Archive for the 'Book Publishing' Category

Book Design Issues/Terms

Every industry has terms the professionals use, and book publishing is no different. When looking for a book designer, here are some terms you’ll want to be familiar with:

  • Folio–The large sheet of paper folded one time in the middle that results in four book pages. A folio is also the page number in a printed book. Folios are printed recto or verso.
  • Recto–The right-hand page of a book, which is also the front of the four-page folio mentioned above, is referred to as recto. You can remember this by matching the r’s–recto and right.
  • Verso–The back of the first page (the side that’s read second) carries a left-hand folio. You can remember this by equating verso with reverse.
  • Spread–When you open a book and you see two pages (the two that face each other when the book is closed), you’re looking at a spread. Thus, a spread is a pair of facing pages.
  • Serif vs. sans serif–These terms deal with fonts. Serifs are the little lines you see on some fonts (examples are Times, Century, Palatino, Garamond). Sans comes from the French for “without” and refers to fonts that don’t have (are without) the little lines (examples are Arial, Comic Sans, Franklin Gothic, Trebuchet). Serif fonts are better for reading because the little lines help keep our eyes focused and moving on to the next word.
  • Signature–Books are printed in signatures that are multiples of 16, so you want to work with your designer to make sure you don’t have a lot of blank pages at the end of your book. You’re paying for printing and binding those pages, so make sure you use them fully to your advantage. If readers see too many blank pages at the end of the book, they may feel cheated.

Now that you’ve got some basic terms to use, you’ll have other issues to discuss when looking for a book designer.

Beginning with the structure of the page, you’ll want to get your designer’s ideas on these issues;

  • size of page,
  • size of text box,
  • margins,
  • choice of folio,
  • color of text,
  • type of font,
  • how the first letter of the first paragraph in each new chapter is handled (enlarged capital, for example),
  • possible combinations and compatibility of different fonts,
  • how headers and subheaders will look,
  • overall consistency in design, and
  • readability–is the book easy to read?

Just as you need a professional book editor who follows Chicago Manual of Style, you need a professional book designer who understands the importance of the issues listed above. Don’t risk eroding your good content and expertise by cutting costs in editing and design. Of course, you may find an error or two once your book is printed, but that doesn’t erode your credibility like bad editing and design do. If you do find an error, make note of it and fix it in the next printing. Then be proud of your new “baby.”  There’s nothing like seeing your hard work in finished form.

Happy writing!



A Primer on Types of Books

As I was clearing out my personal library, the variety of books I owned became abundantly clear. I thought about how many people are writing books, maybe even publishing their books by themselves or using a service, and decided to give you a primer so you can make good decisions along the way when you work with your book professionals.

  • Fiction books are easiest to design because they are straight text.
  • Non-fiction books include any of these elements:  different levels of headers, charts, references, photos, illustrations, and quotes. The designer has more work, as does the editor and proofreader, than with fiction.
  • Memoir books typically use shorter chapters, lots of photos, and perhaps copies of materials such as letters or clippings. Again, these are more work for your designer than fiction. Your editor may challenge the clarity of the writing, too, since you know the subject matter so well.
  • Children’s books involve getting appropriate illustrations, placing the text strategically in relation to the illustrations, and using lots of color. Of course, children’s books are also age sensitive.
  • Gift books range from basic to ornate, from inexpensive to expensive, and often use special treatments in publishing that your designer needs to consider when doing the design.
  • Art books can be color intensive or black and white, depending on the art. The paper used in printing art books is also critical to creating a beautiful art book.
  • Educational books use various types of text, sidebars, exercises, application suggestions, and graphic elements such as tables, figures, etc. Sometimes photos are used to underscore a learning point.
  • Scholarly works require several levels of headers, citations within the text, and footnotes or endnotes.

Use this short primer to help you find the right designer for your book if you self-publish. If you work with a publisher, you’ll be better equipped to work with the publisher’s designer. But, beware templates and make sure you’re getting the right design for your book.

Happy writing!


