Category Archives: Book design

How to Prepare Your Manuscript for Publishing: Print

The Complete Writer
Section VII: Publishers and Self-Publishers

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. You also can find links to the chapters that have appeared so far at our special page for The Complete Writer. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

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How to Prepare Your Manuscript for Publishing:
Print

The most sensible way to prepare your book for print-on-demand publishing is to hire a graphic designer to do the layout and run interference with the printer for you. But of course . . . we rarely take the most sensible way. How boring would that be, eh?

Let’s look at what one needs to launch the print-on-demand venture:

The manuscript

That seems self-evident, so let’s clarify it: the edited manuscript in its absolutely positively last draft in perfect shape.

This is to say not to get ahead of yourself. Don’t conceive any silly ideas to the effect that you’ll slap what you have in a page layout and then add, subtract, multiply, and divide in page proofs. Even if you’re not paying a graphic artist to do the design and page layout, the amount of time added by making corrections in the laid-out copy will cost you dearly. So, be sure your content, heads, and subheads are in as final a form as they’re ever going to get.

The page layout

This is the book’s interior design. It’s the physical way all the book parts we explored in chapter 35 will look once the magnum opus is in print.

You can come by this in three ways. One is to hire a graphic designer to visualize the book’s size and physical appearance and design a graphic layout to make it so. If your book has a lot of images or other kinds of graphics (such as tables, graphs, lists, and the like), you would be well advised to have a professional design its interior layout.

That is also true if you have a specific reason to need a perfectly designed, exceptionally handsome finished product. If, for example, your book will be a marketing device for your business, you absolutely should hire a graphic artist to handle the design. If it is to be something you want to hand down to your family’s future generations—a gift, that is, to the scions of your dynasty—you probably should consider the cost of a graphic designer as money well spent.

Most readers haven’t a clue, however. And so this brings us to the second pathway to page design: a do-it-yourself template.

Unless you’re very skilled with Word, trying to set up a book without a professionally designed template is counterproductive. Setting up margins and gutters correctly for a printer’s trim size is no easy DIY project.

You can acquire templates that allow you to lay out a book in Word or, if you know the program, in InDesign. Also, it’s not difficult to use Apple’s Pages to set up a book’s margins, if you know the correct trim size and you have some degree of design and technical sophistication.

A Google search will reveal a number of entrepreneurs who sell templates pre-fabricated to lay out books in Word. For this book, for example, I am using Joel Friedlander’s[6] “Focus” template in a 5.5 x 8-inch trim size.

(Trim size, by the way, is the size the pages will be cut. The final size of a paperback book is the same as its trim size.)

You can obtain templates at CreateSpace,[7] Amazon’s print-on-demand supplier. I haven’t done so, because friends and associates have had mixed results with CreateSpace, and so my preference is to work with a local print-on-demand vendor. However, many people have been happy enough with CreateSpace’s products.

If you’re bound and determined to do this job yourself, bear in mind these crucial factors:

  • Word is not a page layout program. It can do a serviceable job, but the result will never be a great job.
  • You will need some serious sophistication in the use of Word.
  • The job will take three to six times longer than you expect.
  • Your computer will need to convert the Word file to a print-quality PDF. Most Macs will do this if you choose “print to PDF” instead of “save as PDF.” Many PCs will not. To make that happen, then, you will need to download and learn to operate Adobe Distiller or Acrobat Pro.
  • To get the PDF right, if you’re working on a Mac, you must go through the Word document and make sure every section is formatted in the correct trim size. Otherwise, the default settings (letter-size paper) will apply and your print-on-demand supplier’s upload software will tilt like an old-fashioned pinball machine. I expect this applies on a PC, too.

It’s not hard to do these things, nor is it unreasonably hard to learn them. But it can be very time-consuming. Do be prepared for this factor.

An ISBN

We visited the International Standard Book Number in chapter 35. An ISBN is not required unless you intend to sell your book in the retail market or try to get a library to stock it. Brick and mortar booksellers and libraries require an ISBN. Amazon does not need it for e-books but does require it for print books.

You do not need an ISBN to secure your copyright. The ISBN has nothing to do with copyright.

Consider how you will distribute your printed book. If it’s a family history or genealogy that you’ll give to the aunts, uncles, cousins, children, and grandchildren, then you will not need an ISBN. If you’re going to sell it through a retailer, then you do need an ISBN. The ISBN is easily purchased through Bowker.[8]

A bar code

Same principle applies here: print books intended to be marketed through retailers need a bar code keyed to the ISBN. Bowker will sell you a bar code, for a pretty penny. You can get one for free online, though, from CreativeIndie.[9]

The cover art and copy

You will need high-quality camera-ready artwork for your print cover. Minimum resolution should be 300 dpi.

Although it is possible to produce an acceptable cover using PowerPoint and a photo editor (this book’s cover was created with those tools), I don’t recommend it. InDesign is designed for graphics such as book covers, but the learning curve is steep. Gimp, the online freeware that apes InDesign, also can help you create your book’s artwork, but it is no easier to learn than InDesign. So, unless you have training in page layout software, you’re well served by hiring a graphic designer for the job.

Smashwords, a distributor of e-books, has a list of graphic artists who are willing to work for cheap.[10] I have never used any of these vendors and cannot comment on their quality; some apparently do e-book covers only; others may be experienced with wrap-around paperback covers. Another option in the low-rent category is Fiverr[11]; many people say they have found excellent graphic artists to do a one-off project like a book cover. It looks like a pig in a poke to me: be sure to ask for references.

If you feel you need a very high-quality cover—you do, if you intend to sell the book in the retail market—then you should go to one or more of the graphic artists’ associations that provide lists of members looking for freelance work. Brescia University lists the seven most prominent such groups.[12] The Copyeditor’s Desk also can connect you with one of our skilled and experienced subcontractors; get in touch through the Contact page at our website.[13]

Interior images

Print-on-demand technology cannot yet handle color images, at least not well. You will need to provide your images in black and white format. Convert color images to black and white in your photo editor or in Word. You can find Word’s conversion function in “Format > Picture > Recolor.” Select “grayscale,” not “black and white.” Adjust exposure and contrast as needed to attain the best reproduction.

