L … is for layout

L[1]  is for layout. In this case I am using layout, but for the purpose of explanation, it could also be described as presentation, or format. However you’d like to consider it by name, it is a massive area to cover, so I’ll touch on it with a few basic points.

I self-publish my novels and poetry anthologies as eBooks, so it is fitting that I refer to my own particular layout in the body of this post.

An eBook is no less a book because it is in digital format, so it should have a similar general appearance to the printed page, and it should contain the appropriate supplementary information.

Do you require a fair grasp of e-pub formatting?

I’m not an authority on it, but I have a reasonable knowledge of the task. I formatted both my novels, and my five poetry anthologies. It isn’t easy, and if I’m being honest, it can raise the heart-rate at times, but it is rewarding.

There is a feeling of accomplishment when you download the book to your Kindle or other e-reader and know that you have been responsible for every aspect of the production.

In self-publishing, there is a greater requirement for self-promotion, and this should be taken into consideration at the formatting stage.

How does an author promote within an eBook?

My own method is twofold. First, I wait until I have at least two 5* reviews before I update and include them. Secondly, I promote my other writing within the endnotes. There are obviously no reviews at initial publishing; the scary stage.

My layout is: Title, copyright, acknowledgements, reviews (in brief), contents, and then the story. After the story: Epilogue, a word from the author, about the author, also by the author, and contact details.

I don’t believe in pushing the ‘author’ information until after the story is read, because initially, it’s the story the reader is buying into. If by the end of the story, they like the writing, then they will take more interest in the endnotes.

Considerations when formatting for e-publishing?

1. Line spacing is a key factor. Too little space creates blocks of text that fill the screen. Too much space creates too much white space. Both achieve one thing; an uncomfortable reading experience. I use 1.15 spacing.

2. Fancy fonts can create issues, and the procedure is complicated enough. Stick with a standard font that will do the job; Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman. I use Times New Roman, headers size 14, regular text size 12.

3. Throughout the process, it is a good idea to keep the number of fonts and styles, to a minimum. This maintains a better reading experience. I tend to use bold capitals for chapter headings, or supplementary headings, regular text for the story, and italics for emphasis, or when dealing with telephone dialogue.

4. Paragraph indents should be less than for the written page. An indent on an e-reader is much more pronounced and can spoil the reader’s enjoyment. Standard indent is approximately 1.27cm. I reduce this to 0.25cm.

5. A line break, should be used after sections of supplementary information (copyright, reviews, etc.), or it all becomes a constant stream of text.

6. A line break, should be used at the end of each chapter to avoid the beginning of a fresh chapter occurring part-way down the screen.

7. An asterisk (centre-aligned), is useful to create a natural break between scenes, and this ‘educates’, or guides the human reader, just like signposting within the text.

8. Placing all the author info at the back of the book provides the human reader with more of a sample of the story, before deciding to make a purchase.

This is only an introduction to a challenging, but rewarding task.

Please note, that the procedure for formatting poetry is even more ‘challenging’.

Once again, thank you for reading my post, and if you have any queries, I respond to all comments.

See you tomorrow for ‘M’.

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