At a glance, self-publishing a book through Amazon (or any other online retailer) sounds like a breeze. Write the book. Edit it. Get a cover created. And upload the thing. Then check the dashboard to watch the dollars roll in. Simple, right?
But when you actually get into the process, you realize that it's a bit more involved. And one of the often-overlooked steps in the self-publishing process is the formatting process. That is, turning your manuscript into a reflowable ebook or a professional-looking print book. This is where book formatting services can come in handy.
Read on to learn all about the available formatting services out there—and whether hiring one of these services is the right choice for your book!
- Top formatting choices available.
- Top formatting services on the market.
- What kinds of books need professional formatting?
Table of contents
Why You Should Trust Me
So I've been writing and formatting books for a long time. 10+ years as of this writing.
But I actually found formatting to be a huge pain, which is why I actually created my own formatting software that solved all my problems. I called it Atticus.
But this isn't meant to be a sales pitch. I just want to make sure it's clear that I know what I'm talking about. The amount of research that went into not only formatting my own books, but also creating a formatting software is huge.
I researched everything, from tiny margin requirements, to the specific type of quotes to use (curly or straight, it makes a difference).
And yes, of course, that includes researching the best formatting services out there.
So if all that makes sense, hopefully you'll come along with me as show you everything I've learned.
What is Formatting?
When I'm talking about formatting, I mean the book’s interior layout—otherwise called book layout. This encompasses everything from chapter heading styles and paragraph indents to font type and general book design. It can also encompass how to format charts, graphs, and pictures.
We generally talk about two types of formatting: print and ebook. Formatting a print book has different requirements than formatting an ebook. Fortunately, formatting services do both.
Why Hire a Professional Formatting Service?
Whether your goal is to make a living as an author or you just want to write your heart out and hope someone reads your stuff, you'll need to make some important choices. And one of these choices regards book formatting.
Essentially, you have two choices when it comes to getting your books formatted.
- You can do it yourself.
- You can hire someone.
Until recently, formatting your book by yourself was an involved process that required you to learn a design tool like Adobe InDesign. Depending on your technological acumen, this could mean dozens of hours of learning to get everything just right. Luckily, once you learned how to do it once, you would become more proficient the more you did.
Of course, this is still an option. But with tools like Kindlepreneur's very own Atticus, formatting has become a breeze. More on Atticus later.
Hiring a book formatting service is still very much an option. And the nice thing is, the only time commitment it requires from you is the hiring and approval process. This can mean a few hours of work upfront to find the right formatter. But once you find one you like, you can stick with them. That said, hiring a professional book formatter is pretty expensive. You can find cheap formatters, but you run the risk of getting sub-par work back.
So you'll have to decide whether you want to hire a formatter or do it yourself.
And without further ado, let's get into the book formatting services available.
Book Formatting Services
Make sure to do your due diligence before deciding on one of the options below. Check reviews. Ask other authors. Compare prices. I try to vet these services as best I can, but I can only do so much!
Okay, so Atticus is more of a tool than an actual service. But the formatting options that come standard with Atticus are comparable to professionally done options. And the best part is, you don't have to spend hours and hours learning how to use it. I built this tool to be intuitive. So if you use Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you won't have an issue using Atticus.
The formatting options included with Atticus allow you to choose from over a dozen templates — or create your own. It does both print book and ebook formatting for no extra cost. And it allows you to see what your finished product will look like in real time. The formatted books can be used on any and every major self-publishing platform.
But the number one reason I recommend Atticus is that it costs less for unlimited use than most book formatting services cost for a single book. Yeah, you read that right. For one price, you get lifetime access to all the Atticus features, not just formatting.
- 17 templates.
- Custom theme creation.
- 1200+ combinations.
- Large print options.
- Works for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chromebook.
- Full bleed images.
- One price for unlimited formatting.
- Lifetime usage for only $147.
- Not strictly a service.
- Does take a little learning.
- Not ideal for books with lots of images.
Ebook Launch has been serving authors and small publishers since 2011. They offer several services, such as book cover creation, editing, and formatting. They can provide you with ebook and print formatting for immediate upload to Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, Barnes & Noble, and others. They also provide a 100% guarantee on all of their services. So if you're not happy, they'll make it right or provide a refund.
Unfortunately, they're not the cheapest service out there. At the time of this writing, their print book formatting service starts at $219 for books up to 50,000 words in length. Prices go up from there. And these prices are for text-heavy fiction or nonfiction. If you have images you want to add, it'll be extra.
Ebook Launch Pros:
- Trusted in the industry.
- Rush jobs available (6 days vs 14 for non-rush).
- Experienced designers.
- Free revisions.
- 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Ebook Launch Cons:
- On the expensive side – starting at $219.
- You can't pick your designer.
- Can't make changes yourself.
