MS Word for Writers: Text to Speech

Because I dislike audio books and because I despise machines that talk to me (No offense, Siri and Alexa, but shut up.) it never occurred to me to explore text-to-speech options in Word. I was having a conversation with a writer in Australia about proofreading. I mentioned that some ereading devices have text-to-speech capability and some writers find it helpful to hear their words in a non-dramatic way. Then he came back with, “Did you know MS Word has text-to-speech capability?”

Well, no, I did not. Now I do. If you are reading this, then you do, too.

Activate text-to-speech in one of two ways:

  • In the main toolbar, in the Quick Access area is a down arrow. Click it to open an options menu. Click “More commands” and that will open the menu.

2018-02-10_Word Text to Speech 2

Or

  • Go to File> Options> Quick Access Toolbar.

Once you are in the “Customize the Quick Access Toolbar” menu, scroll down to either “Read Aloud” or “Speak” (it depends on which version of Word you are using), click it, click “Add” and it will appear in the right hand list that shows which commands are active in your Quick Access menu. Click OK.

2018-02-10_Word Text to Speech

To use text-to-speech, select a passage in your doc and click the icon in the Quick Access Menu. Word will read back your text.

Text-to-Speech for Proofreading

I’m not the best person to ask about using anything audio for proofreading. Here is what my friend in Australia told me he did:

“If you select any piece of a Word document and then click this function it reads the words back to you. I played with this for a while and even considered highlighting the whole document and recording each of the chapters as spoken into my MP3 recorder. I did some more thinking about this realising there must be a better way, searched for exporting SPEAK to MP3 and came across an acronym I have never heard of before. DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) which is another feature which can be implemented in Word and exports a complete translation of a document into synthetic speech. It has taken me quite a while to implement on my system—I made a couple of false starts—but now got it working and [it’s] definitely worth the effort. It took about 5 minutes to convert the whole of my 170 A4 pages novel into a series of MP3 files. I can now listen to each of my chapters being read aloud as I read the text in my original Word file and make corrections on the fly. It beats reading line by line with a ruler for example. It is particularly useful in detecting where commas should or shouldn’t be, missing or misspelled words, and the need to identify a speaker somehow in a section of dialogue where identity is otherwise unclear.”

Change the Voice

To change the Text To Speech voice, you have to change it on your computer. Follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, and then click
    Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the Speech icon.
  3. Click the Text To Speech tab.
  4. In the Voice selection box, click the voice that you want to use.
  5. Click OK.

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My goal for 2018 is to teach as many writers as possible how to efficiently and expertly use MS Word as a writing and self-publishing tool. Watch this blog-space for more tips, tricks and techniques. Or, if you’d prefer all the information in one package, including step-by-step instructions for formatting ebooks and print-on-demand editions, WORD for the Wise: Using Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-publishing is available at Amazon as an ebook and in print.

 

MS WORD for Writers: Pesky Punctuation: Single and Double Quote Marks, and Apostrophes

You wouldn’t think quote marks (single and double) and apostrophes could be pesky. Word users sometimes have problems mainly for two reasons:

  1. Word is an office productivity program rather than just a word processor. Its built-in grammar rules are set up for business writing rather than for fiction. Don’t believe me? Turn on the grammar checker. Follow its advice, Creative Writers, and you’ll sound like a bureaucrat. Their grammatical rules for using quote marks don’t always apply to fiction or creative nonfiction.
  2. Word’s default is the straight quote/apostrophe. No problem while you’re writing and editing. Problems arise when it comes time to turn your writing into an ebook or print edition. Professional publishing requires curly quotes (aka smart quotes) where the left/open mark is a different character than the right/close mark. Apostrophes always look like a right/close mark—even when they are used at the beginning of a word.

My recommendation for the straight vs. curly quote issue is to toggle on AutoFormat so that Word changes straight to curly quotes automatically while you’re typing.

Go to File>Options>Proofing and click AutoCorrect Options… In the menu box that opens, check the box for ‘“Straight quotes” with “smart quotes”’. Click Okay, be sure to click Okay in the main menu. Done. Now whenever you type the single or double quote character it will be a curly quote.

2018-01-19_Word Autocorrect quote marks

What if you’ve been using straight quotes? Or you, like so many do these days, write sections in other programs or devices, and that program uses straight quotes. When you import or paste the text into your Word doc, the straight quotes remain, filling your doc with a mix of straight and curly quotes.

With AutoFormat turned on, transforming straight quotes into curly quotes is very easy using Find and Replace.

For single quotes/apostrophes:

In the Find field: ‘
In the Replace field: ‘
Replace All

For double quotes:

In the Find field: ”
In the Replace field: ”
Replace All

Word will turn all the marks into curly quotes.

Depending on your version of Word, running those operations can create some wrong-way quote marks. Those are fairly easy to find.

For wrong way quotes after a dash (em, en or single) search for:

Em dash:

In the Find field: ^+”

Use Find Next to search for each instance. If the quote mark is turned the wrong way, fix it.

En dash:

In the Find field: ^=”

Use Find Next to search for each instance. If the quote mark is turned the wrong way, fix it.

Single dash/hyphen:

In the Find field: -“

Use Find Next to search for each instance. If the quote mark is turned the wrong way, fix it.

For left/open single quotes instead of an apostrophe in open contractions (’em, ’round, ’60s, etc.) search for:

In the Find field: (space)’
(When I type (space) it means hit the space bar once to create a blank space.)

Use Find Next to search for each instance. If the apostrophe is turned the wrong way, fix it.

British and Australian writers run into a special problem with open contractions. A space+’ looks like a regular open quote for dialogue. It might be easiest to search for the actual words that you’ve contracted—if you can remember what they are. They might turn up in spell check and can be fixed as you find them. There is a search that you can run using wildcards.

In the Find and Replace menu click More to open the full menu. Check the box for “Use wildcards”. You will have to copy and paste a left single quote into the search string.

In the Find field: (space)[‘][a-z]

When you use Find Next, Word will find every left single quote with a space before it and a lower case letter after it. In order to find numbers, such as dates, that have been contracted from, for example, 1960s to ’60s, change the search string to find a range of numbers.

In the Find field: (space)[‘][1-9]

To finish up, doing the following search—

In the Find field: ‘‘ (that’s two single quote marks)

—will root out the remaining wrong way single quote marks that you can fix on a case by case instance.

