Tips For The Newer Writer

Screen shot 2014-07-19 at 1.01.10 PM7 Formatting Errors That Make Your Book Look Unprofessional
May 23rd, 2014

By Joel Friedlander-

More and more writers are taking advantage of the new tools of publishing to create and publish their own books. This has led to an explosion of creativity, as writers are able to move their own books to market without the long delays and uncertainty of trying to get a traditional publisher to offer a contract.

Of course, there are also lots of authors who publish some of their books with traditional publishers, but still want to issue backlist, experimental, or non-commercial books themselves.
This is all good news for authors. But one of the consequences of authors becoming “do-it-yourself” publishers has been the proliferation of books that don’t look quite right.

Although our books may be self-published, we sure don’t want them to look sub-par, do we?
For many years I’ve helped authors get their books produced so they can compete with the books coming from traditional publishers. And while many authors hire professional book designers to create their books for them, this isn’t practical or desirable from some people.

Some of the errors I see when reviewing self-published books are very easy to correct, if you only know how. So to help out, I’ve compiled here a list of the most common book formatting errors.

If you’re doing your own formatting, make sure you pin this article up near your workstation. You’ll be needing it.

7 Formatting Errors to Avoid

1. Putting page numbers on blank pages.

Blank pages have no text or images on them, and that means they should be truly blank. If you think about it, having a page number on a blank page really doesn’t make sense, since there’s nothing for the page number to refer to.

2. Using running heads on chapter opening pages or blank pages.

This is probably the most common formatting mistake of all, and I see it often in books from do-it-yourselfers. Just like page numbers, running heads (the type at the top of a page that shows the book title, author name, or chapter title) have no place on a blank page, just leave them off so the pages are truly blank.

3. Using “rag-right” typesetting.

Sometimes authors think they can make their pages look better by using rag-right typesetting. But if you walk over to your bookshelf and start looking at your own books, you will soon discover that virtually all books outside of art books or poetry, use fully justified composition. This means that the left and right margins of your page are straight and all lines except the last line in a paragraph are all the same length. This is what your readers expect to see in your book, so make sure you give it to them.

4. Double spacing between sentences.

Many of us learned to type quite a while ago, and many typing instructors told us to hit the space bar twice after a period. This is perfectly fine for business reports or memos, but it has no place in a book and can potentially cause problems when your book is typeset. So only one space between sentences.

5. Using both indented AND block style spaces between paragraphs.

Since we’ve started reading so much on web pages, we’ve grown accustomed to the block style of paragraph formatting. This is when paragraphs are separated by a line space instead of indenting the first line of a paragraph, as is usually done in books. Both work, but you have to pick one and stick to it. If you add spaces between your paragraphs, make sure you don’t also indent the first line.

6. Putting the odd numbered pages on the left.

When you open a book, it just makes sense that the first page is page number 1, and that has to be a right-hand page. This rule is absolute, and you should never, ever number your pages with even numbers on right-hand pages.

7. Making super small margins to save pages.

Lots of authors who use print on demand services like CreateSpace know that they will be charged based on how many pages are in their book. But that’s no reason to shortchange your readers by making your page margins too small just to save money. If your book is too long, reduce the type size a tiny bit or use a more space-efficient font. Small margins will make your book hard to hold and difficult to read, never a good result.

Paying attention to these details of book formatting will help ensure that your books look and work the way they are supposed to. Your readers will thank you for that, and it’s your readers you should keep in mind throughout the publishing process.

Another way to solve a lot of these formatting problems while also getting a well-designed, industry-standard book is to use one of our book templates. They will save you an amazing amount of time and frustration, while making sure your book looks the way it should. You can find out more and see the available designs at:

Joel-2014-headshot 300x

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer and blogger. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 from his book design and consulting practice at Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California. Joel also writes, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book, and he is the founder of The Self-Publishing Roadmap, a training course for authors, and, where he provides tools and services for authors who publish their own books. Joel is a past president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. Connect with him on Google+.

Overcoming Writer’s Doubt

Overcoming Writer's Doubt, An Essay

Overcoming Writer’s Doubt, An Essay


“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.”



Life moved along so much faster than I realized it ever could. There were and are so many things left to do, so I better get busy, yes? And what about the things I thought I understood and didn’t? Whoa!

Writing started for me when I was a child. Making up stories, I had “magical thinking” in stories and in life. The ones in life didn’t work out so well, but I still hoped that the ones in literature might. I threw many half-written plots away. I moved to poetry. Now that could be done anyway I wanted because it was my own expression, right?

