Hi everyone! Today I have a great guest post from Ed Ditto on how to put extra spark into the presentation of our latest e-book extravaganza. Excellent to have you here Ed, take it away.
Guest Post by Ed Ditto
Since a correctly-constructed Kindle book opens to the first page of Chapter One, a reader’s first impression of your work often arises from your chapter heading. Does it look professional? Aesthetically pleasing? Does it fit your book’s subject matter? Is it ho-hum? Or does it cause immediate buyer’s remorse?
What follows are three jazzed-up chapter headings for Scrivener users to reproduce or riff on. Each is a snap to set up. They highlight the capabilities of the “Formatting” pane of Scrivener’s Compile wizard, as well as Scrivener’s “placeholder tags”—two tools no self-publishing author should be without.
Note that what you’re about to read is Mac-oriented and assumes a basic working knowledge of Scrivener. If you’re not a Scrivener user, you’ll be amazed by how easy Scrivener makes book creation. For a glimpse of Scrivener’s capabilities, see my article: “How to Format Your Book for Kindle in Ten Minutes or Less.” Then install the free, full-featured trial version of Scrivener from here (Mac) or here (Windows), and get my book: How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon (for Mac). (A Windows version is currently underway.) Also see my website, http://EdDitto.com, for more Scrivener tips and tricks.
1) Simple and contemporary
In this article I’ll be building headings for a novella with chapters named for the geographical locations in which they take place. So my Binder looks like:
Here’s the first design, the quickest and easiest one, as shown in the Kindle Previewer:
To build this heading I’ve started the Compile wizard and gone to the Formatting pane, where in the Structure and Content table I’ve de-checked the Level 1+ Title box as shown (because my chapters are all Level 1+ single texts. Adjust accordingly, depending on the type and hierarchical position of your chapters.)
Then I’ve hit the Formatting pane’s Section Layout button and entered the following placeholder tags under Title Prefix and Suffix:
So what’s a placeholder tag? It’s essentially a marker for information Scrivener will insert during the compilation process. In this example the placeholder tag <$w> gets replaced during compilation with numbers as lowercase words, incrementing each time Scrivener encounters the tag in the text…resulting in “one,” “two,” “three,” etc.
And then Scrivener replaces <$title> with the title of the text being compiled, in the order the texts appear in the Binder, such that “one” will be subtitled “Sausalito, 4:31 AM,” “two” will be subtitled “Compton, 7:26 AM,” and so on. For further explanation of Scrivener’s auto-numbering tags—or any others, for that matter—see “Help / Placeholder Tags List…” in Scrivener’s menu bar.
As you’ll see, entering one tag in the Prefix and one in the Suffix allows you to format them differently.
But first, while we’re in Section Layout, note that I’ve set the Title Appearance as follows:
This changes the suffix from title case (“Sausalito”) to lower-case (“sausalito”). There’s no need to change the Title Prefix to “Lowercase” because the <$w> tag already produces lower-case numbers.
Now comes the Formatting pane’s Formatting Editor:
Here I’ve done the following:
- Set the page padding to six lines.
- Highlighted the prefix line—i.e., “one”—and set it to Body Text and italicized and underlined it.
- Highlighted the suffix line—i.e., “title”—and set it to Heading 2 and italicized it. (Don’t worry that what you see in this example differs in appearance from the Kindle Previewer example above. Scrivener will apply Heading 2 to “title” during compilation.)
- Right-justified them both.
And that’s all it takes to set up the result you saw.
Next: something a bit more complicated.
2) Romantic with an embedded graphic
Ready to dial up the production value? Here’s a heading that takes about three minutes to set up.
In this case I’m shooting for a softer feel by incorporating Scrivener’s “Image” placeholder tag and an appropriate piece of free clip art:
The first thing I’ve done is found an appropriate image on the web and imported it into my Binder’s Research folder, like so:
The size doesn’t matter (insert many jokes here.) You’ll see why in a moment.
I’ve incorporated this image into the heading by using the image placeholder tag in the Formatting pane’s Section Layout / Title Prefix and Suffix:
How do these tags work?
