This is the second post in a three-part series about how to create an anthology from scratch in six weeks. Read part one here.
Part II: Getting Pub-Ready for the ‘Zon
I’m going to share a bunch of tips on how to format an anthology manuscript for Amazon, if you are using Microsoft Word (2010 or later).
We created a paranormal erotic anthology in six weeks. Four authors, working together, all with different writing and formatting styles. We wanted as much creative freedom as possible, yet we also wanted a common format for all the published stories. If you check out the editions (Lust by the Sea (published July 2016), Lust on the Wing (published Sept 13) and Lust in Tooth and Claw (forthcoming Oct 4, pre-orders start Sept 23)), they’re all in the same format. When I did the formatting for Lust by the Sea, it took about 2 hours to create a table of contents, a copyright page, and combine four authors’ manuscripts, bios, and other end matter. I’ve continued to cut that time down on each new volume.
The key to saving time and getting a uniform book look: Styles in MS Word.
Styles in MS Word
Have you used Styles? They’re hanging out in the Home tab.
When you start typing in a new document, the Normal style is highlighted by default. But say you want to use a header style instead. Easy. Click on the text you want to change, click Heading 1 (or Heading 2, etc), and you’re done. You can see on the image above, the cursor is in the middle of “Prologue,” and Heading 1 is highlighted.
You can modify any of the styles to suit your needs. Right click on a style in the ribbon. Click Modify…, click Format, click Paragraph… Then, change line spacing, indents, make hanging first lines, center the font, change font size, color, bold, etc. Once you save your changes, you now have a custom style for that document. See the screenshots below for my modified Heading 1 style from Lust by the Sea.
I’ve used the same styles for Lust on the Wing and Lust in Tooth and Claw Speaking of which, look at the pretty covers! We’ve been (sort of) consistent with those formats.
Create Your Own Style
What if you want to create your own style? Sure, no prob. There’s a scroll bar to the right of the style options. Click it and you’ll get a whole list of styles. Choose Create a Style and go to town.
I created a new style called Quote for Lust by the Sea. Came in handy when any of us had a quote from a book or poem, click the text to get it italicized, centered, with space before and after. So worth the 60 seconds it took to develop the style.
Compiling the Anthology
I used my story manuscript as the guinea pig to get all the styles exactly the way I wanted them. Then I pasted in everyone else’s story. Most authors hadn’t bothered with styles – why would they? They wanted to actually write, not format! – so when I pasted their content into my doc, my Normal style took it over. Assimilated it like the Borg. If a chunk of text didn’t convert automatically, I plopped my cursor in the middle of the chunk and clicked Normal. Et voila.Resistance was futile.
You’ll still have to wade through every page to check for places that need custom formatting. Can’t be helped. Chapter titles, quotes, main characters sending text messages to one another, all that stuff has to be found and formatted in your manuscript. Remember, even in tedium one can find joy.
Why do all this at all? Why not just let the chips fall where they may, paste in everyone’s story willy nilly and upload it?
The Zon requires a table of contents, and that’s darn easy to do in Word if you apply a heading style to your chapters. Also, your formatting will look as wild and out of control as my eyebrows if you don’t control your styles.
Table of Contents
If you have changed all your chapter titles to, say, Heading 1, then you can click References, Table of Contents, Custom Table of Contents, uncheck Show Page Numbers, and click Ok.
Where ever your cursor is on the page, a TOC will be inserted, already hyperlinked to every chapter.
I wait until I’m done with line editing before I insert a TOC, but really, that’s silly. Updating a TOC in Word is as easy as right-clicking and selecting “Update.” Better than a magic wand, because magic wands don’t have right-click menus.
Skip the Returns
Don’t use the “Enter” key to add extra lines between paragraphs or after headers. The Zon will ignore those extra paragraph returns when your file is uploaded.
Say you want a chunk of white space after chapter titles, though. What to do?
Easy. Right click on Heading 1, click Modify…, Format, and Paragraph…, then increase the points in the After field. Click Ok. Next, click one of your chapter titles and click Heading 1 again. It will update the Heading 1 style throughout your document.
Final Step in Formatting
Once you have the manuscript formatted, save your file as a Web Page, Filtered format. That will clean out any stray bits of formatting that would otherwise mess up your file when you upload it to the Zon.
Uploading is a whole other topic, which I won’t cover. A note about file format, though. You can upload your Web Page, Filtered (still much better than using a .docx file), or you can upload an ePub file. That’s what I do. It’s darn close to WYSIWYG, and I like the clean, crisp format.
Not sure how to save as an ePub? Again, easy. Download Calibre. It’s free and it’s incredible. It will convert almost any text-based file into almost any other text-based file format.
And that’s about it for my style tips. If you have a one page document with a single header, forego the Styles. But if you have a 250 page document with multiple stories, each one with unique formatting, Styles are a necessity.
In part 3 of this series, I’ll share the results of using targeted keywords and categories to promote our book on the Zon. From several psuedo-scientific articles, I learned how to determine which KWs and cats will supposedly help a book get noticed; we experimented with that process for our first month on the Zon. I’ll share those sources, and my opinions on what worked and didn’t. Stay tuned!
Lust by the Sea is available exclusively on Amazon, and is free on Kindle Unlimited. Check it out on Amazon US or Amazon UK, or click this universal link to go to the Amazon site for your country. Or, click here to open Amazon’s Look Inside feature! You can read the first four chapters of my story, Treasures from the Sea, without leaving my blog.
Lust on the Wing is also available exclusively on Amazon, and is also free on Kindle Unlimited. This universal link will direct to the Amazon site for your country. Or, click here to open Amazon’s Look Inside feature! You can read the first four chapters of my novella, Captive Mate, without leaving my blog. (Psst, chapter 5 is available here on my blog.)
~Blog post updated Sept 22, 2016 with revised links and post title.~