If you’re new to publishing, then figuring out how to format a book can be incredibly intimidating. It’s also probably the thing you forget about until you’re done writing, and then you realize that you have to, you know, actually turn it into a book.
Formatting involves a ton of tiny decisions that can be overwhelming if you’ve never had to think it through before. Here are some places to start.
What is formatting?
Formatting is the actual act of taking a manuscript and creating a legible book out of it. You’ll need separate formatting for your ebook and your paperback manuscript. When you take a manuscript and turn it into a book, you’ll need to decide on every piece of the finished product. This includes but is not limited to:
- Trim size (the size of the book)
- Font size
- Page numbers
- Page headers and footers
- Chapter headers
- Copyright page
- Title page
- Table of contents, if applicable
- Forewords, prologues, epilogues, and bios
- Interior artwork
How do you format a book?
There are a lot of ways to format! You can purchase software designed for the job. I use Affinity Publisher. It’s affordable and does what I needed it to do for poetry collections and anthologies. I was able to place images and create page templates among other things.
Here are some software options that may help you.
- Atticus: Very popular. Robust features and easy to use. Relatively affordable and a one-time purchase.
- Affinity Publisher: Can be a bit clunky to figure out but works great and gives you a lot of flexibility. A fraction of the price of Atticus or Vellum.
- Microsoft Word: Here is a good article on formatting with Word. This can work for novels, but if you’re doing something like a poetry collection or anthology that has a lot of art and a unique page layout, then I’d pass.
- Vellum: This one is pricier but has a lot of features and is really user-friendly. Also, it’s only available for Mac OS. They have occasional sales, so keep an eye out.
- Scrivener: Yes, you can format with Scrivener. I’ve never tried it, but it looks like there’s a steep learning curve for most people.
If you’re looking for free options, try this:
- Reedsy: Free and easy to use, but there is not a lot of control over the specifics of the design. Most of the decisions are made for you.
Upload! Once you’re done, you should have an .epub file for ebooks or a print-ready PDF for paperbacks. Depending on where you’re uploading, you’ll need to make sure the color profile is correct.
Enjoy your creation!
About the Writer: Allie Gravitt is a mom of 4 and lives in metro Atlanta with a house full of animals and plants. Her debut poetry collection, prisonbreaks, and second collection Killing Ghosts are available now on Amazon. Follow Allie’s writing journey on TikTok and Instagram.