15 Nov 2015: The Ups and Downs of Formatting

Since I started working on formatting my first novel from an ebook format to a format that I can upload to createspace for a paperback edition, I’ve been a little obsessed with looking at how every book I come across is formatted.  I’ve seen some books that have given me ideas … as well as a few books that simply amaze me in how anyone could think they look pleasing to the eye.

Example:  My day job that pays the bills is at a hotel.  This book was given to me by a housekeeper who found it.  Yes, I’m the girl everyone gives books to.  Some I read, the others I put in hotel library.  This book (see below) looked like a really interesting story, but the formatting is really weird.  By weird, I mean there is a LOT of formatting.  There’s that big black bar where the chapter number is.  It’s okay, but there are like a hundred chapters.  That’s a LOT of black bars!  Then you add in the super large letter for the first word (Which is in the center of the page?!?!) Personally I’d have gone with either the back bar or the large letter.  Both is a bit much.  Now let’s add in that the first letter of the first word of EVERY PARAGRAPH in the ENTIRE BOOK is drop case letter.  You can see it on the chapter header page as well as three more times a few pages later.  Those letters are on almost ever page.  In my opinion, this is formatting over kill.

Formatting 1Formatting 2

It’s not only paper books I’ve been looking at.  I got an ebook on my kindle last week that wasn’t even formatted to be an ebook.  Take a look:

P1040842

This ebook was uploaded in what I suspect was the standard manuscript format, double spaced.  Sadly because it was double spaced, I didn’t read it.  I would have had to have made the font so small to get enough words on a single page that it would have been really hard for me to read.  Let’s not even talk about my mother!  Oh, you want to talk about her?  Okay, well Mom likes big print books.  Let’s see this book through her eyes:

P1040846

Yeah, Mom’s lucky if she get’s two sentences per page!  This is why you don’t double space ebooks. If you’re not an ebook reader, here’s the first page of one of my ebooks for comparison:

P1040848The double spaced book also has the word CHAPTER in a blue font which looks odd and it’s not even centered properly at the top of the page.  I can look the other way on the mis-centering (I actually see that one in a lot of ebooks) but the double spacing would give my hand a work out with it having to swipe to a new page every 15 seconds.   I’ll also add that I was a little pissed about this book for another reason.  I don’t buy ebooks that are listed on Amazon as less that 150 pages.  If a book is any shorter than that, they didn’t have enough time to develop decent characters or plot so why waste my time.  By double spacing the book, it doubled the page count thereby misleading me to think it was a book of decent length.

Here’s another book someone at the hotel gave me.

P1040845The formatting is nice, even though the book was a bit much for me to read.  Any book that has so many made up words that you feel the need to put a glossary of them at the back of the book … well, that’s a bit too much for me to bother to keep straight while I’m trying to read it.  Notice they put a little curly cue design with the chapter number.  It’s nice.  Not so sure I’d put it on my book, but it’s something different.  This book is what I’d call a romantic fantasy so maybe it fits.

Anyway, just thought I’d share some of my observations.  Have you seen any books/ebooks with unusual formatting?  If so, let’s hear about them!

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

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