I am so excited to see my first novel cover, but when I was formatting the manuscript for my publisher I had so much trouble I thought I might give up altogether. It seemed so crazy to me that formatting it to be accepted by the publisher's software program was harder than writing it in the first place. I truly came close to tearing my hair out. I discovered that no matter what I did to prevent it, WORD kept doing what it wanted, and what it wanted was NOT what my publisher wanted. This is a brief description of my process. Maybe it will sound familiar to you!
Read all instructions from publisher carefully. Underline and highlight important things that must be done. Underline and highlight important things that must not be done.
Open manuscript and realize that I have already done most of the things that must not be done. I indented at the beginning of each paragraph. I shouldn't have. I put an extra space after each period. I shouldn't have. I did not use en rules and em rules for dashes. I should have. Tell myself it is okay because I can undo all of these things easily.
Then, remember instructions. Don't use auto correct. Don't use auto format. Don't use macros. (Use them? I don't even know what they are.) Find out what macros are. Heck, now I want to use them. They would make this whole process a lot easier!
Now I realize that I have to go through the entire 90,000 word document and get rid of all indents at the beginning of paragraphs. I have to find the end of each sentence and get rid of the extra space. I have to figure out how to use en rules and em rules, or get rid of all my dashes. This will be hard - whenever I am not sure about how to punctuate something, I just use a dash.
But no worries. I can do this. I disable auto format and I disable auto correct. I begin formatting. Three chapters done. Phew! Not so bad. Oh wait, why are my margins changing? I didn't change them. Hmmm. Go back and fix margins. Okay, minor setback. Here we go.
Three more chapters. I am getting bored. Looking for all these periods is very tedious. Maybe coffee will help. Make coffee. Rummage around pantry looking for a cookie. Tell myself I don't "need" a cookie. Coffee is ready. No cookie.
Back to manuscript. Repeat this process every 3 to 5 chapters. Realize the entire day has gone by and it is now time for dinner. Find it hard to believe that I have been sitting here all day and yet, I am not even half way done. Vow to start earlier and work faster tomorrow.
Next day. Open manuscript. Notice that margins have changed again. Curse. Re-set margins. Go back to beginning of document. Make sure everything I did yesterday has not been undone. Notice that the font changes on page 82. Why?? Rub my eyes. Highlight area -all 12 pages - that have font change. Fix and save. Stretch. Look at time. Curse.
Continue making required changes. Check toolbar to make sure document is still in NORMAL. It's not. Why not? Who cares? Just fix it. Go back to beginning of document and scroll down each page. What the hell is going on? It jumps in and out of NORMAL. Curse. Make coffee. Look for cookie. Find cookie. Tell myself I don't "need" a cookie. Argue with self. Eat cookie. Eat another cookie. Check email. Do some laundry.
Go back to manuscript and begin process again. Keep telling self that it does not matter than I am no further along than I was yesterday. Maybe I didn't save often enough. Save half way through each page.
Get to middle of book. Font changes again. Go online to find out why this keeps happening. Find something about how to fix WORD's autoformat problems. Read it. Try the fix. It doesn't work. Curse, cry, make coffee, eat more cookies. Decide I don't want to be a writer. Take a shower and vow to beat WORD.
Change to correct font. Save. Continue making needed changes. Starting to feel good again. Moving along with no problems. Look at clock. Almost dinner time again. I am afraid to close the document for fear everything will revert. What to do? Leave it open.
Next day. Effin' font changes again. Now I am so mad I don't know what to do. I want to make sure WORD will not substitute this font again. I figure out what I must do. I go into the list of fonts and delete the font that keeps showing up. Victorious! Go back. Scroll through whole document. Another font shows up. I immediately delete it. I am a crazy person now. I will delete any font that crops up. I will save after every sentence, and I will finish this today no matter what. Maybe I should keep the package of cookies next to me. Cookies help. I don't know why. I don't care.
It's almost dinner time. I have corrected and checked the whole manuscript. It is perfect. Well, not really perfect. For some reason my quotation marks are inconsistent. Some are curvy, some are straight. What the heck? I will pretend that I don't notice it. The publisher's instructions did not say anything about quotation marks. They can fix it, right? I need to submit it immediately. I am afraid to close it. I am afraid not to. I have turned into an anxious wreck. I have to get rid of this manuscript before anything else changes. Save. Close. Send. Sigh of relief.
Guilt. I really should have done something about those quotation marks. I will email my publisher's copy editor. I do. The next day I get a reply. Not to worry. They can take care of the quotation marks. I want to celebrate with a cookie. Odd -there are no cookies left.
Truly, this was the hardest part of the whole process for me. But, it was worth it. I have received the editor's proofs and the book should be out for summer reading. Plus, I love my cover!
John Hunt Publishing Soul Rocks imprint.