Formatting refers to the text layout as it will appear in the final released version of your book. This will be different for the eBook, paperback, and hardcover versions. It is possible, but more trouble than it’s worth, to format the text for publication using your word processor. A free, better, and easier approach is downloading Amazon’s Kindle Create software. You load your text into the software in doc, docx, or pdf format and it prepares it for publication as a book on Amazon. You can preview how it will look and make adjustments.
I was happy with Kindle Create for my first few books, but it got to the point where I had a 14-step process to move from a doc file on Google Docs to what I uploaded on Amazon to release my books. I purchased Vellum (non-affiliate link), which I found expensive at $249 USD, but I couldn’t live without it now. The 14-step process has become a single click of the “generate” button. It’s Mac only, but similar software for Windows is Atticus (non-affiliate link).
Formatting will fit the text to the page and justify it, like a word processor will, but will also add page numbering (for print versions), a table of contents, fancy chapter headings, an enlarged first character in the chapter, a special format for the first paragraph of each chapter, ornamental breaks between sections, blank pages before new chapters (so they’ll always start on the right-hand side), copyright, dedication, acknowledgment and other sections, and more. The files it generates consistently work for Amazon and the various eReader software of people I’ve sent them to.
Software like Vellum or Atticus allows you to apply styles and, with a couple of clicks, see your book formatted in different, professional ways. You can create your own style if none of those provided are exactly right.
I’m very cheap in all parts of my life, but especially with my self-publishing. I’ve found purchasing formatting software to be well worth the money.
How have you formatted your self-published books?