Maybe I should say, “printing your book”, as that is what this is all about: how to prepare your manuscript for printing.
It makes me smile, when I talk with people who have even less writing experience
than me and they ask me questions about self publishing. They seem to be convinced that cover design, editing, publishing and printing are more or less the same thing, mixing everything up. Any author, especially Indie like myself, knows how to distinguish writing and editing, formatting text, from publishing (digital or otherwise): the successive phases are at least as challenging as the creation itself.
That's why I'm writing such an in-depth introduction.
So, you have your beautiful tome, the result of so many sacrifices, you've read and re-read it, so much so that you keep forgetting that you have already corrected it and removed the repetition, and checking back at it just makes you realise that it really is completed, and neither you nor your Beta Readers can now change a single comma.
Alas!, it is not completed at all! It's time to concentrate on the lay-out and watchful eyes will start from the beginning, sifting through every detail that shouldn't go to print. I would advise to save a copy under the same title – but marked “proof-reading”. You should save the file in the same folder as the original so that you have them both at hand. I would also advise to add the title in the header (ie in the " Header / Footer ") keeping in mind that it's a draft. Print a real copy, armed with a red pen, and you can begin to sift through the text.
To format a text you should use a page layout program just as text editors do: they understand everything and, therefore, do everything. We, especially us indies, are usually satisfied with Word, Page, or similar programs. I use Word and I feel confident with it as it has a lot of potential, even if some of the options are well hidden by the programmers. For example, I struggled to find the inverted commas, as the program took them for quote marks. These things happen, but can be overcome with a good dose of lubricant and a lot of patience.
I will just presume that you like the chosen font: I went back to Times New Roman, a classic, from Garamond (which is much less legible, in my opinion). These are great, as are others such as Book Antiqua. What matters is that they clear and don't tire the reader. Fictisious novels should begin with a first-line indent, and non-fiction shouldn't. I have it set to 0.5 cm. (as I have with the beginning of a paragraph, ie, the first indent of the paragraph or chapter). It may be more or less, and you may have to experiment but I would say that it shouldn't vary greatly from the standard. Some authors chose to start in capital letters, and then continue the paragraph with half-clutch to characterize their own issues and this certainly isn't forbidden: a clear mind and a consistency in style is what really matters. That's more or less what I have managed to attain in the draft of my "Double Homicide" with the help of my editor: both the font, and the paragraph format will inevitably vary from publisher to publisher. Given that an “Indie” is also his own publisher, he can chose how to maximise the clarity and characterization of his book. Even the punctuation in direct speech varies from publisher to publisher: you just have to compare your own text with a Mondadori , a Feltrinelli or a Piemme, to realise this. There is no rule, it is a manifestation of freedom! In direct speech, I prefer to follow the punctuation pauses and inflections of speech, and, when I put a comma in the sentence, the full-stop goes at the end of sentence and then I close the speech marks. One last point: editors do not admit widows (works that have a past but no future) and tend to avoid orphans (works that have no past, but a possible future): it is absolutely forbidden to publish the last line of a paragraph on a new page, or to publish the first line at the end of one page and continue it into the next.
I have tried to summarize my experience, and I hope it will be helpful to some. In the end, you may see the fateful "imprimatur" and push the papers to the other side of your desk. In your own time, you can then pick it back up and load it onto the chosen launching platform. I published my four works with Create Space, also designed three of the four covers with their Cover Creator. If you have clear idea of what you want to in your mind what you want to purvey, I'm sure you will be happy with the end results. I have no reason to be unhappy, in fact I received quick and timely responses whenever needed: we just need to remember that they are supporting us but we are our own publishers, so you shouldn't approach them with issues that they can't resolve.
Many thanks to Charlie Shaw, who kindly translated my post!