally, you’ll need to format to publish your file.
Think about it like this: if you’re a novelist and you write 1000 words a day, it will take you 100 days to write an average sized novel. 100 days just writing! Add to that the planning and story development, editing, copy-editing, revising, re-revising…you could be looking at a year or more just writing your book!
Then, after all that effort, you still have to get your manuscript ready for publication!
There are numerous articles on the web advising writers to keep writing and to be disciplined and consistent in their work habits. Even more articles can be found on crafting brilliant sentences and compelling characters, but what you won’t readily find are simple tips on how to write your book if you plan to self publish – i.e. doing all the work yourself.
Let me share with you one simple trick: don’t worry about formatting to publish while you’re writing. Just write. No matter your process, you will always end up going back through your file to prepare it for publishing. Therefore, just ignore the niceties of formatting and stay focused on the writing.
Don’t play with fonts. Don’t add a header or footer. Definitely don’t worry about page numbering. Forget about the front matter and the images. Just write and get all the words in place.
Format to Publish last
When that’s complete and everything is proofed and edited, you can start thinking about how you’ll format to publish your book. When you are ready, we have resources for you:
- MS Word formatting tips – learn how to set your page size, prepare a header and footer, get your page numbering set up, and more!
- If video learning is your preference, we have this helpful Formatting Video and an entire library of other videos to help get your book ready for publication.
- Layout and margins – both are challenging aspects of formatting, but we can guide you through!
- Add a Table of Contents – If you are including a table of contents, always add it last to ensure the page numbers are final and accurate.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We have hundreds of articles and videos in our Knowledge Base to guide you through all aspects of preparing your work for publication and distribution.
Steps to format your book for publication:
- Write your book
- Set the page size, margins, and select a font size for the main text.
- Insert and position your images, making sure they are sized correctly with resolution set to 300 dpi
- Add the front matter – title page, copyright page, dedication, etc.
- Set section and page breaks. Remember odd pages are on the right and even on the left, so add blank pages accordingly to ensure new chapters begin on odd numbered pages.
- Add headers and footers. Carefully review them, as each section will have unique header and footer properties
- Add the table of contents
- Review the file for final improvements
Once you complete the formatting, export a PDF from your preferred word processor and upload the file to your Lulu project!
You are one step closer to realizing your dream of being a published author!
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, responsible for all the words you see on our site (misspellings included). In his free time, he’s an avid reader and short story writer.