One of the things I started doing at some point was writing my books in the same format as the paperback, that is, on a 6×9 or 8×5 page (depending on the projected length of the book) with the appropriate margins and fonts. I’m not sure when I started doing this, but I think I started a year or two ago. Before that I always wrote in a more standard manuscript format: 8.5×11″ with 12 point Times New Roman font, single-spaced, with half-inch indents. I liked this form factor for a long time because it put a lot of words on each page (and I wrote in page view), which made it easy to see more of what I was doing as well as having the benefit of making word count estimations easy with just a glance. I never did double-spacing because that was mostly for old-style physical editing and it makes it harder to read, in my experience.
So why the switch? I wasn’t necessarily paying close attention, but I started by accident.
What I noticed is that working on the actual page size let me visualize the book. I felt more immediately connected to the final product, and I could see what it would look like as a final product for the reader. Rather than treating the book as “words” that get turned into a product, it’s that product from the get-go. The shorter lines of a book make it easier to judge how big a paragraph or sentence is going to really appear, and in a small way, I think that makes managing pacing a bit easier.
It also made things easier to see and read. I could pump up the zoom and still see a whole page on the screen, as well as have my notes open next to the doc on my main monitor, so I had to do less head-turning.
The book format made it much easier to transition between different devices, specifically my phone and tablet. Yes, I do a lot of writing on my phone (with a keyboard). It’s quicker for me in my hectic life as a dad to open up a document on my phone than to turn on a computer. Sometimes I only get to work for ten minutes at a time, and the phone facilitates that. Writing in the book format also makes the pages look similar on my phone as they do on my computer, as far as words displayed (even if I am writing in web format without page breaks).
The other bonus is that time spent formatting before publication is reduced, which is one less headache leading up to the ship date.
Just a small thing. Yes, I still use Microsoft Word for writing and interior formatting.
Be sure to check out my book on creative productivity. Also please take a look at the free Generation Y book edited by JD Cowan (including essays and stories by me) and Pulp Rock, edited by Alexander Hellene, which includes one of my “2 hour books.”