Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Format Your Manuscript for Ebook & Print in Eight Easy Steps

{Programs used in this tutorial: Microsoft Word 2010, Adobe Acrobat Pro, Notepad}

Step 1.
The Purge—
Open your manuscript in Microsoft Word. Select all the components of your document by pressing CTRL + A on a PC or ⌘ + A on a Mac. Open Notepad. Paste the entire document into Notepad. We're doing this to relieve your document of all its formatting so we can start fresh. Inside Notepad, select all the text again and copy it. Open a new Microsoft Word document and paste your text inside it. Go to the Home tab up top (Version 2010)

On the tool bar, you’ll notice an emblem that resembles a musical note. This is called the show/hide button.

When you click on this button, it’ll show you editor’s marks. These marks will illuminate a good deal of all the “under coding” as I like to call it. It shows where all the spaces are located and what keystrokes have been used to create different formatting aspects. For example, this symbol indicates a paragraph has been started by using the Enter key.

Notice the dots between the words. The dots indicate when the space bar has been used. The following symbol will tell you that the person has used the Tab key to create an indented paragraph.

Both Amazon (KDP & Createspace) and Smashwords do not like the use of the Tab key. There’s actually a really long list of things both of those platforms don’t enjoy, so we’re just going to start with a fresh manuscript, hence the purge. By ‘purging’ our document, we’re eliminating ALL the formatting and creating our own.

Select all the components of your document and click on the Home tab. Click on the grayed-out mini arrow beside the Paragraph option.

This opens the paragraph option dialogue box. Use the following settings:

Step 2—
Eliminating Waste.
The next part is the most time-consuming part of the entire formatting process. You must go through the entire manuscript and eliminate every occurrence of the Tab key. The specifications we used in the paragraph dialogue box has set your paragraphing for you. This step is meticulous, but necessary.

While you’re going through the manuscript, also look for double spaces after periods. You can identify them by a double dot after the period. A single dot indicates one space, while a double dot will indicate two. Having a double space after the period will not deem your manuscript unworthy of processing, but I’m a proponent of consistency.

Pay attention to every time the Enter key has been used. When you find the symbol indicating the key has been used, ask yourself if the mark is there because a new paragraph has been started or if  It's used to make sure a new chapter starts on a new page If it's the latter, they need to be deleted. The only time you should see the Enter mark is after a paragraph. You should never see more than two Enter marks in a row. Several instances of using the Enter key will flag the auto-vetter process of the platforms and cause problems. It’ll also make your ebook look pretty funky. There’s a better way to establish the chapters, which brings us to the next step.

Step 3—
Creating Chapters
When the chapter has ended, use a Page Break to start the new chapter on a new page. Set your cursor at the end of the last sentence of the chapter and then press Enter once. Next, go to the Insert tab.

Now click on the Page Break option.

This sets a stopping point and pushes all preceding text to the next page. Do this after every chapter, even if there’s only one line on that page. When finished, go through and make sure there are no blank pages. Sometimes when a page break is used but the page was full anyway, it’ll create a blank page. If this happens, simply go to the next page and hit the backspace button. It’ll keep your Page Break, but will bring up the next chapter where it needs to be.

While doing this, also go ahead and fix the appearance of the Chapter headings. If you’re using images, be sure to follow the instructions in Step 4. Format your text to your liking, but avoid using font sizes greater than 18. Ebook platforms don’t digest those very well. Avoid formatting text using the Headings options. Also, if you’re using a font you created or a font you downloaded, it’s a good idea to embed the font to your document. If you’re using a popular font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Calibri, etc., there’s no need to do this. How do you embed a font? Here’s where I learned:

Step 4—
With your image selected, right click on it and select Size and Position. Choose the Text Wrapping tab and make sure the In Line with Text option is set. Do this for every image in your document. Unfortunately, you can’t use any of the other positioning options per the requirements of the platforms. You’ll want to make sure any image you use is 300dpi or higher. This ensures high quality images. You’ll also want to be sure your image size is kept to a minimum. KDP requires images to be either .jpg or .gif and are 127KB or less in size.

Step 5—
Title Page
The title page is very simple. Scroll to the top of your document and place the cursor at the very beginning. Use a Page Break to create a new page preceding your text. On this page, type in the name of your book and include your byline if desired. Here’s a few simple rules: Format using the text formatting tools. Avoid using Headings to format text. The title page is strictly for the title of your book and the byline, nothing more. For ebooks, use font sizes that are 18pt or less. If you choose to use color in your text, remember that you’ll need to choose the color option for printed books when uploading to your platform. You can also use a graphically designed image on the title page to represent your title. Please see Step 4 to format any images you use on the Title Page.