Read What You Write

I read mysteries for relaxation. Even though mysteries are generally written to formula, depending on whether it’s a cozy, police procedural, hard-boiled, or whatever, I still like to see if I can figure out whodunnit.

Last week I was reading a mystery about two elderly sisters found dead and on page 2, the author named one sister as the older, but on page 4, the other sister was older. HUH? I re-read and re-read because I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yep, there it was. A simple error that ruined the author’s credibility regarding details (which is rather important in a mystery).

So what’s my point? You are the author of your book and the responsibility for the words (including errors) is yours. Granted, you need an editor because you know what you intended to say and an editor will help you determine if the words actually do. However, your name–not the editor’s–appears on the cover of your book, so your reader holds you–not the editor–accountable for the book’s contents.

Writing books takes weeks, months, or even years. It’s easy to forget details you’ve written over time. But your reader reads your book in hours or days, so everything is fresh in your reader’s mind.

Many successful authors write to a schedule, and the first thing each one does is go back and read what he or she wrote the previous writing session in order to pick up in the right spot and have the right focus.

I’m an advocate of writers groups to help you with your writing too. Writers groups can point out inconsistencies such as the one I found in that mystery.

When we were publishing books, I required all manuscripts be edited by a book editor because a good book editor will challenge the author in areas that aren’t clear or that are inconsistent.

But the ultimate responsibility for the accuracy in your book is you, so read what you write.

Happy writing!

Do You Really Need a Book Designer?

Technology offers opportunity to do things yourself in publishing your book, but some things you still need to leave to the professionals. Just as you wouldn’t go to a dermatologist for brain surgery, you shouldn’t go to an English major for book editing or just any graphic designer for book design. Book editing and book design are specialized fields and require professionals to do the work well.

Here’s what you should expect from a book designer.

  • Someone who can analyze the manuscript for length of text, chapter headings, variety of pages required, and the inclusion of charts, photos, etc.
  • Someone who will skim the text to get a feel for the author’s style, the content, and the readership (audience).
  • Someone who will give you a proposal based on the two bullets above before starting the project.
  • Someone who understands book typefaces and will match the typeface to the author’s content.
  • Someone who will evaluate the content (including graphics and photos) to determine the correct book size (6×9, 5×7, etc.) and length (books are printed in signatures of 16 or 32 pages, so you want the number of pages divisible by one of those numbers).
  • Someone who will provide you with samples of each type of page in your book (chapter header, normal text, page with graphic/chart, etc.).
  • Someone who will style the pages (paragraphs, headings, captions, spacing, hyphenation, etc.).
  • Someone who will enhance images to assure they will print well, insert graphics/photos/charts into the text, and add captions.
  • Someone who will create an inviting book cover (one that invites readers to pick your book up and open it).
  • Someone who will provide you a galley (proof) to review for proofreading.
  • Someone who will make one set of final revisions after proofreading.
  • Someone who will prepare the final proof and electronic file for the printer.
  • Someone who will work with the printer, if necessary, if the printer finds something on the file that needs correction before your book is printed.

I trust you will keep and use this list to help you find the book designer you can work with to make your book the best it can be.

Happy writing!


Back to writing!

With all the changes in the book publishing world, we’ve been changing too. We’ve moved our offices and refocused our business, so I haven’t posted in a while.

We’re now working with authors to publish their books themselves. Technology has made it easier for authors to publish e-books, for example, but technology can’t create good editing, proofreading, cover design, interior design, etc. You still need publishing professionals if you want your book to look professional instead of  “do-it-yourself.”

That’s where we come in. We still guide authors through the publishing process, but the authors work directly with the editor, proofreader, designer, and printer (in the case of printed books) so the author knows what’s going on every step of the process. We have all the contacts, which flattens the learning curve for the author.

That also means I can get back to writing. Thanks for your encouragement and patience during this time while we made the changes.

I expect you’ve been taken away from your writing now and then (as I was), so I want to encourage you to get back to doing something connected to writing every day. Here’s a list of some things to get you going again.

