Book Format is the Last Step Before Self-Publishing

Book format efforts are critical when it comes time to self-publish your story. The layout or format that you see when you pick up pretty much every book in a book store is referring to the look and feel of your final book draft just before uploading it to a self-publishing platform.

Book Format

If you are publishing your book traditionally through a fiction book publisher, you should be concentrating on how to write a manuscript prior to your submission. When you self-publish, the formatting of your book is something you will be doing on your own.

This page is more geared toward the self-publishing crowd and will show you how to layout your novel in a standard book format that is already set up for self-publishing your books on most do-it-yourself publishing programs found online.

Creating a Book Format Ready for Upload

When setting up to start your book layout design, there are a few things to consider before making these crucial finishing touches. First, you must decide on an appropriate size and style for your book.

There are several different sizes to consider when choosing a proper book format (all sizes are in shown in inches). There's 8 1/2 x 11 (standard for coil binding format), 4 x 7 (for standard paperback books), 6 x 9, 9 x 7 for picture books and hard cover books, and many more shapes and sizes. It all depends on the type of book you have and how you want it to look to you readers. In most applications for fiction writers, you will use 4 x 7 or 6 x 9 for your paperback or 9 x 7 for your illustrative books.

After you choose a perfect size for your book, you must now choose a book format that works for your book layout. When talking format, I mean exactly how you want your book to look when someone is flipping through the pages. Do you want a formal style or a relaxed style?

A formal style includes a table of contents, dedication page, forward, and epilogue (a more traditional look). A relaxed style may have those same elements, but they are optional. In a relaxed standard book layout, you may also add in your own artistic touch such as a different font for your chapter names, fancy borders, or colors (unlike a manuscript where everything must be the same size and color).

One of the best things about self-publishing is that everything about your book format is up to you. You choose how your book is going to look to a reader so you have the power of choice on your side. And making it look the way you want is very simple if you follow a few simple steps.

Now that you have the preliminary layout ideas in your head, it's time to put your final draft to standard book format. The following elements are needed to format your book for a standard book layout.

8 Key Elements for a Good Book Format

After your preliminary thoughts have been taken into consideration, it's time to get down to business and get your book formatted and ready for publishing. Your book design is all about the look and feel of your book. Remember, what you see is what you get with your final printed product.

1. Make a Book Cover. Your book's cover should provide your readers with a professional feel when they first see your book. It should be properly centered on the page and be very high quality. Do not compress your picture down to nothing. You want it to look crisp with no blurs or dithering.

I recommend using 300 dpi when saving your book cover and other pictures throughout your book. When learning how to publish books, this is a key feature that needs to look attractive since it is usually the first thing a potential customer sees when they see you book.

2. Create a Cover Page or Title Page. A good book format continues with the page immediately following your cover which should be blank in a book. If you do not add this page in an eBook, it can mess up your page numbering and will add extra blank pages in your book where you don't expect them.

This was a hard lesson to learn that took some time to figure out. I couldn't figure out where the extra page was coming from in my Microsoft Word document. It actually didn't show the page, it just skipped from page one to page three. This extra page is not necessary in a hard copy book because the back of the cover is this page.

The next page after the blank one is a the book's title or cover page which is basically a mirror of your book cover minus any artwork. This is the first actual piece of paper after the book cover that everyone sees when they open your eBook or as they are opening your novel in a bookstore.

The title page is formatted just as a manuscript would be, containing your story's title in a large font just above the center of the page followed three lines by your name, otherwise known as your by-line. They should be above and below the center of the page centered on the page.

3. Add a Book Copyright and Publishing Information Page. In a standard book format, the copyright and publishing information page directly follows the title page. This is one of the most important excerpts within your book. It tells the world who owns all of the rights to your book - (YOU). This is your books insurance policy against theft and loss of money.

This page should be aligned to the left in 12 pt Times New Roman font. It should have the title of your book at the top. It contains your ISBN number directly beneath the title, your copyright, who published your book, what edition it is, when it was published, and other general information such as character and location disclaimers or how people can contact you to use excerpts from your story.

This page is also a great place to advertise affiliate programs or other services, another great benefit of electronic or eBooks. You can get examples of this page in your favorite novels just like you have done to see how your book should be formatted. If you have a website, add it to this page as well.

4. Enter a Book Reviews Page. This page is optional and will follow your copyright and publishing information page. Though it's optional, it's highly recommended. It's a great page to add since it gives your book credibility when someone is on the edge of buying it or not. You can add good reviews and other books you have published on this page to add more beef for your book. People love to hear what others are saying about your book before they actually buy it.

5. Create a Dedication Page. The dedication page is optional and is a place where you can give someone who inspired you due credit. This can be friends, family, or people who helped you write and publish your story. Center the credit on the page in 12 pt Times New Roman.

6. Table of Contents Page. This page is optional and should follow the dedication page. This is where you list all of the chapters and or sections of your book.

7. Create The Foreword or Prologue for Your Fiction Novel. The foreword or prologue is a brief but optional introduction or lead-in to your story or a little story about you. This book format element is the beginning of your actual story if it is used and should be the starting point or set the stage for your whole story.

8. The Rest of Your Book. If you pick up a published book and look, chapter title pages are different than body pages. If the content of your book after the dedication page and table of contents is an even page, your last name should be on the top of your page (just below the margin or in a header frame) aligned to the left. If your first content page is an odd page, your book title will be on that page and aligned to the right.

On the opposite page, you will put your name or book title (opposite of the previous page) aligned to the opposite side.

On normal pages that don't contain chapter titles, you will use two to three hard return spaces down from the top (or lines three or four) to start your content aligned to the left (never justified or to the right).

On chapter title pages, the chapter name should begin on line 5 or 10 respectively. Use whatever looks best for your book.
Your chapter title font should be whatever you use for the font for the rest of your book.

Choose a font that best suits the size of your book. If it is a mass produced book, you want a smaller font. If it is a larger book, you want a larger font. Just remember to make it large enough to read easily and comfortably.

NOTE: The more pages your book has, the more it costs to produce. Don't waste valuable space by using too large of a font.

At the bottom of each page, the last line of your content should have one hard return or space between it and the page number that is centered at the bottom or aligned to the left (even pages) or right (odd pages).

Book format continues with actual page numbering. You begin numbering your pages after the dedication page. Do not count your cover, blank page, or title page when considering your page numbers. Page one of your book starts with the page after your copyright and publishing information page.

NOTE: Your page numbering starts with the page after the copyright page, but do not put page numbers on that page. Start page numbering on the table of contents or forward (which will be 2, 3, or 4 depending on all of the filler pages).

Number your pages by centering the number at the bottom line of your page just above the bottom margin. Remember to leave a space between the last line of content and your page number.

Ensure the book format for the body content includes a single (1) space or one and a half (1.5) spaces between each line of text.

Indent each new paragraph with five spaces vice using the tab key (this will help you if your are going to make a kindle book).

If you have a scene break, separate your two blocks of content with a space, your separator, and another space. The separator can be three Asterisk (* * *), three circles, or really anything you want to separate two different subjects with.

Continue the elements of book format until you reach the end of your book. Maintain the same style throughout your book for the most professional look and feel for your fiction novel.

When you consider publishing your book, the book format is one of the most important things to concentrate on. Make it look and feel good for your readers so they will come back for more when you publish them.

Here is a great source of information on formatting a book that has some other tips and tricks to get your book looking as professional as possible.

Now take your book format to the next level and find print on demand companies that will publish your book.

Online Editing Tool