Self-Published Books Get a Major Overhaul with

by | Feb 22, 2013

Well, the day is finally here. After two years planning and five months of development, I’m please to announce the grand opening of

Editor’s note: The introduction to this article, which explains a lot of the background and thinking behind this solution to the book formatting problem is here: Book Design Quick Tips for Self-Publishers

As I’ve been saying all week, this is the result of accepting the reality that many authors choose to create books with the tool they already own and know how to use: Microsoft Word.

So let’s dive right in and find out what we’ve got for you.

First, the Templates

We are launching with a small gallery of 6 template designs. All of the templates available today are intended for fiction, memoir, and literary nonfiction. In other words, books that require little in the way of formatting.

Here’s what I mean, in the form of a chapter opening page from our “Legend” template:

Can you picture your own book looking like this?

The “Legend” template uses the fonts Amaranth and Theano Didot and is particularly well-suited for contemporary novels, romance, and historical novels.

It creates pages with about 360 words per page average. It makes good use of print on demand technology since you want to create an elegant and readable book without creating too many pages, since PoD vendors charge by the page.

Here’s a page spread from the “Premise” template:

Book Design Templates

As you can see, when you use one of these templates, most of the work has already been done for you. Each template comes complete with:

  • The correct trim size already set
  • Margins worked out for print on demand production
  • Styles for all typographic elements, so you can style your book just by clicking on the appropriate style name in Word
  • Pages already set up for your title, copyright, chapter opening, and text pages
  • Running heads properly set up along with page numbers
  • All the fonts used by the template (completely legal)
  • Even an “About the Author” page, too

Each of the templates is available in 3 sizes:

  • 5.25″ x 8″, a size that’s great for novels or memoirs
  • 5.5″ x 8.5″, the most popular size for trade paperbacks
  • 6″ x 9″, for longer books and impressive hardcovers

The Rest of the Package

Now, we can’t just sell you a template and send you on your way. Believe me, I realize there are lots of authors who have never touched that “Styles” section in Word.

That’s why my associate Tracy R. Atkins, has created a fully-illustrated, step-by-step Formatting Guide PDF that shows you how to download and unzip the template file, install the fonts on your system, and replace the placeholder text with your own book manuscript.

Here’s a typical page from the Guide:

MS Word Template Format Guide

Both the Formatting Guide and a new free resource, the Book Construction Blueprint, are available at the site as separate downloads.

Here’s what’s included in each template package zip file:

  • The Word template file
  • A PDF of the template so you can see what it’s supposed to look like
  • A Word document of the template that’s fully editable
  • The fonts needed for the template

A New Resource for Book Creators

book designNo matter what kind of book you’re creating, it pays to know the industry standards that have evolved over the years, and which all professional book designers follow.

That’s why we’re making available the Book Construction Blueprint, a wealth of book formatting and construction guidelines. This 24-page PDF can become your guide for years to come when you need to answer basic questions about book sections, pagination, chapters and subheads, widows and orphans, and more.

And it’s free. Even if you’re not in the market for a template, you can grab a copy to use anyway.

What About eBooks?

We couldn’t leave you direct-to-digital publishers out in the cold, either. Although there’s a lot less you can do with a standard ebook in terms of design, we’ve created ebook-ready templates for each of our template designs, too.

They come with a supplement to the Formatting Guide that walks you through how to use the ebook template to get a file that will convert easily for Kindle, Smashwords, BookBaby and other ebook sellers and distributors.

The ebook templates are packaged as an upgrade to our other licenses.

That leads us to…

Licenses and Pricing

When you get to you’ll see that the pricing on our templates is variable.

That’s because the licenses we’re selling are specific to the way you plan to use the template.

Here’s how it works.

You can buy each template with 3 different licenses, each at a separate price:

  • A Single-Book License allows you to use the template for one self-published book. You’ll get the top-quality design, the fonts, and all the master pages in the template package along with the Guides to help you along. This license costs $37.00.
  • A Multi-Book License allows you to use the template for a whole series of books, no matter how long the series is. In fact, with the Multi-Book license you can publish as many of your own books as you like with one template purchase. This is probably the best value if you plan to publish more than one book. Cost is $97.00.
  • A Commercial License allows you, as a sole proprietor, to provide formatting services for other authors. With this license you can use the template on books for your clients for a one-time cost of $197.00.