The layout process

If you have a Word template, copy and paste your edited manuscript into the template, chapter by chapter. Using the Word “styles” that come with the template, format every element of the book’s file as appropriate. Most template makers provide instructions for how to do this. Follow the instructions closely.

Insert images using Word’s “Insert > Picture” function, bearing in mind how they’re likely to look in their position within the format. Size and position accordingly.

If you have not already done so, desaturate the images to make them black and white.

Now, here are some things you need to know about page layout.

Running headers should never appear on the first pages of chapters. You can set Word to omit them in the Insert > page numbers function.

Chapters should always open on a recto (odd-numbered) page.

If the preceding chapter ends on recto page, then the back side of that page (the verso, even-numbered page) should be left blank.

No page number or running head should appear on any blank page.

You cannot make Word do this automatically. The (sort of) easy fix is to create a blank text box in another file and “fill” it in white. Save to disk. Copy the text box to the page you want to be blank and move it over the running header, to cover it. If it does not hide the type under it, format the text box: format > text box > layout > in front of text. Assuming you print on white paper, the text box will hide the redundant running header. Obviously, this will not work on ivory paper.

Front matter should be paginated in lower-case Roman numerals; the rest of the book is paginated in Arabic numerals. Accomplish this by entering a section break (not a page break) at the end of the page of the front matter. Then in “Insert > page number,” instruct Word to paginate the front matter i, ii, iii… and the next section 1, 2, 3… starting anew with the numeral 1.

First paragraphs below every chapter title and subhead should be set flush left.

Other paragraphs should be set first line indent, and that indent should not be Word’s standard half-inch. About .2 inch works for most page layouts. Experiment if your layout is nonstandard.

A typical trade book paperback is 5.5 x 8.5 inches.

The spine size depends on the number of pages; your print-on-demand vendor’s software will calculate the width for you. Copy runs from the top to the bottom, not the other way around. Either the author’s name or the title may appear first. The publisher’s logo appears near the bottom of the spine.

Allow many more hours for this project than you imagine it will take. Page layout in Word is a time-consuming and challenging chore, even for people who are proficient in Word. If you don’t have strong admin-assistant level skills, you will be tearing your hair.

And that is why I strongly recommend hiring a graphic designer to do the page layout as well as the cover. You can do it, but it will make you crazy.

How to Prepare Your MS for Publishing: E-books

How to Prepare Your Manuscript for Publishing:
E-books

The Complete Writer
Section VII: Publishers and Self-Publishers

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. You also can find links to the chapters that have appeared so far at our special page for The Complete Writer. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

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How to Prepare Your MS for Self-Publishing: E-books

This chapter is not for the technically proficient. If you know HTML and CSS—and know them well—format your document in ePub and be done with it. You can submit an ePub file to any of the major e-book distributors. Freeware that will simplify your life is Calibre. Its documentation is written in techese and difficult for the untechnical to learn.

For the rest of us, there’s hope: it’s not difficult to format a Word document for Kindle if—and only if—it consists mostly of plain narrative, with no graphics. That means no pictures, no diagrams, no graphs, no maps, no boxed pull-outs: nothing but plain sentences, paragraphs, chapter titles, and basic subheads.

Anything more complex—such as the book you have in your hands—requires a format conversion program such as InDesign, Apple Pages, or Calibre. Unless you’re familiar with such software, you’ll find a professional e-book formatter’s services well worth the very reasonable cost.

Formatting basics

In either event, your entire document must be formatted using Word’s “Styles” function. This includes titles, subtitles, paragraphs, captions, footnotes, and the like.

Do this whether you intend to attempt a DIY project or whether you will hire a professional formatter to do it right. Do not fail to set the formatting with your word processor’s “styles.”

Instruction on how to use Word is beyond this book’s scope, but you can find how-to’s by clicking on “Help” or by searching for the desired function in Google.

The font you select is irrelevant to e-book formatting. In Kindle, the reader can select fonts and sizes according to need or whim. So you can simply use Word’s default or, if you prefer a less unsightly font, select Times or Times New Roman.

Margin settings are similarly irrelevant in e-book formatting. In Word, then, use the default margins (1 inch top and bottom; 1 inch left and right).

So, using “Styles,” go through the manuscript and apply the chapter title style to each chapter title, the level 1 subhead to each main subhead, the level 2 subhead to each sub-subhead, the paragraph style to each paragraph, the bulleted list style to each bulleted list, and so on. Do not use the Format… command to accomplish this task. You need to have all the formatting set up with “Styles.”

This includes italic, boldface, and small caps as well.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by using an e-book format template. A number of these are available. These come with preformatted styles for all elements in your manuscript.

Remember: in any word processing program (Word, Pages, GoogleDocs, Open Office, etc.), what you see on the page is NOT what you get. An e-book displays “flowable” text. That means it changes to suit the reader’s preferences and to adapt to the device on which it is viewed.

Page numbers go away. So do your pretty running headers. Knowing this, remove pagination and running headers from your document.

Formatting for heads and subheads may be arbitrary. Do set the heads and subheads using your word processor’s “styles.” Their format will come out looking distinct, if you set them consistently. However, they may look different from what you expect.

The live table of contents needs to be formatted on a PC, not a Mac. You will need a ToC with live links; if you don’t know how to create one of these (in Word, go to Format > Document Elements > Table of Contents), you should hire someone who does or, preferably, hire a professional e-book designer to do the entire job.

Graphics of any kind (this includes photographs, drawings, tables, graphs, maps, lists, and anything else along those lines) are very tricky to install in an e-book. It’s possible to do so using a word processing program, but it’s difficult and requires real technical proficiency.

For this reason, a book that contains any complexity at all beyond A- and B-level subheads is best consigned to an experienced, technologically proficient e-book designer.