Step 6—
Copyright Page
Up to this point, everything we’ve done is essential for ALL editions of your book. However, now we’re going to end up saving three (3) different versions, one for KDP, one for Smashwords, and one for a print version. Let me show you.

After your title page, use a Page Break to create a new page.

As mentioned above, do not use font sizes over 18 for ebooks. It will cause you a problem. Just don’t do it. Different platforms will require different information for the copyright page. We’ll start with KDP. KDP is the platform used to upload your book to make it available on as an ebook. The cover page for KDP requires this information:

Name of Book
Name of Author
Name of Publisher
Copyright symbol & date

The Smashwords platform requires this information:

Name of Book
Name of Author
Name of Publisher
Copyright symbol & date

The Createspace platform requires this information:

Name of Book
Name of Author
Name of Publisher
Copyright symbol & date

I’ve noticed that Createspace now has the option to convert the print version to ebook, eliminating the need to upload the ebook version directly. I don’t recommend doing it for many different reasons, but I won’t go into it here.

Some choose to include a license note on the copyright page. Here’s a sample of one if you choose to use one:

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Please note that each edition of your book requires its own ISBN, so you’ll be creating three (3) separate documents at this point. Insert the required information for each document. Click on File and then Save As. For now, we’ll save the ebook versions because the print version will be transferred to Adobe Acrobat Pro for page numbers. I suggest saving using document titles such as these: BookTitle_smashwords_edition.doc and BookTitle_kdp_edition.doc. I recommend saving using the 97-2003 option because Smashwords can’t accept anything higher yet.

Your ebook versions are set and ready to go! They now have the bare minimum requirements. However, generally ebooks have navigable Table of Content pages. If you’re interested in learning how to do that—and it’s pretty easy—pop on over to my next tutorial, Ebook Table of Contents (coming soon as of 4/17/2014).

For the print version, there’s two more things needed to reach the minimum requirements: book sizing and page numbers. Go ahead and save an MS Word version of the document containing the required copyright page information for Createspace. You won’t upload this file, but you’ll have it in case something happens. Save it as BookTitle_createspace_edition.doc. For consistency, I’d save it using the 97-2003 option.

Step 7—
Sizing for Print
Right now your document is set to 8.5 x 11 and if you sent it to print, that’s what you’d get… a book that will resemble those mathematics workbooks we used in first grade. Not very traditional….

Createspace provides several templates for various sizes of books. You can find them here:

Choose the size you want and then download the template. Open the template in MS Word and copy and paste the text from your BookTitle_Createspace_edition.doc file into the template. You’ll want to scroll through the entire manuscript to make sure all your formatting (and de-formatting) has stayed as you need it. For good measure, I’d revisit the Paragraph Dialogue Box to make sure none of the options have been altered.

Step 8—
Page Numbers
These templates will sometimes include headers and footers ready for page numbers, but I prefer to use Adobe Acrobat Pro because I can choose what page I want my numbers to start. I can also add separate sets of page numbers. This comes in handy if you're wanting to use roman numerals for the first portion of a book. In this tutorial, we're only going to do the basic page numbering.

Click on File and Save As, but this time, save the file as a PDF. To do so, in the Save As file type, choose PDF. Once it is saved, it’ll generally open on its own inside Adobe Acrobat Pro. If not, navigate to the location where you saved the file, right click on it, choose Open With and select Adobe Acrobat Pro from the list.

Now you’re working inside Adobe Acrobat Pro. On the left side of the screen choose the tab Pages.

This opens a column that shows a mini version of all the pages in the document. Go through them and decide which page you’d like your page numbers to start on and what page you’d like them to end on. For example, I don’t include page numbers on the Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication Page or the Prologue Page. I like for my page numbering to conclude at the end of the last chapter of the book. I don’t include page numbers on any “back” material, such as the Author Biography, End Notes, Epilogues, or Previews. Memorize or write down the page numbers you want to use for your starting and ending pages. You'll need them in the next part of this step.

Select Document from the top tool bar and then choose Add Headers & Footers.

The dialogue box that appears shows two tabs: Header and Footer. Both show three frames. These represent the left, center, and right of the page.

