The Business of Words: The Art of Books

Yesterday, I attended the Business of Art event, in Peoria. I knew from the promotional materials that writing was not included as an Art but, as expected, I did learn a few things. In particular, I learned from Jenna Scifres that I really need to up my game when it comes to social media.

I want to whine that it is challenging for a writer to create behind the scenes video of what we do. It isn’t going to be very interesting if I post screenshots of text, right?

Actually, that isn’t true. I can think of all kinds of things I can video, or upload as still photos.

Like someone recently asked me what I do with my thumb drives. I can answer that both in terms of what I store on them and how I keep from losing them. And, I can talk about where I use them and how I organize what is on them. Believe me, I can actually make that interesting.

Jenna photographs her tools and how she uses them. I could certainly photograph the tools I use. I use a plethora of databases and writing techniques that, believe it or now, would photograph well.

My art of Writing was overlooked by the Business of Art event. This year.

I am dying to replicate the event from the viewpoint of the writer. Writers are artists. Writing is an art.

Writers also need art. The writer who can create an artistic dust jacket is rare. I have never found the courage to even try. I opt instead for cookie-cutter jackets, sometimes decorated with my own photographs. Anything to escap

But, when I teach self-publishing, I fill the room with books. We look at books. We examine books. We talk about how graphic artists, photographers and artists of all kinds add value to books. With the exception of the artist who is self-publishing their own work, books need art.

I recently discussed this in my six-part series on the six hats a self-publisher wears. The one place where self-publishers skimp is on the art of designing a book, inside and out.

Nearly every print-on-demand publishing concern offers templates anyone can use as book covers. I have seen artists selling book covers, independently from book content. Yes, even for self-published books. And why not? Jacket designers have long been employed in the book industry.

People who love books love well-designed books. I fell immediately out of love with digital publishing as soon as I saw the original eBook reader. It was as elegant as a typewritten page. There was no style, quite literally. (That’s a pun for anyone who knows that text Styles are the key to creating beautiful books!)

There is room for style, design, creativity in all self-published works. I would even contend there is a dire need for it. A book—any book–is more than words.

The glut of self-published works are creating books that all use the same margins, fonts, headers and footers. Their covers are exactly the same except for maybe a random original photograph. Most self-published books (I venture to say without researching the statistics) are published in monotone black-and-white. With no art, whether it be graphic design or photographs or original art, there is no need for color. Black text on a white background is sufficient.

I cry fowl! I crave beautifully designed books. I crave books with original design.

I crave Art when I look at a book. I expect it to be there. Nay, I demand it.

I was disappointed that my entire area of Art was overlooked by the Business of Art this year. Maybe it will be different next year, or maybe I just need to create the Business of Words.



Simplifying the technical

Self-publishing requires some technical skill. But, even the most basic word-processing software offers what you need.

I came across this 197-page manual written specifically to teach writers how to self-publish. Not only is it poorly done, this is the third edition.

My goal is to help you avoid this kind of publication. It is embarrassing.

Plus, this type of book gives self-publishing a bad name. If this author knew as much as she claims to know, her own book would not look like that. I will help you avoid these pitfalls.

The other criticism I have with this book is that it is largely a sales tool. The dollar sign appears 73 times in this alleged “book.”

I don’t consider that a book. But, you can certainly make a 197-page advertisement if you want.

Just, please, learn to make it without unprintable characters. Let me show you how. Register now at EventBrite.


How much formatting should a writer do?

I prefer working with writers who use the simplest, plainest formatting possible. Even when writing my own publications, I tend to begin with a simple text document. The simpler, the better.

I would rather work with a Notepad file than a file that someone has heavily formatted without adhering to the requirements of the publisher they plan to use. All that formatting can really get in the way. Especially, if the text was formatted for different dimensions.

Every self-publishing entity provides formatted templates. They are far more than mere margins and tabs. The templates are pre-formatted to number pages directly. They are set up to create a table of contents and generate page numbers correctly. Moving content after the template is in use can really wreck your formatting, especially page numbers.

I find it much easier to keep writing separate from layout. Then copy the content in pieces and place it in the formatted template. If the original writing has heavily formatted content, it can conflict with the template.

