How Useful are Formatted Book Templates to an Indie Author?

As a self published author without a book royalty to play around with, knowing what to spend on to publish a high quality book can save you money, and heartache.

I'm subscribed to a lot of sites that offer "solutions" for indie authors. It's my business to know about what's out there. And well... I think we need to talk about Book Templates.

There are sites that give away formatted book templates, like Derek Murphy's DIY Book Formats. He's a DIY himself, obviously, and always looking for ways to share what he has learned. You can check out the FREE book templates here, and read his articles. Very helpful for authors who have the time and desire to learn how to format and layout their own book.

Then there are sites that sell book templates ranging from $40 to $150. Crazy. Absurd. WTF.

Do you really need those? Really really really?
Formatted book templates are recommended only if:

1) You'll use it for printed books like if you're publishing through Createspace.
2) You'll type into the template from the very beginning.
3) You understand what happens during the formatting of a book.
4) If you have a lot of money to waste.

Why only for print?

eBooks cannot be designed with elaborate fonts and style. They look better the simpler they are. Remember that for eBooks - structure is more important than beauty. It needs to flow well, even when readers change the font and font size on their eBook reader.

Print allows for more creative liberty. You can practically do anything with the book's layout. Whether you design it on WORD or InDesign, once you convert it to PDF, that's the way the book will look like when printed. Exactly. It's called a fixed layout because it's... well, fixed. :)

Book templates are useful if you're going to write on it from the very beginning. But if you're going to TRANSFER from WORD or wherever, it could be quite challenging. I know, cause when I didn't know how to format books yet, I did that. I thought it was a simple copy and paste and I'd get the same look as advertised... but that's not how it went down. When I copy and pasted, I removed the formatting on the template.

The worst part was, since I didn't KNOW how to format a manuscript in the first place, I didn't know how to fix the issues.

It was useless.

Sure, you could LEARN how to fix your template, and gain some formatting skills... but then, if you're willing to take the time to learn, then why buy a template in the first place? Get a free one and fiddle with it or experiment with your own manuscript.

Book formatting is a technical and design skill. You have to know how to design the exterior of the manuscript (the appearance), and fix the interior - the structure behind the words you see. It's not rocket science for someone determined to learn. It's also not that easy.

I know that you want to publish beautiful books, given the choice. 

It's not your fault if you don't know how to format or design. You're writers for heaven's sake! 

It's not your fault if you don't have the budget to hire professionals to design your book for you. 

But it would be your fault if you choose not do anything about it, and simply released the book as is. It reflects on all of us in the self publishing industry.

You have two choices. 
Learn how to do it - or search for free and affordable resources. 
It's all part of being a self-pub.

And, stop wasting your money. Don't buy useless stuff like formatted book templates if you don't know what to do with it. It would be cheaper to just hire someone for the job.

I don't have anything against people who want to make money out of people's desires. It's a business... and when there's a need, there's a supplier. What I hate is when they charge so much and drain an Indie author dry. The cost of a service should be commensurate to the skill and time required to perform it - and the price should be competitive. It's not like they're the only ones in the planet who knows how to format a book.

Take the time to search the internet, and ask your fellow authors for recommendations. Compare. Test. Find and build the team that will help you self publish high quality books. If you're hell bent on being a DIY - acquire the materials and knowledge you need.

If you're going to leave a legacy of books out there, they'd better be a reflection of the best parts of you. Right? Of course. And better if you can do it without mortgaging your house.

What I want you to realize is that, self publishing a high quality book doesn't have to be very expensive. Just know what it is you should be spending on.
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