Drop caps installed in a word processor do not compute on Kindle readers. Do not use drop caps in an e-book. Doing so will create a mess.

This is an example of a drop cap.

If you want to fancify your first paragraphs, try setting the first few words in all caps, like this:

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT in outer Richistan, the wind howling through the mountain passes and…

Small caps would look much more professional. But not all versions of Kindle can read your DIY small caps. If you set your first view words in small caps….

…you may get IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT in your published e-book, depending on how it’s viewed.

The best candidate for DIY e-book formatting is a work of fiction with plain-vanilla formatting: one that contains nothing more complicated than chapter titles and an occasional subhead. If it contains a map, a diagram, dingbats formatted as jpegs, or anything even faintly out of the ordinary, hire an e-book formatter.

Before you upload your book to kindle . . .

First, write the keywords, category and the description. These are not things you want to scribble on the fly, as they’re presented to you in Kindle’s online form.

The keywords and categories will guide your readers to your book. Think, from a reader’s point of view, what category or keyword a person might search for that would bring up your book. You get two browsing categories (often they do not fit: this book will probably be classified under “self-help” and “crafts and hobbies” ), and seven keywords.

Converting and posting your book to kindle

It is possible to convert a Word document directly to Kindle (i.e., .mobi format) from your “Bookshelf” page. I strongly urge you to rethink this scheme if your book has any level of complexity at all. The book you are reading, for example, will be formatted by a professional.

You will need a correctly designed and sized “cover” image in JPEG format. Please see the previous chapter for discussion of this issue.

I have used Amazon’s online Kindle conversion software for Camptown Races books, which are short, very simple, and contain no formatting other than the book title, the chapter titles, and the paragraphs. For this purpose, it has worked satisfactorily—but bear in mind, readers do not pick up light erotica for its elegant design. Converting any layout more sophisticated than a very plain novel will give you a migraine.

Review your document line by line to be sure you have formatted everything, including single words set in italic or boldface, using the “Styles” function.

In a separate reading, proofread carefully. You may want to get a friend or employee to proofread the copy, since your eye will fill in what your mind knows to be correct, and even with Word’s spell-checker running, you will miss some typos.

Set up a book-seller’s account with Amazon’s Author Central. The instructions are posted online;[5] it’s not as complicated as it looks. Select Kindle Direct Publishing.

You can go through CreateSpace, which has many services and tools for self-publishers. Personally, I use Kindle Direct because I have heard so many horror stories from people who have tried CreateSpace: bad design, second-rate products, poor customer service, various incomprehensible hassles—in my opinion, it’s better to have more direct control over production. You do not need CreateSpace to build an e-book file and publish it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.

Once you’re registered with Author Central, follow the steps to publish your book from your “Bookshelf” page. This is rote and very simple.

All you have to do is upload your Word file, and Amazon’s software will automatically convert it to Kindle format.

Three things you should know about this process:

  1. Your book cover needs to be prepared as a high quality JPEG—at least 300 dpi—and sized at about 1200 x 1800 pixels. You can’t upload a PDF here.
  2. Amazon has a spellchecker. Even though you think your manuscript is perfect after the ten proofreadings you’ve gone through, and even though the spellchecker flags exotic place names or unusual proper names, it will catch typos that you missed! Every time. Be sure to look at the spellchecker’s results and go through each item.
  3. Amazon gives you two choices for reviewing the completed .mobi file:
  4. You can read it online in Amazon’s online Kindle reader; or
  5. You can download a Kindle reader to your computer, download the .mobi file, and read the thing in your terminal.

Your best choice, hands-down, is to download the Kindle reader, then download the .mobi file and read it in your resident Kindle reader.

While no two Kindle devices necessarily show a given .mobi file the same way, the online Kindle reader at Author Central is a disaster, particularly if you have even slightly complex formatting, or if you have changed the formatting within a document before uploading it.

The first book I published on Amazon contained a lot of lists and several levels of heads and subheads. It looked fine in the online Kindle reader, so I clicked “publish.”

Forthwith, up came an angry review from a reader who complained about a mishmash of weird formatting.

I downloaded the book to my iPad and opened it in the iPad’s Kindle reader and saw she was right: the whole thing was a mess!

I had to remove the book from Amazon, rename it, get a new ISBN, produce all new marketing materials, and hire an e-book formatter to completely reformat the 350-page book from beginning to end.

Back at Author Central, I downloaded the Kindle reader offered there and used that to open the delinquent .mobi file. It, like my unhappy reader’s device, revealed a formatting jumble. So, the message there is don’t, under any circumstances, use Amazon’s online Kindle Reviewer as a quick way to review your book during the upload process.

After you’ve downloaded Author Central’s kindle reader, you can also download the .mobi file to your computer. This allows you to save it to disk. Back up the book in every format you create and store it to an external hard drive: this includes your word-processed version, PDF, .mobi, ePub, and anything else you encounter.

Follow the steps through the online form. Set your price, click on the “agree” box, and click done. Your book will go online within a couple of days.

KDP Direct vs. KDP Select

Amazon will pressure you, at the time you upload your book and in various communications, to join its KDP Select program. Supposedly this step up from the entry-level KDP Direct will supercharge your sales.

Personally, I find KDP Select to be somewhat problematic. Primary reason: when you enroll in KDP Select, you agree to embargo your book. You can’t sell it anywhere but on Amazon: not at Barnes & Noble, not down at the local grocery store, not through Smashwords, not even from your own website.

If you have published the work as a series and also as a “boxed set” or complete book and you have put even one of the serials in KDP Select, the complete book containing the embargoed work is also embargoed!

Additionally, KDP Select limits your pricing to no more than $9.99. If you consider how many hours it takes to write and format a book and how much you could have earned during those hours on a freelance or employee basis, you’ll soon realize that you would have to sell a boatload of books at $9.99 to earn even minimum wage, to say nothing of covering your costs and making the book turn a profit.

