Tag Archives: Word

Is anyone using Word 2007, 2003 or earlier?

I’m currently writing a how-to on Styles in Word, and I need to know if text written using a particular style is automatically updated when that style is modified.

For example, let’s say I write a page of something in Word using the stock standard ‘Normal’ style. If I then go into the ‘Normal’ style and change the font – say from 11 point to 40 point – when I click OK, will the page of typing update to 40 point automatically?

I know what happens in Word 10, 13 and 16, but I can’t remember what happens in earlier versions. If anyone can help, I’d be eternally grateful!

Thanks,

Meeks

 


They’re on their way!

Proof copies of Miira, The Godsend and Nabatea are on their way! Expected date of arrival is Wednesday, 23rd of August, 2017. I don’t know how I’m going to wait that long without going nuts.

I know you old hands are probably trying not to smile at my excitement, but there’s a part of me that won’t really believe I’m a fully fledged writer until those physical books finally arrive. I guess they’re not called ‘proofs’ for nothing. 🙂

Of course, the pragmatist in me knows full well that these print books won’t make an ounce of difference in terms of sales – POD books are expensive and I know they won’t sell. But…I’ve taken screenshots of every step of their production – both in Word and in Createspace – and I’m seriously thinking of turning all that information into a proper how-to print book. And then there’s the satisfaction of having something physical to hand out as samples, prizes and gifts.Those kinds of intangibles really are priceless.

-rubs hands with glee –

Plus I’m going to have a lot of fun along the way. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Office #Word 2016 really is a piece of…

Shyte.

What follows is a raged induced rant so look away now.

-breathe-

I’ve just wasted an hour trying to fix the Word 2016 dictionary. It started with ‘Mira Than‘.

No, actually, it started with the combination of two big episodes of Innerscape into one very BIG Word 16 document. How big? 375 pages. Apparently, Word still has issues with very big files. That’s the reason I originally migrated my writing to a dedicated writing package [StoryBox]. Unfortunately, to publish a print version of Innerscape, I have to go Word >>PDF>>Createspace.

Anyway, after spending hours wrestling with Word’s section breaks [more on that in another post], I began doing a this-is-absolutely-the-last edit, when I realised that every time I typed in Miira Tahn, Word would ‘correct’ it to ‘Mira Than’ as soon as my attention moved elsewhere.

I tried getting Word to ‘Ignore All’, but it wouldn’t – and no, it wasn’t just variations on the name, like ‘Miira Tahn‘s‘ etc. And then it began throwing up other ‘errors’, all to do with US spelling. So, naturally, I used the nifty option at the bottom of the Spell Check pane to change the dictionary back to UK spelling:

My efforts obviously confused Word because it suddenly switched to the French dictionary. -growls in rage-

The French dictionary finds every word written in English to be incorrect…

I changed the dictionary back to English UK.

Nope…Word now wants to stay in French.

I look up fixes to the problem. I attempt to reset my language preferences. I restart Word…

Now Word wants to use the US dictionary again BUT the page full of French ‘errors’ is still set to the French dictionary. And then Word stopped working.

It’s back now, but I haven’t been game to check my document in case I end up throwing the monitor across the room. There are many basic, useful formatting functions in Word, and it works well for short-ish, business type documents, but the more Microsoft tries to automate the process, the more mangled and unstable it becomes. Especially with big documents.

I hate to think how convoluted the Word code must be because Microsoft almost never delete anything. They just keep adding to it, and adding to it, and adding to it…

Sadly, while this rant did make me feel a little less homicidal, it’s only a temporary distraction from the main event. I have to get this stupid piece of shit to play nice or I may never get my hands on those lovely, shiny books. 😦

Thanks for letting me vent,

Meeks

 

 


Self-publishing via Word and Createspace – overview

This is the first in a series of how-to posts that will help you publish a print version of your book…without making all the mistakes I made with Innerscape. The posts will focus on Word 10 and Amazon’s Createspace. The information is accurate as at April, 2017.

Right, first and foremost – what is Createspace?

