Formatting a Novel in Microsoft Word

Authors, don’t you hate when you add or delete a chapter from your novel, and you have to re-number every chapter after that point?

Do you ever need to get a manuscript into a certain format, and you’re not sure how to do it? Or you get it just right, but then you have to start all over for the next book?

This video will show you…

  • How to implement automatic chapter numbering, so the chapters renumber themselves when you slice and dice (or beef up) your manuscript!
  • How to set up styles within Microsoft Word so your current manuscript and future ones look just like you want them to.

Hope it helps!

10-10-20: NOTES TO HELP YOU FURTHER

THOSE ANNOYING TABS:

MS Word will automatically put a Tab after your chapter heading, which can mess up the centering. This link tells you how to fix that on Microsoft Word 365 for Mac, the version I’m using: It’s different in Windows. Google it for your version of Word.

SCENE BREAKS/ORNAMENTAL BREAKS:

If you have ornamental breaks in your book (like *** at scene breaks), you’ll want to select “First Paragraph” style for those so there’s no indentation. Then just click the “Center” button to center your ornamental break. (Alternatively, you can create another Style that’s centered without any indentation, and call it “Scene Break.”)

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Enchanted Tattoos, Slashed Tires, & First Kisses…

I guess enchanted tattoos, slashed tires, and first kisses don’t have a lot in common on the surface–but they’re all topics of miniature stories in my new book, The Curio Cabinet, which launched today!

It’s a book of tiny stories, each about 50 words long. Here are a couple of samples:

Snag your own copy!

The Curio Cabinet also makes a great gift. I’m excited about this book, and I hope you’ll get your copy today!

A New Book of Short (and I Mean TINY) Stories

I’m working on my next YA fantasy series (which I’m really excited about!) In the meantime, check out my brand new book, launching July 9!


Enchanted tattoos, slashed tires, and first kisses . . .

Peek inside The Curio Cabinet for an assortment of 150 stories, each about fifty words long.

Here’s a sample:



Check out more samples here!

The Curio Cabinet launches July 9. Ready to pre-order?

Downloading and Organizing all Your Past Tweets on Twitter

Psst . . . I’m planning another book. Well, multiple books, but this one’s different than my normal novels. It’ll be a collection of the microfiction (really, really short stories) I write on Twitter.

I wanted to download all my old Tweets and search for ones with specific hashtags so I can easily choose which pieces of microfiction I want to use in my book. It ended up being a much harder task than I expected.

I decided to make a video for anyone else trying to navigate the craziness of archived Tweets on Twitter . . . and for me, next time I try to do this. I don’t want to have to figure it out all over again!

This 21-minute video will show you how to do the following:

  • Download your Twitter archive. In the past, Twitter seems to have let you download a CSV file (which you can open in Microsoft Excel) containing all your Tweets. However, all that was available to me was a JavaScript file called tweet.js, a massive list of gobbledygook. That brings us to the next point on the list.
  • Convert the tweet.js Javascript file to a CSV or Excel spreadsheet. There are ways to do this for free if you know something about using scripts. That’s beyond my expertise, so I used a website, json-csv.com, to convert. Depending on the size of your Twitter archive, this may be free, or it may cost you $10.
  • Organize the Tweets on the CSV/Excel file.
  • Filter the Tweets to view only those containing a hashtag of your choice.
  • Reformat the Tweets within Excel so they show up with the line breaks you originally used in Twitter.

In the end, you’ll end up with a spreadsheet of Tweets you can read through easily.

Screenshot of Twitter archive spreadsheet, sorted by one specific hashtag and formatted with line breaks

These instructions work on Excel 365 for Mac, at least as of today (June 18, 2019).

Here’s the video:

This is the Excel formula you’ll need for inserting line breaks. (See the video for instructions.)

=SUBSTITUTE(G2,”\n”,CHAR(10))

If this blog post helps you, let me know!

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Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Sale on signed paperbacks for Easter!

I always put books in my kids’ Easter baskets! The Sun-Blessed Trilogy, a YA Fantasy series, is on sale for Easter.

