I finally have what I consider a complete manuscript. But I wanted to play around with it a little and see what it would look like as a completed novel. There is a difference between formatting a novel, and formatting a manuscript, and it is important to know those differences. This is how to format a novel, something that more than likely would be happening in the publishing phase, and not something you would necessarily be doing – with the exception of self-publishing.
So if you are interested in formatting a novel – read on. If you are interested in formatting a manuscript, I have an article for that too – located under.
So onto formatting your novel.
The beginning of the book, typically looks like this:
Page One: Your Title page
Page Two: Your Copyright page (this is only necessary if you are going to get this work published)
Page Three: Your Dedication page (Completely optional, however a nice touch. Adds a little ‘personal’ to the book. If you do decide against including a dedication page, then page three should be designated as an additional title page or you can leave the page blank. Your choice.)
Page Four: Blank (if you have already left page three blank, move on to ‘page 5’ here, don’t leave two blank pages.)
Page Five: Table of Contents (Most fictional pieces do not include a table of contents, however, again this is a choice – or a mandatory if you have a non-fiction novel)
Page Six and Seven: Map(s) or Picture (This is also optional. Fantasy novels especially include maps with their novels, however this is a great page for a drawing or picture from the novel if you choose.)
When you get ready to actually format where the first page begins, it should always start on an odd page.
In addition, the title page, dedication page, table of contents page, and chapter one page should always be odd pages. So if you skip anything, be sure to insert a blank page where needed.
After some research, I learned that most novels are printed in standard 6×9 trade size. The gutters, which are the inside seam of the book, are .75″ and the margins are .5″. I am assuming this is all fairly standard.
In the header of each page, typically the author’s name is on the left page (even) and the book title is on the opposite page (right – or odd page).
In the footer of each page, the page number should be placed in the center on every page with the exception of the first page or on the opposite side of the author name/book title in the header. It is more common in the footer, and I firmly believe that despite what the experts say, it really does depend on the book, etc. I have seen books with a page number all the way from page 1 and then one that didn’t start until page 3 or 4.
Once you have everything set up that way, you will need to go into the page setup mode of whatever program you are using, and select the mirror function (or similar command). This will put the gutters on opposite pages and place the text where it belongs.
Now would be a great time to save the document if you have not done so already, though I strongly urge you to do it before you do any new command. This way you can undo the command, or revert to the saved copy, should anything go wrong.
Now it is important to go back and double check everything to be sure it all has ‘landed’ in the right place. Check your headers, footers, the margins of each page, the gutters and the page numbers.
Now it’s time to ‘create your novel’. This just might be the simplest part of the whole process. You now need to convert the finished piece into a pdf format. Most word processing programs have a way to do this, but if you need a program, google ‘creating a .pdf’ and download a program for that purpose.
For the record, Open Office, a free word processing program with all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Office, has an actual button in the program for clicking to create a .pdf through Adobe.
Congratulations, if you are interested in self-publishing, you are ready to go. If not, be sure to check out formatting a manuscript, because editors want something entirely different.