 

What About Typos?

‘It’s easy to accidentally hit the space bar which not only inserts an unwanted space but also a wrong way quote mark. Like so:

“Now is the time for all good children to line up at the door, said the teacher.

The teacher said, “Come back inside, children.

Basic rules of grammar will help you find those instances. In order to keep the number of search results to a reasonable number and to find only the mistakes, you must copy/paste the left and right quotes into the Find fields. Typing the single or double quote marks into the field will insert straight quotes, and then Word will find so many your eyes will cross. Copying and pasting the correct character is the only way to reasonably search.

To find and fix left/open quote marks that should be right/close marks:

In the Find field: “(space)

Use Find Next to find the typos.

When the typo happens at the end of the paragraph there may or may not be a space after the quote mark. To find those:

In the Find field: “^p

For British and Australian writers, the same general rules apply to single quote marks. Copy/paste the wrong-way turned single quote along with a space.

What About Missing Quote Marks?

I had a writer ask me the other day whether there’s a way in Word to find missing quote marks. Better yet, a way to find and fix missing quote marks automatically. It’s a common typo that’s devilishly difficult to spot while proofreading. Unfortunately, there are so many variables it would be impossible to come up a one-size-fits-all Find and Replace operation.

There is, however, a way to search that will highlight missing quote marks without giving your brain the opportunity to “fill in the blanks with what you meant to do”.

This is a wildcard search that will find every instance of a left/open quote mark closed by right/close quote no matter what or how much text is between them. How does that help find missing quote marks? In the image below you’ll notice there should be a quote mark after “Hey! but the search result goes all the way to the end of the paragraph. If you’re purposefully looking for missing quote marks, you will spot right away that something is amiss. Depending on the size of the doc, this could be a fairly tedious search. The advantage it has over word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence proofreading is that you are looking for and paying attention to just one thing—the missing quote marks.

2018-01-22_Word wildcard missing quoteInsert a search string that exactly matches the string in the image—copy and paste left and right quote marks from the text into the Find field—and check the box for “Use wildcards”. Use Find Next and insert any missing quote marks you find.

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My goal for 2018 is to teach as many writers as possible how to efficiently and expertly use MS Word as a writing and self-publishing tool. Watch this blog-space for more tips, tricks and techniques. Or, if you’d prefer all the information in one package, including step-by-step instructions for formatting ebooks and print-on-demand editions, WORD for the Wise: Using Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-publishing is available at Amazon as an ebook and in print.

MS WORD for Writers: Pesky Punctuation: Ellipsis

This isn’t a grammar blog so for information on how to use ellipses, here’s a pretty good article.

In Word, and especially in Word docs being formatted for either ebooks or print-on-demand editions, ellipses can be troublemakers. Despite being an actual character, it looks like three periods.

2018-01-16_Word Ellipsis vs 3 PeriodsIf you look very closely you can see the difference. The biggest difference is that where an ellipsis character is stable; with three periods this can happen:

How do I put this..
.

Or

How do I put this.
..

The dreaded orphaned period/s. I see this a lot in ebooks. It’s not a throw-the-book-at-the-wall type of sin, but it can be annoying. It can occur in carefully proofread books, too. The text might line up in such a way that the proofreader never runs across the orphans. When it’s on my device, however, with my preference settings, the text alignment is different, and there could be orphans throughout the book.

The cure for this is to use the ellipsis character consistently in your Word docs. There are two easy ways to insert them:

  • Use a hotkey. Press Ctrl+Alt+. and Word will create an ellipsis.
  • Use AutoFormat. Go to File>Options>Proofing and select AutoCorrect Options… From the menu select AutoCorrect. Check “Replace text as you type” and select from the list the option to change three periods into an ellipsis. Click Okay, Okay again, and now whenever you type three periods Word will insert an ellipsis for you.

2018-01-16_Word Ellipsis autocorrect

Ellipses and Ebooks

If you intend to use Word to format an ebook, I highly recommend you get in the habit of inserting a space after ellipses that occur within sentences. Even though it’s grammatically correct to type this:

Unfortunately, it is your responsibility…Mister Jones, and not your pleasure.

What can happen in an ebook is that the device will interpret the string with the ellipsis as a single entity that shouldn’t be broken when the text wraps. So what appears is this:

Unfortunately, it is your
responsibility…Mister Jones, and not your pleasure.

Really weird spacing with unsightly chunks taken out of sentences. Inserting the space prevents that.

Unfortunately, it is your responsibility…
Mister Jones, and not your pleasure.

If all your ellipses within sentences are joined up, or some have spaces and others don’t, you can use Find/Replace to insert spaces and make everything consistent.

In the Find field: Ctrl+Alt+. (press the three keys simultaneously, it will create an ellipsis in the field)
In the Replace field: Ctrl+Alt+.(hit the space bar once to insert a space)
Use Find Next to go through the doc and change only the ellipses that occur within sentences and skip those that end a sentence, have punctuation (comma, period or question mark), are closed by a quote mark, or already have a space.

When formatting ebooks in Word, do not attempt to use spaced ellipses. Yes, it looks better and more polished, but it also increases greatly the chances of orphaned periods. Using Word’s Nonbreaking Space is futile. Many of the conversion programs used by retailers and aggregators to convert Word docs into MOBI or EPUB files do not recognize Word’s Nonbreaking Space. That may change in the future, but until it does, stick to the ellipsis character.

Ellipses and Print Editions

The Nonbreaking Space is useful in print editions. Spaced ellipses do look nicer and more professional in print, plus they help even out justified text. (Take a look at books on your shelves and you’ll see that the majority use spaced ellipses.) Find the Nonbreaking Space by going to Insert>Symbols>More Symbols and click Special Characters.

2018-01-16_Word Ellipsis special characters

There is also a hotkey for it: Ctrl+Shift+Space

You could, if you’re so inclined, manually insert Nonbreaking Spaces. Using Find/Replace is much easier. It does take a bit of preplanning.

  • First, make sure all your ellipses are actual characters and not three periods.
  • Second, make sure that all the ellipses within sentences have a space after them. (See instructions above.)
  • Third, activate Show/Hide by clicking the icon in the Home Ribbon—it looks like a pilcrow: ¶ That ensures you can see what you’re doing since the Nonbreaking Space is an invisible character.
  • Fourth, do the following Find/Replace operations in order. It reduces errors.

