Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Indents in a manuscript

Ever since I started my fourth book, I've been fretting gently about indents.

I've always done them in Word by setting a margin and pressing Enter for a new paragraph. When I loaded my novel on Authonomy, the indents disappeared. I noticed that some books on there have indents, and worked out why: it's because their authors used Tab instead. I did some research. Not much information out there, but one editor said using Tab made it easier for an editor to adjust the formatting.

Should I change with my new novel? (Too late to alter the old ones. Can you imagine going through 80,000 words of text, switching the indent on each paragraph? Aaagh.) So I asked the advice of two writers whose opinion I respect. One said yes, the other no. I went on with the fretting, as my novel grew.

Today I was reading about epublishing, which has arrived in America but not yet here. It's probably going to be big in the future. I took a look at Smashwords, and on their style guide it says, among other things: DO NOT USE indents made with spaces or tabs (the most common bad habit of all authors).

So now I know.


  1. Lexi,

    I may be absolutely wrong, but it does look to me that this is the beginning of what will sooner or later be the norm in book publishing. Smashwords books will soon be available through Barnes and Noble and they just signed on with Sony so any Smashwords ebook will be available in the Sony catalog for their new ebook reader.

    You already have three books that have the potential to find a nice readership out there. The style guide by Mark Coker was very helpful to me in getting Boomerang set up to be easy to read on a Kindle or any other ebook format. Now I'm just waiting for Amazon to allow me access to my account to update Boomerang there.

    Between Amazon Kindle and Smashwords Boomerang has been downloaded to over ninety readers in the past ten days. I am doing coupon promotions on Smashwords to get people to make the leap, but that seems to have fueled real sales too. After all, before I started the promotions a total of three ebook copies had been downloaded over a five month period.


  2. That's great about Boomerang sales.

    Today I thought back to before I bought my flat, and was living in rented accommodation. I read a lot, but deliberately didn't buy books, because they are so heavy when you move house, and I didn't have a car. A Kindle would have been ideal.

    I think I might get my daughter an eReader when they are available here, as she's in the same position now.

    I don't think they'll ever replace paper books, but I'm sure they have a big future, and will help the unfairly unpublished.

  3. Hi Lexi. Thanks for commenting on my blog. Pass it along to my YWO friends, if they're interested, since I haven't been at the MBs in awhile. Replied back to you via email. Great blog.

  4. Hi Kristen - it's a small world with the internet :o)

    The YWO message board is a bit strange at the moment; I look in and go away without saying anything most times. There's an issue with accessing it, too. You have to log in and out.

  5. Hi Lexi -

    Did you know that most word processors have a search and replace function that will reformat your manuscript?

    You can turn all those indents into tabs in less than a minute.

    Kat J.

  6. No, Ms Kitty, I didn't know, and it sounds useful - what does one put in search and replace to achieve that?