KDP Select automatically enrolls your book in Amazon’s “lending” program, which essentially gives your book away for free. The theory here is that people who join the lending program will pay to do so. A pool of money is set aside from these fees, to be paid to authors whose books are “borrowed” in this way.

But Amazon spies on its book users. Those who “borrow” your book must open it and look at a certain number of pages. You are paid—if you’re paid—according to the percentage of the book the reader has eyeballed.

Let me put it this way: you can supercharge a snail. You’ll still have a snail.

To my mind, it’s just not worth giving Amazon full control over where you sell your book and who reads it. Some authors have reported good results from KDP Select; others have seen no change in sales. My guess is that those who are happy with it have strong marketing programs elsewhere and would have seen decent sales had they maintained their independence and stayed with KDP Direct.

I recently ran a one-week KDP Select “countdown” sale of six titles—a cookbook and five erotic romances. I hyped the bargains from one end of the social media to the other. During the entire month of that sale, I sold eighteen books. Revenues were $18.97: about the same as I earn month by month without slashing the prices to 99 cents.

Working with a professional e-book formatter

Let me say it one more time: you are best served by hiring an e-book formatter to convert your book to electronic format. Unless you love spending hour after hour after hour trudging up and down Himalayan learning curves, unless you like wasting your time, and unless frustration is a gratifying emotion for you, please do consider farming out your manuscript to an expert formatter.

E-book formatters not only can save you a great deal of time (and time is money if you write or edit on a contract basis), they also know how to get images to work in electronic files, how to optimize the files for viewing on a wide variety of readers, and how to set them up so that browsing buyers will see the most tempting part of your book first.

Here’s what the person will need:

  • The manuscript, carefully proofread and thoroughly, accurately formatted in your word processor’s “Styles” function.
  • Images in high-quality JPEG format. Each image should be sharp, clear, and at least 300 dpi.
  • Your completed cover, also as a high-quality JPEG.

Be sure your manuscript is as edited as it’s going to get, so as to spare the formatter unnecessary extra work.

 

How to Prepare Your MS for Publishing: Parts of a Book

How to Prepare Your Manuscript for Publishing:
The Parts of a Book

The Complete Writer
Section VII: Publishers and Self-Publishers

 This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays.  You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. You also can find links to the chapters that have appeared so far at our special page for The Complete Writer. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

[35]

Preparing Your Manuscript for Publishing I:
The Parts of a Book

Every book that follows the Chicago Manual of Style—the standard of the book publishing industry—contains certain set parts. These are broadly known as the front matter (half-title or bastard title, title page, copyright page, dedication, epigraph, table of contents, foreword or preface); text (author’s introduction and book’s the main content); and back matter (appendixes, index, author’s bio). Running headers and footers, including pagination, are also part of the book, as are various graphics. The cover, too, is a book part.

Let’s take a brief look at each of these.

Front matter

The half title, sometimes called a bastard title, is the first page of the book. This page displays the main title only, without the subtitle or any other details. It appears on the right-hand side (“recto” page); the back of this sheet (the “verso” page) is left blank, unless the book is part of a series. In that case, the title and volume number of the series, the general editor’s name, and sometimes the titles of previous volumes in the series may appear on the verso side of the half-title.

Often, a paperback does not include a half-title. As you can see, this book has no half-title. Neither do e-books.

The title page starts with the book’s main title. On the next line, the subtitle (if any) should appear, followed by the author’s name and the name and city of the publishing house.

In this book, which was created with a commercial template, the book’s title appears in 36-point Big Caslon small caps; the subtitle is in the same font in 12-point caps and lower-case (cc/lc), and the author’s byline is in 18-point cc/lc. The publisher’s name and city are set in 14-point cc/lc.

No law governs the choice of fonts, the size, or the position. The lines may be centered or flush left, as desired. But the design of the title page should match or be compatible with the design for the content of the book.

The copyright page appears on the back side (verso) of the title page. The copyright statement looks like this:

Copyright YYYY Copyright Holder

or

Copyright © YYYY Copyright Holder

Thus:

Copyright 2016 Oliver Q. Boxankle

If you wish to include a reminder that you will sue the bedoodles out of anyone who infringes on your rights, this is the place to do it:

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

This gassy statement is redundant. The fact that you have a copyright in the material and you have neither sold it nor released it to the public domain means the same thing as the verbiage above. Anything you create in a reproducible medium—including writing—is automatically copyrighted as you create it. You own the copyright on it by virtue of your having made it. Copyright will always belong to you, unless you choose to sell some or all of your rights in the work.

If there’s some other copyright information that should be included, such as acknowledgement of previously published material, include it here.

Some parts of this book originally appeared in The Essential Feature, by Victoria Hay (Columbia University Press, 1990).

Include the name of the publisher and contact information. Some sources suggest you include an address. If you’re self-publishing and working out of your home, obviously this is ill-advised. Instead, include a contact page at your website, or else rent a mailbox through the postal service or a private mailboxes shop. Although you need to include the publisher’s city, do not include an address where anyone can find you in person and do not include a telephone number that rings directly to you personally or to a home office.

Plain & Simple Press
Phoenix, Arizona

Next, credit special contributors, such as graphic artists (cover design, interior design and layout, photographer(s), editor, and the like).

Book Layout ©2013 BookDesignTemplates.com

This credits the designer of the template used to lay out the book’s interior; the template itself is copyrighted. If a graphic designer laid out the interior, credit that artist here; similarly credit the artist who designed your cover, and the photographer (if any) who provided the image.

Don’t neglect to include the edition number and your ISBN on the copyright page.

Book Title/ Victoria Hay. —1st ed.
SBN 978-0-0000000-0-0

You’ll need to get a new ISBN for each new edition, and also for every format in which the book appears. That is, the ePub version has its own ISBN, as does the Kindle version, as does the paperback version, as does the hardback version.

