Formatting Isn’t Simple?

Microsoft Word is a great program for writing essays for school or typing up letters when you’re working in a legislator’s office. Apparently, it is not so great for typing up a novel that’s hundreds of pages. Yeah, it’ll get the job done, but the minute you look into self-publishing it, you’ll say “I’ve made a huge mistake” ala GOB Bluth.

I didn’t think it would be difficult turning my .doc file into an epub or mobi for self-publishing. I mean, .doc is the standard for documents, and it has been for probably two decades. When I was sending out samples in my ill-conceived attempt to get an agent, I would send Word files. Unfortunately, when it comes to conversions, it’s just not simple. It could be, if you wanted the product to look like crap. I’d prefer it looking as professional as I can make it.

I knew there was going to be a problem months ago, when I transferred the manuscript to my iPhone. I did a quick conversion of it to an epub, and started reading. Halfway through, the font changed. I knew it would require some fixing, but didn’t think it would actually take a whole process.

I’ve been reading up on this (I guess I’m still in phase one) and formatting for conversion is no cakewalk. There are various methods, from editing it in HTML or starting from strictly the text without formatting. All of this because Word is an awful precursor for electronic publishing. Great job, Microsoft! All those auto-formats and auto-styles have just cost you hours in trying to fix what should not be such a mess in the first place.

Alternatives include paying someone to format it for you, buying a program to do it, or using a different word processor from the get-go. Well, I’ll be doing it the hard way. Smashwords has a guide to formatting which I’ll be following, and we’ll see how it goes. The nuclear option, aka stripping your file of everything and starting with just the text, is what’s suggested. It’s gonna be a long day. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Cross-posted on Tumblr
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