First, the <$title> tag inserts…you guessed it, the chapter’s title.
- Then, after a paragraph return, comes <$img:floral-decoration-clip-art;w=150>, which has the following components:
- <$img: — opens the Image placeholder tag.
- floral-decoration-clip-art is the name of the image as it appears in the Binder—and note that an extension, like .jpg or .png, isn’t necessary.
- ;w=150> — automatically scales the image to width and preserves the proportionality between height and width, since height wasn’t explicitly declared. Declaring height but not width would work the same way. And if I’d wanted to re-size both width and height, I’d have used, say, “;w=150;h=250>” at the tag’s end. Play around with this proportionality, since it’s possible to balance the size of the image against your title.
While I’m in Section Layout, under Title Appearance I’ve set all three drop-down boxes to “Normal.”
Now take a look at the Formatting Editor:
It’s simple: the prefix line (“Title” and the image) is set to Body Text, italicized, and centered. Everything else is left the same as in the Contemporary example. Alternatively, you could bold the title…here I’ve left it un-bolded for a softer look.
The final example is something to use if you have a bit more time.
Have you seen Fontmeme.com? If not, take a second to look it over. It’s a font repository with a neat twist: when you’re previewing a font you can enter sample text into a form, hit “generate,” and you’ll get back an image of what that text would look like in that font. You can have mucho fun with this using Scrivener’s custom meta-data capabilities and a special placeholder tag.
In this example I’ve chosen to work with a Tattoo font entitled “RatInfestedMailbox.” (Love that title. By the way, ensure that you read and understand the licensure of the font you’d like to use. Not all of them are free for commercial use.)
Again, here’s the end product.
For starters, I’ve generated images for each of my chapter headings using FontMeme, saved them to my desktop, and imported them into my Binder, as shown. (For thirty chapters this would obviously require thirty images—you get the idea.)
As you can see, I’ve named the images numerically in series simply for ease of sorting. (See how this one has a transparent background? It’s a .png.)
Then I’ve opened the Inspector and used its Custom Meta-Data pane to create a custom meta-data field entitled “Image”, and populated it.
This is the custom meta-data for my first chapter. Note that I’ve entered the corresponding image name “1.” In the second chapter’s Image field I’ll enter “2,” and so on. In doing so, I establish a link between each chapter and its heading image…a link I’ll put to work when compiling, through Title Prefix and Suffix:
By now you’ll recognize the Image tag. What’s new, though, is that I’m using the Image tag as a “compound” tag, where the central portion, <$custom:Image>, returns the contents of the Image custom meta-data field to the image placeholder tag, yielding in the final compilation <$img:1;w=350> for the first chapter, <$img:2;w=350> for the second chapter, and so on. If you’re familiar with the CONCATENATE function in Excel, this is basically the same thing.
It’s a cool little trick; one I encourage you to play around with. For instance, you can use it to produce rotating-icon chapter headings like Robert Jordan uses in his Wheel of Time books…a topic I’ve covered at my website.
But one suggestion: stay aware that if you’re selling into Amazon’s 70% royalty structure, the more storage space your Kindle book requires, the more you pay in download fees. So if you’re using a lot of images, you’ll want to be careful to manage their sizes down.
Now that you’ve seen these techniques in action…
How do you plan to put them to use? Drop me a line at the contact information below and let me see what you’ve dreamed up; I’m always interested in new ideas.
Again, for a much more valuable and comprehensive approach to ebook publication, please pick up a copy of my guide: How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon. As one reviewer reported: “This book will probably save me several hundred dollars a year in professional formatting services. It is well worth the $4.99.”
About Ed Ditto
Since fleeing corporate America in 2005, Ed has written over a hundred feature articles for local newspapers, sold two novels, edited and/or ghostwritten five fitness books, produced seven e-books for other authors, and helped clients win upwards of a million dollars in grant funding. His latest book, How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon, is now available from Amazon. Visit his website, EdDitto.com for Ed’s take on self-publishing, grant writing, and good words. He’s also on Twitter, @BooksByEd.