Createspace is the print book arm of Amazon’s self-publishing toolset. Createspace allows you to publish a trade paperback version of your manuscript which will be produced on a ‘Print On Demand’ basis [POD]. POD is a fast way of printing small to very small print runs of books.

How small? Try just one.

Essentially, when a customer buys a POD book, they are placing an order for a book that does not yet exist in physical form. Once the order is placed, the book takes 1-3 days to produce, and then it’s posted out to the customer just the same as a book printed in the ordinary way.

PROS

  • Amazon will place your book for sale just like any other book – i.e. it will have the same visibility, or lack thereof, as any other book.
  • Self-publishers can have the pleasure of holding a physical copy of their own work.
  • Readers who do not like ebooks can find and buy your work in a physical format.
  • POD costs nothing up front, and printing charges* are subtracted from the sale price of the book – no sale, no charge.
  • POD books do not have to be warehoused.

CONS

  • Because POD books lack efficiencies of scale, they are not cheap*.
  • Because POD books come from Indies [and may or may not be returnable], bookshops generally do not accept them.
  • Most Indies sell far more ebooks than POD versions, but that may simply be a function of price [see above]
  • Preparing your manuscript for printing via Createspace requires a fair bit of work, or at least I found it to be so.

This is a cutesy video that walks you through the sales and royalties side of the process:

*Before you can calculate your royalties, however, you have to set a price that will not only cover your print charges, but will also bring in a small profit…to you. Working out the print charges, however, is a little bit like finding the end of a tangle of string.

  1. Print charges depend on the total page number, BUT >>
  2. the page number will change depending on the trim size of your book – i.e. how big or small it is, BUT >>
  3. Word documents are in A4, not in standard trim sizes, so a 200 page Word document could be up to 400 pages, depending on the trim size.

Trim size

I admit, I struggled with this. Trim size refers to the actual physical dimensions of the book you end up with after the printing process is finished. But what are these sizes? And how do they relate to my Word document?

After much floundering I found this table of trim sizes:

This information is from the Createspace website and the sizes shown in bold are the standard ones. Without going into too much detail, ordinary printers can print any sized book you can imagine, but POD printers like Createspace can only print the standard sizes. So, go standard. 🙂

After much messing around with measuring tapes and various sized books, I settled on the 5.5″ x 8.5″ trim size. Imho, not too big and not too small. But I was still no closer to knowing how many pages I’d end up with. Enter the Createspace templates.

Createspace templates

Before I say anything else, I have to say that trying to pour my manuscript into one of the templates was an exercise in frustration. For example, I could not get the page numbering to work. At all. I really wouldn’t recommend actually using the templates but…they do provide invaluable information such as:

  • Standard fonts
  • margins
  • layout etc

The information on the margins is absolutely vital. So next step is to find a template for the trim size you have chosen. You will find the most up-to-date information on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. If you have already published an ebook with KDP, login as normal. If not, got to this link:

https://kdp.amazon.com/

and login with your normal Amazon ID and password. Once you have logged in, select the ‘Help’ option from the top of the page. From the first Help screen select ‘Paperback Manuscript Formation’ as show below :

 

From the next screen, select ‘Paperback Manuscript Templates {Beta} as shown:

From the next screen, select ‘Templates with Sample Content’ to display the list of templates available for each trim size:

The ‘sample’ part helps you to see how the bits fit.

Select the appropriate template and save it to your computer. Open it and look at it, but do NOT change anything. This template works for Createspace, so you need to keep it with its original settings so you know what to change in your own Word document.

In the next post, I’ll show you how to:

  • change the font and font size of your manuscript to match the template,
  • change the margins and page setup to match the template
  • change the alignment and line spacing to match the template.

In future posts, I’ll walk you through how to:

  • change the styles to make formatting easier,
  • how and why to insert section breaks and
  • how to insert different page numbers in different areas of your book
  • how to calculate costs and royalties based on the number of pages you end up with in your formatted manuscript
  • how to calculate the price you need to charge for your book in order to make a profit, or at least break even.

