Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What's the Best Way to Format Your Self-Published Novel?

So I put up the latest episode of Eve's Hungry.  Lot's of great action and some fun surprises:

Eve's Hungry - Episode 6: Tip of the Spear

I'm calling them episodes for the blog, they'll be chapters in the novel when it's published.  (If I finish it, which I think I'm going to.  And if I publish it, which I'm determined to do.)  I'm having a heck of a time formatting them properly with Blogger, which is a great service, but quirky as heck.  I can't seem to get each chapter formatted in the same style of font and font size.  The old chapters seem to be locked up so I can't change them, and sometimes I make changes to fonts and they display differently.  Clearly I don't know some things I need to know, but I also know there are some bugs.  It's a downside to blogging the book I hadn't thought about.

But it brings up a larger issue.  How the heck am I going to format the entire book properly if I can't even get Blogger to do it.  I'm pretty smooth with word processors, but I've never tackled anything as big a a novel before.  It would seem simply, just throw all the words into one font and size, but I'm realizing it's a lot more complicated.

Each chapter has a chapter heading, I have "scene" headings within each chapter, and you have to be consistent about paragraph indents and the spaces between scene headings, etc.  A lot more to it than I realized at first.

I could probably make it work in Microsoft word or Apple's pages, but I've been reading a lot about how many serious self-publishing novelists use Scrivener, so I went ahead and bought a copy.  It's not cheap!  It set me back $45 bucks, but I guess that's a bargain compared to the ridiculous price Mircosoft still charges for the increasingly annoying Word on the Mac.

The question is, why, if I have all these other word processors, do I need Scrivener.  Well, to deal with all these quirkily little formatting details.  Scrivener is a kind of blend between a word processor and an outliner, and really seems to handle setting up chapters very nicely.  There's a huge learning curve, particularly sense it works in such a different way from Word, but I'm starting to like it.  So I think that's what I'm ultimately going to use when I try to output it for an ebook.

Now, you might say: "Hey, Mackay!  You're the ultimate Mac Fanboy!  Why don't you use iBook Author?"  Well, that's a good question.  I've been tinkering with it, and it's pretty cool, but seems mostly suited to mixing pictures and text.  For my first ebook, I want to keep the focus on text.  Also, it's so Apple centric, I'm not sure how well it will output stuff for Amazon.

While I'd love to eventually get the novel on iBooks, my main focus is Amazon.  Fanboy or not, everything I read says that all the real money is being made on ebooks for Amazon and Kindle, so I want to start there.

Anyhow, that's my latest update.  I'll keep you posted on how things work out with Scrivener.

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