If you’re on the Header tab and you place the cursor in the center box, what you type will appear on the top of every page and in the center position. Many people prefer to put the name of their book in that spot, but some leave it blank.

Click on the footer tab and put your cursor in the middle frame. In the Insert Page Number box, choose the style you’d like to have for your page numbers, then click the Insert button. You’ll see <<1>> appear. Hit the Enter key to start a line below it. Some choose to put the title of their book here if they didn’t put it in the header position.

You can change the font of your numbers and text by using the options boxes in the Font section.

In the Page Options location, use the Page Range drop down menu to choose Apply to Page Range. In the From box, choose the page you identified earlier as being your starting page. In the To box, choose the page that will be the last to have a page number. Check the box that says Start Page Number At and choose 1. Check the box that says Replace Existing Headers and Footers on these Pages.

Make sure the margins are set to the specifications from the image above and make sure the units say Inches. Click OK. Save the document and you’re finished.

Now you have an ebook version for KDP, one for Smashwords, and a print version for Createspace. These are the minimum requirements and do not include any design elements other than basic images. This should make it quite easy for you, but if you don’t have the time or the patience, I will do it for you. The rate starts at $10 per document, so a total of $30. That’s for the very basic. I can design elements that match your cover art for additional fees and provide add-ins, like a navigable Table of Contents.

There’s one last thing. I know some of you are probably wondering, why no page numbers in ebooks? Ereaders allow users to change the size and style of the font, which creates varying page counts, so even if you did use page numbers on your document, it would never be correct. It would cause confusion for the reader. However, the newest ereaders have their own internal system that will create page numbers and will modify with every choice a user makes. This is why I suggest using a navigable Table of Contents page.

I hope this tutorial has helped. If there’s any confusion or something you don’t understand, please let me know so I can fix this tutorial for others. The sharing of information is important and vital to the success of everyone. I sincerely hope I’ve provided a good resource for you to accomplish your publication. Good luck!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Touching Smoke by Airicka Phoenix

Intriguing Story

What really hooks me into a story is not necessarily a story line or even strong characters. No, what does it for me is the feeling I get when reading the story.

I grew up in the 90s and so the whole brooding/sulking vibe is engrained deep in my culture. I enjoyed swooning over the tortured soul of Angel from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the greasy long hair of Jordan Catalono from My So-Called Life, and the lullabies of the Goo Goo Dolls. I think the word “tortured” is the key word here. The character Isaiah from Touching Smoke really brought forth the nostalgia from that period of my life. He’s dutiful, selfless, troubled, and very, very protective… and for good reason. 

Fallon, the main character, is the recipient of his loyalty. Their bond is more than magnetic, more than unusual… more than human. It transcends all lines. Fallon herself has been thrown into situations she not only does not know how to contend with, but doesn’t even understand. What makes it even more frustrating is the one person who can give her the answers is the one person who could demolish her.
Lost memories, dreams of an oddly familiar girl, strange creatures hunting her, chasing her… what is happening? 

I really enjoyed Touching Smoke by Airicka Phoenix. The characters were dynamic, full, and diligently created. It was a carefully thought out plot and there was just enough questions answered to urge you into the second of the series. 

I enjoyed how Phoenix demonstrated certain characteristics in a subtle way and tied it all together at the end. I’d love to elaborate on that, but I’m afraid I’d spoil the story for someone who hasn’t read it yet, but when you read it, I feel certain you’d agree.

I also enjoyed Phoenix’s choice of wording and how she used it to define her characters, especially Fallon. There were several times I found myself thinking, “that is really good imagery,” or “how artistic.”

If you’re sitting on the fence about purchasing this book, I really think you should, especially if you’re a 90s girl who digs protective male characters and intelligent female roles like I do.

Review of The Killing Vision by Will Overby

You’ll Never Guess

I do it every time and I get so mad at myself for it… I always wait way too long after reading a book to write the quality review I want to give. I read The Killing Vision a few months ago and so much has stayed with me. That alone should tell you I really enjoyed it. I read so much that a lot of the time I forget parts of the story. Sometimes I recall next to nothing. Not the case with this one.

I vividly remember the characters, their individual traits, their mannerism descriptions, their expressions and the scenery. I remember the ups and downs of the storyline and getting frustrated when I couldn’t figure out who the freak did it. Just when you think you’ve solved it, Overby sends you a curveball. Then you’re like, “Oh! Now I know what happened!” But no, you’re wrong again.

