Rose Sneeringer, The Book Nurturer, invited me to join her panel of experts in the publishing portion of her summit, “Creating Your Dream Business: How to Follow Your Calling, Fulfill Your Purpose, and Succeed at the Work You Love!” The publishing telesummit is part of a broad selection of entrepreneurial discussions designed to promote creative entrepreneurship. The online event begins on February 15, 2016.
Publishing offers great opportunities for writers who pursue it as a business, but those who pursue writing as an art are often frustrated with their business results. In the publishing summit, we discuss some of the important challenges that face indie writers, how indie publishing is different from traditional publishing, common publishing pitfalls and mistakes, and how to adjust your expectations (or your writing and strategy) to achieve success.
The publishing telesummit covers such topics as:
Book and Cover design
Find the right editor
Take control of your publishing business
Should you hire a book publicist?
EBooks in the web browser
Making your own eBooks with WordPress
Sign up to attend the free publishing telesummit to hear my conversation with Rose and expert book publicist, Penny Sansevieri, along with publishing, marketing, and business advice from the rest of the panel of business and publishing professionals at http://yourdreambiz.net.
Book cover design tells the story of the story. It must convey the spirit and intentions of the author authentically, and it also has a few practical chores to perform. If a book cover design is to accomplish these things in a world of publishing “climate change,” old approaches must be both embraced and questioned. Books are marketed in ways that authors and publishers could never have imagined only a few short decades ago; a new approach is needed. At the same time, a study of the history of printing and design affords powerful opportunities to communicate in fresh new ways.
The notion that a book will be found in a bookstore, picked up, and perused is sadly obsolete, especially as it relates to indie publishers. If you don’t have a contract with a big publishing house, your book will probably never see a bookstore. It makes no sense to design a new cover to fit an old merchandising model. Consider how prospective readers will be exposed to your book, and what information will be presented in that context. The title, byline, synopsis, reader reviews, author pages, and other data are part of every book’s online listing. The cover art occupies only a small portion of the page. And all that data won’t be visible on the tiny, digital cover even if you do pack it into a book cover design.
It makes sense to rethink cover design. If your book is commercial, the cover should convey its practical value. But if your book is literary art, an artistic, uncluttered cover might convey that as well as any blurb or list of testimonials. As a designer, I find that liberating. Continue reading →
Selecting a book font seems simple enough, but important subtleties and fine points of typography are not obvious to the average writer. This article offers insights into fonts suitable for book typography. Though it won’t turn the average author into a professional typesetter, it will inform indie publishers about the kind of guidance they should expect to receive from one. And if economic constraints force you to typeset your own book, the information offered here will help you make informed choices.
Book typography is an unusual art. Its success is best measured by the invisibility of the final result. The reader should not notice the type, and the type should not obscure or dilute the author’s intentions. Yet, the reader should be affected by the type. Reading is an aesthetic experience, and book font selection lies at its foundation. Continue reading →
The ability to make eBooks with WordPress solves a number of publishing problems. I offeried a free Webinar with Toni Ressaire of pub.ink that walks you through the process of creating eBooks with WordPress and publishing them. That webinar is archived in this post along with my previous webinar about eBooks in the web browser.
One challenge facing authors and publishers is the limited set of tools available for creating eBooks. It’s easy enough to export an eBook from Adobe InDesign or other software, but if you want to edit an eBook, the process is too technical for most writers. The PubML WordPress plugin tools make eBook editing easy, visual, and intuitive.
And the state of eBooks is such that every reader renders them with a not-so-slightly different appearance. Though eBooks are based on HTML and CSS (the standard coding conventions used to render content on the web) eReader devices and software interpret these “standards” with wide variations.
Writers often ask about the difference between “straight” or “dumb” quotation marks and traditional printers’ quotes, commonly referred to as “smart quotes” or “curly quotes.” Add in the need to distinguish between left single quotes and apostrophes, and the primes used to specify feet and inches or minutes and seconds and you end up with a typographic conundrum that confounds many a capable author. This article examines the various types of quotes and primes and explains how to use them.
Book Design Basics: Straight or Dumb Quotes
Straight quotes evolved to facilitate informal writing situations. When typing into a discussion forum, twitter feed, or comment box, use your apostrophe and double-quote keys for all the special characters (except the “degrees” symbol.) “Dumb” text editors don’t try to figure out which direction to slant your punctuation. “Dumb” writers don’t have to go to the “insert special characters” dialog box or remember special key sequences for each type of mark.