Coupon codes:
BUNNYBOOK $2 off a single book
BUNNYSERIES $5 off trilogy bundle (for a total of $9 off individual prices) or $5 off trilogy + novella bundle (for a total of $10 off individual prices)

Good ONLY on signed copies on my website. Click here!

Expires 4/23/19.

30-Minute Crash Course in Story Structure

When I first started writing a novel, I had no idea how to structure it. I could have saved a lot of time if I’d known about story structure!

Download this fill-in-the-blank handout (or just check out the image below), and watch the 30-minute video.

Hope this helps you as you plan and write your next novel!

P.S. In the video, I used my novella, Birth of Magic, as an example. That book is free on Amazon.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Working with Early Readers, Part 3: ARC Reviewers

This is Part 3 of a series for indie authors.
To read the series intro, click here.
To read Part 1: ALPHA READERS, click here.
To read Part 2: BETA READERS, click here.

You’ve got a manuscript that’s been through alpha reading, beta reading, and all sorts of revision rounds…and you’re ready to publish!

But wouldn’t it be great to get some early Goodreads and Amazon reviews? All those beautiful gold stars prove that someone likes my writing!

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Note: I’m exclusive to Amazon with most of my e-books, so this article will be primarily from that perspective.

Here’s what I’ve learned about getting early reviews:

Pre-Orders or Soft Launch?

I suggest either setting up your book for pre-order or doing a “soft launch” followed by a public launch.

  • If you put your book up for pre-order, you can generate some buzz and early sales. Then you can ask your reviewers to review the minute the book comes out. (Some people even launch the paperback a few days early, get it linked to the e-book by contacting KDP, and then ask people to review the paperback version before the e-book is out.)
  • Another option is to put your book live on Amazon, but don’t tell anyone except your early reviewers. This is called a “soft launch.” Give them a few days to review, and then do a big “public launch,” telling the world your book is for sale.

Where I’ve found ARC reviewers:

  • I have a Street Team on Facebook. (See below.) I invite my whole newsletter to join it, and I also invite Facebook friends and people who’ve Liked my page.
  • I reach out to my friends on Twitter and invite them to review. I then send them the link to the ARC by DM and keep in touch with them via email and DM.
  • I’m also a member of a group called YA Book Stop – YABS that connects YA authors and readers. I’ve gotten some great reviewers through there and through other Facebook groups, and some have even turned into alpha and/or beta readers! (There are similar groups for other genres.)
  • I ask my newsletter subscribers to join my ARC team too.

How my street team works:

  • My street team is a private group on Facebook.
    • I give them free digital copies of all my books before the public release.
    • I also offer them special deals on signed paperbacks.
    • I ask them to read and review and promote my work on social media.
  • When I have a book that’s ready, I distribute it through StoryOrigin.
    • I capture someone’s email address when they download, and I add them to a special group through my mailing list provider (MailerLite.)
    • Please note that YA Book Stop, the Facebook group I mentioned, doesn’t allow you to capture the reader’s email address to send them the book. I set up a separate ARC link for them that doesn’t require an email to download.
  • Throughout the ARC period, I post reminders to my ARC team on Facebook, asking them to promote the book and support me in various ways, such as:
    • Review wherever available (Goodreads and/or Amazon, etc),
    • Follow me on Goodreads and Amazon
    • Post about the book on social media.
  • I also send emails to my ARC list reminding them to review. My ARC list is made up of those people who actually downloaded the book, so I want to send them special emails. They might miss what I post in the Facebook group!
  • When the book launches, I do a big push in the Street Team group and via email, asking them to review and promote.
  • I’ve learned that I need to keep in touch with my street team, even when I’m not releasing a book! So I start fun, book-related conversations to keep them engaged, and I share successes with them (such as good ranks on Amazon.)

Update/Edit, September 2020: For my last two books, I’ve used Booksprout to run my ARC phase. I send reviewers there instead of to Bookfunnel. Booksprout communicates with reviewers. I continue to communicate with them through email too; that way, they’re getting review reminders from Booksprout and from me. I get better follow-through that way.

