“Let me help you to make your book as good as it can be.”
Last time I looked, I’d worked on producing over two hundred books, a mixture of layout design, eBook coding, editing or publishing. I’ve written a few books too. Between all these endeavors, I make a living. From time to time I’ve blogged to share with other authors and publishers some of the tips that I’ve learned. Sometimes those old tips can get buried under all the other blog posts, and so I’ve created this page to make it easier to find them. I’ve also including some extracts from books I’ve written, such as Format Your Print Book for Createspace: 2nd Edition.
I hope you find it useful.
When it comes to eBook design, most of the information you will find online is misleading or just plain wrong. In some cases (though unfortunately far from all) this is because the information posted was once accurate but is out of date. To help you judge my own posts, I have added the year I wrote the blog post, or last amended it. If I find a post in no longer accurate, I will remove it from this list.
Tips for print & ebook design
How to write robust paragraphs in Word (2014) — If you were thinking of self-publishing an eBook you must understand this. Most authors do, but about 15% of the authors sending me novel manuscripts do not understand this basic yet essential technique. Check you are in the 85% who do!
Typography 103 (2014) — Kerning and spacing. Some examples for your chapter titles.
Typography 102 (2014) — Opentype features: ligatures, number forms and why you should care.
Typography 101 (2014) — the differences between fonts, typefaces and glyphs. What really happens when you tell Word that you want your text to be italic.
How to use Unicode in your eBook (2014) — gives a brief explanation of the the hows and whys of Unicode and then explains how you can use it in your Kindle or ePUB eBook.
Dispelling the myth that Kindles don’t support Unicode (2014) — shows what Unicode is and shows off some foreign language and fancy-character support.
Font size problems with The Casual Vacancy and how to fix them (2012) — I speculate about the causes of the disastrous eBook launch of J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, and how that typifies the complex set of interactions that determines how eBooks actually appear on real devices. I present one solution for Kindle books produced using MobiPocket Creator.
Tips for writing
Using Word’s Table of Contents tools (2014) — how to style your auto-generated ToC and what to do if you want to create your own manual ToC while still keeping page references accurate.
Faux fonts and small caps (2013) — if you search for typography help online, you’ll probably come across the issue of faux fonts and faux glyphs. In this article I explain what they are, how to avoid them, and show screenshots of faux and real small cap glyphs for you to see for yourself.
Tips for laying out your Createspace or Lulu book in Microsoft Word (2012) — I wrote this five-part series of posts to promote the first edition of Format Your Book for Createspace. Although the screenshots are from Word 2007, the text and techniques are still valid for later versions of Word. (I’ve since switched to Word 2010 and then 2013).
Part1 – Getting started and layout strategy.
Part2 – Headers & Footers
Part3 – Sections
Part4 – Page numbers
Part5 – Styles
Printers ornaments and typesetting for poetry (2012) – I share some design ideas for a poetry book I worked on that uses ornaments and fleurons.
Microsoft Word tip: Using ‘View Gridlines’ to anchor pictures (2012) — I share a simple tip about gridlines but one that could save you headaches. I also explain why turning on gridlines doesn’t always do anything (no matter how hard you press the mouse button).
Margins and gutters de-mystifed (2012) — for such a simple idea, margins are over complicated and confused by the contradictory ways in which the term is used. Read this post to make sense of what you will read elsewhere online.
Tips for writing
So you want to write a time travel novel! (2012) — Practical guidance and a fun look at writing time travel, from a time when I had just finished my own time travel series.
Why writing a time travel novel is like wearing fresh underwear — (2012) — yes indeed! Actually, some serious and practical advice for time travel writers paired with a gratuitous shot of someone in their underwear.
Tips for publishing
Advice on self-publishing your back catalog (2014) — Some practical advice from my experience helping authors with their back catalog, especially the perils of scanning in books and what you can do to reduce the scanning errors.