  • Read something fun (a chapter in a novel, a magazine article), and think about what the writer did to bring it to you to enjoy so you can do the same for your reader.
  • Make a list of topics you’re interested in writing about–then decide if they are articles or book chapters (or both).
  • Research your book. Research can be done many ways–experience, observation, reading, interviewing, etc.
  • Think about your reader and how you’ll market your book so your reader knows it exists.
  • Give your book a working title. When you have one or two working titles, look them up in or Google them to see if they’re already in use. You don’t want people to confuse your book with others.
  • Write!

Happy writing!

Everyone has an Agenda

Have you ever noticed how there are two sides to every issue? The decision to royalty publish or pay-to-publish is no different.

You’ll find royalty publishing advocates who assert you aren’t “really” published if you pay to publish. They say you need an outside party to deem your work worthy of purchase (yes, you are selling your intellectual property, so  no longer own your own writing when you royalty publish).

I don’t disagree that you should have some third party (writers group or volunteer readers qualify) honestly tell you about the quality of your writing, but too often the criteria royalty publishers use to determine whether or not someone should be published is how much money the author can make for the publisher rather than the quality of writing. That’s why the two primary questions royalty publishers ask are (1) What will you do to sell this book? and (2) What is your platform (meaning how well known are you)?

If selling your intellectual property and doing the marketing to earn about 7 percent of the net (which is typically 25 to 35 cents per book SOLD) works for you, I’m all for it for you.

Authors who pay to publish (whether that’s self, subsidy, or equity) invest in themselves and, depending on the choices they make, keep all the profits from sales or share some of the profits with the publisher or get minimal “royalties” back when they sell books they’ve already paid to publish.

A book is self-published when the author actually owns the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) since ISBNs are issued to publishers. Expert Publishing owns its ISBNs, thus our authors are not self-published and we don’t represent that they are.

With so many publishing options, books are flooding the marketplace as never before. The biggest challenge an author has today is not getting published–it’s in attracting readers. Authors have to do more than ever to get noticed by readers and sell books. And that goes for all publishing options because, frankly, most readers don’t pay attention to how a book is published as much as how clearly it is written, how professionally it is designed, and how easy it is to get.

As you plow through the publishing options available to you, be mindful that everyone has an agenda. Royalty publishers dislike self-publishing. Pay-to-publish publishers dislike royalty publishers. I think there’s room for both and publishing is a business decision each author must make individually. Just remember to do your own thinking because everyone–even you–has an agenda. Stay mindful of that and you’ll make a better publishing decision.

Happy writing!



Who Really Wrote Your Piece?

Do a search on almost any set of words and you’ll find multiple sites that quote them exactly. I was trying to find the originator of a quote one of our authors wanted to include, so I typed in the first few words and got a listing of multiple sites that quoted that exact quote. The problem is not one of them gave attribution to the originator.

When I see that, I wonder who really wrote the quote (or blog entry, essay, or article). Anyone can copy other people’s stuff, but it takes skill and ability to write the original.

I suspect one reason people don’t give credit is they haven’t done enough research to find out who credit belongs to.

Another reason might be the source isn’t deemed influential enough to matter. Some people think you need alphabet soup after your name to be credible. Or you need a fancy title. Or you must be famous. Or (pick your criteria).

Some writers have good sources but are concerned readers won’t accept those sources as credible enough. Don’t let that stop you from giving credit where due. Organize sources by whatever credibility criteria  you select (title, awards, fame, credentials, etc.) and give attribution to each source in your writing.

Your sources do matter to your reader, so make sure you offer your good sources in the best possible light. When you do, everyone wins–you, your reader, and your source.

And that brings me to facts versus opinions. If you can back up your writing with facts, by all means do so. But don’t hesitate to also quote opinions–as long as you clearly identify that what you’re writing is an opinion. An example is: “Sarah Anderson, co-founder of Widgets, suggests people are more creative in the early morning hours because their minds are uncluttered by the day’s activities. John Jones, a creativity coach, believes the opposite is true because people draw on the events of the day when they create.”

The bottom line is make sure you are the one really writing your piece, and if you’re including other people’s information in your text, give credit to the originator.

Happy writing!