And, templates are king.

If the template doesn’t work, the design process may have to start all over again. I have been known to strip a document back to an ascii file in order to get rid of unnecessary formatting. It’s especially troublesome with a writer who applied new formats instead of merely editing what was in place.

hackInDesign is not a writing program. InDesign is a layout program. It is an exquisite program. But, you don’t use it like a typewriter.


The proper way to use InDesign is to use a text program to type your words.

Then use the File/Place command to load text into InDesign.

The Text tool is for decorating text. It is not intended to be a writing tool.

Need help formatting? We can make it happen.


So many choices

Envision your final product before you start writing. See the package. Imagine all the different formats. It could impact how you write.

Most people seem to be publishing a print version and an eBook version of their work. That sounds simple. But is it?

I have put together a chart of my two favorite print providers, Lulu and Createspace. This is not a legal-and-forever kind of description. I just pulled info together for my own benefit. The print choices are staggering.

Your words are unique. Make your format just as unique, but appropriate to your message and attractive to your customers. (Be sure to keep reading. Yes, I know it is a long list.)


The next thing I am excited about is Glass Tree Academic Publishing.

Glass Tree challenges the traditional academic publishing model by placing academics in complete control of their content, accelerating time to market and reversing an exploitative revenue model allowing academics to actually profit from sales of their work.

 Glass Tree will provide free tools for book publication, extensive subject matter taxonomies, complimentary promotional tools and free distribution to a global network of online bookstores. Additionally, authors will have access to an array of competitively priced supplementary services including book editing, translation, peer review and marketing assistance.

 Through the use of print-on-demand technology and Lulu’s global network of printers, Glass Tree minimizes production costs resulting in a high-quality, affordable product that can be printed and delivered anywhere in the world in a matter of days rather than months – regardless of the quantity needed.

 You control your work. You own your copyrighted material and choose the license under which it is published. You determine the publication date, set the retail price and earn 70% of profits from the sale of your work. When discoveries are made in your field that warrant a new edition, you choose when to update, revise and republish ensuring your content is always up-to-date in the ever-changing academic environment.

Why is that exciting? Years and years and years ago, I taught workshops for faculty and staff at a large university. Many instructors, or their staff, took the PageMaker classes. I can tell how young you are if you don’t recognize that name. It has evolved into InDesign.

They were there because faculty wanted to produce their own classroom materials. Many of them were creating lab workbooks–but certainly not all. What they all were was visionaries. They wanted to create their own learning materials.

I still laud that. Just as I laud the kindergarten teacher who opts to hand-craft the materials for her classroom bulletin boards, rather than buy mass-produced materials.

Back when I was teaching PageMaker, the issue became print production. There was a printing plant on campus where instructors could print…most things. But, that meant the instructor had to be involved in the vending process. Some tenacious folks figured out that they could pay for the printing, especially if they had discretionary grant money. Then they could sell their texts to the campus bookstore, who would then sell them to students.

No faculty member ever wanted to become a bookstore.

With Glass Tree, they can produce and print higher quality textbooks and the students (or the campus bookstore) can buy the printed copies directly from Glass Tree. It solves so many issues for faculty and their staff.

If I were a professor today, I would love this. It means no longer waiting for a traditional publishing house to hire textbook writers, go through the editing process en masse, and then printing and distributing and so on.

It does not mean the quality of content will be less. It means it can be more current. It means texts that more accurately mirror the professor’s message. It means an entire course can be based more on a textbook based on the course lectures, and vice versa.

Students should really get on board with this. The text can now be fully, or more fully, used. Everyone has taken classes where only certain chapters of a very pricey textbook were used. Then, after all that money students spent, they had to traipse to the library to read an endless list of selected readings that say what the professor wished the textbook said. But, didn’t. Often, again, because the textbook was out of date or did not fully cover the topic of the course.

It wasn’t a bad textbook. The faculty did not choose the wrong textbook. It’s just that a textbook doesn’t always fit a course perfectly.

The worst possible class is one where the instructor teaches to the textbook. Is it a class based on a topic, or is it just a semester-long book review?