Poetry did give me a way to say how I felt and I think on many levels it was good for me. I wrote poetry for over twenty years off and on and still do occasionally. I ventured into journalism later in high school and in college. But the bug bit me for writing my own stories again. So what would I write, fiction or non-fiction?

Figuring that fiction would be a breeze, this person was sorely disappointed. I let a few people read my first chapters and the response was mostly the same: show don’t tell. I tried and tried and I just couldn’t get it. And then there was the POV…the PO What? I was depressed and almost quit. But I didn’t and I am glad I finally got some smarts and joined a national writing organization with teaching sessions. I slowly began to get some of this real stuff down.

Still not published, but I am beginning to feel more secure. Somewhere there is a group or class that will boost your ability, your confidence and contribute to your writing. Don’t give up. There are people out there that do care if you learn and become successful whatever that means to you, whether self-publish or traditional. I see that now.

At this point I can start dreaming again. You know, that magical stuff? Now for that story… And what about the neighbors, teachers, and people you meet at parties? Their persona and conversation is the very thing you need to think about and claim for your characters and heroes. In a restaurant? Listen discreetly and notice politely.

And remember that time you got really hurt by someone in elementary school? How did you feel and what was your response? All of these happenings in your life or someone else’s are a story just waiting to be developed with the right theme, conflict and resolve. You wouldn’t let that slide by you, would you?

Now comes the hardest part for me. Endurance. I need thousands of words down on paper. That part is work. I (we) have to work. I (we) have to be diligent if I (we) want to publish. So, I will start a writing calendar, I will set a goal of words per day. Right? I will not keep editing and correcting that first paragraph that I want to be perfect. (I (we) have time for that later.) There will be edits and edits. Words. Words. I need words.

It is time to push forward and finish a work. What is it worth to you to get stuck with a bunch of unfinished stories? You must finish. You can finish it and I can, too. Are you ready? I am. Chapter 3, here I come!



- See more at:



Adeline Scott Heads Home To Marry

Adeline Scott takes the train to Nashville in the spring of 1904 to be wed the next month. During the whole trip on the L&N coach she begins to second-think her engagement, becomes somewhat melancholy and doubts herself and her fiance. Then through an unfortunate event, she is thrown into the arms of a prior acquaintance and her heart begins to throb to a different beat. Delia Whitworth’s family is appalled that Adeline allowed a man to touch her. They appear to meet her at the Union Station.

Union Station

Union Station

What will happen when she settles in and has a chance to see Adam again after a long separation?  Will John Frame’s committment to a more compassionate profession sway her emotionally?  Will her younger sister left behind in Louisville ever become her Maid of Honor?


Chapter 1The Lord is giving me a new story and I am enjoying being back on target in the novel arena. I have learned a great deal over the last few years from ACFW, My Book Therapy, and many other writing sites.

I think the time is here for me to put all these things together and push forward without looking back! Chapter 1 is finished and I actually feel good about this one. I know He has more than this one for me, such as other Women’s Non-Fiction, etc., but I believe that this is where he wants me to keep working until a project is finished!

Isn’t it thrilling to see so many of our sisters in the Lord writing and publishing? It is encouraging to me.

Lord, thank you for all your wisdom and prompting as I word harder to complete what you have given to me. You are gracious and patient.

Anyone interested in a “light” critique or reading for me would be appreciated.

Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

Although I did not read the first two books of the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. But…because there was “one” word over-used in this book, I suspect there is a very good reason that I could find out if I read the first ones. A descriptive word. An Irish lass makes a sinful choice and gets involved with a lad from her hometown. While trying to escape the clutches of some evil Irish organizers, the lad is killed. The ship’s captain has taken on the job of finding out why and how each person is connected to the underworld characters. Although some of the characters say they believe in God, it takes numerous occasions of protection by Him before they come to grips of His love and their call to obedience. Not an overly Christian book, but by no means un-Christian either. Written well, similar to the writings of Phillips and Pella. I anticipate I will be reading other books by this author!

I received this book free from Bethany Publishers. I have given an honest review.

Mary Young Robinson, Boise, Idaho

Goat Lady

Confession of Sins

Jesus the Christ, who died for my sins

Jesus the Christ, who died for my sins

Our Father in heaven:

We confess to you that we
have strayed from your holy Word.
We have not loved you sufficiently.
We have not served you resolutely.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.

Yet you are a God of forgiveness.
You scatter sin “as far as the east
is from the west” (Ps 103:12).
You restore those of lowly and contrite hearts.