Traditional publishers also include the Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication (CIP) data.[1] Unless you are selling your book through brick-and-mortar bookstores, it’s not necessary. If you hope to get your book into libraries, you’ll need a Library of Congress Preassigned Control Number (PCN) so you can get a CIP, which is required by libraries. CIP is not readily available to self-published authors, and so to navigate these shoals you will need to do some research.[2]

You may include a brief biographical note of the author or other contributors. If this information is given on the copyright page, it appears at the top of the page and the name or names must be consistent with their appearance on the title page. Often, as in this book, the author’s bio appears at the end of the book.

What is an ISBN and why do you need it? Or do you need it?

“ISBN” stands for International Standard Book Number. A special ISBN is set up for each book in a system provided by Bowker.[3] It is a universal, unique identifier that enables publishers and booksellers to manage fulfillment and inventory. Each format for a book must have a separate ISBN.

To get into Books in Print your book must have an ISBN. Libraries will not carry books unless they’re in Books in Print. So, you need an ISBN if you are going to ask your local library to carry your self-published book.

Similarly, brick-and-mortar bookstores require an ISBN. Many barriers to selling in real bookstores confront self-publishers; this is one of them. If you think you want to jump those hurdles, start right away by registering an ISBN with Bowker for your print book.

Contrary to what a certain large retailer would like you to believe, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. “ASIN” stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. It’s just an inventory number for Amazon; it has no meaning in any other context. The ISBN is universally recognized and used by retailers, libraries, distributors, and fulfillers.

You do not need to an ASIN at Amazon because amazon will assign one. An ISBN is needed to sell through most other retailers and for lending libraries.

With the ISBN, you can acquire a bar code for your hard-copy book. All retailers, including Amazon, require a bar code for paperback and hardback books. Once you have the ISBN, you can get a bar code from Bowker, for a fee. However, free bar codes are available on the Internet.[4] A bar code includes your ISBN (providing a tracking number for the retailer and for you) and the book’s retail price.

A dedication or epigraph (or both) may appear after the copyright page. Each of these occupies the recto side (odd-numbered) of its own page, with a blank verso side.

The table of contents appears next, also starting on the recto side of the page. You can generate a table of contents in Word. For electronic publication, this is required (an e-book formatter will create it in HTML ). You should know that at this time Amazon cannot recognize the code used to generate a table of contents on any Apple device or program. Thus if you write in Word for the Mac or in Pages, your TofC will have to be updated in Word, Scrivener, or InDesign for a PC. Be prepared for this frustrating and potentially time-consuming complication.

The foreword, preface. acknowledgments, and introduction follow the table of contents. A preface is written by the author and often signed or initialed. A foreword is written by someone other than the author. It may appear as a selling point: “With a Foreword by [Famous Personage]!”

The introduction may appear as part of the front matter if it is written by someone other than the author. In that case, it should follow the foreword and be paginated in lower-case roman numerals. An introduction written by the author usually is presented as part of the text and paginated in Arabic numerals.

Text

The text is the main body of the book. It consists of the author’s introduction (if any) and the book’s contents. It is divided into chapters that may be organized into parts (as the present book is). Chapters are often subdivided with subheads.

Chapters should be approximately of similar length. Chapter titles should be short and to the point; avoid whimsy and cuteness. Each chapter starts on a recto (odd-numbered) page; no running header appears on a chapter’s first page, although a page number may appear at the bottom of the page. You can move the running header (including the page number) into a running footer on each chapter’s first page. This is tricky to accomplish in Word; you’ll need to Google or otherwise find the instructions for how to do this in your version of Word.

Technically, a chapter title is a level B head (the book title being the level A head). However, layout artists and editors commonly call the chapter title level A, subheads level B, and sub-subheads level C. This is true of most templates designed for use in Word.

Set each section title, chapter title, and subhead in a recognizable, distinct typeface and position. In this book, for example, section titles are set in 20-point Big Caslon, four single spaces below the top margin, [setting these two details in WordPress is beyond my skills!] centered, roman (not boldface, not italic) and numbered with a centered Roman numeral. Thus:

VIII

The Writing Life

The template used to lay out this book includes a special format for the chapter number: gray, roman indented .5 inch, with 48 points before and 12 points after (there are 72 points in an inch—in theory).

[10]

The chapter title itself is set in 24-point Cambria, roman, flush left, 20 points before and 0 points after:

Chapter Title

Subheads are set in Big Caslon 11.5 points, small caps, flush left, with 12 points leading before and 6 points after, and sub-subheads, which generally should be avoided for nonacademic books, also need their own distinctive formatting. Because of the limitations of WordPress, I’m unable to illustrate these here. Many nonfiction books will show examples of subheads.

They may stand alone, like this:

Here Is a Subhead (a B-level head)
A sub-subhead might look like
this…
Or It Might Look Like This

In any event, B-level heads should all be formatted the same.

Subheads at a lower level may be presented in run-in format, like this:

A run-in subhead. In this case the subhead is set, sentence-style, as part of the paragraph. It’s distinguished with bold-face type.

The first paragraph below a chapter head or subhead should be set flush left, no indent, as you will see in the format throughout The Complete Writer.

Back matter

Back matter includes glossaries, lists of place names or proper names, appendixes, endnotes (headed Notes in Chicago style), a bibliography or reference list as needed, a list contributors, the index, and possibly a biography of the author.

The cover

Much has been said among the DIY set about book covers. Although it’s possible to trick one out in Amazon’s cover-building software, in PowerPoint, in Acrobat, in InDesign, or in a freeware program called Gimp, I strongly recommend that you hire a graphic designer to create your cover.

All the programs that allow you to build a DIY cover amount to GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. To create an effective cover that will help sell your book, you need to understand the principles of artistic design, typesetting, cover lines, and configuration for commercial marketability. Designing a cover for an e-book requires a different set of skills and knowledge than designing one for print.

An e-book cover consists only of the “front” cover. Because it is presented in thumbnail size, it must be designed so that its picture, its title, and the author’s byline jump out of a very tiny image.

