With our venture into publishing select stories to libraries comes one issue: formatting. Getting libraries to accept the story requires not only the right analytics and a bit of work on our end, but we’re also required to provide stories that conform to a certain style guideline. For that reason, poorly formatted stories simply won’t be selected for our library partners. If you are an author looking to get accepted to this program, make sure your story follows the guidelines below.
But there’s another important reason to format your story. It applies to authors in the library program as well as those simply seeking to maintain their readership on the site.
Reader engagement. What does that mean? It isn’t just about holding people’s attention with your story. The story is half the battle. Having neat, punctual prose with proper formatting on the web plays an equally important role in reader engagement.
Luckily coming up with the story is the hard part. Formatting is the easy part. With simple tools like copy and paste and find and replace, you can turn an otherwise difficult-to-read chapter into something easily digestible. What’s important is recognizing these errors where and when they turn up. The author who doesn’t spend time identifying issues with their writing is the author who doesn’t want a masterpiece.
One of the most frequent formatting errors we run into on JukePop is the dreaded “wall of text”. This is when a paragraph is so long that all readers see on their computer screens is a string of illegible words. It can be hard—sometimes impossible—to keep readers engaged with text that is not broken up. Gaps in text is imperative.
We hear it all the time from our readers. Some actually leave comments to the authors begging them to break up text with spaces. Many times, we see a reader say that they like the premise of the author’s story, but they are distracted by elementary writing mistakes and formatting issues.
Traditionally writers and editors follow a style manual. Either an in-house one or a chosen industry standard. It is their go-to guide. What size font to use, paragraph indentation, answers to any stylistic questions. Everyone must follow it to a tee.
JukePop does not use such a manual. Our software automatically converts everything that is uploaded to our site to our in-house style. However we do ask writers to follow a couple of rules when uploading. This is our style manual:
1. Remove prior formatting before cutting and pasting to the site. This can be done by copy/pasting to notepad or another ASCII word processor, then copy/pasting that to JukePop’s editor. Easy!
2. Insert a blank space between each paragraph and line of dialogue. This avoids the “wall of text” issue. Additionally consider breaking up long paragraphs. Our best stories’ paragraphs have the typical length of five sentences.
3. If you know a bit of HTML/CSS, you may insert things like left-right quotation marks and long dashes by turning on the “source code” button in our text editor. However, please don’t use code to do things like change the font of your text.
4. Review your chapters before and after they are published. Make sure they include line breaks and have the correct HTML/CSS formatting. If something is amiss, use our Edit Chapter feature found under “My Submissions”.
5. And remember, if you would like to be considered for our library inclusion, stories need to be without any tabs or indentations. More info on that here.
Keep up the good work, JukePop authors.