On Layout

I really thought I published this post. Then I saw it in my Drafts. Well, here we are…

I’ve written about Choosing to Write a Book and how Editing is Hard. This week I want to take a moment to discuss Book Layout.

First, a moment of pride and excitement. I’ve received a PHYSICAL PROOF of Collaborative Improv. That means I have an actual, ink and paper, copy of the book! We’re one step closer to going live!

A proof copy of Collaborative Improv alongside a published copy of UX Research

So how did I get here?

Print Layout

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers a number of resources to authors. One resource is a handy word-document for layout. This was a huge time-saver. When I first started on this journey, I anticipated laying out the book in Adobe InDesign. While I count myself skilled with that software, I knew there would be unforeseen hurdles around reflowing content, consistent spacing, etc.

Having a Microsoft template saved me some of the guesswork. I was able to add styles (like the definitions) and modify others (like the section headers and sub-headers). but having a foundation gave me a baseline to build from.

Microsoft Word’s Style Sidebar

Microsoft offered me some common, standard styles as well as 2-3 minute long videos of how to do things such as enter odd/even page breaks, manage my margins and gutters, and address reference material like the Index and Table of Contents. That’s not to say I didn’t fight with Word. I spent 45 minutes one evening just trying to get the book to start on the right page (odd vs even). That was fun.

Then, I moved to the Kindle version.


KDP offers Kindle Creator, an app you can plug in your manuscript and it displays it in Kindle format. My first hour or so with this app was horrendous. Formatting went askew, and I thought I’d have to reformat the entire book.

Then I realized I could upload the word doc and they’ll maintain my formatting.

Collaborative Improv in an on-screen preview of the Kindle Edition

So that’s what I did. I found the search function doesn’t work, but I need to see if that’s just a factor of side-loading the content. The layout was spot on! And now I start the process of visual QA the digital copy. The lighter grey for the definitions is TOO grey, and the title page copy is too large. I thought I needed to have two versions of the document (print and digital) but I realized the changes on one had positive impact on the other.

So now what

Now I comb through the print and ePub copies looking for additional errors, layout hiccups, and anything nit-picky I want to change.

Mid May – I completed my first Red-lining and ordered a second proof copy.

End of May – I couldn’t understand why the pre-order image on Amazon wasn’t updating. Many emails and a brief phone call with Amazon support later, my file size was exported too large (didn’t follow my checklist)

Currently – Final stages of reviewing and editing. I plan to submit the final copies shorty and then it’s sit and wait for them to go live!

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