I have seen new/inexperienced instructors opt to use the previous instructor’s textbook or, worse yet, use the textbook their own professor used for the class a decade ago.

Then, they numbly took their class through the book, chapter by chapter. It was a book review. That is not teaching.

Teachers love teaching. They don’t necessarily love book clubs which is what that kind of class quickly becomes.

Lively teaching encourages students to think. It brings together different viewpoints. It sparkles. Like Glass.

I can’t wait to see Glass Tree. I ghost write textbooks. (Yes, I am perhaps part of the problem.) I know there will be exciting formatting to be done.

I admit that I do not read books that do not have an index. It is not always easy to format an index. It takes work. It takes a keen understanding of the subject. Creating index for someone else’s book means envisioning what the instructor and student will need in order to quickly locate content.

So, put on your Styling Hat. There is fun stuff coming down the pike.

Glass Tree. From Lulu. Did I mention that I am a big fan of Lulu?



When most people set out to write, the TOC is not the first thing they think of.

But, if you plan to self-publish, it is a good idea.

If you plan to publish an eBook, it is essential.

The Table of Contents is a Word References feature (OpenOffice, too).. It is part of the “programming” that goes on behind the scenes while you type. It is one example of Word doing some of the thinking for you.

When you download a publish-on-demand book template, you will find that it includes a Table of Contents. You don’t have to get very elaborate. You can literally leave the chapter names as “Chapter 1,” “Chapter 2,” and so on. But it does help guide your reader if you name the chapters. Plus, most of us look at the chapter titles when we decided whether to read a book or not. A numeric chapter name is not going to convince anyone to buy a book. But, you should have chapters and a table of contents so the reader can go directly to a chapter.

If you plan to publish a digital version of your book, format the print version for publishing first. Trust me.

The automatically-generated TOC is based the Styles palette, but uses the References palette.

To see how this works, download a template from a publishing site.  You don’t need a Createspace account to download a template for this exercise. Go to HERE to download the pre-formatted template for a book that is 8.25 inches tall and 6 inches wide. It is just one of more than a dozen sizes you can choose from.

Open the Styles Palette in the Home ribbon menu. To do, this click on the little icon in the lower right-hand corner of the Styles Palette.


The Styles panel opens on the right-hand side of the page.

Far down the list, you will see “CSP – Chapter Title.” All of the “CSP” styles are the basic Createspace styles. The other styles are ones you may, or may not, need to use. Later, you might even want to create your own.

The Style called “CSP-Chapter Title” is the key that generates a Table of Contents. Any item that is formatted as “CSP-Chapter Title” will automatically generate an item in the Table of Contents.

That means if you need to create additional chapters, format the title with “CSP-Chapter Title.” When you update the TOC, Word will automatically add that chapter. It’s just name your chapter, highlight it and apply the chapter style, and update the TOC.

There is nothing magic about “CSP-Chapter Title.” You can create any Style you want for your chapter headings and call that Style anything you want. You just need to remember what it is called.

Did I lose you? Let’s take a closer look.

Hover over the “CSP-Chapter Title” until you see a dropdown arrow appear at the right-hand end of the Style in the list. Hovering will show what kind of formatting will be applied.

But, it helps to know how many times the formatting has been applied within this document. If you know you should have 16 chapters, click on the “CSP-Chapter Title” Style to see the popup window.  Does it show 16 chapters?


No. The “CSP-Chapter Title” Styles has only been applied in 14 instances.You would need to find the other two chapter headings and apply the same chapter Style to them.

Don’t change anything else on this style, at this time. (You can quickly change the font, size or color used for all your chapter headings by modifying and updating the Style, but we will save that for another time.)

If you want to see, in detail, what formatting is included with the template, click on Modify. The Modify Style window appears and shows how text formatted as “CSP-Chapter Title” Style will appear.


Chapter Titles are Paragraph styles, meaning they will modify all the text until the next hard return. All you do is highly the chapter name and choose “CSP-Chapter Title” Styles to make the text:

Times New Roman, 14, All caps, centered, single line-spacing with no space below.

Let’s say we do have the correct number of chapters formatted with the “CSP-Chapter Title” Style. Now we want those chapter titles to show up in our Table of Contents.

