Updated: Nov 15, 2019
No doubt by now, you’re very well aware that there are choices to be made in life.
I ran across one of those choices recently after a diner waitress blatantly sized me up and found me wanting. In short, she stereotyped me. Inaccurately too, if I might add.
At 5’2 (and a half), I’ll admit that I’m pretty petite. I typically wear small or extra small shirts. And I just don’t come across as an intimidating type of person at first glance.
So this waitress was well within her rights to think I couldn’t come close to eating three apple filling-stuffed pancakes. I’ll give her that much.
I just don’t think she had to be quite so forceful about pointing that opinion out.
She flat-out informed me there was no way I could eat three; that I should order two instead. And when I tried to protest, she put her foot down in the most no-nonsense of ways.
So I took her advice… only to find myself a little offended (and more than a little stubborn) after the fact. After all, how dare she tell me what I could and couldn’t order off the menu!
Under the influence of that attitude, I determined to show her up by eating every single bite of the admittedly large portion she ended up putting in front of me.
And you know what? I won!
I could have even dug into a third pancake… defending the right of petite women everywhere to be pigs when they want to be.
Admittedly, being a little piggie has consequences. And some of them come more quickly than others.
While I actually wasn’t uncomfortably full after finishing my meal, I did find myself feeling pretty hyper. I think I could have run a marathon. And without a marathon to run, I was at a loss on what to do with myself.
Which was my own stupid fault for taking on a challenge that didn’t need to be taken on.
The moral of this story is: Don’t be an idiot. You’ve got nothing to prove.
Start with a pre-formatted template for a print book.
How familiar are you with making margins in a computer document? For the record, you need to worry about the exterior kind and the interior, or gutter. Got a handle on that? No doubt then, you already also know how to establish “mirror margins” as well. No sweat, right?
If that’s not the case though – if your mind has already gone into a downward spiral of panic, do yourself a favor and download a pre-formatted template to get started. You’ll still have to do a good bit of work that way, but it will be more of the tedious type and less overwhelming.
Again, for anyone who can be stupidly stubborn (like me), don’t try to format your book from scratch just because. This isn’t a dare.
It’s only a piece of advice to save yourself a lot worse consequences than a hyper-fueled sugar high.
Here’s what you still need to know if you decide not to eat your whole entire plate of pancakes. (In other words, if you choose to be smart)…
Here’s what you’ll still need to know after you do:
Choose a manuscript size. If you’re not sure, bring a physical ruler to a physical bookstore and literally measure the competition in your genre.
Choose a font. There are (too) many to choose from, I know. But doing a quick search for “what font are books printed in” should help narrow it down significantly pretty fast. Believe it or not, there is a science to this aspect of formatting.
Decide whether you want to have drop caps or not. By this, I mean do you want the first letter of every chapter to be printed more prominently than all the others? This can serve to make your publication more professional looking. And it’s really not difficult to do. In Microsoft Word, at least, go to the Insert tab, go over to the Text options and select the drop-down menu for the option with a big A amidst a lot of little lines. From there, select Drop Cap Options and Dropped. I would recommend going with the 2-line option, though it’s ultimately up to you.
Make sure to turn off your widows and orphans. This is an annoying habit of Word, at least, to try to keep paragraphs on the same page instead of letting them spread out between two when necessary. To rectify the issue, highlight your entire document after you’ve copied and pasted the whole story in. Go to Home, Paragraph, and then the Line and Page Breaks tab. From there, uncheck the “Widows and Orphans” box. In fact, uncheck all the options in that top segment. Just to be on the safe side. Oh, and you might have to do that twice. Don’t ask me why.
There are, admittedly, more issues that could potentially come up – especially when it comes to page numbers. But let’s get through all of this formatting first before we borrow more trouble.
Besides, pre-formatted templates tend to be pretty self-explanatory about what to put where. It’s just a matter of smoothing everything out after the fact.