Paperback Books

I have been silent on the blog for a little bit, mainly because I have been working on getting done a few things that I really wanted to devote my time to. One of those things is nearly completed, and I thought I would talk a little bit about it now that the hard part is done.

For those who know me, they know that I love eBooks. I am notorious for rushing around the house in the morning, trying to decide which book to bring with me. It’s tough when you’re the kind of reader who jumps back and forth between three or so books at a time depending on what you’re interested in that day, so the Kindle and my iPad have been lifesavers for me. It’s great to have a large collection of books in your backpack without the weight of actual physical books.

However, there are lots of people that I know (family, coworkers, and friends) who have been waiting for me to publish The Entity as a paperback edition. I was holding off on this until after the holidays, mainly because creating a print interior and also a cover that I like is a lot of work. I always sit down to start this process thinking that it will be a cinch, but instead it turns into at least a full day of trial and error, Photoshop, and also making sure that everything is spelled correctly before I submit.

Well, last night, after a lot of hard work, I finished up my print edition of the omnibus and submitted it to CreateSpace. I am thrilled with how it turned out, and now I’m just waiting on the approval to order some proof copies.

For any writers out there, whatever kind you are – poetry, non-fiction, or fiction – it can be really tricky to come up with an interior layout that you love. I always struggle with making the print edition of my books represent the feeling I want to evoke in the reader. Do a small test and you’ll probably see what I mean. Pick up a copy of Jurassic Park and look it over. Then pick up a copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and you’ll see that the designs for each book evoke different emotions based on their covers and interior designs.

I don’t get too fancy with my own work. Some books make great use of graphics, tables, and all that sort of stuff. But, I prefer to let the text be the design element since it is the main thing that the reader is coming for. I did work for a few years for the music and theater department at the University of Southern Maine, and my sole job was to design and layout all the text for the music and stage production programs. If you’ve never done any sort of layout, here are a few tricks to get you on the right path. I’ll explain a little about each as I list them.

  1. For title pages and special pages with text on only one side, you must include a blank page directly following the text side. Essentially, imagine that your book is being printed out and folded in halves so that you can flip through the actual pages. You open the cover and all the odd numbered pages are going to be facing up. When you turn the page, the even numbered pages will be on the back side. Most of my work the other night was making sure that wherever there was a page with only a single side, that there was an accompanying blank page for the back side. It is tedious, but you don’t want your reader to find your main title on the back side of your page.
  2. I do all my print work in Scrivener. (I did try Hugh Howey’s way with Adobe, but it was too much to try and figure out.) Using this program for my eBooks is great, and it is also a good program for the print editions. Essentially you are going to select “Paperback” as your compile option and then do all your page formatting from there. The biggest tip I can give you is to have all your fonts and layout choices already set up in your actual text before you go to compile. If you want your main text to be size 12, then have it already set up like that. This way you can check off all your documents to be compiled “As Is” and fix any errors from there. I don’t do any of the text formatting in the compile windows. When you go to generate the PDF, a preview window will pop up and you can see how the pages will look. From there, you can go back and adjust your text in the documents so that it fits the way you like.
  3. Set up your page numbers and margins in the compile window. This was horrible my first few tries, but when you select “Paperback” as your compile format, Scrivener will automatically add page numbers to the bottom of your pages. Note that anything that is in your front matter will not get page numbers. Page 1 will start on the very first page of your actual writing, and you can tweak the numbering options from that screen. I had mine set up to ignore single pages, such as the pages with the date, episode number, etc. This gave me a very clean looking numbering scheme.
  4. Don’t forget to include your author name and your book title in the numbering screen as well. I have mine set up so that on alternating pages it will show the book title and then my name at the top. You can also check the option to have the margins alternate from page to page so that the spine margin is always on the correct side of the page. It takes some muscle memory to get it down packed, but this is my fourth time doing a paperback, and I think I have improved immensely from my first book. I’ll know for sure once I see the physical book.

Sounds like a lot of work, huh? I know what some of you must be thinking. “All that effort for a print edition, when paperbacks and hardcovers are going the way of the VHS!” I agree to some extent, but there is nothing like holding a physical edition of your book in your hands. A few other tips I can give are to make sure that your cover finish is set to matte, and also use the cream colored paper instead of the white. I find that the white was just too bright, and the cream is more traditional.

I’ll try to upload an unboxing video when the book arrives so that I can show you what it looks like. I keep trying to do more videos, and whenever I think of it, I’m just getting ready to go to bed. Maybe I can change that this year.

One more thing for those who are interested, I have started work on an audio edition of Episode One. I’m trying to narrate it myself since I am good at doing voices and impersonations, so I will hopefully test that out on a few people to hear what they think – whether or not I should continue with the rest of the episodes. Check back here for updates on that, and perhaps a sample or two in the near future.

Happy Thursday!


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