First Op: Space ellipses with punctuation: period, comma, question mark and right/close quote.

Ellipsis with period:
In the Find field: Ctrl+Alt+.. (it will look like ….)
In the Replace field: ^s.^s.^s.^s.
Replace All

Ellipsis with comma:
In the Find field: Ctrl+Alt+.,
In the Replace field: ^s.^s.^s.^s,
Replace All

Ellipsis with question mark:
In the Find field: Ctrl+Alt+.?
In the Replace field: ^s.^s.^s.^s?
Replace All

Ellipsis with close quote:
In the Find field: Ctrl+Alt+.”
In the Replace field: ^s.^s.^s.”
Replace All

2018-01-16_Word Ellipsis spaced show hide

Second Op: Ellipses used at the beginning of sentences with open quotes:

“…however you wish, madam.”

In the Find field: “Ctrl+Alt+.
In the Replace field: “.^s.^s.^s
Replace All

Final op: Space the remaining ellipses:

In the Find field: Ctrl+Alt+.
In the Replace field: ^s.^s.^s.
Replace All

Done. Now your book has spaced ellipses and no worries about orphaned periods.

*  *  *

Note: If you’re going to turn your book over to a professional for formatting, use the ellipsis character throughout. Tell the formatter how you’d like ellipses handled in your ebook or in print and let them worry about inserting nonbreaking spaces. (Ellipses can be spaced in ebooks using methods other than Word.)

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My goal for 2018 is to teach as many writers as possible how to efficiently and expertly use MS Word as a writing and self-publishing tool. Watch this blog-space for more tips, tricks and techniques. Or, if you’d prefer all the information in one package, including step-by-step instructions for formatting ebooks and print-on-demand editions, WORD for the Wise: Using Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-publishing is available at Amazon as an ebook and in print.

MS WORD for Writers: Pesky Punctuation: The Em Dash

Judging from my own experience while processing innumerable Word docs, em dashes give writers fits. I see everything from single dashes to multiple dashes to em and en dashes used indiscriminately—often with creative and/or inconsistent spacing. Go here for a good explanation of how they are used.

The number one problem is that the em dash is not on the keyboard. Good intentions or grammatical knowledge aside, it’s easy to make typos.

In MS Word, they are several ways to insert an em dash:

  • Use a hotkey. Press the following keys simultaneously: Ctrl+Alt+- (the minus sign on the number keypad)
  • Use Symbols. Go to the Insert Ribbon, click Symbols>More Symbols. In the task menu, click Special Characters. Em dash is on the list. Double-click to insert it in the text.

2018-01-13_Word Em Dash Symbols pane

  • Use AutoFormat. Go to File>Options>Proofing. Click “AutoCorrect Options…” and click “AutoFormat”. Check the box for “Hyphens (–) with dash (—). Doing this means whenever you want an em dash, type two dashes and Word will turn it into an em dash.

2018-01-13_Word Em Dash File Options Autoformat

  • Use a shortcut to auto-format. Go to Symbols>More Symbols. Click Special Characters. In the list of characters click the em dash once to highlight it. Click AutoCorrect. Check the box for “Replace text as you type” and check the “Formatted text” box. The em dash will be displayed in the “With” field. In the Replace field type in your shortcut. Two dashes (–) is the most common shortcut.

2018-01-13_Word Em Dash Symbols Autocorrect

  • Create your own hotkey. Go to Symbols>More Symbols. Click Special Characters. Click on the em dash to highlight it. Click the box for “Shortcut key”. The Commands field will have the em dash in it. “Current keys:” will show Word’s hotkey. In the “Press new shortcut key:” insert a new hotkey. In the image, my example is Ctrl+`. Make certain you don’t override any hotkeys you currently use or that can get very confusing. Click “Assign” and the hotkey is live.

2018-01-13_Word Em Dash Make a shortcut

  • Use Find/Replace. This is a good method for those who don’t like AutoFormat and AutoCorrect, and have trouble remembering hotkeys. While you’re composing use a double dash to indicate an em dash (–). When you’re done writing, go to the Home Ribbon and click “Replace”. Click “More” to open the full Find/Replace task menu.

In the Find field: – – (two single dashes)
In the Replace field: ^+ (or click the box called “Special” and select Em Dash from the list)
Replace All

Word Quirks to Drive You Nuts

Because Word is an office productivity program rather than a straight word processor, it doesn’t always get that it is perfectly acceptable to end dialogue with an em dash closed by a right (close) single or double quote mark. Depending on your version of Word, it will insert a left (open) single or double quote mark.

“Now is the time for all—“

(I say “depending on your version…” because Microsoft is always updating its products. On the computer I use for fiction, the problem persists despite updates. On the computer on which I’m writing this blog post, Word recognizes that a space or hard return after the quote mark means to use the right quote mark to close it. So if your version is inserting the correct punctuation, skip to the next quirk.)

If your version is putting left (open) quotes after dashes, your best defense is awareness. Either manage them as you go along—I type in a quote mark first, then insert the dash where it belongs—or run a quick Find/Replace operation when you’re done to fix them all with one Replace All. Doing it that way means you will have to copy/paste the correct dash and left (open) quote mark into the Find field, correct the instance, then copy/paste the dash and right (close) quote mark into the Replace field. That way Word knows to do what you intend to do.

In the Find field: ^+“
In the Replace field: ^+”
Replace All (But only if you know there aren’t any em dashes that should have a left quote mark. If that is the case, use Find Next and check each instance before you change it.)

* * *

Another annoying quirk is Word’s tendency to orphan quote marks. The text wraps and the dash stays on one line and the quote mark ends up on the next line.

2018-01-13_Word Em Dash orphan quote mark

From a digital perspective, it’s mostly an aesthetic problem while you’re working in Word. Ebook devices have gotten smarter and I haven’t seen an orphaned quote mark in an ebook in quite some time. So if you’re formatting an ebook, grit your teeth and ignore it in your Word file, confident that your ebook will not experience the same problem. (Just so you know, Kindle devices do not recognize the No-Width Non Break or the Nonbreaking Space characters created in Word. That could change in the future, but currently that’s the way it is. I don’t know how it is with EPUB platform devices.)

