How To Be A Self-Published Author

Introduction | Self-Publishing Options – Part 1 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 2 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 3 | Why Self-Publishing Is Worth Doing | Creating A Manuscript | Critiques Are Painful But Necessary | Book Illustrations | A Cover That Sells | Self-Publishing Through Lightning Source | Self-Publishing Through CreateSpace | Finally A Book!

How To Be A Self-Published Author
How To Be A Self-Published Author: A Step-by-Step Guide
published in December 2009, explains in detail how to use what was then the most current technology and online resources to turn a manuscript into a published book. I usually tell new authors they need to complete their manuscript before starting on the publishing aspects, but I wrote this book as I did each step.

UPDATE April 2015: The online world is continually changing and what was ‘current’ in 2009, is old news now. I have linked to the book on Amazon so that you can use their ‘Look Inside’ feature to see the layout of the print book as well as the Table of Contents. Not everything in the book is included here but you can probably get most of the information you need through this website.

Creating A Manuscript

In the late 1980’s, it became very apparent to my former husband and I that, in order for our small magazine publishing company to be profitable and to make print deadlines, we were going to have to stop doing cut and paste onto layout boards and become computerized. Up to this point, we were dependent on outside typesetting services which were costly, error filled, and usually slow. If we could do the typesetting in-house, we’d save time and money.

After doing some research, we bought four IBM System 2 desktop computer systems. We put Adobe’s earliest versions of Pagemaker and Photoshop into the two computers used by our graphic artists. I used Microsoft Word to write editorial and then copied it onto a floppy disk so an artist could add it to that issue’s Pagemaker file. There was no network joining our computers.

By the time the economy took a deep dip a few years later and we were forced to let our employees go, I had become proficient in using Pagemaker and Photoshop and was able to do all the necessary pre-print layout and design to keep our magazine alive. Such was and is the power of computers.

I give this little bit of history because it is second nature to me to do a book layout in Pagemaker even though it is a complex (and expensive) software program; I’ve been using it for over 25 years, I should be fairly proficient by now. I also learned QuarkXPress when I worked part-time for a local newspaper more than 20 years ago. QuarkXPress was the Mac software of choice for pre-press work as Pagemaker was for the PC although Quark did not have the multi-page capabilities that Pagemaker did. In time, Quark took on Pagemaker attributes and both softwares are now available for either Mac or PC.

Most authors I know don’t have a clue how Pagemaker, QuarkXPress, InDesign, or Photoshop work. They don’t need to. It is possible to design a book cover without owning design software (as I’ve already demonstrated) and Microsoft Word is much more user friendly than desktop publishing software.

Aaron Shepard is a self-publishing author whose book Perfect Pages shows in detail how to format and produce a book block (the interior pages) in Microsoft Word. Word won’t produce the same type of page layouts that an expensive desktop publishing program will, but it can produce an acceptable layout for self-publishing and print on demand requirements.

The flaw with using Word by itself is having to follow a step-by-step page formatting process. As an example, when Gordon Ratcliff asked me to help him self-publish his first novel, The Judas Fragment, he provided me with a Word manuscript that was over 600 pages in length.

Because he had used numerous text styles while writing his novel, it was necessary to strip out all the hidden coding and standardize the text prior to final layout. Once that was done, I could experiment with various font styles, spacing, and sizes to see what type of page layout he preferred. It also enabled us to see exactly how many pages his book would have depending upon the text style he choose.

At more than 600 pages, the novel was unwieldy in size and expensive to print. Using a smaller type size and narrow margins, it was possible to reduce the page count but it took heavy editing to bring the final page count to just over 400 pages. Because I had to do the pre-press work for him, even though we used CreateSpace to publish his book, layout was more expensive than he had anticipated.

But what if there’s an easier way? That’s what I wanted to find out. Is it possible to still use Word but without all the hassles of figuring out styles, columns, margins, etc? I did a Google search and came across a program called Book Design Wizard that works inside of Word, costs under $40, and is available through I bought a copy.

(Disclaimer: It isn’t necessary to use a third party software program to format your book’s interior. Microsoft Word does an excellent job without additional software.)

Once Book Design Wizard was installed on my computer, I selected “New Word Document” from my Start menu. The new document wizard now had another tab for “Book Design Wizard” and I clicked on the icon. The page opened to the Book Design Wizard and I began filling in the various information:

Book Information

Title: How To Be A Self-Published Author

Subtitle: A Step-By-Step Guide (if your book doesn’t have a subtitle, leave this blank)

Author: Pat Gaudette

ISBN: 1442123206 (this is the ISBN assigned by CreateSpace when I completed their “New Book” form earlier)

Check to Include in Book: Table of Contents, About the Author Page, Foreward, Acknowledgment Page, Dedication. (I selected all listed but not all are required.)


Select Professional Printer and then your book page size. Mine is Width 7 by Height 10.


I’m not sure which fonts I’ll end up using so I keep the default fonts shown, Arial and Garamond, for now. The Wizard found these fonts on my computer.

Chapter Titles

Because I haven’t finished writing this book, I don’t know how many chapters I’ll have or what the titles will be. I’ll put in the chapter titles I have so far and then a list of numerics for additional chapters. This can be changed at any time. And, I’m selecting “Next Right” for the starting page for new chapters.


For Chapter Titles, I’ve selected — Alignment: Left; Space Before: 42; Bottom Border: Yes; Character Spacing: None. For Chapter Paragraphs, I’ve selected — Indent First Line By: 1/4 inch; and Line Spacing: Double.

The nice thing about the Wizard is that putting my mouse on the drop-down box for each option shows me the various options available.


For the Left Header, I select “Current Chapter Title” and for the Right Header, I select “Book Title.” The dropdown boxes show all available options. And I select Bottom of Page (Outside Edges) for Page Numbers.

Create Book

Once I’ve finished entering information and making my selections, I’m at the Create page where I click “Create Book” at the bottom. And there it is! My title page, a simple copyright page, Foreword, Table of Contents with the chapter headings I’ve listed so far, and individual pages with my chapter headings.

Adding Text

In order to add text to a page, for example my first chapter, I must double click where it says [Double Click To Add Text]. Double-clicking brings up a choice of three ways to add text:

Paste text and strip original formatting. SAFEST METHOD

Paste text and keep original formatting. USE WITH CAUTION: See note in the help file.

Type of insert the text manually. USE WITH CAUTION: See note in the help file.

I’m going to select the first option, paste text and strip original formatting. I click OK and find the first “flaw” — because I had not already copied the text I wanted to add, it added a sentence I’d copied and pasted earlier. When I copied and pasted the actual chapter text, it did not format it properly.

For chapter two, I copy the chapter text first, then double click, select the first option, click OK, and the properly formatted text was added to the manuscript.

TIP: Be sure to have your text copied before choosing how you want to add it to the page.

The Wizard is not far away should I need help. It is at the upper left of the page until I click on the > which then expands to provide selections to choose from. I select “Manage Styles and Layout” and then choose “Change Book Margins.” I want more space in the margins and change the default settings for Top, Bottom, Left and Right to 1 inch and change the Gutter to 0.5 from 0.25. I can always change these again if I want different spacing.

Instead of using the small Wizard, there is a Help file with detailed instructions.

So far, I don’t see how any new author could go wrong with Microsoft Word and The Book Design Wizard.

A Word of Caution: The Book Design Wizard is for print books. Most eBooks can be created using Microsoft Word or equivalent.

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