I’m going to keep this post short and sweet *fingers crossed.*
Many writers (myself included) have or will struggle with formatting the interior of their book. And it’s no wonder – the whole process is complicated! Trying to figure out how to make an aesthetically pleasing, functional, publisher-ready interior is a challenge. If you’re self-publishing (I recommend Kindle Direct Publishing), you’ll have to either do all the interior work yourself or hire out. And doing everything yourself is hard!
But there are a few ways to make it easier.
I’m going to share those with you today.
First and foremost, let’s establish our word processor. I’m going to be using Microsoft Word, which is the primary program that KDP recommends. (Another great one is Scrivener, but I don’t have experience using that program). While a lot of writers prefer Google Docs because it’s free, it unfortunately has a few features missing that will hinder you from self-publishing through KDP. I recommend investing in a paid word-processer, but that’s up to you.
Alright, step one: Decide whether you want to use a pre-formatted template (which I highly recommend) or use Microsoft’s settings to format your doc yourself.
The biggest factor in this decision is how far along you’ve come in your book. If you haven’t started, or only have a few chapters, it’s going to be super easy to use a preformatted template.
If, however, you’ve already gotten a decent way through your book or even finished it, using a pre-formatted template will be a bit harder. Actually, not harder, just a bit more … tedious. However, I still recommend it, especially if your book layout is chaos, lol!
First thing you’re going to is download one of KDP’s preformatted templates.
It will give you a variety of trim sizes to use – that just means the size of your book. Most novels are either 5×8 (around 60,000-90,000 words – which is what my size my novel, Rise of the Forgotten, is) or 6×9 if you have a slightly longer book (e.g. 90,000-150,000 words). If you’re not sure which size is right (like if you don’t know how long your book is going to be) then you can always make a copy of each size and see which one has the page-count you’re looking for. The bigger the trim size, the less pages you’ll have.
If you’re doing something other than a novel, like a textbook or picture book, I recommend looking up similar books and seeing their trim size.
Your downloaded folder should look like this:
Okay, now that you’ve picked your size (the preformatted templates come with all the sizes, so you’ll have to make a copy of the document with your preferred trim size and rename it), you’ll have to copy and paste your book into it. Now, if you haven’t started writing yet, great! But if you have, no big deal. All you’ll do is copy each chapter and paste it in the corresponding example chapter provided in the template, like so:
You’ll go through and do this for each chapter you have written. When and if you run out of example chapters, all you have to do is go to the end of your chapter, and then in the quick access toolbar (the top area with all the settings in Word), go to layout>page setup>breaks>section breaks>next page.
Now, KDP will tell you to go to insert>pages>page break, but honestly, I’ve found inserting a section break to be more effective. I won’t get into the technical details, but it will help with having different odd/even page headers. Just take my word for it (or don’t) and see how it goes 😉
From there, you can simply copy/paste a previous chapter heading and update it, or format it to match the others yourself.
Once you’ve pasted all your chapters, you can go through and customize the doc by adding your name, dedication, etc. and even tweak the order (for instance, they put the acknowledgement page before the chapters for some reason, but I prefer it at the end of the book, right before my bio). Whenever you want a blank page, just add a couple section breaks like how I showed you above. If you want to check whether you have a section break somewhere, just click this:
It will show you all the spaces, paragraph breaks, and document markup. To hide the markup, just click the same button.
You can also go through and change fonts, spacing before chapter headers (make sure you always have the same amount of spaces about each chapter name/number), add images, etc.
Lastly, when you’ve written all your chapters, you’ll update your table of contents. Personally, I insert one of Word’s pre-made table of contents (references>table of contents) instead of manually updating the page numbers on KDP’S template, but that’s a bit more complicated to format. I wouldn’t recommend doing it unless you’re comfortable with Word.
One last thing:
If you want your name to be at the top of every other page, as well as the name of the book, you’ll want to double click the header space (the top of each page, where the template should say Book Title). A tab should pop up called “Headers and Footers” in the toolbar.
From there, checkmark the box that says “Different Odd & Even Pages.”
The document should automatically pop up with every other header saying, “Author Name.”
Fill in your name, and Bob’s your uncle!
Now, if you’ve already done a lot of formatting on your manuscript and you feel it only needs some minimal changes to be ready for KDP, such as tweaking the margins, spacing, etc., I recommend you check out KDP’s help page on the topic. They’ll walk you through all the specific steps that are a bit too technical for me to explain. Plus, who wants to reinvent the wheel, right? *Considers how this entire blog is just a jumble of pre-existing information on many other websites.* Scratch that, I already did XD
Anyway my fine readers, I hope this helped you format your manuscript! If you have ANY formatting questions for your novel on MS Word, please leave me a comment below, and I’ll either have the answer or Google the topic until I do 😉
J. H. Gates