Orphaned quote marks are, however, a problem in print documents—you do not want orphaned quote marks in a manuscript, print-on-demand edition or business letter. The solution is to insert a special character called a “No-Width Non Break.‍”

2018-01-13_Word Em Dash No Width Non Break

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do a Find/Replace operation for this; Word disallows the character in search and replace fields. My recommendation is that once you have the print document formatted that you run a search for the em dash with a quote mark. If you find an orphaned quote mark, place the cursor between the dash and the quote mark, go to Symbols>More Symbols, click Special Characters and double-click the No-Width Non Break character to manually insert it. (In the Home Ribbon, click the Show/Hide icon—looks like a pilcrow ¶—so you can see that the character is inserted where you want it.)

* * *

In the next blog post I’ll discuss the ellipsis character, which also seems to give writers fits. Watch this space.

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My goal for 2018 is to teach as many writers as possible how to efficiently and expertly use MS Word as a writing and self-publishing tool. Watch this blog-space for more tips, tricks and techniques. Or, if you’d prefer all the information in one package, including step-by-step instructions for formatting ebooks and print-on-demand editions, WORD for the Wise: Using Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-publishing is available at Amazon as an ebook and in print.

MS WORD for Writers: Working with Styles

The very best feature of Microsoft Word—or of any word processor or writing program—is styles. Open up Word and you’ll see the Styles handily placed in the Home Ribbon. Many writers have no idea what those do or why they are there. You may have clicked on one out of curiosity and oddball things happened in your doc and it freaked you out.

Fear not. Styles are easy. Easy to use, easy to create, easy to modify. They make writing easier, reduce errors, and prevent destructive coding caused by over-formatting. Trust me. If you’re writing fiction, you only need two: Normal and Heading 1.

(Nonfiction sometimes requires extra heading styles. Formatting ebooks or a print-on-demand edition means using multiple styles. Once you see how easy it is to use Normal and Heading 1 in your daily writing, you’ll have no problem if/when there comes a time when you need multiple styles.)

Normal Style

If the Tool Ribbon is not displaying in your Word setup, click Home. When the Ribbon opens you will see a pin icon in the lower right corner. Click that and the Ribbon will stay open.

2018-01-10_Word Style Ribbon

How it works: Open a new blank Word doc. In the Home Ribbon, hover your cursor over the style that says “Normal”. Right click and select “Modify”. A “Modify Style” tool box will open. At the  bottom check the boxes for “Add to the Styles gallery”; “New documents based on this template”. Under that, click the arrow to open the options for Format. Select “Paragraph”. A Paragraph tool box will open.

2018-01-09_Word Modify Styles

In “Indents and Spacing” select:

Alignment: Left
Outline Level: Body Text
Indentation Left: 0”
Indentation Right: 0”
Special: First Line
By: 0.5”
Spacing Before: 0 pt
Spacing After: 0 pt
Line spacing: 1.5 lines
At: (leave blank)
In “Line and Page Breaks” clear all boxes.
Click OK

Next, from the Modify Style box Format dropdown menu select “Font” and a Font tool box will open.

Font: Times New Roman
Font Style: Regular
Size: 12
Font color: Automatic
Underline style: (none)
Effects: clear all boxes
Click OK

In the Modify Style box click OK.

2018-01-09_Word Modify Paragraph2018-01-09_Word Modify Font

Now type a few paragraphs. Every one of them, without you doing anything except type words and hit Enter, will look the same. Same indent, same font, same spacing. From this point forward, when you open a new blank doc, the Normal style will be your default. Unless you modify the style, a doc you write today will look exactly like anything you’ll write years from now.

The set up above is a suggestion for writing fiction. If you prefer different line spacing or another font or narrower or wider indents, modify the style. Find a look that is comfortable for you and works well with your creative process.

A few cautions:

  • In Line spacing select single, 1.5 lines or double; avoid At Least (it has a specific purpose when creating print layouts). If you prefer no paragraph indents, you will need to add spacing either before or after each paragraph so they don’t all run together. 6 pt will approximate one line of spacing.
  • When selecting a font, stick to the “common” fonts such as Times New Roman, Garamond, Arial or Courier. Some of the fonts included on your computer or imported from other sources are not recognized by other programs or operating systems. If another program can’t substitute its own fonts for your fonts, the recipient will see gibberish.

Heading 1

Heading styles (Word has them built in up to nine levels) affect more than just the look of the text. Headings create navigation in a doc. To see this in action, type a list of headings in your Word doc. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and so on. Without modifying anything, set your cursor at the beginning of a line and click on Heading 1. (Don’t worry about what it looks like right now.) Next, in the Home Ribbon click “Find”. A Navigation pane will open on the left side of the screen. Click Headings and you will see every heading to which you’ve applied a heading style.

2018-01-10_Word Styles Pane

Using heading styles

  • Eliminates the need for page breaks (unnecessary in a work in progress);
  • Allows you to easily navigate through a long doc without scrolling or paging—click an entry in the Navigation pane and Word will take you right to it;
  • Makes it easier to see and repair the common error of incorrectly numbering chapters;
  • Ensures consistency in that you’ll never have to remember the font size or effects, or worry about placement.

Heading styles can be modified the same as the body styles. Hover the cursor over the style, right click, and the Modify tool box will open.

Styles Pane

The easiest way to track styles is to open the Styles pane. (See image above) In the Ribbon Styles command box, click the arrow in the lower right corner of the box. A pane will open. The first time it’s opened it will display a list of every built-in style offered in the template you’re using. The Styles pane can be customized so it only displays the styles in use. Click on “Options…” (at the bottom right of the Styles pane) and a tool box will open to customize the display.

The Styles pane has three Quick Access icons at the bottom. “New Style”, “Style Inspector”, and “Manage Styles”. Clicking any of them opens a tool box for a specific task.

Create New Styles

Select the text you want styled. Click the “New Style” icon in the Styles pane or click the down arrow on the styles display box in the Ribbon and click “Create a Style”. Either way will open a New Style tool box. Give the new style a name and set up the font and paragraph any way you like.

Apply Styles in an Existing Word Doc

If you have a work in progress for which you have not been using styles, applying styles can be easy or tricky depending on how much formatting you’ve done.

The easy way:

  1. Select all the text. (Ctrl+a)
  2. Click the “Clear all Formatting” icon in the Home Ribbon Font command box. (See the image of the Ribbon above for its location.)
  3. With the text still selected, click “Normal” to apply the style.
  4. Deselect the text then scroll through the doc and apply Heading styles to chapter and section headings.
  5. Done.

