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Adventures In Formatting A Poetry Book

Guys, I was in FORMATTING HELL last week!!

Poetry is a beast messily slain for I had dull spears to fight with. ๐Ÿ˜›

One dull spear being the editing one, because I have legit never really edited poetry in my life. Sure, I sometimes change a line or two, but I’ve never rewritten that crap before. It was a good experience though, and I learned some things, mostly about myself. Lol!

Creatively speaking, things have been at a standstill the last few weeks because I’ve been stressed about formatting the poetry book. I finally talked myself into sitting down one afternoon and figuring it out. It took me several hours over three days, but I’m finished!!

I still have a couple of read throughs and formatting checks to do, and I still need to finalize the title page, which I’ll do when I have my cover done, and I also need to finalize the retailer blurb, but everything else is done, decor included. ๐Ÿ˜€

The problem is that I couldn’t use my formatting software for the print book because I’d end up with weird page numbers and a bunch of other weird things, given how poetry isn’t usually formatted the same way novels are, and I want things to be fancy! The other problem is that I couldn’t figure out, at first, how to use the software for the ebook, again because it’s set up for novels, so there’s a bit of extra formatting involved in getting the alignment of everything right, which I did figure out, but not until after I spent about four hours messing around with no less than five other options that either presented issues I had no control over or options that were honestly just going to be a huge pain.

The print version wasn’t that bad. Yeah, I got frustrated a couple of times, but overall, it just took some time. A lot more time than a novel because there are so many more separate pieces. Part of the frustration is my own damn fault, because I was like, “ooh, how about I have a different font for each section?” NO, KRYSTAL, WHY?! I spent more time trying to make a decision and then changing my mind fifty times than I did applying the styles to the document.

So, I formatted the print version in Word with a poetry template from, because one, I already had it – I picked it up as part of a sale when I got the template for NO REST FOR THE WICKED two years ago – and two, like I said, the software I have (Vellum) isn’t great for poetry. Though it is perfectly fine for a poetry ebook, since things need to be more flowable and less fixed anyway, unless you want to annoy the crap out of anyone reading the book.

So, while it was tedious to adjust all those poems and titles separately, it was also mildly meditative, and hugely satisfying when I was done. And hey, things look really good! ^_^

Yeah, thought I’d share my pain. Lol! But I can get back to my novels now and hopefully do some more reading. This is definitely a lot more time consuming than a novel. Faster to read. Easier to edit. I guess my time has to spiral out of control somewhere.

Sooo, writing update coming next week! I know you’re all excited about what I’m juggling over here. ๐Ÿ˜€


  • Tonja Drecker

    What a stress! The idea of formatting a book already sounds like a nightmare, but then poetry too? Wow. I honestly hadn’t thought about it when you said you were publishing it, but you’re right. It’d be way different. Glad you got through it! And just think how easy it will now be for the next one you publish ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Jodi

    This reminds me of the formatting hell I went through for Jacob Jax & the Watermelon Tree. Here my daughter and I were like “Let’s do a children’s book, it’ll be fun!” Um, no. Lol. We went through so much trial and error that I’m STILL not sure how to format those things. By the time we do our next children’s book (Jacob Jax & the Prickly Pear), I’m going to have to figure it all out again. Blech. I’m surprised to hear that poetry books are a hassle, too. They seem so easy in theory. Just center aligned with lots of white space around them, right? (Ha!). I’m starting to learn out that anything other than a standard novel is a big fat pain.

    • Krystal Jane

      Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine doing a picture book! You guys did a great job. I totally know what you mean about refiguring stuff out. I had to rewatch a 55 minute formatting video to remind me how to use that template. Honestly, when I first started, I thought the poetry would be super simple, but novel formatting is so quick and easy in comparison.

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