Examine our priorities, our ambitions,
our attitudes. Reveal wherever they are contrary to
your will. Remove every impediment to holy obedience
in order that we may “walk in a manner worthy of the
calling that we have received” (Eph 4:1);

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Taken from All Saints PCA bulletin, January 19, 2014

Tomorrow? Better Take Care Of Today

He Cares For You

He Cares For You

James 4:13-16 ESV

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

The Bible warns us that we never know what will happen in the future; sometimes we believe we have all the time in the world.  And then, boom!

After my divorce, my youngest daughter and I moved into a two-bedroom apartment near our old neighborhood.  It wasn’t a bad place to live, the grounds were very green and manicured and the walls seemed to be pretty thick.  (I let her play the piano sometimes.)

My daughter was a senior at a Christian school in another town, so she often spent the night with friends instead of driving home.  She was in a pretty tight group and I trusted her time in that community.

One night as I prepared for bed, I received a call.  It was scary.  I have been able to continuously thank the Lord for the person who spoke to me that evening.  “Mary, this is (—) and I am a paramedic/EMT.  Your daughter has been in an accident.  She is going to be fine, but she will be at Caldwell Hospital for observation.  I have to tell you, when I saw the car that was hit, I didn’t see how anyone could still be alive.  You are blessed.”

I thanked God the whole hour while I drove to see her.  When I walked into the room, her face was covered with blood where bits of glass had shattered and attached to her skin.  Her pale legs had larger shards of glass that had to be removed.  It was unsettling, but I knew she would be all right.  Her emotional status was shaken and it would take weeks for her to drive again.  A drunken driver going the speed of 70 miles per hour ran a stop sign and twirled her around scooting across a highway, smashing totally the other side of the car.  I was so grateful there was not a passenger that night.  She managed to leave for college on time, still a little dazed.

A wreck, an illness, a storm, there are so many things that happen that remind us that life is fragile.  But so many times, we push these things back in our minds as we move on with life.   We often avoid acknowledgement of looking squarely at life…the changes that need to take place, forgiveness that needs to be actualized, taking some silent moments for God to speak to us.

The quiet voice of the Lord may be speaking after the shock of whatever you have been  through, but are you listening?

A Part of Me

Yes, It could be me...or, could it be you?

Yes, It could be me…or, could it be you?

The trees are bare, the sky so still, Seems only yesterday leaves were gold,

Fall to winter, winter to spring, The season’s change can be so bold.

A certain sadness is felt in the air, And yet with renewal beings hope,

With each new bud and leaf of green, Lays optimism within our scope.

Seasons come and seasons go, As years go drifting by,

We must change as life must change, Until the time we die.

Mary 1988

Let my heart break once more, If it brings me still nearer

To the One who can heal me, And take away all my fear.

Oh, Jesus what you did on that old rugged cross

Makes my pain so little a loss.

Let my heart break once more, If it takes me back to Calvary

To the tree where your blood flowed, And slaves to sin became free.

Oh, Christ, the sacrifice is so not comprehended

Take your sheep you’ve so tenderly tended.

Let my heart break once more, It it brings honor to the Master

Showing praise to Him to linger, And remain towards others long after.

Oh, Savior, accept my most sincere adoration,

My joy, my song, my jubilant elation.

Mary 2000

Praise be to God!

Sovereignty of God: The Disposal Proposal

Is it not true that we say we believe and know that God is sovereign, then turn around and doubt that He knows everything about us, including the future?  It isn’t funny at all, except that I am shocked almost to laughter sometimes of how I presume things.  If you are anything like me, you may be dumbfounded when things of the past glare at you when you reflect back on them.

Our heart is full of deceit.  Even before we sin, the propensity is there.  Our study and preparation for life is not for just a one-time race that we think we are starting.  It is for later on…the “moment” in the race when we feel like throwing in the towel, giving up on church, blaming God for pain and loss.  The Holy Spirit nudges that will and spirit of your own and gives you the strength to keep going.

God had to save me from myself, as well as from hell.  I didn’t understand this for many years.  I think I do now.  The more I see of His goodness, the more I see of my sinfulness.  I was a slow learner, even though I accepted Christ as a child.  It was the in-between years that got me.  I must have thought that I could be disobedient until I got tired of it and would change my course.

So, here I am, still asking Christ to help me with my baggage…after all, it’s heavy!  It gets in the way, and I am tired of it even more than other people are.  I know He will help me rid of it when He knows I am one hundred percent serious.  Serious is when you fall on your knees and say you know you have been stupid, accept His “disposal proposal” and move on.

“Lord?  I am ready.”