I said I would write but I formatted books instead

Crossposted to the tumblr blog.

Hello there, it is Thursday and who has not written anything, especially not that character based outline???

*raises hand*



But I did do something vaguely book related!

I decided I wanted to find out how hard book formatting is. Because why not jump ahead a year in progress and thinking about formatting and printing that book that you haven’t even written yet?



The question regarding formatting is: Is this something I can do myself or should I save up 300 bucks to have someone do it for me one day? I mean, I know HTML like that (snaps  finger), how hard can it be? Let me just skip ahead for a second and say: the problem isn’t the HTML, the problem is the monster of BLACK MAGIC POWERED KRAKEN that is commonly called an Office program.

We’ll get back to that.

A few resources I used:

A general guide about making ebooks by Davic Kudler, Templates from DIY Bookformats by Derek Murphy and the PublishExpress Conversion Tool also by Derek Murphy.

In case it wasn’t obvious yet, Derek Murphy is a pretty awesome guy. (No, I don’t know him personally.)

The templates are really well done and include links to the free fonts used within. Those fonts need to be downloaded and installed of course to have the templates look exactly like they are pictured in the preview pdf. I don’t have Microsoft Word but everything looked the same with Libre Office.

The formatting of the styles works really well. I made some screenshots, you see that things like indented paragraphs are easily applied across the styles if you like such a thing. I formatted my friend’s fic with indention and my own without.


(Please ignore old writing, god it was painful to copy the chapters in and not edit them. This is fanfiction from me and from a friend and it’s three years old by now and boy does it show.)

I copied the chapters individually and wrangled with the styles. I will never understand why I can apply a style and still have paragraphs that stay in the wrong font.

The one thing I failed at was getting the page numbering right. Without any logic, the numbers started anew at one after a few chapters and I could not get it to work. There is some black magic involved with that shit, I’m sure. Page numbers and Table of Contents are not necessary for ebooks but are important for print. These two things don’t work easily, even with these great templates.

How long did it all take? My short, seven chapter fic was done in a few hours but the 36 chapter fic by my friend took a long time. She had indented the beginning of the paragraphs by hand because AO3 has no automatic process for that and even with all kinds of search-and-replace magic, I still had to scan over every paragraph to remove errant spaces. I worked about two evenings on the cover and about the same amount of time on the interior.

So, the initial question was, is this something I can do myself or should I pay someone for it? I feel like I can make an ebook now but I fail at making a working print version because I can’t get the damn page numbers to work. Can I pay someone to do just that? Let’s say, I could get by on my own if I have to, I might hire some help if I actually made money with the book.

Now, how about actually writing that book, hmm?



3 thoughts on “I said I would write but I formatted books instead

  1. I discovered a long time ago that, though I can format an ebook, I don’t want to. There are folks out there who do a great job of it. (look up JW Manus) Get back to writing! 🙂


    1. While the writing should be the main focus, I actually like to do this kind of stuff. Other people may paint and draw to do something else, I like wrangling with themes and design. And I love doing everything myself, that is my THING!

      Liked by 1 person

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