If however, you clear the styles and apply Normal and your doc is a mess, that means you’ve done a lot of extraneous formatting that needs to be cleaned out. There isn’t enough room in this blog post to cover a thorough clean, but there are four common things writers do that mess up their docs. Running the following Find/Replace operations will take care of them.

1) Tabs: To get rid of tabs, go to the Home Ribbon Editing command box and click “Replace” to open the Find/Replace box.

In the Find field: ^t
In the Replace field: (leave it blank)
Replace All

2) Soft Returns (Shift+Enter): Change soft returns into hard returns.

In the Find field: ^l (that is a lower case L)
In the Replace field: ^p
Replace All

3) Extra Spaces:

In the Find field: (hit the space bar twice to create two blank spaces)
In the Replace field: (hit the space bar once to create one blank space)
Replace All and repeat until results show zero

4) Extra Hard Returns: Be cautious with this operation. If you’ve been using extra hard returns to indicate scene breaks, you need to tag them first. Use pound/hashtag signs or asterisks or even insert [SCENE BREAK]. The same thing goes for deliberate blank lines such as those between stanzas in poetry or songs. If you need deliberate blank lines, tag them so they aren’t lost. When the tagging is done:

In the Find field: ^p^p
In the Replace field: ^p
Replace All and repeat until the results show zero

There you have it, how to use styles. Increase productivity and remove the distraction of “formatting” when you’re supposed to be telling a story.

By the way, even if you don’t use MS Word, almost every word processor or writing program uses styles. In your program of choice, look under Edit or Layout, or search the Help menu. Find styles, set them up, and use them.

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My goal for 2018 is to teach as many writers as possible how to efficiently and expertly use MS Word as a writing and self-publishing tool. Watch this blog-space for more tips, tricks and techniques. Or, if you’d prefer all the information in one package, including step-by-step instructions for formatting ebooks and print-on-demand editions, WORD for the Wise: Using Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-publishing is available at Amazon as an ebook and in print.

MS Word and Print on Demand Books

Since I published the ebook, WORD for the Wise, I’ve been getting some questions. Since I know for every person who actually sends an email, there are many more with the same questions who don’t send emails, thought I’d throw out some answers here.

  • Yes, there will be a print edition. I’m working on it now and it should be available for sale in a few weeks.
  • Yes, Word formats for ebooks are perfectly acceptable and not at all difficult to do as long as you’re aware of the limitations. There are plenty of good resources on the internet and in how-to books, including mine, with step by step instructions.

The main question I want to cover has to do with print on demand books. I know a lot of you are currently publishing print editions–I’m doing as many print editions these days as I am ebooks. Judging by the questions I’ve gotten, a lot of writers have doubts about both the quality of Word formats and how easy it is to do.

Regarding quality, if a book is formatted properly and uses good fonts, the average reader would find it very difficult to tell the difference between a book formatted in Word and one formatted in a publishing program such as InDesign. A book designer, a professional typographer, or a hardcore bibliophile who collects books as objects would see the difference. But a reader who buys a romance or mystery or science fiction to enjoy the story either won’t notice the difference or won’t care. The self-publisher with more time than money or who wants to handle production themselves because Go, DIY!, should feel perfectly confident that it is possible to format their book in MS Word so that it looks professional and can proudly take its place on readers’ bookshelves.

As for ease of use, Word can be persnickety, as those of you who use it are well aware. Because it’s an office program rather than a publishing program, it’s not set up to do some of the things that a publishing program can do. With a little patience and some practice, however, a determined do-it-yourselfer could format a novel in a few hours. The example below took me five minutes.

pod format

Granted, I’ve been doing this a while and I’ve been immersing myself in Word for the past few months, but even so, with a bit of practice you can do it, too.

The keys to a good print-on-demand format:

  • Use a good font. The majority of fonts pre-installed on computers are too wimpy or too “homemade” looking for commercial publishing. There are a few fonts that are suitable, however, and with some testing you’ll be able to find one that’s suitable.
  • Keep the design simple. The very best models are sitting on your bookshelf. Take a look at traditionally published books in your genre. That’s what readers expect to see and most of the designs are simple enough to emulate.
  • Be patient with yourself. If you get tangled up or the program starts fighting with you, be willing to start over. It’s okay. Practice makes perfect.
  • Take it step-by-step. There’s an order to doing a print format that greatly reduces frustration and creates a better product. In WORD for the Wise, I lay out the process as clearly as I know how. Even though there are a lot of steps, no one step is difficult.

I hope that answers your questions. If there are others, well, you know where to find me.

WORD for the Wise
Using  Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-publishing

 

 

 

 

I Finally Did It: WORD FOR THE WISE is now an ebook

I know, I know, I haven’t posted in ages. I’ve been very busy. Anyone want to know how to scan and restore foreign edition paperbacks and turn them into ebooks and print books without being able to understand the words? *crickets* No? Okay, on to the subject at hand.

After years of cleaning and processing MS Word docs, and posting tips and tricks and hacks for using Microsoft Office Word for writing and self-publishing, and answering a lot of emails about problems with Word, I finally compiled that hard-earned knowledge into a book.

2017-11-08_Ebook Cover_Manus_Word for the Wis copy

Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:

Word is an excellent word processor, one of the most powerful on the market. All that power comes with a price: Where the act of composing fiction or nonfiction is a simple process (in technical terms) Word is complicated. It’s right there in the name itself: Microsoft Office Word. It’s a productivity program for businesses; not a publishing program for writers of commercial fiction and nonfiction.

For writing a report or a business proposal or a policy & procedures manual, it’s one of the best programs around. For writers, though? It’s kind of like driving a Porsche Carrera to the grocery store.

Even so, just about every writer I deal with uses Word. Even Mac users. Even writers who wouldn’t touch a Microsoft program send material that has been exported as a Word doc. Word is everywhere thanks to Microsoft having installed it on all Windows PCs for decades. (They no longer give away the Microsoft Office Suite; Word must now be licensed via subscription.)

Smashwords, the largest and heartiest of the aggregators for self-publishers to distribute and sell ebooks, converts Word docs into a wide variety of ebook platforms. (A publisher can also upload an EPUB file to Smashwords.) Other sites now allow self-publishers to upload Word docs. Even Amazon allows it. The conversion processes they use are programmed to recognize and modify the HTML coding in a Word doc.

