Thursday, 23 May 2013

Six Reasons to get a professional Formatter

Formatting is one of the final stages of getting your manuscript ready for submission to KDP, Smashwords, Createspace, Lulu, etc. What makes a good format necessary is that you can have the best cover, the best story and the best editing. But if your writing doesn’t look good on the page, it will turn readers off. For instance only a couple of weeks ago Amazon sent me an e-mail suggesting a couple of books. Excusing that one was my own, Amazon did make a few good suggestions. I checked one out but within a few pages of the “look inside” feature I decided not to buy. Why?

There were three instances where a sentence was finished midway through and continued on a new line. The author had obviously used spaces for paragraph indents or had not checked for annoying little extra spaces as the paragraph starts were not uniform. There was also a question about consistency. In several places the style changed with some chapter headings on one side, then centered before going to the side again. In the end I didn’t feel that the price was worth the mistakes and I wasn’t willing to buy.

The thing is there are plenty of great formatters out there, most of which do not charge a huge amount to turn your manuscript into a well presentable book. So this is six reasons why you should get a professional formatter to look at your book:

1.       They’ll spot inconsistent formatting
So you’ve written a book that has several letters / messages written into that the character reads. At the first one you format with the text in italics and within borders X and Y. However by letter three, the borders have narrowed and the text is now in bold instead of italics. On the first three chapters the headings are centered bolded and underlined, but past that they are not underlined? This will make the book look amateur, which will turn readers off. A formatter should ensure all the formatting is consistent within a document.
2.       They’ll create a Table of Contents
One of the most asked questions about formatting for kindle and smashwords is how to create a working table of contents. The task is fairly hard as word has a way of blocking it at times. However a good formatter is adept at doing this and will also thoroughly check it before releasing it back to you.
3.       Proper Indenting
The amount of times that I have seen books without indenting or by using <spaces> as ways to get the first line of a paragraph indented amazes me. If you are unsure how to get it right – you need a formatter.
4.       They’ll get rid of erroneous spaces and returns
Even if we are careful, extra spaces at the beginning and end of sentences, in-between words and generally anywhere else can creep in. A formatter will hunt these down and get rid of them.
5.       It is a time saver
For many of us writing is done in a limited amount of time. And formatting can take a few hours to complete to get it right. A formatter can do the formatting quicker and give you time to prepare for some marketing material such as guest posts, interviews, etc.
6.       Some give extra exposure
Some formatters will give your book exposure as soon as it is released by listing it on a works that they have completed page. This can be valuable as it can create an extra link back to your book making it more visible to search engines and if a formatter is well known and a writer too; it will automatically seen by their readers.

I hope that some of this has been helpful to you. Have you any more reasons on why you should get a professional formatter? I love to hear comments.

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  1. I have not used a professional formatter but, after putting out several books of my own, I not only see the advantages of your six reasons why but understand first-hand how it could be extremely helpful - especially getting it right the first time the book is released.

    1. Thanks Lynn for your comment. I will note that some authors are very good formatters. But there are a lot of authors who are not and authors should know whether or not it is a strength. There are books out there which do not have the quality they deserve due to formatting.