Bottom Line It For Me, Baby Version (200 Words Or Less):
The series based on content from my how-to reference book on self-publishing, The IndieAuthor Guide, marches on. In the series, I present topics from the book to the extent of detail possible in a blog post. Note that I'm not covering editing, designing your own book cover, creating your brand or publishing to the Kindle here, since those topics are already presented on my website in the form of free pdf guides. I’ll include links to previous posts in the series here in the Bottom Line It section. So far, I've posted topics on Publishing Options, Rights, Royalties and Advances, What's the Deal With ISBNs And Bookstores, Choosing A Publisher , Getting Organized, parts one and two of DIY Formatting For POD, and A Word About Industry Standards. Today's post is part one of how to set up a Manuscript Shell - Page Setup.
Go On An' Run Yo Mouth, I Ain't Got Nuthin' But Time Version (Can't Promise It Won't Go On Forever):
A manuscript shell is to your manuscript what framing is to a house: it provides a consistent structure to the overall project. The shell is where you set up all the necessary formatting options for text and the manuscript in general. It’s a lengthy pain setting up the manuscript shell, but you only have to do it once and manuscripts created in the shell will automatically be properly formatted for POD as you work. After the shell is created, save it for use as a template: each time you begin a manuscript, open the shell and “Save As” under a new filename.
Begin by opening a new, blank document and doing a “Save As” with your desired filename. Save frequently as you work on setting up the shell.
Create Custom Styles
Make a list of the Styles you will need, select a name for each one, and create them as described in my previous post, DIY Formatting For POD, Pt. 2. If you need a refresher course on Styles, refer to Part One of DIY Formatting for POD.
Modify Page Setup
In MS Word™ go to File > Page Setup to access the Page Setup dialog. If you are using a different word processor and don’t know where to set options like margins, paper orientation (i.e. landscape vs. portrait), search your program’s help files for “page setup”. Instructions here continue with MS Word™, but you should be able to set all the same options in your program. If you are using MS Word™, you may find it helpful to open the program to a blank document and follow along with these instructions as you read, since I was unable to get properly-formatted screen shots to display on this blog.
The Page Setup dialog has three tabs: Margins, Paper and Layout. When setting your top and bottom margins, bear headers and footers in mind. If you will have headers and footers—and most books do, even if only for page numbering—be sure to make headers and footers wide enough to allow for spacing between the header/footer and adjacent text. Your text should not butt right up against your headers or footers.
Before changing anything else, in the Pages section select “Mirror margins”. This will make the margins on facing pages mirror images of one another, and alters some options in the dialog. Left and Right margin names are changed to Inside and Outside respectively, the Gutter position drop-down is locked, and instead of one page, the dialog displays two facing pages at the bottom.
Now you can set your inside and outside margins. Take a book of the same dimensions and type as your intended book (i.e., trade paperback novel, training manual, etc.) off your shelf and measure its margins. Note that margins are sized up or down incrementally for different page sizes. The IndieAuthor Guide has 1” margins, but that would be much too wide for a mass-market paperback-sized book. In trade paperbacks, I set margins of ½”.
Inside and outside margins are generally set to the same width. Don’t worry about making the inside margin wider to account for the binding, because the Gutter setting will handle that.
Because hardcover and paperback books do not lie flat when they’re opened, a certain amount of empty space is needed between the book’s spine and the text on each page, to account for the part of the page that’s hidden by the binding. The Gutter setting allows you to specify how much empty space you want in that area of each page, between the spine and the inside margin.
The dimensions, page count and purpose of your book will determine the appropriate Gutter width. A large-format book will open a little bit wider than a small-format book, exposing more of the Gutter area to the reader. A thin book will open wider than a thick one as well, also exposing more of the Gutter.
Get a book of the same approximate size and thickness as your intended book and open it to a page somewhere near the middle, as if to read. Tilt the top of the book down so you can see the top edge of the spine, and measure the distance between the spine and visible inner edge of the printed pages—in other words, measure how much of each page is invisible because it’s curved inward, toward the spine. That distance is the width of the Gutter, and in mainstream books with glued bindings, it’s often too narrow.
If you’ve ever had to forcibly flatten an open book in order to more easily see the text closest to the spine, you know how annoying it is to the reader when Gutters are too narrow. Moreover, flattening a book in such a way can crack a glued binding, resulting in loose or even lost pages. If you want to make the reader comfortable and increase the chance your book will survive its first reading, be generous with your Gutters.
The purpose of your book comes into play when you imagine how the book is most likely to be positioned when the buyer is reading it. Books that are read for pleasure will be held in the reader’s hands, but in a how-to book like The IndieAuthor Guide, the reader will frequently need to lay the book open on a desk or table and refer to it as she follows a step-by-step procedure. Knowing this, I set the Gutter for this book to 1”. This, together with my 1” inner margin, makes the distance from the spine to the inner edge of my text a whopping 2”. The book still won’t lay perfectly flat on a desk or table, but the reader should have no difficulty reading right up to the inner margin when she glances up from her computer to look at it.
Try setting your Gutter to .5, or ½”. Notice that the facing-pages image at the bottom of the dialog now displays the gutter as shaded margins along the inner edge of each page.
In the Preview section at the bottom of the dialog, leave the ‘Apply to’ dialog box set to its default value of ‘Whole document’. Click the ‘Paper’ tab to open the Paper options dialog.
All you need to set on this tab is ‘Paper size’, at the top of the dialog, by manually entering your desired page height and width. If your book will be a ‘perfect bound’ paperback, in which the pages of the book are flush with the edges of the cover, set the paper size to your intended book’s dimensions (i.e., 6x9” for trade paperback).
If your book will be a hardcover, you will need to consult your publisher/printer to learn the correct paper size for your book’s dimensions.
The facing-pages preview at the bottom of the dialog will display a rough approximation of how your margin and gutter options will be applied to pages of the size you’ve specified, so if something looks screwy in that little picture you may need to go back to the Margins tab and make adjustments. When you’re satisfied with the preview image, click the Layout tab.
For most books, the only settings to be altered here are in the Headers and Footers section. Click on the checkboxes next to ‘Different odd and even’ and ‘Different first page’ to select them.
If yours is a poetry book, cartoon collection or other type of book with ‘alternative’ page layout, you may want to set ‘Vertical alignment’ in the Page section to Center instead of its default value of Top.
Click the OK button, and you’re done with the Page Setup dialog.
Up Next: Building a Manuscript Shell – Set Up Front Section