Several Ways To Avoid Formatting Headaches

blankbook_freeimagesOne of the most frequently heard questions at BPNW meetings boils down to “is there an easier way to do all the formats that we need?”  Here’s some suggestions that have popped up recently during meetings or online discussions. We welcome comments about user experience (please keep them polite as well as forthright) and suggestions from those reading the blog.

In Internet years, this site for creating and distributing ebooks to a variety of vendors is practically ancient. Everything is based upon having a manuscript in Microsoft Word and there is no fee for using their “meat grinder” to reformat for various vendors. Instead, Smashwords retains a percentage of the list price for every book sold through their site.

This service is used by LostLoves Books and mentioned by a couple of other members as less cumbersome than Smashwords. There are no fees for formatting or distributing an ebook. Draft2Digital handles the conversion from a Word doc and listing on ebook sales sites. They keep about 10% of the retail price whenever a book is sold.

A newer service promising “interactive and smart software tools that help you with the style analysis and the extraction of structured content from your book’s manuscript, with cleaning up and checking the text for many different punctuation and spelling problems, and with generating e-books for different devices and for print.” Fees vary based on quantity. Not currently used by any BPNW members (that we know of) but they have reached out to the group to alert us to their service.

Book Design Templates
For those who like to keep everything in Microsoft Word, this site has a number of templates for purchase that are suitable for creating manuscripts for print-on-demand services like Create Space or Lightning Source. Templates run around $37 for most styles and members who have used this site report that queries about issues receive a quick response.

This graphic design site has basic templates for ebook covers. Users can upload their own images or purchase stock images for $1.
This educational service is available for free through the Seattle Public Library and many other institutions or by subscription for as low as $20 per month. provides video tutorials on how to create both print and ebooks by using such popular software as Adobe’s InDesign or Apple’s IBook Author.