Writers are using Word to compose their work, and some use it to format ebooks, and others use it to format print-on-demand editions. Even some professional ebook and print formatters use Word. Word might not be the best word processor for writers, but it is everywhere and it’s not going away for a long, long time.

I have processed thousands of Word docs, millions and millions of words, from hundreds of clients. The majority of those writers are like me from ten years ago, using the program inefficiently and often destructively. Cleaning up those files is how I’ve become an expert.

I can help you use Word like an expert, too.

My goals with this book are:

  • Teach writers to customize Word to suit their particular needs.
  • Teach writers to use the features that actually make their writing lives easier.
  • Help writers increase their creative productivity by eliminating destructive practices.
  • Teach writers to create the various types of docs used for editorial tasks, digital submissions, ebooks and print-on-demand interior files.

Even if you don’t use Word, you might find this book useful. There are dozens of word processors and programs created specifically for creative writing. The majority use the same underlying principles as Word.

I give you my promise. There are no gotchas in this book. No traps. No need for special skills or technical knowledge. I won’t use tech-speak because I don’t know any; I’m talking to you writer to writer. You don’t even need a spectacular memory since many of the things I recommend will require your attention just once. Set it and forget it and write on.

For the time being it’s only available on Amazon. (Have to figure out how to sneak all the mentions of Amazon and Kindle past Apple–heh.) I’m working on the print edition and should have that live in a week or so.

So if you ever wanted to know what I know about using MS Word, now you can, all in one easy guide.

WORD for the Wise:
Using Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-Publishing

I’m Baaaack!

I’m back and it’s time to rock ‘n’ roll!3-quinn

First, apologies to those who contacted me for book production services and I had to refer them to other sources. I spent the last few months of 2016 pretty much playing catch up, and I was so swamped I even disabled my service pages just to slow down the flow of queries (Gah, butI hate telling people no!). I have some serious updating to do to this poor neglected blog, but my pages will be going back online soon and I’ll be able to accept new clients in the next month or so.

Second, much gratitude and warm fuzzies for those who offered kind words and MUCH understanding about my husband’s health issues. His treatments seem to be working and he’s slowly, but surely getting back to his normal ornery self. He’ll be back to driving me nuts in no time at all.

Third, I’ve stopped working on Sundays. I have to force myself to take a day away from the computer or I will go blind or my hair will fall out or something horrible like that. I know, I know, I’m writing this blog on a Sunday, but I have so much work to do next week that this won’t get written unless I do it today. But, the norm will be, I’m offline on Sundays. What this means is that emails that come in late Saturday won’t be answered until Monday. And scheduling will take my days off into account.

The biggest news is that I’m taking on a partner. What, Jaye? A cranky old loner like you? Yep. I’m training him in book production right now, so I’ll introduce him when he’s fully on board, but rest assured, he cares as much about production values as I do. (Plus he’s young and energetic and types really fast.)  We’ll be coming up with plans to keep prices as low as possible so you all can focus on your writing and not have to worry that production costs blowing your budgets. With two of us sharing duties and quality checking each other, we’ll be able to produce more and better books.

So what’s coming up in 2017?

Ebooks (of course). High quality, guaranteed to work across devices, no-hassle updates–that remains the same.

Line-editing. I have a few editing clients and have been hesitant to take on more because of time constraints. That may be changing and it’s possible I’ll be able to expand my client list.

Proofreading. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m a bear about proofreading. When a writer clicks the Publish button, I want for their work to be the very best it can be. Readers deserve no less. There will be some changes in prices and policies coming up, but my intent is to broaden my proofreading services AND keep the cost as low as possible.

Print. Just about all my clients are doing print on demand editions. With fiction I can keep the costs down to where the print version is comparable in price to the digital version. I’ll be posting prices and even some package deals.

Backlist Restoration. Writers who manage to get their rights reverted often end up with a print copy of their book and a heart filled with dismay as to how to go about recovering the text so it can be turned into an ebook or a new print edition. Easy enough to take it to the copy shop and have it scanned, but then what? Converting the scanned text via OCR can result in an unholy mess. I’ve dealt with writers who’ve spent months trying to get text in good enough shape to read. I’m going to boast a little here–I am the Queen of Text Restoration. I have the tools and skills so that I can accomplish in days what might take most people months. So if you have some backlist in need of restoration, we should talk.

2016-11-05-mockup-classic-crime-libraryCovers. Regular readers know I’ve been dabbling in covers for a while. I’m getting pretty good at it. I’m on my way to getting really good at it. I’m more than happy to work with writers on a tight budget to come up with reasonably priced covers that look good and serve their purpose. I can also modify most ebook covers for print and audio editions.

Translations and Foreign Editions: I’ve been doing a lot of German, Italian and Spanish novels here of late. I’ve figured out how to get the best results for digital and print so the books can be sold on Amazon and through other distributors. (I’m not doing Asian editions–yet.) It’s a big world full of hungry readers. If you write in an other than English language or have translated editions of your English books you’d like produced in digital or print, let’s talk.

Marketing and Promotion: Nope, sorry, still won’t/can’t do that for you. My brain just refuses to wander down those paths.

Thanks for dropping by. If you need to contact me now you can reach me at
jayewmanus at gmail dot com

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Programs for Indie Publishers

Blog-programs

Creativity is messy

One of the best aspects of indie publishing is that Do-It-Yourself is feasible. All you need is a computer and some decent programs–many of them free–and you can put together a professionally packaged book.

 

Many indie publishers start and end with MS Word. I suspect this has to do with comfort. They use Word, they know it (or think they do), and Amazon, Smashwords and Draft2Digital accept Word files. I also suspect fear plays a part. No matter how easy or intuitive a program is, there is still a learning curve. Easier to stay with the devil you know than to leap into the unknown. My hope is that the list of programs I use will encourage DIY indie publishers to wander into deeper waters and increase the quality of their book production.

This following programs and tools are what I use on an almost daily basis. It’s by no means a complete list of all the programs and apps that are available. A Google search for “programs for publishing” will turn up hundreds–thousands!–of programs an indie might find useful.

A word about computers. Currently I use two. A Lenovo Z70 laptop and a Mac. (I’m in the process of finding a new desktop PC, too.) I use the laptop for ebook production and the Mac for print and covers. The reason is: Adobe. I will not allow any Adobe products on my laptop. They are big and grabby and eat RAM like peanuts, especially InDesign. Adobe CC seems to behave better on the Mac, crashing less often. Plus, I have a 29″ screen that makes using Photoshop a real pleasure.