As with beta reading, having a successful street team/ARC team all comes down to communication! You’ve given someone a book for free. Don’t be afraid to remind them over and over to review it and promote it!

Want more step-by-step instructions and resources that will help you create a successful ARC reader team? My new book, Early Readers Catch the Worms, includes…

  • Access to a Resource Pack full of editable resources and templates to help you build early reader teams (including ARC invitations and ARC reader follow-up emails).
  • Suggestions for how to improve ARC reader follow-through.
  • A simple way to encourage your ARC readers to send you last-second typos.

Buy your copy of Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel by clicking here!

Early Readers Catch the Worms cover

That’s the end of this series on working with alpha readers, beta readers, and ARC reviewers. I hope it helps you create great books with plenty of fantastic reviews!

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Working with Early Readers, Part 2: BETA READERS

This is Part 2 of a series for indie authors.
To read the series intro, click here.
To read Part 1: ALPHA READERS, click here.

How many beta readers should you have? Some people say one or two; others say as many as you can get!

I used to be in the latter camp, but when I had over twenty beta readers for one book, I did find it a bit overwhelming. I think twenty is probably my max, but you’ll have to figure out what works for you.

I got a lot of inspiration for my beta reading system from one of my favorite authors, Michael J. Sullivan, and his wife Robin. Robin runs an amazing beta team for Michael. I’m not on that team, but in Michael’s newsletter, they’ve been kind enough to share how their beta reading process works.

Image source: pixabay.com

Let’s jump in!

Here’s are two keys to a successful beta reading round:

  • Provide betas with a manuscript that, while imperfect, is already in good reading condition. Typos, grammar issues, and plot issues will exist, but they shouldn’t be so egregious that your beta readers don’t even want to finish the book!
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Then communicate some more. People are busy. You’ve got to help them remember their commitment to beta read, and give them enough guidance to do so successfully!

Where can I find betas?

As with alpha readers, I started with people I knew! Sure, they weren’t all fans of the genre, but they were people willing to read my work. You gotta start somewhere!

  • I started a newsletter (mostly friends and family from Facebook) and asked my subscribers to apply as beta readers.
  • I asked on my personal Facebook page.
  • I started a Facebook author page (again, mostly friends and family) and asked there.
  • Once I’d been through this process on one book, I sent special requests to former betas to repeat their roles.
  • I’ve also invited people on Twitter to apply as beta readers.
  • When I request beta readers, I’m very specific, telling them about the book, how long they’ll have to give feedback, etc..

How my beta-reading process works:

  • Prospective beta readers fill out a beta reader application.
  • Just filling out the application shows a certain level of commitment! So when I first started writing, I accepted everyone who filled out the application. Eventually, I reached the point where I became selective. Now, I choose approximately 20 to 25 betas. That’s more than many people use, and you may prefer fewer.
  • Even if I communicate very well with beta readers, I’ve never had 100% follow through. Life happens!
    • When working with an entirely new group of beta readers, you can reasonably expect at least 50% follow through (betas who read part or all of the book and provide feedback) if you communicate very well with them.
    • My highest-ever follow through has been 93%! This number was high because I had so many returning betas, and they were more likely to follow through than betas I’d never worked with before.
  • Once I’ve chosen my beta team and the book is ready, I send each of them an intro e-mail. I’m very clear on their deadlines (usually four weeks for a novel and at least two weeks for a novella) and what I’m looking for. Here’s my intro email for Birth of Magic:
  • I give beta readers a feedback form with questions that will help guide my revisions. It’s so helpful to them and to me.

How I decide which feedback to incorporate:

  1. First, I go with my gut. Does the feedback feel right? If it does, I change it.
  2. If more than one person has the same feedback, I might change it, even if it didn’t initially strike me as necessary
  3. And of course I change grammar errors, typos, etc. that my betas find!

Once you’ve made revisions based on beta feedback, it’s time for final polishing. That might involve a professional editor and/or proofreader, or an additional read-through by you, the author, or even another beta round…whatever you need to get your book ready for ARC reviewers.