A cover for a paperback book is designed as a wrap-around: it includes, on the left-hand side, the copy and images for the back cover, set in two or three blocks; then, in the center, the correctly sized spine with the title and author’s name running vertically; and finally, on the right-hand side, the image and cover lines for the front cover. The spine’s width must be calculated and accommodated correctly in the design, with the front and back covers adjusted accordingly. The entire production must be fitted accurately to your book’s trim size: the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the final printed product.

Learning to do these things, learning the software, and doing the job over and over and over until you get it right is about as unfun as unfun can get. Do yourself a favor and hire a designer.

MacUpdate: If ain’t broke, dammit…

Caslon 540

Caslon 540, close but no cigar…

DON’T FIX IT, Dear Apple!

So I was finally forced to update the operating systems on my aged MacBook Pro and iMac to “Yosemite” (is it really necessary to give the software annoyingly cutesy names?), the highest level of Apple’s operating system the machines will accept.

This was a major hassle that required me to pay about $300 to hire a tech to come figure out how to do it, install a new hard drive on the laptop, and absorb several hours of my time in the process.

So now these wonderful (no irony) machines are “updated” to the extent possible. If I want to keep up with the times (which I do not, especially), next I need to buy new computers. Like I have nothing else to do with my money…profoundly limited in the post-layoff era.

Okay, so I’m proofreading, online, the content of a book I’ve uploaded to the PoD supplier. I used the most recent PDF I had on hand, which presumably is about as good as I’d gotten it before I became distracted by the 14 weeks of respiratory ills.

Naturally, I find a minor glitch: a series of elllipsis points breaks at the end of a line. Videlicet:

Blah blah blah.
. . .

Shee-ut. I need to fix that in the Wyrd document, then save to PDF and upload the corrected PDF. The book’s layout is done in a Wyrd template purchased from Joel Friedlander’s Book Design Templates enterprise. I like these templates, because they come with the margins correctly installed for your desired trim size, the heads and subheads and body copy and all their iterations set in stone using Word’s “Styles” function, and overall they’re easy to use and yield a pleasing product.

When I open the most recent Word iteration of this book — this 468-page book — I find that every word I set in italic is now set bold-face italic!

Holy sh!t. And WTF? I don’t know what’s caused this, but I figure…okay, I can fix it with a search and replace:

Search > format font > boldface italic
Replace with > format font > italic

I try this. It doesn’t work. Word does not see these characters as boldface italic. Word sees them as plain italic.

I try manually changing the things. And guess what? I CAN’T change any of these distortions to plain italic. Or even to plain roman. The best I can do is change them to boldface. And I don’t want the damn things b.f. I want them effing italic.

To cut a long and frustrating story short, eventually what I and Friedlander’s designer discover is that somehow the conversion to effing Yosemite has corrupted the template’s font on the MacBook and the MacBook only. If I open the file on the iMac, it looks OK. Even a PDF made on the MacBook and sent to the designer looks OK on his computer. WTF?

He suggests we should delete the font from my MacBook and replace it with a new set of fonts, which he sends over.

I google “how to delete a font Mac OS X 10.11.4” and find you have to get into something called a Font Book, but no clue is given as to what “Font Book” is or where to find it. I call Apple Support. The tech who responds also has never heard of a “Font Book.” Finally we discover it, not surprisingly, in Applications.

I delete the font from “Font Book,” reboot, and, following instructions, install the new version of the designer’s font, which is called “Alegreya.” It’s in the Times family. It’s nothing special, but it’s inoffensive and it has a kind of airiness that works for some kinds of books.

When I reboot again and open the files…you got it! All italic is rendered as boldface italic.

So, you ask, why don’t I just do all my work henceforth on the iMac? That would make sense, wouldn’t it?

Except the reason I’m sitting here in an overstuffed living-room chair with my feet propped up is that my back went out several years ago and I can no longer sit in a desk chair. No. Not in any desk chair (believe me: I’ve tried. Expensively!) So that turns the iMac into an expensive video-streaming device. There’s no way I can sit in front of a desk long enough to render an entire book into print-ready copy.

While Friedlander’s designer is sweltering over this problem, I begin to realize that I’m going to have to change the font in this template. And to do it in the 468-page writing text, which, goddamn it, has an index that goddamn it I’ve already had to do over once and I absolutely  positively do NOT want to recompile from scratch again because again the goddamn pagination gets changed.

Holy ess aitch aye.

The problem is that of course these fonts have variable widths, like any serif font in the Times family. This means that different designs yield different line lengths. So if you were to type a line in Alegreya and a line in, say, Callisto MT, you would find they come out in different lengths. Like this:

Alegrey&CallistoMT

Over the course of 468 pages — actually, over the course of something like 10 or 20 pages — this would change line lengths, change paragraph lengths, change chapter lengths, and screw up the pagination that has been so time-consumingly recorded in the index.

While I’m waiting for the designer to come up with a new idea, if he can, I go through every serif font in goddamn OS 10.11.4 — there are a LOT of them. Along the way, I discover that Big Caslon — Big Caslon, can you imagine? — is overall about the same size as Alegreya, except for the numerals.

BigCaslon

It’s close. In fact, it’s SO close that when you change the style for the body copy from Alegreya 11 pt to Big Caslon 11 pt (which you see in the second lines here), you come out with the same number of pages. It looks like the wraps from page to page are consistent, and so if the index is screwed up, it’s probably not so much that anybody is gonna notice. Upper-case is larger in Caslon, but you could fix that by searching format > font > upper case 11 pt and replacing with format > font > small caps 12 pt. As it turned out, though, this was not necessary.

Big Caslon. Who’d’ve thunk it? Well. If it’s good enough for the Harvard Crimson, it’s good enough for Plain & Simple Press. I guess.

Can anybody remember when writers wrote? When we did not have to screw around with amateur typesetting and amateur printing and amateur publishing and amateur marketing and amateur fulfillment? When you wrote an article or a book and you forked it over to an editor and you were done except for maybe a little proofreading or demands that you answer some question that came up in fact-checking?