The plot in The Killing Vision is exceptionally well thought out. I can’t imagine what the outline must have looked like. It had to have taken a considerable amount of planning to set up, reveal, and tie together all the pieces to this mystery. 

When I was searching for a Will Overby book, I had to force myself to choose just one. I’m really glad I grabbed The Killing Vision. It has definitely convinced me to get another. 

You can also find this review at

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fallenwood 2 by Leslie D. Soule

What happens when Ash accidentally makes her way through another portal, this time into the Other Realm, and forgets she ever went to Fallenwood? More importantly, how much of one's identity is made up of memories? Fallenwood 2 is the continuing journey of heroine Ash Kensington. Struggling with a deep sense of grief, sorrow, and overall confusion, Ash tries to work her way through to a deeper, underlying meaning. This search leads her back to Fallenwood, where the mystery unravels itself as she realizes that a very sinister force may be underlying everything…

Leslie D. Soule is a fantasy writer from Sacramento, California. She has a B.A. in English and is currently working on her first-ever quadrilogy, The Fallenwood Chronicles. 

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble
Melange Books

Friday, January 31, 2014

The First Five Pages Presents Damaged by Becca Vincenza

The paranormal world was ruled by a council of the Elder races. This was a time of peace, where true mates were abundant, and harmony ruled. There was the movement to reveal the hidden world to the humans, certain races refused.
An uprising occurred in attempts to wipe out the ruling Elder races. Once all the Elder Races were thought to be destroyed the paranormal world split into clans, these clans were ruled by powerful families and rivalries began. The paranormal world had been unrest since creation of the clans.
When the Elder Races disappeared as did true mates.

