First, I’d like to mention that my first P.J. Benson mystery, The Crows, is being featured on Pamela Thibodeaux website this coming Saturday, January 10th. http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot I’d love it if you’d stop by and make a comment.
Now, onto my weekly (first one in 2015) blog.
I am once again formatting a story I finished six months ago. Why again? Because when I first wrote the story I used Amazon’s KDP formatting guidelines. But when I sent the manuscript to an agent, she wanted it formatted following her guidelines, which were just a little different. And now there’s a publisher I’m sending the story to, and that publishing house has its formatting guidelines to follow.
Following formatting guidelines can be time consuming, but as far as I know, there have always been publishers, editors, and/or agents who have specific formatting guidelines or requirements. My guess is even those cavemen chiseling their messages in stone followed traditional forms.
Before the computer took over, typesetters and editors basically dictated the rules, some demanding one inch margins, others wanting an inch and a half. Back then you used two spaces after a period and underlined if you wanted something to appear in italics. Two standard fonts were generally accepted (Pica and Elite), each giving a slightly different number of words you could fit on a line. And some editors were very picky about how many lines per page. They determined word count using that criteria.
Nowadays I hear writers complain about having to format—or re-format—their manuscripts to meet specific guidelines, but even though it takes a certain amount of time, the computer really has made it quite easy for most of us. On the other hand, does it really matter if chapter headings use numbers or written words? All caps or not? Bold or not?
For the publisher, I guess so. Most of the requirements reflect “House Style.” All of the books published by that particular publisher have the same type of chapter headings, have headers and footers set up the same, the spelling of certain words the same, and so on. In essence, publishers are now using us as typesetters.
So no wonder so many writers are going the self-publishing route. If we’re being asked to have our books edited before submitting (many agents are asking for this), being required to format so the book can easily be printed, and then forced to do most of the marketing (unless you’re a big name author), why not self-publish and at least earn most of the profits?
I’ll admit, I still like having a publishing house edit, print, and distribute my books, but I no longer dismiss the idea of self-publishing a story. I can understand why so many good writers are now following this path.
Hmm, I wonder if I formatted this blog right.