Formatting (aka the Real Work)

I am going to paint a picture that every author can relate to:

 

The author has toiled, shed blood and tears, spilt coffee or wine onto the page until a masterpiece has been molded of words, sweat, and moxy. They fight an internal battle of fear and doubt as queries are written, tweets composed, and submissions sent. The rejections come in, queries go unanswered and a weariness begins to set in. Will the masterpiece be doomed to collect dust in a gloomy office, seen only by the author’s eyes?Should self-publishing options be explored? The ease of those make them incredibly tempting and the author discusses their options with others, commiserating with them, finding they share the same concerns, the same hopes of publication, the same desire to have a brand stamped on their masterpieces.

 

Then, an idea: pool resources to build a small, online indie publishing company. Everyone’s skills can be put to use! The material is there! There are editors and designers, marketing specialists, and web gurus. It can happen!

 

Then, there is the screech across the record player that shatters this beautiful dream of branded masterpieces proudly displayed on shelves beside other wonderfully crafted and carefully formatted works of literary art. Carefully what, now?

Formatted. Carefully formatted.

 

Any author will tell you that writing is hard; it’s work. They are not wrong. It is both emotionally and mentally taxing to pry the words from your brain and put them into coherent sentences on the page. Editing comes next, which is even more difficult, especially when editing your own work. We’ve covered various methods and, honestly, one of the best things to do is toss it at an unsuspecting person for a beta read to get their honest feedback. When that is all said and done, you have a polished manuscript and then that’s it, right?

 

Wrong.

 

That is only half of the equation. When self-publishing or – as we do here at Corrugated Sky – indie publishing, 60-100% of the work has to be done by the author. In our case, it is 100%. Sure, we all divide the work and make sure there aren’t any glaring inconsistencies in what we put out, but the work still needs to be done. The book still needs to be made.

 

Pick up any book near you. The inside is neat and pretty, chapter headings very clear, sometimes in a fun font or with an image near it. There is copyright information and dedications, sometimes a table of contents if it is a particularly long book or a book in parts. Then, of course, there is the cover art. That also needs to be eye catching and properly formatted to fit the length of the book. War & Peace is a long book, the cover needs to be able to wrap around its entire girth. The Hobbit is not nearly as long and, thus, its cover does not need to be as wide or long.

 

Formatting and cover services are things we plan on offering to others in the near future. In the mean time, the work for our publications is all done in-house with many hours of hair pulling, cursing, and sobbing involved. It is not easy. It is not a ‘magic button’ fix. There are tutorials galore about how to properly format a novel in various programs: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, InDesign, OpenOffice, Scrivener… the list is endless. Some are easier to use than others. We seem to favor InDesign here at Corrugated Sky, but it can be a tricky and intimidating program for those not familiar with it. Microsoft Word is awful if you have images that need to be included unless you want to spend your hours meticulously moving your text back to where it needs to be. Then there is the new advent of eBooks. That is an entirely different formatting beast. It has, most recently, been an infuriating beast, actually.

 

With the coming release of two titles from Corrugated Sky, we’ve been burning the candles at both ends to get all the work done, to make sure things will shine brightly on virtual (and, hopefully, solid) shelves.

 

To our fellow publishers, large and small; self-made or traditional: we feel your pain and salute you on your journeys.

 

To those afraid of walking the path because of all the ‘work’ needed to reach your dreams: no dream has ever been reached without a little sacrifice. You can do it. We can help.

 

Seacombe Island by Karen Garvin and Hellfire by Michelle Schad both debuting in April 2018.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *