Sanity’s Flaw: Formatting and Editing for Print

I had something you could call fun formatting my first novel for eBook publication a few years back, and though I still have that version of the book available for reference, I decided I wanted to spruce it up a bit.

First, though, I wanted to give it another look through for any missed errors or formatting mistakes—you know, just so they weren’t floating around the print versions.

A Few Changes
Surprisingly, though I’ve now read the book what must be a dozen times and taken feedback from a number of people, I had a good deal of changes. These were not all errors, mind you, as I did things like change several instances of “Hell” to “hell” (more than several, actually, as my characters are rather vulgar individuals from a time now passed) and capitalized street names (“Sixty-Sixth” instead of “sixty-sixth”).

There were two of note, however. Two I only caught because I read the book practically in one sitting.

In the first, I originally stated, “He pulled into a spot half a block from the building.” A few paragraphs later, I followed with, “…stepping out and slamming the door as he bound across the sidewalk in three easy steps and disappeared….”

How could he cross half a block in just a few steps? Simple fix: I changed “half a black from” to “in front of.”

For the other, I indicate about three-quarters through the book the protagonist lives on the fourth floor of his apartment. He asks a woman as he hops into an elevator, “Four floor, please? Thanks.” Later, another character comes into his apartment and originally said, “…apartment seven fourteen.”

Which, you know, doesn’t make sense. Simple fix: I changed “seven” to “four.”

For you eBook fanatics out there: don't worry! These changes will be rolled out into a new edition of the book you can upgrade to very soon.

Making it Pretty
I’m not quite going into all of the details just yet, but I was able to download the applicable formatting guide for Sanity’s Flaw, so I set about fixing it up. While I didn’t strictly adhere to every suggestion—I certainly don’t want my book to look just like every other—the most notable change from my version was the page width and height, as the printed book will be only six by nine inches.

One benefit of proofing for print books is that the text cannot change. While readers can manipulate fonts all they want practically in eBooks, here it stays the same. So, I’m able to center vertically, insert the spacing I desire, and so on.

That may seem minor, but it was the catalyst of change, as being able to do that made me reexamine how the book appeared while reading. I changed the formatting on the section titles, inserted spaces to ensure every one began on the right page and ensured I landed in a sweet spot of about 38 lines per page. After all that, I also ensured none of the –” ends of sentences were dropped to their own lines, as occurred frequently in the eBook (there was only one that required fixing).

Oh, I also removed one of the font types I originally used to differentiate one character’s entries. It proved distracting when considered in full, and the lack of a time stamp continues to mark these bits as something other than the general narrative (hopefully, those who have read the book understand that cryptic bit).

Considering the book as a printed piece, I also happened upon a fun idea that was developed, in part, thanks to Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series. As I typically use his formatting and general presence as a guide in my writing, I found I enjoyed the brief glimpses the imagery at the head of each section gave me.

So, the print edition of Sanity’s Flaw will include seven previously unseen illustrations by yours truly—one for each section of the book. Though I’ve yet to create these, I know what they will be and I’ll be working to finalize them within the next few weeks.

Perhaps I’ll even share one or two….