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All authors, without exception would prefer a traditional publishing company to offer them a large advance, and then take over all of the work needed to publish and market their book. The royalties may be small, but to sit back and wait for them to flood in and have to do nothing yourself (apart from the odd personal appearance) has to be a little touch of heaven.

But then the rejection letters start to pile up. Agents start to treat you as if you work for them and not the other way around, having forgotten that without you or people like you they would be unemployed. Most Publishing companies won't look at you without an agent (never could figure out why), and those that do invariably tell you how good your book is and then say "but it's not for us".

By now you are getting desperate, and are ecstatic when a publishing company approaches you. They are enthusiastic about your work, and can't wait to read an excerpt (or in some cases the whole book) then three months (or longer) later a letter of acceptance and a contract arrives. Eagerly you flip through the contract but are brought to an abrupt halt by "Your contribution will be $x,xxx dollars". You have just been introduced to the world of the "Vanity Press".

My father died in 1953, but I remember as a child, that out of the blue, he said to me: "If you ever write a book, never pay to have it published. If its any good then the publisher will pay you for the privilege". It was really weird as it came unprompted and totally out of context of the conversation. How did he know that 60 years later I would become an author?

That has always stuck in my mind, and I have always approached the publishing industry with the phillosophy that I would pay nothing, or at least next to nothing to get my books published.

With that thought in mind, I trawled the net, and found several places that purport to cost nothing upfront, and paid much better royalties than I had hitherto expected. I tried a few, and finally settled for Smashwords for my ebooks, and Lulu for Print on Demand. Both of them offer value added services which, if you weren't listening to the above, you can pay for. My goal was not to pay, so I did my research and read virtually everything on their web site. and then looked through a number of books published with them.

If you don't have an artistic bone in your body, and your English sucks, then of course you will need to employ a cover designer and an editor, but this can be done fairly inexpensively. Though despite what professional cover designers and editors say, you can do it without them.

Many authors have complained that its so complicated, takes so much time, is so hard, when in actual fact it isn't. It's easy.

That first book is the key, once you have prepared that successfully, all the rest are so easy that you feel embarrassed to share your experience with the great many authors who pay thousands of dollars and believe that it is the only way, and franky won't listen to reason.

Use Microsoft word, if possible, when writing your book.
Set your page size.
Set your margins.
Always use 'Style' buttons to format, and set them up before you start.
Style buttons can be used in two ways. You can select the style and then start to write, and everything thereafter will conform to that style, or, you can just type and when finished block select it, and then click on the appropriate 'Style' button to format.
Format and correct as you go along, its quicker, and vastly reduces the time needed for that final check.
Microsoft Word is fine for 85% of spelling and grammatical errors, so try and eliminate as many red, blue, or green wiggly lines, as you can, as you write.
Style buttons are not set in stone, you can amend them, and you can create new ones.

For Smashwords, never use page breaks, never use more than four hard returns at a time, and submit formatted to A4, left justified, no page numbers and no headers and no footers.
Lulu, use section breaks between chapters, and page breaks between start and end stuff, submit formatted to the final size of your book, fully justified. Page numbers, headers and footers are permitted.
Kindle (which I discovered later) is also free, use page breaks only (no section breaks), submit formatted to the final size of your book, left justified (Kindle's conversion process will fully justify it.) You can leave headers and footers and page numbers, Kindle's processes ignore what it doesn't want.
NEVER convert your own book, all of the above accept files created in Word, and convert for you... why would you want the hassle?

Even if you suffer from writers diorrhea, its no problem... write away and when the book is finished, and you look at it in horror, wondering how you will ever be able to format that. Take a breath, block select the whole book, click on the little button (under 'Mailings' and next to 'Aa') and this will remove any and all formatting, unintended or not.
Next set up a 'Normal' style button as you want paragraphs to appear, and then block select the whole book again and click on this 'style' button.
90% of formatting has now been accomplished.

Block selecting the whole book is easy too. At the right of the home toolbar you will see 'Select'. Click on it and select 'Select All' from the drop down box. you have now block selected the entire book.

Now go through the book, and deal with the 10% that is left, create style buttons as appropriate, block select each piece in the book and click on the button.
Roughly one hour and the job is done.


There are a few little niceties that you can add to the version that will be used for your print book, in line with the way that mainstream published books are presented, such as starting the page numbers from page one of chapter one and terminating them with the end of your last chapter. Adding Author name and book title to alternate pages starting at chapter one. This is accomplished using headers and footers, and is assisted by the fact that you have used section breaks. Takes a fair bit of experimentation to achieve your desired result, but as I said before, once the first book is complete the rest are easy.
So as you can see there is nothing mysterious in getting your book formatted for publishing, its easy and its fun.


If you have any questions or just require a bit of advice, then don't hesitate to email me, either using the contact form or directly at:

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