Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, November 5, 2016

More Thoughts on Final Edits

Cassidy, Halloween 2016
If anyone can figure out how this photo happened, unintentionally, please don't hesitate to say!

My daughter took the photo in the bed of the trailer 10-15 children were riding in for Trick or Treating in their neighborhood, where the houses are widely spaced. She thinks it has something to do with trying for a panorama, but it's WAY spooky. Particularly on Halloween night with what appears to be a cloaked figure lurking in the background. It reminds me of the time her father took a photo of Cassidy steering a tour boat in Boston Harbor, and she came out as a double image, something we didn't think possible on a cellphone photo. Hmmm.


When I heard that Microsoft had bought Corel, the parent company of Word Perfect, beyond my initial groan at the possibility of losing Word Perfect, I could only hope MS would incorporate the best of Word Perfect, finally making Word the outstanding word processing program it claims to be. Admittedly, I'm prejudiced since the early days of Word when it was light years away from being as good as Word Perfect. Yes,it's made progress, but its only true claim to excellence is Track Changes.

A few more things I've learned this week . . . 
While struggling with the final formatting of Sorcerer's Bride in Word 2016, I shook my head over the number of blue "squiggles" under the lines. A few made sense, but others were a total mystery. It was as if whoever programmed the grammar-check portion of the program had grown up reading and writing a different language. If authors actually took all those squiggles seriously, we'd not only end up with stilted sentences or a mish-mash of unintelligible garbage, we'd have a break-down before we made it half-way through. Maybe the squiggles are programmed for business speak and not for fiction? Whatever. I strongly suggest taking them with a grain of salt.

One thing I really appreciate is the little box in Word 2016 that says: Pick up where you left off. For years I've been using Post-it notes to remind me where I left off. To have the program remember is a marvelous touch. Love it.

As I began a final run-through of Tangled Destinies in Word Perfect with Reveal Codes on - the original written on a computer with Windows 7 - I found the copy so much cleaner than Sorcerer's Bride, which was written in XP. So, sigh, I guess age matters. I whipped through 10 chapters of Tangled in a hour this morning. Best time ever. (That's just looking for code glitches, not editing for content.)

Grace Note: my Windows 10 continues to perform really well. (Love the constant parade of surprise screen-savers.) I think whoever said 10 only gives trouble when put onto older computers was likely right.

The Nitty-Gritty.

I've gone into this process before, but it can't hurt to repeat it, as so many authors are going DIY these days. To do final edits & formatting:

1.  Put all your book's documents into ONE.

Grace note: I usually have my manuscript divided into 5 or 6 sections of 5 chapters each. So before final editing, the first thing I have to do is put these documents together. In the case of Tangled Destinies, I saved "Tangled1" as "TangledDestinies2016" and proceeded from there. (We'll call "TD2016" the "Editing Document" in the instructions below.)

2.  At the end of the Doc 1, enter a Required Page End.

3.  Open Doc 2, Select all, Copy. Switch to Editing Document, paste Doc 2 at the end of Doc 1.

Grace Note:  Those of you who make each chapter a separate doc are in for a LOT of work - which is why I don't recommend that approach. You also have to make sure a Required Page End is inserted after every chapter. (Fastest method:  Ctrl + Enter)

4.  Proceed in a similar manner until the entire manuscript is in the Editing Document.

Insert for Word Perfect users, turn on Reveal Codes if you have them, and delete the formatting at the beginning of the document - all but "Paragraph Indent."  Arrow through the document, looking for wonky codes (see last week's Mosaic Moments). When finished, save document to rtf. Open Word, then open the rtf copy of your book from Word Perfect. Save as a Word doc or docx.

  5. If you have not already done so, Select All and . . .
    a.  delete page numbering
    b.  change to single space
    c.  change auto paragraph indent to .3
    d.  select Justified

6.  Turn on Word's version of "Reveal Codes," the ¶ in the Tool Bar. Proceed to read through your entire manuscript for content, copy edits, and at the same time format the chapter headings and Date & Locations lines (see below).

7.  In general, chapter headings are usually centered and often set in larger type than the manuscript. So . . . you need to do the following:

    Highlight the chapter heading and . . .
    a.  select font size
    b.  select Bold, if desired
         Under "Paragraph":
    c.  select Alignment Centered
    d.  make Auto Indent "0"

8.  Date & Location lines are traditionally Flush Left.

    Highlight the line and under "Paragraph" . . .
    a. select Alignment Left
    b. make Auto Indent "0"

9Run Spell Check one last time. 

Grace note:  You should have been running Spell Check after every chapter, at the end of every section, at the end of a first overall edit, and any subsequent edits! It's not a reflection on your spelling but a way to find typos, double words, etc. It's a "MUST"! 

Yes, the steps above are meticulous and time consuming, but do you want your work to look like a real book or not?

What I do not do.
I don't do the Flush Left for opening paragraphs of new sections. It's fine if you want to do it, but I feel e-publishing is its own new genre. Writing a good book is important, as is getting the grammar and punctuation right. But slavishly copying paper print styles? I'm not comfortable with that. This, however, is a subjective decision each author must make for her/himself.

Dropped caps?  Forgetaboutit. They either come out completely bollixed up, looking ridiculous, or they indicate somebody cared more about imitating New York print books than about the content of their own creation.

Nor do I see any reason to create an "index" with links to chapters. My Kindle comes back to wherever I left off, and I presume other e-readers do the same. And who on earth remembers enough details about a book to say, "Oh, I want to go back and re-read that scene in Chapter 6?" If someone can enlighten me about what I consider foolishness, please don't hesitate to do so. This oddity, by the way, is new to e-pub. Did you ever see a Chapter Index in any work of fiction? Definitely an innovation we can do without.

I feel the same way about all the rest of the junk publishers, mostly New York print pubs, insist on putting "upfront" in a book, including page after page in which the author thanks everyone including his/her dog or cat. When I open my Kindle, I want to see "Chapter 1." I don't want to have to go flip-flip-flip-where does the blasted book begin?"

Oh yes, one more thing I do not do: struggle to format my book in a bunch of different e-formats. Amazon accepts Word docs, docx, & rtf. (And possibly one or two others I've forgotten.) Smashwords will happily take your Word doc and translate it to every format known to mankind for a very minimal cut of your selling price. So why bother? Are a few cents worth it?
E-pub is not only a new way of publishing, it is the future of publishing. We need to break from convention and establish our own way of doing things. (As long as we still respect the English language!) What really matters is—and pardon me for saying this for the umpteenth time

1.  Edit the blasted book!
     a.  Self-edit, self-edit, self-edit.
     b.  Self-edit, self-edit, hire a professional.

2.  Format your book so it immediately catches a reader's eye.
     a. DIY
     b. Hire a pro - and be sure they do it the way you want it, not in some "precious" format that smacks of past centuries.  

Okay, that's my two cents on getting a book ready for that final upload. (And the editing part applies to "print" authors as well. NEVER send your editor a manuscript full of errors you could easily have fixed yourself!) 

~ * ~ 

Thanks for stopping by,

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.  





  1. I haven't had a chance to read the post yet, but I want to comment on the photo. I find it happens on occasion with my cell phone camera. One section of the image is jogged out of place. I just figured that's the kind of problem you can get when a digital image goes awry. Digital images gone bad don't get fuzzy, like analog ones. They get weird. You can see that in TV images with a bad signal.

  2. Linda, I'm relieved to know someone else has had this photo problem. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I take my spell checker seriously, but long ago turned off the grammar checker. I kept yelling at it....