Peas and carrots.
Bees and honey.
Salt and pepper.
You get the point. They go together - whether some of you like it or not. Good thing I like it. I've been reading a lot about his topic lately and I think it's so important that I figured - what's one more voice in the blogosphere going on about it?
Awesome, that's what!
FORMAT AS YOU WRITE!
Why? Because it makes life simpler for you, for me , or for anyone you might get to help with your book.
Your formatting doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't even have to look all that good when you start - especially if you're going to hand it off to a designer to work their magic on when the time is right. In most cases, you can use the pre-set "styles" in Word for "normal" body text, for headings and subheadings, or for any similar text elements that tend to repeat throughout your book.
Besides helping you keep track of the pieces and parts of your book, styles will be a tremendous help when it comes time to make your book look pretty. Why? Because they define all those pieces and parts and how they need to be presented in your book. They serve as great reminders for you, if you choose to do your own formatting, and great directions for others, if you decide to bring anyone else in on the project.
USE THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO YOU!
While we're talking about styles, it's never bad to pay attention to the styles of other books. What's on your shelf? Crack a book open and pay attention to how it's done by the already successfully-published.
Apply some of the styles and standard practices you find in those books to your own work. Here are just a few things you might want to look at: margins, line spacing, use of blank pages, headers, footers, page numbers, tables of contents, and well - everything! You name it, it could be useful when applied to your own book.
All this is not to say you should forfeit your own originality! Not at all. What you should be looking for is ways that each of those items are handled may be handled similarly across several books. Look for those standard practices that will give your book a professional edge.
Keep an eye out for styles too - fonts, design elements, types of covers. Pick out the ones you like AND the ones you don't like from other books, and even websites, you see. Begin to define the personality of your book for yourself, and if you so choose, for your designer. You'll be glad you did.
If you are using a print-on-demand publisher (e.g., CreateSpace, Lulu, etc.), use the template they provide!
You can either begin writing your project in the template or you can apply the template settings (margins, page settings, etc.) to your existing project. The third option is to paste your existing text into the template, but keep in mind, this could get messy - especially if you're using styles (and you'd better be by now!).
The template (and its settings) will save you a lot of heartache when it's time to publish. They give you the template (and other specifications on the POD websites) for a reason - and that is to make you look good! Again, be sure to use the tools available to you.
Bottom line - set yourself up to look good from the beginning using all the tools at hand. Start with styles - use any (moderately successful) book you can get your hands on - and don't forget the templates!!