Want more step-by-step instructions and resources that will help you create a successful beta reader team? My new book, Early Readers Catch the Worms, includes…

  • Access to a Resource Pack full of editable resources and templates to help you build early reader teams (including the beta-invitation email, beta application, welcome email to betas, feedback form, and follow-up email).
  • Suggestions for how to improve beta follow-through.

Buy your copy of Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel by clicking here!

Cover of Early Readers Catch the Worms

Click here for Part 3 of this series: ARC reviewers.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Working with Early Readers, Part 1: ALPHA READERS

This is Part 1 of a series for indie authors. To read the series intro, click here.

Finding critique partners or alpha readers can be scary! Your book is your baby, but you know it’s pretty rough because it’s in early-draft phase. Sharing it requires vulnerability. However, I’ve found my alpha team immensely valuable in crafting better books.

If you’re just starting out, it may work best to gather one or two trusted friends or family members (who will give you honest feedback) to be your alpha readers. Give them chapters or chunks of the book as you write it, and get their feedback.

My most faithful alpha readers at first were my sister and my mom. My sister in particular has a good eye for story issues and gave me a lot of extremely valuable feedback.

People will say, “Don’t ask friends and family for critiques! They won’t be honest!” But I say, start with what you’ve got! You’re a new author–you don’t have a fan base yet. But you do know people!

However, there are also ways to connect with other writers. I find Twitter to be an amazing writing community. (I’m @CBethAnderson.) Hop on, introduce yourself using the hashtag #WritingCommunity, and find some friends. Maybe some of them can be your alpha readers or critique partners!

Now that I have books released, I have a private Facebook group for my alpha readers. (I tried this method when I started writing, but it really didn’t work well. It was easier to build an alpha community once I’d earned their trust by publishing a trilogy they enjoyed!)

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Here are the details of how I work with alpha readers:

Where can I find alpha readers?

  • At first, I invited my street team (see Part 3 of this series) to be alpha readers. I was honest with them: “You’ll be reading books in chunks, which isn’t always a satisfying way to read. It’ll be rough, with lots of errors!”
  • People joined my alpha reader group. After several months, I reached out to anyone who hadn’t given feedback to ask if they still wanted to be in the group. I took out those who decided it wasn’t for them (no hard feelings.)
  • Now, my alpha reader group is invitation-only. After I culled the inactive members, I invited a few excellent beta readers I thought would make good alpha readers.

How alpha reading works in my Facebook Group:

  • I post instructions in the group. I tell them I’m looking for “big picture” feedback at this phase, such as plot pacing, characterization, and worldbuilding. I don’t want feedback on grammar or typos; it’s too early to worry about that stuff!
  • When I’ve completed about 1/4 of a book (1/2 if it’s a very short novella), I format it as mobi (for Kindle), ePub, and PDF (print version). (Yes, you can distribute in other forms, such as Word or Google Docs, but I find most readers prefer to read on a device, and ePub and mobi are ideal for that.)
  • I use StoryOrigin to create a page where my alpha readers can download the partial manuscript.
  • I share the download link in the private Facebook group and encourage people to read and review. I tag everyone in the group when I post so they don’t miss it!
  • Alpha readers give feedback within the Facebook group. That way, we get into some good conversations. The readers often agree with each other, and sometimes they disagree. All that is helpful to me!
  • I always respond to feedback, thanking the alpha reader and usually addressing specific elements of their feedback.
  • As I write, I continue to provide the book to readers a quarter at a time. (But when I publish the second quarter, I also include the first quarter, so someone who hasn’t started reading yet has it all in one place.)
  • I use a ton of this feedback as I revise for beta readers, and sometimes I update alpha readers on how I utilized their specific feedback!

Want more step-by-step instructions and resources that will help you create a successful alpha reader group? My new book, Early Readers Catch the Worms, includes…

  • Access to a Resource Pack full of editable resources and templates to help you build early reader teams.
  • Detailed pros and cons of various formatting programs (some of them free!)
  • Suggestions for how to set up and maintain your alpha reader group.

Buy your copy of Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel by clicking here!

Cover of Early Readers Catch the Worms

If you’re ready for more, click here to go to Part 2 of this series: BETA READERS.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!