Formatting and reformatting

By:  Staci Stallings

You probably don’t know this, but a book is not just a book.  It’s a conglomeration of a lot of different talents and arts and work all rolled into one.  There’s the author, who writes the book.  There’s the publisher who publishes the book.  There’s the reader who reads the book.  But in between there are many steps that are needed to take the book from the author’s head and put it into the reader’s hands.

There’s the editing process, which can be a nightmare for some.  That’s when you take what you wrote the first time and make it make sense.  I once heard that the difference between life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.

Laugh if you want, but it’s true.

If an author points out a dangling swing from a broken branch on page 2, most of the time that swing or that branch better be explained by the end or readers get highly irate.  Little details like eye-color and hair color and the shape of a person’s nose have to match up from page 1 to page 400.  (And into the sequels if there are any.)  If a character went to California in book 1, you have to make sure you don’t say this is their first trip in book 4.  If I’ve learned nothing else, details REALLY matter to some people!

Plus, editing involves commas and sentence structure and periods, and little details that might not seem all that important, but once they are in print and you can’t change them become like fingernails on a chalkboard to an author.

Then there’s the book cover.  I know, you can’t judge a book by its cover, but a surprising number of people do just that.  So the cover better be right.  It better fit with the story, be eye-catching, and interesting.

Then there’s the back blurbs and the reader/author quotes, the copyright info, the isbn number, and the dedication.

And then there’s the formatting.

There’s a fascinating new mode of reading out in the world now.  It’s called “flowed reading.”  If you pick up say a Kindle or a Nook or even a Kindle reading app, you have now entered the “flowed reading” portal.

Here’s where an author/publisher’s life gets… well, interesting.

A “flowed reading” book is not formatted the same way a print book is.  And both of those are different than a book that’s published on a blog.  Not to get overly technical about it, but in a print book, the type is single spaced, regular indented, with page breaks so that each new chapter starts on an odd-numbered page (bet you didn’t know that!).  Also, there are page numbers and headings which have to go over the manuscript part (the story) but not over the opening information pages, nor the final closing information pages.

All well and good, right.

Until you find out that a blog post story is not formatted this way AT ALL.  A blog format is 1.5 spaced type.  It is double spaced between each paragraph because there are no indents on a blog post.  There are no page numbers, and the next chapter follows immediately (no page breaks) the one prior.

Good enough.

THEN you find out that “flowed reading” for Kindles, et. al. are formatted differently still.  They are 1.5 spaced with first line indents (different than a regular indent).  They do not have page numbers, and the chapters follow immediately.

SO… guess what I’ve been doing for the last 10 days?

Let me tell you, it takes FOREVER to go through a 300 page book first setting all of those paragraphs double spaced from each other and then reformatting them so that they are a first line indent and NO space between the paragraphs!

I’m probably just whining by this point, but I just thought you should know that when you pick up a book, it might be nice to realize how much work has gone into it so you just get to read it.

With that in mind, here’s what I’ve been working on:

Cowboy is now available on Kindle…

Several other titles are coming to Kindle as fast as I can get them reformatted.

Also, a new novel starts tomorrow on Spirit Light Works.  This book is funny because it literally took me 7 years to write it.  I love it though, and it fascinates me because the end could never have been written the way it ended up if I had forced it before those 7 years were up!  God’s timing, not mine.  God’s timing, not mine…

A Work in Progress starts tomorrow on SLW and will be available on Kindle Nov. 8.

Rebecca Avery has never been one of “them”—the popular kids, the beautiful people.  With less than fashion-plate looks and an off-beat, quirky style to living life, she has been relegated to finding “alone” activities to fill her time throughout high school.  Unfortunately, college hasn’t changed that.  Then she meets Eric Barnett, a nice guy who seems a little quirky himself.  The only problem is, he’s in love with her roommate—one of the truly beautiful people.  When Rebecca finds herself falling for him, she must find a way to break out of her shell or risk losing him forever.  Who will win out in this mixed up jumble of feelings and loyalties?  Find out in “A Work in Progress.”


Enjoy!  And say a prayer that I get all of this stuff formatted, edited, and reformatted, and reformatted again.  Trust me, you’ll be reading to your heart’s content when I do… 🙂



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