On to the list.

DROPBOX. Dropbox is a cloud storage service. You can sign up for the basic service and it’s free. If you need more storage space, you can go with a business plan that starts at $9.99 a month. Most indies don’t need the extra space. It’s a great way to back up your files. You can synch between devices. There are apps available so you can access Dropbox from your tablet or phone. You can share files and folders. It’s an easy way to share files that are too big for email attachments. I’ve been using Dropbox for years. It’s had a few hiccups, but very few. The only ongoing problem I’ve experienced is that the Kindle Previewer doesn’t like it. So to load a file into the Previewer I have to remember to drag it out of Dropbox and onto my desktop first.


MS WORD.  Used to be just about every PC came pre-loaded with MS Word. Everybody used it. Those days are over. Now you have to purchase it.

WHAT I USE IT FOR

  • Personal correspondence and writing
  • Initial file clean-up
  • Basic ebook formats for Smashwords (fiction only)

PROS

  • Everybody uses it (for now)
  • It’ll open a huge number of file types and it will generate a large number of file types.
  • Word docs are accepted by Amazon, Smashwords and Draft2Digital

CONS

  • Most people have no idea how to use Word properly
  • Clunky, bloated and overly-complicated
  • Makes awful ebooks

NOTEPAD (PC) and NOTES (Mac). These text programs come pre-loaded on most PCs or Macs. When I’m working on a book I keep a file open where I can make notes to myself. Nothing special, but very very handy.


NOTEPAD++. This is my text editor of choice. (In the Mac I use Text Wrangler)

WHAT I USE IT FOR

  • Create ebooks in html with cascading style sheets
  • Text restoration
  • File cleanup

PROS

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • No bloat since there is nothing running in the background to add a bunch of junk to a file
  • Powerful search function with multiple levels
  • Can encode files for different purposes, including UTF-8 for ebooks

CONS

  • Learning curve (moderate)
  • Must get used to the display which is nothing like a word processor

SIGIL. EPUB editor. I have it on both computers. If you want to step up your ebook quality, Sigil is an excellent tool for creating ebooks. And yes, with some modifications to your file, you can create ebooks for Amazon Kindle, too. Paul Salvette of bbebooks offers a very good tutorial.

WHAT I USE IT FOR

  • Troubleshooting epub files

PROS

  • Free
  • Mostly stable
  • Offers inline epub validation
  • Can be used in WYSIWYG mode or in html mode

CONS

  • Learning curve (moderate)

KINDLE PREVIEWER. Quick and easy way to preview your ebook files before you upload them to Amazon. If you want to see how your ebooks look with Amazon’s enhanced typesetting features you can download the Kindle Previewer 3.


CALIBRE. Quick and easy way to preview an epub file. Has an epub editor (which I don’t use and haven’t looked at it in over a year, so cannot say how good it is). Despite its many fans, Calibre is NOT the tool to use to create commercial ebooks. It causes disabled user preference controls on Kindle devices and apparently there are conflicts with Kindle enhanced typesetting.


MOBIPOCKET CREATOR. Will convert a Word or html file into a prc file that can be converted into a mobi file in the Kindle Previewer or loaded directly onto a Kindle device. Quick and simple. Good way to check how the formatting on a Word file will perform on a Kindle. I use it to do a quick and dirty conversion of Word files I want to read on my e-ink Kindle.


EPUB VALIDATOR. The idpf validator is the standard for making sure your epub files are free of errors and up to snuff. I use this tool in conjunction with Sigil. If I get an error message, I can find and fix it quickly in Sigil, then transfer the fix back to my html files.


UNMANIFESTED EPUB FILE CHECK. Apple iBooks is picky about unmanifested files within an epub package. Running your epub file through this checker will help ensure your ebook will make it onto the Apple site.


IRIS OCR. I do a lot of text restoration, recovering the text from printed books and turning it into a workable document. I have used and researched a lot of OCR programs. Quality ranges from “oh my god you have to be kidding” to excellent. IRIS is excellent. If you have an HP scanner, you can download IRIS OCR software along with the HP drivers. You can also purchase software that allows for side-by-side document editing (necessary if you’re scanning and restoring graphic/image heavy or complicated layouts in non-fiction books).


INDESIGN. For print on demand layouts. (Despite what many of its fans say, it’s NOT a good program for making ebooks. I can usually tell an ID generated ebook because it looks gorgeous and the user preference controls are disabled. There are apparently conflicts with Kindle enhanced typesetting, too.)

PROS

  • For POD it’s easier to use than Word.
  • Print is what it was made for and print is what it does best. Makes beautiful books.
  • Adobe help sucks, but google “how do I…InDesign” and you’ll find answers all over the place.
  • Trouble-free export into POD ready pdf files.

CONS

  • Expensive! I don’t think you can buy the program new from Adobe. Instead, you have to set up a subscription. If you cancel your subscription, your .indd files are rendered useless.
  • Steep learning curve.
  • RAM grabby and has a tendency to crash.

PAINT.NET. A powerful paint program that is easy to use. Fun, too. And free! Good for resizing images and creating simple graphics. Offers many plug-ins that make it possible to create ebook covers. It does a good job of modifying and manipulating photos.


PHOTOSHOP. The more I use Photoshop, the more I learn about it, the more I like it. I use it to make covers and to clean up damaged images. Unlike ID, I’ve had no problems with it either slowing my computer to a sluggish crawl or crashing. Like ID, it’s not being offered for sale by Adobe, but is on a subscription plan.

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There you go. My favorite book production programs. What about yours?

 

 

 

 

Can YOU Create the Perfect Ebook Cover?

Since here of late I’ve been playing “art department” for several of my clients, I’ve been thinking a lot about ebook covers. What works, what doesn’t, and more importantly, Why? I do a lot of browsing for books on Amazon. Why do some ebook covers catch my eye and cause me to click on the listings, while others are merely clutter on the page? What is the real difference between a “good” ebook cover and a “bad” one? Is there a way to ensure an ebook gets the perfect cover?

Perfection? Probably not.

A cover that does exactly what it is supposed to do? That’s doable, each time, every time.

I read an article the other day about one writer’s quest for the perfect covers. She did market analysis using surveys (read it here). I found it fascinating and admirable. I also spotted right off the mistake she is making. It’s a mistake I see over and over again with indie publishers. The writer is designing a cover for herself.