This may seem like a very back to front way of doing things, but you can’t make any of the important calculations until you know exactly what size book you want to create and how many pages it will have.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 


I’ve just written the Epilogue to Innerscape…and the story isn’t even finished yet!

meeka thumbs up

As a pantster, I rarely outline, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, StoryBox has changed the way I write. Instead of writing every story as a long, linear progression, as I used to do in Word, I now write in chapters and scenes. What this means is that when I get a flash of inspiration, I can bung it in a new chapter without worrying about all the bits in between that still have to be written.

In the case of the Epilogue, I still have about 3 critical chapters to write before the story actually reaches ‘the end’, but the ideas I had this morning were too good to just note down for future reference.  Dot points really don’t allow the nuanced feelings of a scene to come through, so I thought ‘why not’ and went for it.

Whether this out-of-sequence writing turns out to be useful in the end, I don’t know, but I have a funny feeling the 1600+ words I wrote today will not end up on the cutting room floor. 🙂

-happy dance-

Meeks


#amwriting – using StoryBox 2.0

I’ve been using StoryBox novel writing software for years now so it’s easy to forget what a difference it makes to my writing. You see, I’m a pantster at heart. I don’t outline, I don’t storyboard, I don’t use ‘cards’ and I don’t know how my stories will end.

That last point guarantees that my stories will not be predictable. Unfortunately, it also guarantees that they are always in danger of turning into a sprawling, self-indulgent mess. I know, because I used to use Word [before I found StoryBox] and I remember how hard it was to see the forest for the trees – i.e. to get an overview of the whole story. I also remember how hard it was to restructure that story in order to make it flow properly.

Now when I say ‘structure’, I don’t mean a neat, pre-ordained three act roadmap of the story. I mean placing scenes where they are meant to go.

“Well, duh. Isn’t that what writers are supposed to do?”

“Yes, but I’m a pantster, remember?”

The truth is, I ‘see’ scenes in vivid technicolour and write them down. If I’m having a good day, the scene will fit perfectly into the progression of the story. Other days, not so. That’s because my sub-conscious doesn’t work in a neat, linear fashion. The process is more like putting together a spherical, 3D jigsaw puzzle. My sub-conscious gets an idea and my fingers translate that idea into something more or less relevant to the part of the story I’m currently working on. It’s not until later, often much later, that I realise scene A is in the wrong spot and that it would go much better in position 123. Something like this:

globe wireframe

And this is where StoryBox comes in. It allows pantsters like me to become hybrid ‘pantliners’, and all without trying to turn my brain into something it’s not.

For me, StoryBox does two things extremely well:

  1. it allows me restructure chapters and scenes as easily as moving physical cards around on a storyboard, and
  2. it allows me to create quick and dirty outlines on the navigation tree as I go [sort of like creating a roadmap rather than following one].

This is the navigation tree. In the beginning you start with just one chapter and one scene. As the story progresses you add more chapters and scenes on the fly until you get something like this:

storybox useful 2At the very top of the navigation tree is the name of the story itself. Below that are the chapters and inside the chapters are the scenes.

I can leave the chapter headings as just ‘chapter x’ [created automatically by the software], or I can add my own road signs to show what’s in each chapter/scene.

Over time, these road signs add up to that quick and dirty outline I was talking about.

I’m too lazy to add a synopsis to each chapter/scene, but that is also easily done on the fly.

So now I can look at my ‘outline’ to get a quick overview of the story. This allows me to see whether it’s flowing correctly. It also allows me to rethink what comes where, both in terms of events and in terms of character motivation.

In fact, this post was motivated by the fact that I have just had to do quite a substantial restructuring of the second half of Innerscape. If I had still been using Word…-shudder-

As wordprocessors go, Word is probably as good as you’re going to get, but it simply doesn’t have the tools a writer needs. Yes, you can move great chunks of text around. You can even set up a form of navigation to help you, but it’s still hard work. First you have to find the exact chunk you need to move. Then you have to select it, cut it, scroll through hundreds of pages of story, find the new spot and paste. If you mess up anywhere during that process you can do terrible things to your story.

