How to Format Your Self-Published Book

One of the questions I am most frequently asked by self-publishing authors is how to format the manuscript for submission. Every self-publishing company may have its own requirements, but here is an overview of what is most common:

PAGE SIZE: A typical manuscript page will be the standard 8.5 x 11. If you want an idea of how long your book will be, you can set your page size to the trim size you plan to select. Changing to the trim size you plan to select will also help you see how your text shifts and moves.

MARGINS: It’s fine to use the default margins in Word. However, if you want to get closer to standard margins for many self-publishing companies, set the top and bottom margins to .95” and the left and right to .75”.

SPACING: Most authors prefer to use double-spacing when creating their manuscript because is allows for easier editing and proofreading. It is fine to submit it with double-spacing to most self-publishing companies. However, if you want to get an idea of the length of your book and how the text will look, change the manuscript to single-space.

PARAGRAPH INDENTS: It’s best to not use spaces or tabs, but rather to set your paragraph setting to the first line hanging .25”.

HARD RETURNS: Only use hard returns at the end of a paragraph, NOT the end of each line like a typewriter.

SPELL CHECK: Run the grammar check and spell check and have a third party proofread your manuscript. It is important to note that grammar and spell check don’t always catch every error and the suggestions aren’t always correct. It is best to have another person as well as yourself proofread the text.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps, publishing consultants and marketing professionals; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams and on assisting authors with marketing and promoting their book once published. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

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