Now, you are probably saying, “Jaye, what’s the point of being an indie if you can’t do things your own way?”

You can do things any way you want to. It’s your book.

Here’s the problem with designing an ebook cover for yourself. You have lived with your story for weeks or months or years. You know the plot, the characters, the emotional arcs. You know your own vision. What excites you. What you want the world to know. You want a cover that captures all that nuance. All the wonder and beauty and drama that is your story.

Potential book buyers don’t know any of that. Until they actually start reading the book, they have no context, no point of reference, and thusly, they don’t really care. All that love and knowledge the writer holds in her heart is wasted. In many cases, it can so miss the point that it fails to catch attention of potential buyers or, worst case, turns them off completely.

An ebook cover has one job: Induce potential buyers to click on a listing. That’s it. Once the ebook is purchased, it’s done its job and, like the packaging for a new gadget, it can be discarded. It won’t be displayed on a shelf or coffee table. It won’t be taken out to be studied and admired for its art. In fact, once it’s loaded on Kindle or Nook or smartphone or tablet, it’s almost irrelevant. It’s already served its major purpose and no longer matters–except for one very important aspect: the cover can serve as a trigger that leads readers to other books.

What I see are ebook covers that miss the major Sell Points.

  • Genre
  • Mood/Tone
  • Title
  • Author

Sell Points are simple. Maybe it’s their obvious simplicity that make them so easy to miss. To figure out the sell points, you have to ask: What are readers looking for? To answer that, you have to know who your readers are and/or who you want your readers to be. (If you say, “My book is for every reader from 8 to 80!” you are doomed. Sorry. It’s true.)

GENRE: If you’re writing genre fiction, your task is fairly straightforward: Make the cover look like it belongs in the genre. It truly astonishes me how many covers miss this mark so completely. Genre book browsers are scanning quickly, not necessarily reading titles, looking for visual clues that something is worth clicking on and exploring further. Your pastel colored cover with blooming flowers might be stunning, a real piece of art and perfectly depicts the theme of “winter always ends and the cycle begins anew” but it’s a crime thriller and it doesn’t look thrilling at all, so potential buyers will pass. Spend a few hours browsing online retailers for your genre. Make lists of common elements. Even, or especially, those that seem cheesy or cliched. Cheesy cliches work because they shout, “This is a thriller! This is a romance! This is horror! This is what you’re looking for!”

cover blog 3

Example of a cover that not only hits all the sell points, but perfectly targets the humorous horror sub-genre market. The title and color work together to set the tone/mood. The design looks simple (it’s not–this is carefully thought out and crafted). It’s legible and eye-catching. (and no, I didn’t do this one, but I wish I had)

MOOD/TONE: Reading fiction is an emotional experience. Readers are always on the lookout for something to either fit a current mood or create a new one. The tone and mood of your cover MUST match the description. The cover and description MUST match the story. If there’s a disconnect between the cover and the description, no sale. If there’s a disconnect between the cover and description and the story itself, you’ll have disappointed and possibly disgruntled readers. Never, ever forget your readers’ emotional experiences AND expectations. If you set them up for a light and amusing read but then hand them Hamlet, your cover–and the book–has failed.

Cover blog 1

Example of a cover that fails. Found under a search for “political thrillers” it doesn’t look like a political thriller. It’s dull. Bad enough to tack on a photo, but it’s not even an interesting photo. The image is static and out of context. The typography is illegible in thumbnail. It looks amateurish.

TITLE: In my rarely humble opinion, publishers should spend more brain time on titles than on artwork. A truly great title can sell books all on its own. (Personally, I am total shit with titles, so I have nothing but admiration for people who come up with great titles.) What makes a great title? It’s snappy, it’s memorable, it tells a story in just a few words. This isn’t the place to be cute or esoteric or lofty. In the article I linked to earlier, one of the problems I noted was the author’s title. THE SCARLET ALBATROSS. Interesting visual, but taken all by itself, what can it possibly mean? Who is looking for a book about a big seabird painted red? (And the author must sense there is something off about it because the cover is bogged down with extraneous tag lines and explanations.) Contrast that to Larry Correria’s MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL.Says it all.  Anyone looking for a story about monsters is going to at least click on the listing. When it comes to titles, subtlety is not your friend. Nor are lofty literary allusions (unless you are targeting the really tiny market of literary snobs). Wordplay is only going to work if your intended audience is in on the joke. If you’re going to invest time and/or money in market testing, forget the artwork and test your title. Once you have a title, make sure it’s readable on the cover. Yes, I know, the book title is right there in plain text on the browsing screen. But browsers are looking at the pictures first, then when something catches the eye, the text off to the side. If your title is illegible on the listing then it doesn’t exist.

AUTHOR: I am always appalled by writers with audiences whose names are not prominent on the cover. It’s a HUGE sell point. The majority of readers are fairly risk aversive. They might say they want something new and different, but if given a choice they’ll usually go with a sure thing. A writer who’s made them happy in the past might very well make them happy in the future. The more prominent your name is on the cover, the more important it looks. Even new writers should make their name stand out.

A word about artwork. I’m not going to say “pearls before swine” but… Fabulous artwork is NOT a sell point. (Fabulous artwork can sell print editions because sometimes those books aren’t even opened, they are displayed, and in brick-and-mortar stores customers actually pick up books and study them front and back before opening the pages–an entirely different way to shop for books.) Crappy, amateurish artwork can hurt your sales because readers will assume the interior is also crappy and amateurish. But when you’re making decisions about artwork and illustrations for an ebook cover, look at it in context of the sell points. It’s far more important that the illustration imparts information than that it looks pretty.

Cover blog 2

Gorgeous artwork that is utterly wasted on an ebook. The image turns to a muddy splotch in thumbnail. If not for the author’s name, this cover would be a total fail.

Another word, this time about typography. Choose your typefaces wisely and don’t junk them up with too many effects. Make sure your title and name are as legible as possible in thumbnail. Make sure the style of the typeface matches the design.

My number one suggestion for indies designing their ebook cover is to HONESTLY assess whether they can objectively wear the “art department” hat or not. If your mind keeps turning to themes and symbolism and all the many (many!) wonderful elements you want on the cover, and if you keep forgetting to consider what your potential readers are looking for, then it’s probable that you need to turn the job over to someone else. And then let them do their job.