Reedsy is another well-known name in the self-publishing world. They serve as a platform to bring authors together with professionals in the publishing industry. You can find an editor, a book designer, and even someone who can help you with book promotion. Of course, they also have plenty of book formatters there. And every professional gets vetted, so you know they have a baseline of quality and experience.
Like Ebook Launch, hiring one of these formatters isn't cheap. Prices vary depending on the individual designers, but you're generally looking at around $200 to $300 for a standard-length fiction book.
- Plenty of professionals to choose from.
- Vetted before they're allowed to join.
- You can discuss the job with the designer beforehand.
- Personal experience can get you exactly what you want.
- A bit pricey.
- After the project is approved, you can't make changes to the book.
BookBaby was founded in Portland, Oregon, in 2011. They provide a wide range of services to self-published authors, including distribution, printing, book editing services, cover design, and interior formatting. Unlike Reedsy, you don't actually get to choose your formatter.
The biggest drawback of BookBaby for formatting is its price. Formatting packages start at a whopping $399. Granted, their finished products look good, but when you can get something comparable for a fraction of the price, you should carefully consider dropping $400 on formatting alone.
- Trusted and fairly popular.
- Professional formatters.
- Experienced in the business.
- Expensive – starts at $399.
- Don't get to choose your formatter.
Elite Authors was founded back in 2008 as an editing service. But as things changed and self-publishing grew, they expanded their services to include interior formatting, marketing, and even ghostwriting. They even teamed up with CreateSpace at one point to help indie authors bring their books to market.
Their print and ebook formatting service seems to be a little different from these others. They provide templates and access to their library of fonts, chapter headings, and titles. So this is more of a hands-on approach—you get to choose the templates and styles, then the formatter puts it all together. This is similar to what Atticus does. The big difference is that the Elite Authors’ professional book formatting service starts at $329 per book.
Elite Authors Pros:
- More of a hands-on approach.
- Money-back guarantee.
Elite Authors Cons:
- Expensive – starts at $329.
- Not many third-party reviews available.
I Need a Book Interior
“I Need A Book Interior” (INABI) is a specialized service for creating great book interiors, geared for authors seeking a strong first impression and a visually enticing reading experience for their readers
Based on the testimonials, there is a lot to like about I Need a Book Interior, with clients praising the detail orientation, professionalism, punctuality, and quality of work.
I Need A Book Interior Pros:
- Specialized in creating high-quality book interiors.
- Streamlined four-step process.
- Quick turnaround time (around three weeks).
- High praise in the testimonials.
I Need A Book Interior Cons:
- Pricing and specific service options are not immediately clear from the website.
Upwork isn't strictly a formatting service. You've probably heard of it before. It's a massive collection of freelancers who offer everything from copywriting to marketing to software design. You can find a ton of people willing to format your manuscript for Kindle Direct Publishing or other outlets on this platform.
Most of the freelancers on Upwork charge hourly rates, so it's important that you determine how many hours it will take them to produce a beautifully formatted manuscript. Otherwise, you can end up paying more than you want. It's also a good idea to check their job success score and reviews from previous clients before making a decision.
- Plenty of options.
- Wide price range.
- Built-in mediation if you're not happy with the work.
- Not all freelancers are professionals.
- It takes time to choose a freelancer.
Fiverr is very similar to Upwork in its setup and operation. You search for professional formatting services and choose a freelancer based on price, success rate, and reviews. When all is said and done, you get a couple of files that you can upload to the various stores.
The thing is, you only get three days to approve these files. So it's important that you go over them to make sure everything looks good before you approve the delivery. If you find something messed up later on, you don't have much recourse.
- Plenty of freelancers to choose from.
- Wide price range.
- Built-in mediation before you approve the delivery.
- Not all freelancers are professionals.
- It takes time to choose the right freelancer.
- Only three days to approve the files.
These are far from the only formatting services available. But they are among the best-known and will be able to help you with print and ebook formatting for 99% of books.
Do You Really Need Professional Formatting?
There's no question that you want to present the best book possible. So having a professional-quality product is a must. But that doesn't mean you need to hire a formatter at professional prices. With so many other expenses, like editing and cover design, independent authors should be wary of paying $200 to $400 for interior design per book. Especially when there are other options that will get the same quality—or better.
For your average novel or nonfiction book without many pictures, Atticus is all you really need. You can use one of the 17 templates included or spend a little time designing your own. And you can do it over and over again for one low price.
So whether you're publishing through KDP Print or you're just looking to turn your Word document into an ebook format, Atticus can get it done for you with a few minutes and a few clicks.
If you're an indie author whose book is image-heavy, you may want to use a book designer or professional formatter instead of a formatting tool like Atticus. And if that's the case, one of the book formatting services above can surely help you!Learn more about Atticus here.