For authors who are planning an ebook edition as well as a print book edition, you can add the ebook template as an upgrade to any bundle for an additional $10.00.

We devised this licensing scheme to make the templates available for different uses, at prices that make sense for each case.

Well, all that’s left now is for you to head over to and check out the designs for yourself.

While you’re there, grab a copy of the Book Construction Blueprint. Also note that you can get a good look at each template by using a link to download a full-size, high-resolution 3-page sample.

The Future

We’re already at work on our first nonfiction templates, which will include levels of subheads, notes and bibliography masters, lists and pull quotes, all pre-formatted into styles for 1-click use.

There are more fiction templates coming too. By downloading the Book Construction Blueprint you’ll get on our notification list, where we’ll also make new templates available in special offers.

What’s Not Included

I almost forgot to tell you what you won’t get with our templates, and that is world-class typography. Keep in mind we can’t change the way Word works, the way it spaces letters and lines of type, the way it hyphenates. I do think these templates have been tweaked and caressed to output the best type that Word can produce.

You also won’t get Adobe or Monotype fonts, but if you have some, by learning to modify the styles you can experiment with your own fonts.

If you’re doing a fiction book, a memoir, or a work of literary nonfiction, and you don’t need formatting beyond chapter openers and title pages, these templates can save you a lot of time and frustration, and ensure that you’re producing an industry-standard book at the same time.

I’d love to get your feedback on the site, the templates, the guides, or anything else, so I hope you’ll leave it in the comments.

For my part, today I feel like I’ve created something that truly will help authors “build better books.”

Screenshot by Joel Friedlander. For readers of tiny gray type, you might be interested to know that this is the 1,000th post to this blog. Cheers.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Mike

    I have a book written in word and converted to PDF. I need to put it into a book template. If I buy one of yours, can I simply import the PDF into the template? does it do so without corrupting the text?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Mike, the templates are in Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign. In the Word templates, you’ll want your manuscript in a Word doc or other text format, not PDF.

  2. c lavers

    Hi, I am thinking about getting a Template. However my book starts with an introduction before chapter 1. Would this be a problem. I am unsure about the flexibility of the templates.
    Thanks Christy

    • Joel Friedlander

      Christy, the templates easily accommodate additional sections of the book, and if you ever get stuck, just drop a note to [email protected] and we’ll get you straightened out.

  3. Peter Osterlund

    I just stumbled onto this site. What a gold mine! Intrigued by your templates here but, for the uninitiated among us (i.e., me) could you explain just how these templates fall short of actual typography? I know you mentioned something about fonts, but could you put one of these template pages next to a “real” book page? Because, for the life of me, my uneducated eyes can’t tell the difference. Thanks…

    • Joel Friedlander

      Peter, good question. If you go to the template site and take a look at one of the downloadable PDF samples, you’ll see the kind of typesetting we’re able to get from Word. It’s good, but not great. It doesn’t have the ability to handle fonts, spacing, and justification the way a program like InDesign can. However, many authors seem to be just fine with the templates, they’ve become quite popular.

  4. Pamela Wight

    I read your blog consistently. I published my first e-book in January on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Great success (hired someone to do the formatting). I have so many people asking for a soft cover, but I’ve hesitated because I am NOT tech savvy. I’ve read your template offer and am so tempted to do it. But so many questions. Can a neophyte (and non techie) really do this? Is it easier than Create Space? (A writer friend published her soft cover using Create Space and it took her forever, and replaced her blonde hair with gray ones.) After I use your template, is it easy to then submit it to Amazon, where I already have an account with my e-book? Sorry for all the questions.

    • Tracy R. Atkins

      Hello Pamela,

      The templates are simple to use, even for Word novices. We have an illustrated guide that will walk you through the whole process too. To get a book into print is a simple matter. After you copy over your manuscript to the template and finalize the formatting, you save a PDF copy of your book. That file is ready to send to your POD, including createspace, which is Amazon’s printer for trade paperbacks. No extra work is needed, with the exception of creating/submitting your cover for book.
      Thank you,

      • Pamela

        Thank you – great explanations. Next question – I published my first book as an e-book (and that’s the one I’ll now sell as a soft cover). I paid a formatter a good chunk of change to do the e-formatting for me. I’m ready now to publish my second book. If I first print it using your template and publish it in Amazon, when I then decide to make it an e-book, doesn’t Amazon do the e-formatting for me at a (reduced) cost?

      • Pamela

        Thank you – great explanations. Next question – I published my first book as an e-book (and that’s the one I’ll now sell as a soft cover). I paid a formatter a good chunk of change to do the e-formatting for me. I’m ready now to publish my second book. If I first print it using your template and publish it in Amazon, when I then decide to make it an e-book, doesn’t Amazon do the e-formatting for me at a (reduced) cost?

        • Tracy R. Atkins

          Hello Pamela,

          If i’m not mistaken, CreateSpace has a $60-$70 or so dollar fee to convert a print book file to eBook. With our templates, you can purchase the eBook ready version of the template in the single book bundle for just $10 more. It is a very economical way to have a nicely formatted Print and eBook together.

          Thank you,

  5. Rachna

    Hi Joel,

    Template website is a nice idea!
    The selection is a bit limited as of now.
    I was looking for a template for children’s story book, I could not find something which could work for me.
    I usually write in 8.5″ x 8.5″ trim size with a 14pt font size which I feel is suitable for children under 6year old.
    Also, I prefer Pageplus over MS Word. I hope that will be supported someday.


  6. Geraldine Nesbitt

    Hi, I was planning on publishing through Kindle Direct and downloaded the free guide to formatting. The manuscript is still in A4 size, is this a problem.
    BTW I read somewhere that a novel that is 140,000 words long might not catch on as an ebook. What would be your opinion on that?

    • Tracy R. Atkins

      The eBook versions of the templates are trim-size agnostic. So there is no worry about format with the ebook version.

      On the 140K word epic, I don’t think people will mind so much, especially if it is a great novel! :)


      • Geraldine Nesbitt

        Thanks Tracy

        I appreciate your response. Will let you know when it is done! Nothing stopping me going for it today! How exciting. I did my previous novel POD. Iuniverse recently converted it to kindle for me, which is why I thought bringing out the second one on kindle too, would look good on my Author page on Amazon!

  7. Mike Engleman

    Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address.

    No MX or A records for

    The result of my email sent at about 10:30 this morning.
    Mike Engleman

  8. Jenn Mattern

    Congrats on the launch! The templates look great from what I’ve seen so far, and I can’t wait to see your nonfiction ones in the future. :)

  9. Mike Engleman

    Tracy…I have now read your guide-with-words and am vigorously at work.
    I have a question that is not answered in your guide. How do I add interior pages. I need for pages that follow the dedication page for my acknowledgements. I have tried using the quotation page and pasting the acknowledgements to it, but the new pages flow into–and mess up–the Chapter One template.

    • Tracy R. Atkins

      Hello Mike,

      To add a fresh page to the front matter, add a Section Break (Odd Page) to the end of the previous page (like the quotation page). (You will want to be in Show mode for the formatting marks).

      Please give me an email at [email protected] if you have any trouble and I will be happy to help.

  10. Cy

    Can this template be imported into Scrivener?

    • Tracy R. Atkins

      Hello Cy,

      We have not tested with Scrivener, So can’t say for certain. Sorry.


  11. Laura Roberts

    This looks great! Certainly far and away better than the egregious “templates” they give you at CreateSpace (which seem to have screwed up several of my manuscripts, with no apparent way of fixing them). My only question is, will it play nicely with Open Office as well as Word? I’m assuming it will, but wondered if anyone had tested it out.

    • Tracy R. Atkins


      We currently support our templates on the Microsoft Word platform only. However, our templates are standard .DOTX / .DOCX formatted documents, and will open in many different word processing applications. Some template features or pre-configured formatting may be missing in these applications and must be author applied, making the templates a less user friendly, or feature-rich in some cases. You may also have to re-apply or re-add things like section breaks and running heads, depending on your OO software version. Every template ships with a 3-page PDF version so that you can compare and adjust accordingly.

      Please feel free to buy and try one of our templates in your application. We have a no-hassle, 30-Day money-back guarantee on all of our products.



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