Thursday, June 9, 2011

Designing Your Print Book Interior

My e-book version of KING OF PAINE is now proofread and substantially complete. The extra proofreading run on my Nook was well worth the time, as I discovered over a dozen minor errors (one proof resistant typo, added an extra 't' in 'Scarlet,' failed to capitalize 'Social Security' (twice!) and miscellaneous formatting issues because of the small screens on e-readers). When I'm ready to put the book online, all I need to do is create separate versions for Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords (minor differences in front matter). As promised, here are links to the pages on those sites that provide instructions for preparing and submitting your files:

While I hope readers will join the e-book revolution and buy my low-priced e-book online, I understand there will always be a market for print books. Accordingly, I plan to publish a trade paperback edition of KING OF PAINE using print on demand technology. There are three ways to take advantage of POD to avoid inventory management problems:

1. Design your own book and purchase inventory from a printer like Lightning Press and arrange your own distribution. You can buy books in modest volumes as needed, but you'll have to establish relationships with the major wholesalers (Ingram and Baker & Taylor at a minimum) if you want bookstores and libraries to be able to order your books. The online booksellers will be able to order from the wholesalers, too, or you can set up a direct relationship. You'll have to pay for shipping and deal with returns (the book biz operates on a consignment model). The good news is that you can create your own imprint and operate as an independent small press, potentially opening up opportunities for mainstream reviews, book clubs, etc., if your the type who dares to dream.

2. Publish your book through a full-service company that designs your book for a fee and offers sales, distribution and marketing assistance at extra cost (like iUniverse). I think these services are too pricy, and the publishing industry views them as vanity presses. They operate on a business model that maximizes profits by churning out a high volume of titles and is not so concerned about selling a high volume of each title. But people use them, so they must have redeeming qualities. Research them at your own peril.

3. Design your own book and publish/distribute at lower cost through a company that offers a no-frills option for experienced hands as well as an array of services for novices (like Amazon's CreateSpace and Lulu). These services allow you to publish under your own imprint or theirs, the main differences being (1) the higher cost of obtaining your own ISBN's from Bowker, and (2) the better optics to the book industry of appearing independent. At least at CreateSpace, for some reason you need to use their ISBN's to take advantage of their expanded distribution service to libraries. You have the option of using their distribution channels and receiving residual royalties after subtracing production costs plus distributor discount or buying books and selling them yourself. The production cost of my book at CreateSpace would be $5.21 per copy. Distribution discounts run up to 60% of the retail price, so I'd have to price above $13 to earn any royalties. Online retailers would probably discount.  

I'm a hands-on type of guy, so I decided to teach myself how to design a book. Yesterday, I put in a solid 15-hour day and completed the interior design for KING OF PAINE. Next up will be tweaking my cover to fit it to a 6x9 trade paperback (my work with my graphic artist colleague so far has focused on creating the e-book cover). I'll report on my cover design efforts in a later post. Today I'll walk you through the interior design.

My starting point was my clean, proofread Word DOC file that I created for the e-book version. It was formatted using Styles and Formatting, primarily the "Normal" style, which was single-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt, with .2" first line indents (I changed it from .25" while modifying my file for e-readers). Chapter headings were spelled out (e.g., "Chapter One") and formatted using a Header style: Times New Roman 24 pt., bold, italic, centered, no indent. A few pages of front matter were uniquely formatted.

The first thing I did was set my margins and page size for trade paperback settings. Then, by using Styles and Formats, I was able to experiment with several different looks for the finished book simply by modifying the Normal style. Changes automatically carry through the entire document and can easily be reversed. I tried a few different fonts (Garamond, Bookman, Palatino), but settled on Georgia (it was on my mind). I ran a draft at 11 pt. with a 13.5 leading (instead of single space), but liked the look better at 10 pt (and saved about 30 cents per unit of printing cost by dropping my page count). More on this in a minute because I did a few other tasks before settling on the smaller font (big mistake).

I converted my chapter headings next, deleting the word "Chapter" and adding section breaks at the end of each chapter. I also changed the font to Georgia and removed the bold from the style. It's good to use "chapter" in your ebook formatting because many e-readers look for it in creating a table of contents for navigation, but I like the cleaner look without it for print. The section breaks are necessary to supress headers and footers on the first page of each chapter. It was the first time I used sections in Word, and there was a learning curve.

Footers were easy--I don't use them. The headers turned out to be tricky for the uninitiated. My basic scheme wasn't complicated--no headers on the first page of each chapter, page numbers on the outside corner of each page (left corner on even pages, right corner on odd), author name centered on even pages, title centered on odd. The problem arose when I tried to suppress the headers in my front matter. The solution turned out to be relatively simple, but it took me over an hour to figure it out. I'll spare you the details of failed workarounds and just note the right way to do it. Sections flow from back to front. The default setting is for the headers in each section to be the "same as previous" headers, i.e., those that come from later chapters. There's a button on the header/footer toolbar that pops up when you're viewing headers and footers called "same as previous." I clicked that button for all headers in section 1 (front matter) and 2 (chapter 1), which de-linked them from other sections, allowing me to customize headers in the front matter (i.e., use none).

Headers weren't the only hurdle on my learning curve. I made a few mistakes that cost me quite a bit of time, which I won't do again, and now you won't have to, either. After I got comfortable with my 11 pt. draft, I made two sets of time-consuming changes which I later had to undo and repeat when I switched to 10 pt.

Most printed books are justified. Justification creates some occasional ugliness (gaps mid-line) which can usually be corrected manually by breaking up long words in neighboring lines with hyphens. You should hold off on doing this until all other formatting is complete. I didn't get all the way through the draft before I got wise, but when I switched to the smaller font I had to search for all my new hyphens and delete them, which was quite tedious because I had to slog through all the normal hyphens, too. Argh!

The second gaffe was adding a nice drop cap to the first letter of each chapter (76 of them). It looked pretty. But then when I switched from 11pt to 10pt font, the drop cap didn't adjust and was just a hair off (I needed 31pt vs. 32pt). Maybe I could have left it, but I obsess over these things. It took me over an hour to undo the original drop caps and replace them anew. Don't do that.

Here's a link to my style sheet for KING OF PAINE, which provides complete settings for my 6x9 trade paperback. Experiment with different style settings for fun, but this will give you something to start with to make the task less daunting. You can save a few hundred bucks, and it's fun creating your own book once you get the hang of it.

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