Chapter 1 - Audrey

Three hundred sixty five days in a year.
Multiply that by four.
Add by one—the leap year.
One thousand four hundred and sixty one days.
In four minutes, minus 30 seconds, it will be one thousand four hundred and sixty-two.
I did not sigh. I did not cry. I did wonder, though, how I could miss something so completely, like a hole in my heart when I’d never had it before.
The first year, I craved a touch as if it were food. The second year, I knew without a doubt I would die without it, as if a touch itself was water. The third year, I tried to convince myself it wasn’t worth it. The fourth year, I had accepted my lies. But, lying to yourself is easier if you don’t clasp your arms around your once full, now sunken form. So this year, I would not fold into myself, close my eyes, and pretend. I looked at the clock.
Ten seconds. I’m fine.
Nine. I don’t need comfort.
Eight. Another year—whatever.
Seven. Another year.
Six. My hands had a will of their own.
Five. No, they didn’t.
Four. I am fi—
A wailing noise pierced the air, forcing my hands to my ears. It wouldn’t stop. They were playing with me now. My fifth year was beginning very cruelly. Maybe this year I’d surrender. It might be worth it for a handshake, even a lingering stare. No, not a stare. I flinched at the thought. Anything but a stare.
The noise wouldn’t stop. I touched my cheek. Tears that I’d thought had dried up long ago poured down my face. That’s when the door burst open. I shrieked and folded into myself pushing closer to the white walls surrounding me. Getting smaller meant less places they could attack. Less places they could stare.
He invaded the white. The room that was blank of color, of life, of anything. He filled it with colors and life. Color. I felt myself yearning for the color, but he was only specks of black. His black clothing covered him completely. Even his head was an emotionless, black void.
“Holy shit.” I wasn’t sure who said it— me or the faceless being. “Jacobs, we got one,” he said into his shirt. I watched him closely not sure what he had intended. He stepped closer and I flinched. I couldn’t see his eyes, I sensed his curious gaze. He couldn’t fully see me. He wasn’t scared yet. Maybe if I didn’t move he’d touch me without seeing me. I wondered what his human touch would feel like. I could live off that touch for years to come. I had made it this far with only violent touches. A light touch might help me survive for the rest of my life.
Another man rushed by, stopped, and then backtracked. He was hidden in the same clothing. The first man who entered turned and looked at the similar clad man. The new guy shrugged his shoulders. These, I knew, were not guards who lived here. The guards who worked here knew me. They didn’t hide their faces. They didn’t hide their eyes.
“What? Um… What should—” the first one said.
His voice traveled through my ears making my body hum with pleasure. I closed my eyes, savoring it. Another human’s voice. I sighed, hating that I did. More footsteps and still the alarms sounded. I wasn’t scared. Death would be a gift for me, but these two strangers didn’t know this hell.
“You should go.” I whispered. I didn’t know how to say, “Save yourselves.” I knew if I said “save,” it would be followed by “me.” What hope I did have would disappear with them. The first stranger tilted his head. The second stifled a laugh. A laugh! I’d save that memory for the endless days.
“What’s your name?” the first one asked, ignoring the heavy footsteps drawing closer to my cell. I retreated from the scene that would erupt in a few moments. The steps stopped. All was silent besides the blaring alarm and in those moments of silence I clung to his question.
He moved a step closer and I moved away, hiding in the corner. I didn’t know him, but I knew his fate well enough. I knew what would happen once the men with faces came. The guards. The ones with the hateful stares and the snarls of disgust.
“Back off.” It was still the first one speaking. His voice was imprinted in my mind but this time, his voice had an edge. His steps were closer now. It was funny how ultra-sensitive I’d become.
I tried to force myself into the wall, to become part of it. Funny, since part of me still craved the touch of another human, his touch, which was getting closer. I heard a strange rustling but didn’t move. He must have been inches away. I turned around suddenly, my whole face now exposed, as was his. The no longer faceless man looked at me in horror, in shock. I knew why he looked that way but I checked the room. Five other faceless men stood in the doorway. I saw them in enhanced color, and I tried to focus. Some of their heartbeats were irregular and intense.
The no longer faceless man moved toward me. I moved my eyes to him again. He was the first man I’d seen in four years and ten minutes who didn’t look at me with pure hatred. He was handsome. He had a flawless tan face with a clean cut jaw, and dark black hair that took away all the colors again. I couldn’t force myself to meet his eyes. I turned away. My tangled hair, hid one side of my face. The side that made no longer faceless man look at me like I was a monster.
“What’s your name?” he asked again, his perfectly full lips no longer muffled.
“Stone, grab her and let’s go. We don’t have time,” the second man spoke again.
 I pulled every part of my body close, trying to escape their words.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw his movements, his arms outstretched. I didn’t realize that I whimpered.
“Hey, I’m not going to hurt you,” he whispered.
Author Becca Vincenza
I know you won’t. It’s not you I’m worried about, I thought to myself. He reached for me. My clothes covered me preventing the skin to skin contact that I craved. I hated that I wanted it. My back tightened, and I tried to move. The only escape would be if I could become part of the wall.
“I promise you are safe now.” Then, he touched me. Four years and five minutes of never touching or seeing another human. The closer he moved, fear coated my body like a warm blanket. The moment his hands touch me the fear became overwhelming, it took over and pulled me into darkness.
“Stone’s got the fucking magic touch!” Someone joked loudly jarring me from unconsciousness. I flinched, but didn’t open my eyes. I still felt scrunched up and I was rocking. There was something under my legs, around my back. Something I hadn’t felt in years. Arms.
“Watch your mouth.” An older voice shouted. “Now what happened? Other than grabbing their greatest hidden secret, what else have we learned?” The old voice sounded almost triumphant but it was gruff and slightly tortured.
While he spoke I felt movements near my head, but I didn’t open my eyes. That’s when I felt the warming touch of another human. The hand, that was soft and smooth, moved a piece of hair from the left side of my face. I tried to act as if I wasn’t escaping his touch. His hand stopped. The hovered movement created a new heated sensation.
“Jacobs, I think she might be waking up.” The voice was close, so close.
“Blindfold and gag her.” The old gruff voice sounded again.
“Do it. We don’t know what she knows. We don’t know anything about her.”
“They kept her captive, and you saw her face.” His voice-no longer faceless man’s - was strained. And all I could think was he thought I was a monster.
“I don’t care. Do it.”
             I tried not to freak out, but my fear won. I felt my fear take over when the light from behind my eyelids completely vanished. I tried to pull away the blindfold, but someone grabbed my wrist in a painful hold. I whimpered, again unable to speak. Fear clawed my stomach. I felt screams tearing at my throat. Once they covered my eyes, they added a gag. It pulled the corners of my lips into an unnatural smile.

You can purchase Damaged at the following locations:
Amazon ($11.39 paperback)
Amazon ($0.99 ebook)
Barnes & Noble ($0.99 ebook)
Smashwords ($0.99 ebook) 

You can connect with the author, Becca Vincenza, via social media at these locations: