Leveling Up

I’ve spent the last week and a half or so learning how to use Affinity Publisher to format the interior of my print books. Up until this point when I wanted to handle the formatting of a book I did so in Word.

(I have Vellum which I can use for a basic fiction book, although I disagree with them on how they handle widows/orphans and also they have a weird glitch in their process that sometimes leaves off page numbers or headers for an entire chapter which then moves around when you regenerate the file until it finally goes away. Overall fine for a basic book. But for a lot of my non-fiction I desire more control.)

It’s not all that hard to format a book in Word, especially if you use Styles and Section Breaks and combine that with the KDP templates that you can download through Amazon’s publishing website.

But I’d paid for Affinity and knew it was supposed to be a publishing software (I’ve been using it for my covers instead of GIMP) so decided to finally dive in and see what it can do.

There are some things I really love about it so far. I can see the potential time savings and automated consistency that I’ll get from Affinity Publisher once I’m up and running.

But I’m not there yet. I’m still learning. I’m still leveling up.

It’s little things that I have to learn. For example, with my covers I had to learn to check the box to include bleed so that the cover came out the right size. With books with images I’ve had to learn how to export in grayscale. And with books with muti-level tables of content I’ve had to figure out how to apply two levels of formatting to the TOC.

Little things like that.

Which is when it’s tempting to quit and go back to what you know. I know how to do all of these things in Word and can probably do them in half the time in Word. Right now.

It requires manual effort, but I can do them. I know the process.

With Affinity I’m doing a lot of Googling for answers. And sometimes I just don’t know the industry term to use. For example, it’s called pinning when you want an image to stick with specific text. I was trying to look for how to “anchor” an image to text.

Little things like that that trip you up and take extra time.

But the key is to not quit halfway through. Leveling up often requires a step backward to move forward. You lose expertise in order to gain expertise. You become more shaky at what you’re doing in the short-term. But it’s worth it long-term because when all is said and done you get through all that struggle and everything becomes easier.

So I’m sticking with it even though I have now generated this one book file probably ten times today. Because I know that by the time I’m done with these practice books I’ll be ready to do what I’ve been gearing up for and that’s formatting and publishing about a dozen new image-intensive titles.

(Honestly, being able to see the DPI value on every image I’ve embedded in one spot is reason enough to use Affinity instead of Word.)

Also, don’t be fooled by my complaining. I love the process of learning something new and struggling for mastery and then finally figuring it out and having that aha moment. I’m pretty sure that’s why I keep with self-publishing even though there are probably far more profitable ways I could spend my days…

Anyway. Back to it. Time to proof this book for the umpteenth time today and hope that all the little issues are now gone.

Back To School Sale

Since the world is still on fire and many people are dealing with back to school craziness, I thought I’d do what I could and put a bunch of school-friendly titles on sale for a couple weeks. Each of the below titles is on sale for $2.99 USD.

Click on any of the images below to be taken to a Books2Read page for that title that has all the stores listed. (If you’re already set up with them you’ll go straight to your chosen store.) Or you can use any of the store pages on the right-hand side here and get to the books that way.

Excel Essentials

Excel for Beginners open sans boldv2 Intermediate Excel Open Sans50 Excel Functions open sans

50 More Excel Functions open sans

 

 

 

 

Word Essentials

Word for Beginners open sansIntermediate Word open sans

 

 

 

 

PowerPoint Essentials

PowerPoint-for-Beginners-Generic    Intermediate-PowerPoint-Generic

 

 

 

Access Essentials

Access for Beginners 20200202Intermediate Access 20200202

 

 

 

 

Data Principles & Budgeting

Data Principles for BeginnersBudgeting for Beginners open sansExcel for Budgeting open sans

 

 

 

 

Keep in mind this is only for the ebook versions, but all of these titles also have paperback versions and most have hardcover versions as well that are, I think, reasonably priced.

And some of these are very good deals indeed, because I was being lazy so I priced everything at $2.99 which means that Access for Beginners, for example, which is usually $7.99 is on sale for the same price as Excel for Beginners, which is normally $4.99. (USD. But equivalent discounts in your local currency.)

Enjoy.

 

 

A New Release (or Six): Mail Merge

It’s been a busy week. I know better than to do this to myself, but I just released six new titles. The big one is Mail Merge for Beginners, which covers how to create customized letters, envelopes, and mailing labels in Microsoft Word using an Excel-based list of entries.

Mail Merge

And, because it’s a pretty short and sweet guide, it’s only $2.99. So if that’s something you need (I certainly used mail merge back when I was working as a secretary at my dad’s little sign shop), then check it out.

It will also be available in paperback for $7.99. The paperback is up on Amazon now, but not yet linked to the ebook–that should happen in a couple days–but it will come up in search. It will slowly make its way to anywhere else you like to buy paperbacks in the next couple of weeks.

In addition to the mail merge book, I also just released five titles in a series called Easy Word Essentials. These books take specific topics from Word for Beginners and Intermediate Word and present them as standalone topics. They cover text formatting, page formatting, lists, tables, and track changes.

So if any of those topics are of interest and you haven’t already bought the two main Word titles, then those might be worth checking out as well. Each one is $2.99 and the paperbacks are $7.99. Same situation as above, the paperbacks aren’t yet linked on Amazon but can be found with a search and will be soon. They will also make their way to other platforms over the next couple weeks.

Easy Word Essentials

Text Formatting open sansPage Formatting1 Lists2 TablesTrack Changes

 

 

 

And now I can go enjoy my Easter and get back to proofing the next cozy mystery. Those murders don’t solve themselves, you know. 🙂 Happy holiday and/or family time to you all.

Some Microsoft Word Tips

This morning I hit publish on my last titles for 2017, Word for Beginners and Intermediate Word. That makes 441,312 words written (give or take) and 409,252 words published for the year. Phew. A little more than half of that was non-fiction since that seems to have become my focus for the second half of the year, but I did have two novels in there, too.

Anyway.

While I was writing the Word guides I kept finding myself saying “never do this” based on things I had actually encountered in my professional career. Finally, I started writing them down so I could share them.

So here they are. Things you should never do in Word (because there’s a better way to do it). With suggestions of how to better handle it using Word 2013 as my source.

1. Never manually number a list of items. (Especially in the midst of an automatically numbered list.) Instead use the Numbering option in the Paragraph section of the Home tab. Or the Format Painter in the Home tab if there’s already a numbered list you’re trying to continue.

2. Never add a return between paragraphs to create space. Instead, use Word to add space before or after your paragraphs. You can do this using the Line and Paragraph Spacing option in the Paragraph section of the Home tab or by right-clicking and choosing Paragraph to bring up the Paragraph dialogue box.

3. Never use the tab key or, worse, manual spaces to indent a paragraph. Instead, right-click, choose Paragraph, and bring up the Paragraph dialogue box. Then go to Indentation and under Special choose First Line.

4. Never manually add page numbering to your document. Instead, go to the Header & Footer section of the Insert tab and choose from the options in the Page Number dropdown.

5. Never manually add headers or footers to your document. Instead, go to the Header & Footer section of the Insert tab and choose from the options in the Header or Footer dropdowns.

6. Never manually mark text to be deleted with a strikethrough. Instead, use track changes which is available under the Review tab.

7. Never manually mark text as inserted by changing its color and/or underlining it. Instead, use track changes which is available under the Review tab.

8. Never make comments within the text of the document and set those comments aside using brackets, highlighting, or different colored text. Instead, use New Comment from the Comments section of the Review tab.

9. Never use enter to get to the next page when you need to start a new chapter. Instead, insert a page or section break into your document by going to the Page Setup section of the Page Layout tab and choosing from the options under Breaks.

10. Never manually build a table of contents in your document. Instead, use the Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. styles on your section headings and then have Word insert a table of contents by going to the Table of Contents section of the References tab.

11. Never manually break a table that’s long enough to repeat across more than one page into multiple tables so that you can repeat the header row on each page. Instead, right-click on the top row of the table, choose Table Properties, go to the Row tab, and click the box for “Repeat as header row at the top of each page.”

There you have it. My list of eleven things you should “never” do in Word.  And, of course, it just so happens I covered how to do all of these things the “right way” and much, much more in my Word guides. Items 1 through 5 are covered in Word for Beginners. Items 6 through 11 are covered in Intermediate Word. Just sayin’…