The Table of Contents in this template you downloaded is on page 5. (Type CONTROL+G, 5 to get there quickly.)

This is NOT a functioning TOC. You will have to create one that updates automatically. You do not want to have to type the TOC manually, and then keep all the page numbers manually. Word needs to do all of that for you.

To create your own functioning TOC, hover above the chapters listed in the Contents on page 5. You will see the following. It is just a table, not a Table of Contents. The word “Contents” was just manually typed in.


I prefer to keep the word “Content” until I have completed the TOC setup and have it working. But, the fake TOC needs to be deleted. To do that, highlight the table.

Tap the Delete key. The fake table is gone. Now we will create the real TOC.

Before we begin, we know that the first chapter is “1 Chapter Name” and begins on page 1.


We want to give this chapter a name that means something. We’re going to rename it “1 In the Beginning.”


Rename as many chapters as you want before we begin. You can rename all the rest of them at any point so don’t worry if you aren’t ready to name them all. When you are finished naming chapters, we’ll create the TOC.

Go back to the page where the word Content is, where you deleted the fake TOC. One reason I leave the word Content there is that, if I get confused, I can use the Find command to locate Comment.

Move your cursor one line below the word Content, for now. (When we are done, we will delete the word Content.)

The Table of Contents Panel is on the References Palette in the ribbon menu. Click on the dropdown at the bottom of Table of Contents. We are going to Insert Table of Contents.


You will need to “decorate” your TOC, by selecting Styles, in order for Word to pick up the chapters for your Table of Contents. There are defaults you will need to change.


When the Table of Contents popup window appears, you will see examples of TOC formatting. In the default example,  you will see the Print Preview shows Heading 1, Heading 2 and Heading 3. These are headings for different levels of content. Heading 1 would be a chapter; Heading 2 would be a subsection of that chapter; and Heading 3 would be a subsection of the subsection of the chapter. Keep in mind that the default TOC consists of THREE heading levels. In this template, we are going to use only 1.

To do that, we click on the 1 Options Button. That opens the Table of Contents Options window.

There are 4 things we need to change in this window.

In our template, we know that “CSP-Chapter Title” is the Style for all of our chapters. The default Style is Heading 1. We need to change that. Use the scrollbar all the way over on the right to scroll down through all the Styles in this template.

2  In the box next to the Style “CSP-Chapter Title,” type a number “1”. 3 The moment you do, a checkmark will appear next to “CSP-Chapter Title.”

Now, all text formatted as the “CSP-Chapter Title” Style will be included in our Table of Contents.

BUT WAIT, the Table of Contents Options still show that text formatted as Heading 1 should be level 1 in your TOC.

You probably don’t have anything formatted as Heading 1 – but just to be sure, 4 I delete the number “1” from the TOC level. Doing that makes 5 the checkmark next to Heading 1 disappear.

I do the same with Heading 2 and Heading 3.

Click Okay.

The TOC will automatically appear, with corresponding pages numbers.

Since we changed the name of the first chapter to “1 In the Beginning,” that is what appears in our TOC. Rename your chapters whenever it feels convenient.

Then go back to the References Palette and find the Table of Contents panel. Click on Update Table.


A popup will ask whether you want to update page numbers only, or whether you want to update the entire table. I usually choose entire table.

If you don’t fiddle with this template too much, you can safely paste your text into the chapters or type your chapter content right in the template.

This is the basic TOC you will need for either a print book or an eBook. You can now safely delete the original line that has only the word “Contents” on it.

You can alter the Style for your chapters to a different font, or size. But, if you rename the Style in the process, you will need to go back to the Table of Contents setup, find the new Style you want to use for chapters and make sure that is selected as Level One in the Table of Contents format.

Once you understand how the Styles work, you can make your books look attractive and appealing. Books should be more than just words. They should include this roadmap we call chapters and they should be consistently formatted.

Many people are overwhelmed by this very first and very basic task. If you are, hire someone to do it for you. (Yes, I can do that for you!)



Where to begin writing

Before writing even the first sentence, a writer should consider what the final version will look like. What size and kind of book do you plan to publish? Are you going to print an eBook, a printed book, an audio book or all three?