Consider the various punctuation styles needed to render the following example:
Straight quotes make it quick and easy to express a thought. You don’t have to be a typographer to make yourself understood. In the right situations, “dumb quotes” are a smart idea. Continue reading →
Clark Douglas Burris discusses his new book Walk & Roll, in which he tells the story of how he started the Miami Beach Senior High Rock Ensemble while battling the progressive effects of multiple sclerosis. Doug Burris shares his thoughts on writing, publishing, and book design.
This article explains the tab ruler found on every word processor and typesetting application. Understanding the simple and elegant split ruler and tab functions opens up a world of formatting opportunities.
Digital typesetting and word processing inherited a number of outdated conventions from the typewriter. When producing a paragraph indent on a typewriter, it makes no difference whether you hit the tab key or type a few consecutive spaces, but on a word processor, those approaches create problems as your manuscript moves from editing to final page layout. Though the “two spaces after a period” convention was not descended from the typewriter as is popularly thought, consecutive spaces are generally considered bad practice in the digital world. And though a half-inch paragraph indent (along with double line spacing) is perfectly suitable for manuscript work, the typesetter’s convention has long been to use an indent of one em (the width of a letter “m” in the analog world. In the digital world, the convention is to use the point size of the typeface, so if you’re setting 12-point type, your indent would be 12/72-inches or 1/6-inch). And yet, the old habit of repeatedly hammering the space bar to position elements on the page persists—even to a point where centered elements are sometimes left-aligned text preceded by dozens of spaces. Continue reading →
Once you have your book cover design looking spirited and professional on your computer screen, how can you ensure that your masterpiece will translate accurately to the printing press? Ink on paper is an entirely different medium from pixels on a monitor. Understanding how to adjust your book cover images to your printer’s specifications will make the difference between a cover that sings and a cover that barks. Using the correct color space and controlling ink density are key factors.
I created a sample, low-resolution book cover design for this exercise. The imagery contains saturated colors, photographs, and dark areas that contain subtle details—all potential stumbling blocks for publishers who don’t understand the printing process.
Figure 1. Example Cover Design in RGB Mode
I set some body text on my original design so I could visualize my final result, but for purposes of adjusting color, I’ll strip it out. Adobe Photoshop is a remarkable image editor, but it lacks sophisticated typesetting tools. If this was an actual cover, I’d leave the back cover text and the bar code out while I adjusted the images, and then add them later with a page layout program like Adobe Indesign or Quark. Please don’t set body text with Photoshop—ever.Continue reading →
This article explores page layout strategies for books based on the Rule of Thirds. A grid system based on traditional guidelines ensures harmonious proportions and placement of objects on a page.
Page layout for books is governed by a range of factors. Trade publishers shipping 30,000 copies of a title realize significant savings by using smaller type, tighter leading (line spacing), and narrower margins. For them, aesthetic sacrifices are smart business. But indie publishers printing short runs are free from the business realities of mass production (POD publishers often order single books made to order). Classic page layout strategies offer an easy way for the small publisher to gain an aesthetic edge over the trade.
I discuss page layout in-depth in an earlier post, and Wikipedia’s Canons of Page Construction is an excellent resource, but though these articles present layouts based on page divisions of 1/9, readers are left wondering, why not 15ths or 8ths? Where did the idea of dividing a page into a 9×9 grid come from? The answer is found in a classic formula: the rule of thirds. Continue reading →
Digital typography offers capabilities that printers working with hot lead type and wood type could only dream of. Digital type can be stretched and resized infinitely, justified within unusual boundaries, or wrapped around almost any shape. And yet, traditional letterpress and wood type specialty shops continue to marry ink and paper. Their work offers a special, organic warmth that digital type lacks. This article explores the differences between digital and traditional type, and suggests techniques for simulating the appearance of traditional print. Though it ultimately fails to reveal a magic formula for turning pixels into authentic printer’s ink, it offers insights into why that goal is so difficult to achieve.
The best source for historical information is old books. Reading about traditional typography is nowhere near as valuable as looking at it. Observe the interaction between ink, paper, and time. I find old design books on eBay that typically cost half of what contemporary books do. My collection goes back to the 1830s. Two of my favorites: The Art & Practice of Typography by Edmund Gress, (1917), and The Manual of Linotype Typography by William Dana Orcutt and Edward Bartlett (1923) are available for online viewing (click their titles in this sentence). These books offer insights into evolving language as much as they do into evolving typography. Above all, they inspire one question: Why doesn’t my type look like that?