UPDATE: Self-Publishing: Formatting Software for a Print Book

*Update at the end of the post.*

Sorry about my absence. I have been battling with a demon called How To Layout/format Your Print Book. It has been an adventure through software, head-banging, and what the heck this will cost me. (I’m a starving artist. You aren’t buying my ebook enough. Go and buy it: here.)

I have been pushing formatting for a later date, and I can now understand better my instinct to do that. It isn’t easy without proper tools. I write with Scrivener. It’s a great writing software, but with formatting, there is a lot to improve. So I “knew” instantly I’m not going down that road (I have bad memories with my ebook.) My quest to find a right tool began.

It would be an easy choice if I owned Word, but I don’t. All my other writing software are open-source (libre, open.) It was a natural first move, after drooling at Vellum (Holy Grail of Apple Universe), to go with Scribus. I opened it, went through it with Michael E. Henderson’s tutorial and cried my eyes out (not really, just a wave of panic and frustration swept over me.) Scribus has a too long learning curve for me as I’m pressed for a time as it is (working, marketing, writing, formatting, taking long hikes to name a few. And yes I’m neglecting my cats and husband. And I can’t even claim they deserve it.)

Scribus was not for me. I continued down the free road. How about Reedsy’s book formatting software? The start was good. I thought this might work. Oh yeah, it solves my problems! Nope, I ran into problems with indent and didn’t know how to fix it (I’m sure the help button on the browser might lead me to a healing potion,) and to be honest I’m not that excited with browser-based software. So, I abandoned the tool. (It is good, but not perfect.)

I took a breather and decided I could follow Derek Murphy’s instructions how to format a book with Word. Now I only had to get one (dreaming of Vellum, and crit do I know if it is even good.) My husband found me Business version (I was getting too tired, and he is amazing and I’m a dick). Use Business version or owned Word copy to do this. If you use Office Home version, you can’t use it to produce commercial products. He found me a free trial and possibility to rent it 14 bucks a month. Yay, book here I come. What is with this love for web-based software? I know with Google Docs they can’t handle a book that well. And why do I have to install OneDrive for Word to work? Arghhh… (Visited the place called Under My Table.) Maybe I should invest 156 bucks and buy a copy. Did I mention I’m starving?

I slept through the night and arrived today. And tried this lovely guide at Fiction University and format with Scrivener. For a while, it worked. Then I ran into trouble with footers, headers, and page numbers. They ruined my serenity. I didn’t find a fix to make them right with front and back matter. To add up, I wasn’t sure how to lay out the pages right for print, so, I gave up. Formatting with Scrivener had been fast and easy, took under an hour. I hope they would give more options to tune things.

So we are back at the beginning. What software to use? Buy a month’s license to Indesign 46 bucks? But I know it isn’t easy to use. However, I found Huge Howey’s guide, Sean Foushee’s guide, and diybookformats’s guide. Still, I’m not sure. And there is always the option of buying formatting. It might save time, money, and my nerves (they cost from 60 to 350 bucks,) but I want to learn. I’m funny that way. Or there is the Word option, buying or renting and surrendering being a slave to OneDrive. I don’t know what is my problem.

And now I have to leave you hanging as there isn’t any solution because the antagonist is evil. And that is me. I’m the villain who has been sabotaging myself, demanding fast results (Scrivener, Word, Reedsy), a perfect imprint (Vellum, Indesign), and not paying anything (Scribus). My holy triangle of time, money, and quality is all crooked and I better go hide my head into the sand from shame.

Thank you for reading, see you on the other side of madness.

P.S. I’m not exactly starving.

UPDATE: I’m a moron! I found KDP has provided premade files for formatting (here and guide) and it seems like they work with Libre Office. I can format my book with it. Or if I’m not satisfied and want something fancier, I might go with Indesign and use Huge Howey’s advice and template (blog).

My agony and fear blinded me and made me jump the gun. And yes, you can celebrate my idiocy with me! To quote Grammarly: “To err is human; to edit, divine.” Yes, I just did that. *Shakes her head.*




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