In graduate school, I took a class on evaluation in education where the professor lectured week after week and assigned reading and reading. The goal of the class was to keep a journal as we worked through answering one question: is there a single tool for evaluation or is there a toolbox full of different tools?

The correct answer was the toolbox apparently, since I earned an A for the course. The publishing possibilities are a toolbox. But the key to using the toolbox is to determine what solution is best for a given situation.

A novel does not necessarily need chapters. But chapters do make a book easier to read. For one thing, many readers will read to the end of the current chapter before taking a break. Chapters can also serve as a roadmap if segues are not obvious.

Many types of books are organized, using chapters and sections to define how the information will be presented. It is the logic behind the work. And, if the reader is keenly aware of information in a chapter, they can skip it and move on through the book.

When it comes to self-publishing, or publishing on demand, the type of book matters whether the book will be digital or print. There is a fairly large range of book sizes and types that every publishing service makes available.

There are also some that set services apart. Lulu is one, perhaps the only one, that offers books with dust jackets in a variety of sizes and shapes. On the other hand, Lulu currently recommends customers avoid including charts, text boxes, and scientific or mathematic formulas in smaller paperbacks. Lulu does offer a coil-bound 6” x 9” inch option that would be ideal for workbooks, which is rare in the publish on demand world.

Amazon has the largest market share. That means they have more potential customers. It also means you will have more competition for those readers’ eyes.

But, whatever service you choose, it is wise to choose a size and shape of your book before you start writing. If you choose to use chapters, they need to be formatted a special way. But, they also need a name. You can use something as basic as the chapter number but it is more helpful to the reader if you give each chapter a name that reflects what that chapter is about.

It’s perfectly fine to jump right in and start writing. But, eventually, your book will need to be formatted even if you publish it as an eBook. Keep that in mind while you write.


Decoding style

Have you ever wondered what dictates whether you should indent a paragraph, or use a two-letter abbreviation for states and how you should format a date?

Furthermore, does anyone care? YES! A resounding, YES! A lot of us do!

There is, in fact, a secret code. It is called a Style Manual and there are more than a dozen of them.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that, behind the scenes, Word is quite sophisticated. This is just one example.

Tucked away in a menu panel that you may not have ever even looked at is the Citations & Bibliography panel.

Don’t stop reading if you think you will never use them. I’ll tell you why in a minute. But, first, I’m going to take you on a fieldtrip.

Click on the References menu tab. (Double-click if it keeps disappearing on you.)

The third panel is Citations & Biography. In this panel, you’ll see the word Style and probably the word “APA” and maybe a couple more characters on a dropdown menu.

Click on the dropdown menu and take a look at what is there.

Word knows how to format according to 14 different style manuals. And, yes, there are slight differences between each.

No, that’s not the fieldtrip.

Follow my link to OWL to join me on this fieldtrip.

We are going to visit the Online Writing Lab at Perdue University. If you ever have a question about to format some bit of text, this is one of the very best sources you will find.

In spite of 14 different frequently used style manuals, APA and MLA are the most common. Have you ever wondered whether you should put the name of a book in quotation marks, or in italics? Look at a style manual for the answer.

The MLA (Modern Language Association) style guide is used for literature. “All research papers on literature use MLA format.”

APA (American Psychological Association) is the style preferred for by the social sciences.

If you aren’t sure which to use and you are not writing for a professional journal or a dissertation, just pick one—and stick to it throughout your work. Universities and publishers make it known which of the 14 style manuals to use.

You’ll find things like when to use a comma, whether to put a comma inside or outside of a quotation mark and a myriad of other things.

And, you will find instructions on whether to indent the first line of a paragraph, or not, and by how much. The answer? It varies depending on the type of writing you are doing.

Does it matter? It very well may to your reader. Like me.

Style manuals in the digital age

One of my favorite things about References is the Style dropdown menu. You can choose a Style and a popup window will appear with fields you fill in with the title, author, etc. Then Word automatically formats the information for you and, if you want, it can insert it into your document. It is always formatted correctly, according to the Style you choose.

I write primarily non-fiction so I frequently create citations, footnotes, and bibliographies. So this is useful. But there is an even easier way to do it.