Damn. I do hate this Brave New World.

Image: Caslon 540 (which no, is not Big Caslon, but…), James Puckett – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

New Cookbook Cover: in Progress!

Designing book covers is a kick. Yesterday you saw an early mock-up of the new Thirty Pounds: Four Months diet/cookbook cover. Here’s how it looks 24 hours later…

Dark Kindle LoRes

(Click on the image for a larger, higher-resolution view.)

Looking better, no? I like the maize-yellow type highlighted with a red “shadow.” The font color is achieved by using the standard yellow in the Powerpoint palette and then adding a very thin white line. The effect is to lighten the shade, creating a kind of lemon hue.

Welp, I have GOT to move on to some paying work this afternoon. Thought you might enjoy seeing how a cover evolves as you work it over and over.

Hope your weekend is good!

This, That, & Publishing

Busy day coming up, but wanted to post a couple of updates:

The plan to publish a hard-copy version of the first Fire-Rider collection (books I-VI) developed into a more complicated project than expected. To make a long and exceptionally frustrating story short, the Wyrd template I used to lay out the pages corrupted — or else it’s PDF, which is unknown. It took quite a while to identify the problem, and once the problem was discovered, the solution required rebuilding a 371-page document from scratch.

Once that was done, though, the PDF and the cover loaded fine, I think. LOL! We’ll find out soon enough: when the page proofs get here, we can actually put our hot little hands on them. That should allow us to see any problems and fix.

The final cover came out reasonably well, I think.

FR Hard Copy 1 Take 3 LoRes. jpg

I cut the back cover blurb considerably; added a short pull-out (the italic passage). Instead of arranging the titles of books 1 thru 6 in a vertical list on the front cover, I set them horizontally, separated by bullets. They seem less distracting that way, yet they’re readable.

This book will not be sold on Amazon (at least, I have no plans to do so at this time). I’m having it printed to produce something to take to a shindig next month, where we’ll be invited to present our works.

However, if you would like a copy, I’d be happy to sell it from this site. Just leave a query as a comment to this post. It was expensive to produce — the page proofs, which are printed and bound like a final copy — came to over $11. So I’m afraid that retail price is going to have to be a little more than $11.99. However, JUST FOR YOU, and just for a limited period, I’ll offer it at that price through this website.

In the Racy Books for Racy Readers department, we’ll also have a hard-copy collection of the Family stories:

FAMILY pkg cover LoRes

This one is at the printer, too, for production of a proof. LOL! The book actually contains eight stories…that will have to be corrected on the back cover. And there, my children, is why we have page proofs! As you can see, I haven’t even placed a bar code on it, so little do I have any intention of peddling it on Amazon. Or in hard copy at all.

The final version of this one, which also will go to the December chivaree with me, probably will have the author’s byline centered above the title, with the words Eight and Stories shifted rightward accordingly. And I think I’ll put the imprint’s name — Camptown Races Press — in small type at the lower margin of the back cover, since I’m less than 100% thrilled with the logo I came up with.

At any rate, soon the book will exist. It’ll be a COLLECTOR’S ITEM, by golly! What a Christmas present!

If you’d like a copy of it, let me know — again, contact me through the comments section to this post. Printing cost for this was a little more sane. I think I can afford to sell it for about $10, providing about $2 profit.

So, come one, come all! The first Fire-Rider collection, $11.99 (a give-away!) and the first Racy Books collection, $10.

Designing a Paperback Cover in PowerPoint: Success!

For some time, I’ve suspected that if you can build a credible Kindle cover in PowerPoint (which you certainly can!), you ought also to be able to build a cover for a print paperback version of your magnum opus.

Will it look gaudy and spectacular and eye-spinning, the way some professionally designed covers do? Well, of course not. But on the other hand, there’s something to be said for simplicity.

So today I tried it out. And here’s the result:

1 Volume 1 cover finished LoRes

The cover pitch could be a lot snappier, but we’re not quite ready to go to print yet, so there’s time to revise that. The point is: the design!

It fits the printer’s specs, and when I went to upload this draft, by golly, it worked!

The trick is to learn the printer’s specs first, convert from inches to pixels, and use PowerPoint’s File > Page Setup function to create a virtual “board” (as it were) in the correct size. For the horizontal size, you need to add the cover width x 2 (i.e., the width of the front and back covers + the width of the spine + the width of the bleed x 2. Get the spine width and the bleed width from your printer’s website — the printer should be able to tell you the spine width based on the number of pages and the paper stock you choose. The height is simpler: height + (bleed width x 2).

Jargon alert: The “trim size” is the size of the book when it’s printed and the pages and covers are “trimmed” to fit the size of the book you have in mind. The cover’s “bleed” is a small margin around the outside of this “trim size” that your cover image should overlap: this prevents minor errors from leaving you with a white strip along an edge.

At my printer’s website, I entered the size I’d like the book to be and the number of pages. Up came the specs: The total width of the PDF I would need to upload should be 12.28 inches, and its height should be 9 inches.

PowerPoint measures these things in pixels. Often printers’ figures are emitted in inches: my books are laid out for an 8.5 x 5.5-inch trim size, for example. Have no fear: Google “inches to pixels” and you’ll find several calculators that will convert your printer’s specs to figures you can enter in PowerPoint. So, the required 12.28 inches (which includes the trim size + the bleed + the the spine width) = 1178.88 pixels; 9 inches = 816 pixels; and the .78-inch spine width = 74.88 pixels.

So, open a new “presentation” in PowerPoint. Delete the default text boxes; keep the portrait orientation. In File > Page setup, tell Powerpoint to give you a slide that’s 1179 pixels wide by 816 pixels high. It will complain; tell it you want those measures anyway.

