Today we’ll talk about Editing and formatting, two areas that are the most time-consuming. It is said that writing is 10% creation, and 90% rewriting and editing, which in my experience is about right.

There are several programs to help with editing, too numerous to mention, but I prefer Grammarly, even though it does sometimes confuse homonyms. It is up to you to choose which one works best for you. Even with online editing programs, however, it is possible to miss errors, and it pays to have a diligent eye, and a second and third pair as well.

You can pay for an editor if you like; they can get various prices for services, from a couple of cents a word to 20 cents a word, and maybe even more. Or, you could find two random people to read your stories with a copy for free in exchange for their services.  Either way, it is important to get other eyes to view your book; to find possible mistakes, to add insight to the story, and needed changes in the story development.

Many people believe self-published authors are inferior in some way to well known published authors. Part of this belief is due to first-time authors who don’t know enough about grammar to develop a well-written book. This doesn’t make them a bad writer, just an undeveloped author who needs better instruction. It is best to put off the publishing process until the author is sure he can edit properly and has others who can do the same. The author of the Martian, Andy Weir, started out as a relatively unknown self-published author. It wasn’t until a publishing company felt he had sold enough copies to make it with their while to republish his novel.


Formatting a book is making it available for sale. Depending on what writing program you use, this can be a pretty daunting endeavor. I prefer Microsoft Word, for it is the easiest to use. Just make sure you save all your work to a flash drive so nothing is lost in the process.

With a Kindle book, formatting in Word is easy. You simply select the justification setting on the margin tab and set the margins to 0 for both margins. On the indent, I prefer .03 inches.

With a paperback book, everything changes according to the book’s size, length, and spine width. In the page layout tab, go to custom margins. This will allow you to change the margin settings for the entire document.  It is best not to do this until you’ve found the correct spine width. There are templates on Amazon’s KDP site that match the most popular book sizes. The address is below.

After you open the right size for your book from the downloaded zip file, you can adjust the margins. I like to use the 6 x 9 size. I usually set the top, inside, and bottom gutters for .75 and the outside gutter for 1″. The gutter is where you enter the spine width, depending on the size of the book. A guide to spine widths is below. It is important to note when you format the interior of the book, even page margins are set at -.05 left margin and odd pages are set at -.05 right margin.

On my next post, I will discuss the cover design and possible options for creation of covers. What if you can’t draw? Well, there are other options and programs you can use to make your book look like a professional did it.