Do less typing. Use Worldcat to format your source for you. finds media. It is primarily books, but it will also correctly format a reference to a website, a movie, and other forms of media. It is surprisingly thorough and it lets you choose which of 5 different formatting styles to use.

Let’s choose the book Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience.

All you have to do is type the word “Flow” in the WorldCat search box. You’ll see the book we are looking for, not far down the page. Click on it.

The entry of this book comes up, along with a list of libraries where you will find a copy. In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see a clickable option Cite/Export. Click on that.

A popup menu will appear, listing five different style manuals.

Let’s click on APA (6th ed.). (Not sure whether to spell out a number or use the numeral instead? The answer is in a style manual.)

A dropdown panel appears, with the source perfectly formatted.

  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.

Highlight the text. Copy it. Paste it into your Word document.

When the popup icon appears asking how you want to paste it, choose Match Formatting (usually).

Word really does go out of its way to help you format text. It’s clever that the Reference formatting is built in. But, sometimes you need a little different formatting information. That’s when you turn to your style manual, or OWL.


Embedding fonts

You can pretty much use any kind of font, in any color and size, for most self-publishing sites. Don’t be shy about experimenting! [[Disclaimer:: some publishing sites will go berserk.]]

The key is embedding your fonts. This is so simple you won’t believe it.

hack ::Start::of::Think::Fast::Write::Fast::Hack::

Open the Office button—that big circle in the top left-hand corner of the Word window.

At the BOTTOM of the popup menu, choose Word Options.

On the Windows Options menu that pops open, choose Save.

Look for the section Preserve Fidelity When Sharing This Document.

Click the checkbox for Embed Fonts In The File.

Click Ok.

Boom. You’re done.


Next time, how do you start writing?


T::F::W::F’s hack for using Styles

Let’s get back to Styles. I mentioned last time that self-publishing sites sometimes offer templates with preformatted Styles.

There is nothing magic about Styles. Each one is just a storage spot for a specific collection of text or paragraph formatting. Think of each one as a paint brush you have dipped in a different color, sometimes just a different tint.

hackIf you’re new to this, expand the Word toolbar so that you see the palettes. Do that by double-clicking on any menu item.

The first palette is the Clipboard. Then Font, Paragraph and Styles.

Click on the little icon at the lower right-hand corner of the Styles palette. The list of Styles in the current document appear in the Styles Window, on the right.

The CreateSpace default Style for Chapter Titles is Times New Roman font size 14, centered, with all caps. All caps means that no matter what you type, all the characters will appear as capital letters.

But you can change that. Click on the Styled called “CSP – Chapter Title.” A dropdown menu icon will appear. Choose Modify.

Or, you can do it the easy way.

hack ::Start::of::Think::Fast::Write::Fast::Hack::

Highlight the title of a chapter, any chapter, and change the font, the size, the color, whether it is bold, or italics–whatever.

Go crazy.

When you are happy with the size and font STOP.

Be sure you have clicked the radio button, at the bottom of the screen, next to “Only In This Document.” This is especially important if you are working with a template that you want to use again—but not necessarily with the revised Style you are creating.

Close the Style window.

Highlight the name of a chapter again. ANY CHAPTER.

Click on the Style for “CSP – Chapter Title.” A new item has been added to the dropdown menu. That first item says “Update CSP – Chapter Title.” Choose that.


Now, click on the dropdown for “CSP-Chapter Title” again and you’ll see the choices have changed once again.

Look for the choice “Select All X Instances” where “X” shows the number of instances where that Style has been used in this document. Click on that.

Click on the dropdown menu again, and click on “Click Formatting of X Instances.”

With the “X” number of instances still highlighted, double-click the style “CSP- Chapter Title.”

You’re done.

Since you are going to embed your fonts with this file, the font will be used when you upload your file to CreateSpace.

Here is what just happened. You revised what the Style used for all chapters in this document should like look. Then you instructed Word to go find all the chapters. It does that by looking for every bit of text you already formatted as “CSP- Chapter Title.” Then it updated every instance of text you formatted as a chapter title.

How easy is that?

Next time, I’ll talk about embedding fonts.