In the slide, activate the rulers, horizontal and vertical. Create a text box that’s 816 pixels high by 74.88 pixels wide. This will be your spine. Center it on the horizontal rule’s “0.” Go to Format > Shape > Text box. Select Horizontal alignment > Center and Text Direction > Rotate 90° clockwise.  Enter your author’s last name and the book’s title and format the font as desired (Format > Font; experiment around to find whatever pleases you). Then, if necessary, return to Format > Shape > Text box and adjust the spine’s internal margins to your taste.

Upload your cover image on the right-hand side of the spine. Its size should be at least 300 pixels; you’ll save your PowerPoint file at 300 pixels, too, when the time comes. Adjust the size as necessary so that the image fits the space between the margins and the spine textbox.

To delineate the spaces for the bleed and the spine, go to View > Guides. Click to check “Static Guides.” Unclick Dynamic Guides, Snap to Grid, and Snap to Shape. This will give you two visible guidelines: a vertical one, up the middle of the “slide.” and a horizontal one, crossing it at the midline. You want more than that: you want two vertical guides to mark the width and position of the spine, two vertical guides to show the left and right margins inside the bleed, and two horizontal guides to show the top and bottom margins inside the bleed area.

Various versions of PowerPoint have different ways of making extra lines, but the basic trick is to click a command key while holding your cursor on the guideline. Because this command is neither obvious nor easy to make happen, the easiest way to learn how to do it on your system is to Google a search phrase such as static guides Powerpoint [YYYY] Mac or …Windows. Enter your version of PowerPoint and Mac or Windows, whichever fits. Create the desired number of new static guidelines, and then drag them to the desired points on your rulers.

My screenshot software “disappears” these guidelines, so…sorry: no image available. But as soon as you get even one guideline in place, it’s easy to see where it should go.

If the image you’re uploading doesn’t already have cover lines, compose and design cover lines: title, subtitle, author’s name, and a tag if desired. KEEP IT SIMPLE! Remember that these elements may have to be visible in a thumbnail, if you’re publishing to Amazon, Nook, or waypoints. If a miracle happens and the book ends up in a bookstore, a browsing reader will have to spot your title elements quickly and without squinting.

In formatting the fonts for cover lines, experiment with PowerPoint’s many embellishments. I find “line, fill, shadow, and glow” are the most useful. In this cover, I used a white line with the author name (i.e., white font with a white line — this trick often makes thinner typefaces look more bold or pop out better) and a red line with the title, subtitle, and spine copy. I used a shadow with the main title.

Place each cover line in its own textbox! This allows you to control the spacing between the elements. So here, Fire-Rider: Books I-VI is in a text box and The Saga Begins is in a separate text box. The natural leading between the two lines was too wide, but with each line in its own textbox, I was able to pull up the main title to close up the space.

If your image is not shaped to fill the entire horizontal “board” (as it were), then you’ll either have to fill the back cover with another image or you’ll need to fill in the back with a color.

To fill in the back cover and spine with color, use PowerPoint’s Format > Slide Background > Fill function. You have several choices here. The simplest is just to pick “… > Solid” to fill in the area not covered by the image with a solid color compatible with your image’s colors.

I used Format > Slide Background > Fill function > Gradient to fancify the fill colors for the book’s spine and back cover.

You can copy a color from an image in PowerPoint. This function is far from obvious. Here’s how:

When you select a color, you’ll see the presentation’s standard colors. At the bottom of that, you”ll see an option, “More Colors.” Click on that. In the tool that comes up (it’s likely to be a virtually useless color wheel), you’ll see a tiny icon that looks like a magnifying glass.

This totally unintuitive icon is the same as Adobe’s “eye-dropper.” Click on it to capture it. Then go to your image, mouse-over the color that you’d like to copy, and click to capture that color. This you can use to fill, or you can use in the “Gradient” function.

Gradient gives you two tabs, one on the left and one on the right, allowing you to blend two colors in a background or fill (you can use it to “fill” font characters, too, as I did for the “The Saga Begins” title). You can add more tabs.

For this book’s background, I placed the sky’s blue in the left-hand tab, the smoke’s brownish gray in the center tab, and one of the orangey colors from the flames in the right-hand tab.

In using “Gradient,” experiment with the “Styles and Direction” function to find the look you prefer. Adjusting the position of the tabs will also produce different effects. Just play around with these until you find something that works well with the title.

Enter back-cover copy and images in text boxes. The bar code is an image generated from the ISBN. You can either pay Bowker for one of these or you can search “free ISBN bar code” on the Internet. Several freebie generators will create ISBNs or PDFs for you. Convert a PDF or .eps to a JPEG or TIFF file (300 dps). Crop if need be, and insert the bar code image near the bottom of the back cover, well away from other copy. The bar code should be sized at about 1 x 2 inches. This is easy to do by moving it close to PowerPoint’s rulers.

Proofread. Proofread again. Proofread again.

The final steps are simple but mildly tedious:

Save the Powerpoint file down as a PDF. In the Save As…PDF function, click on “options” and be sure to select “300 dps.”

Open the PDF and save that down as a TIFF (.tif) file. Close the PDF.

Open the TIFF file in a Mac’s “Preview” or, if you have a PC, some kind of image editor. Crop the image in the TIFF to get rid of the white border generated by the PDF. Check the size; be sure it’s still the pixel size you entered in your Powerpoint file. Adjust if ncessary. Be sure it’s still 300 dpi (it probably will be; adjust if need be). Save.

Now save the TIFF as a JPEG. Close the TIFF and open the JPEG in Preview or an image editor. Check the size; adjust if necessary. Save. If you need a lower-resolution (i.e., smaller) file to send by email or upload someplace, do a Save…as on your JPEG and title the new image “[yourfilename] LoRes.jpg”. Close the 300 dpi image and open the new image; in Preview or the image editor, adjust the size from 300 dpi to 72 dpi. Save and close.

Et voilà. You should be able to use at least one of these images to upload to a print-on-demand publisher. Mine likes PDFs; others may prefer a TIFF or JPEG version. And it’s always handy to have a low-resolution file…you never know.