Now look at how StoryBox does it:

storybox useful 1In this screenshot I have selected the whole story by clicking on ‘INNERSCAPE 5 TO 8’ [at the top of the navigation tree]. Then I click on the storyboarding function which displays every chapter [and part] as a digital ‘card’. To move a ‘card’, I simply drag & drop it to its new location. Every scene associated with that chapter is moved right along with the chapter.

On a smaller scale, I can do exactly the same thing with scenes. To move a scene around inside a chapter, simply select the chapter, select the storyboarding function and move the relevant ‘card’ for that scene to a new position.

If I want to move a scene from chapter A to chapter B, I click on the scene in the navigation tree and drag and drop from there.

I truly do not think I could have written the Innerscape beast without StoryBox to organize it for me. The story has become so big, with so many threads woven through it, that I simply could not have kept it all in my head.

If a project you’re working on is turning into a behemoth and you’ve reached the limits of Word functionality, I really would recommend trying one of the dedicated writing packages. I’m very happy with StoryBox, but I’ve heard that Scrivener is very similar, and there are other options out there as well. Stop struggling and start optimizing your time and energy!

cheers

Meeks

p.s. If you want to read my original review of StoryBox version 1, you can find it here. Version 2 has the same core functionality but is sleeker.

p.p.s. I just realised that using StoryBox has changed the way I write. Now I think totally in ‘scenes’ and that has resulted in a dramatic drop in the amount of waffle I produce. 😀

 

 


Getting it wrong, first time, every time…

Today I was forcibly reminded of why people used to like my user manuals [back when I was a tech. writer]. Because I always managed to get things wrong when learning a new software program, I always assumed that anyone prepared to read a user manual would be the same, only a little less sanguine about making mistakes [after all they had paid for that piece of software, I hadn’t].

Sadly, my enormous capacity to make mistakes is not quite so welcome now that I’m trying to publish my first ebook. The only silver lining I can see is that, if I ever get all this sorted, I’ll have a lot of material for a post on how to use StoryBox to produce a Kindle-ready ebook.

Not that any of this is StoryBox’s fault. Nope. The fault lies with Word’s Track Changes, and my own ignorance of how this useful feature actually works. 😦 For example, I worked out how to delete my editor’s comments, but I had no idea I was supposed to click accept, or reject, for each small change she made to the manuscript. The kind of changes I’m talking about are little things, like adding commas. I grew up in an era when we didn’t put commas before ‘and’ and ‘but’ so there were a lot of commas required. Another thing I did not know was that turning Track Changes off does not in fact, turn the feature off, it only hides it.

So, after doing all the final edits, I thought my MS was ready to be imported back into StoryBox as an .rft [rich text format] file. Imagine my horror when I fire up StoryBox, import my MS and find a million commas underlined!

Before I go any further I should explain why I need to import the MS back to StoryBox in the first place. Okay, so I wrote the story in StoryBox because it’s a great tool for the actual writing part of things. Then, when it was time to edit the MS, I had to export the file to Word so my editor and I could use the Track Changes feature.

So far so good. The problem, however, is that I want to publish my MS on the Kindle, and it just so happens StoryBox has a wonderful feature that allows me to export my MS as a .mobi file with ease [.mobi is needed for the Kindle]. However to do that, I have to first re-import the edited file back into StoryBox. The only other alternative would be to duplicate all those edits in the original StoryBox file. Hah. Not bloody likely.

To cut a long, sad story short, I’ve wasted most of today learning from my mistakes. Tomorrow I will cross all my fingers and toes while I import the ‘clean’ MS back into StoryBox. If all goes well, I will then be ready to work out the next step, which is the ISBN. -sigh- And some time after that I will have to face the pitfalls of creating a cover image for the book… [Insert sounds of disgust and frustration.]

As many of you know I’m normally a glass-half full type of person. I’m hardwired to see the good in any situation, but I have to be honest and say that, just at the moment, my silver lining is looking a little tarnished. I really, really think it’s time for some mindless fun, so mmo, here I come!

Meeka signing out.

 

 

 


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