Monday 17 January 2022

Putting Together a Book

 Scrapbooking, Scrap, Scrapek

So, your text has gone through three or so edits, the last one being almost like a proof-read and we move on to the next stage.


This is the design of the inside of the book. We have to get that right before we can finalise the cover; the number of pages in the book determines the size of the spine.


So we take the raw Word document and convert it into what you will see in the book.  Hopefully this Word document is double-spaced with indented paragraphs and no extra line between paragraphs. We turn it into single-spaced document, the pages of which are the same size they would be the eventual paperback book.     


We apply a set of styles. There is one for the chapter heading. Another is used for the subheading – the same one is used for the by-line in a collection of short stories by multiple authors. A third is used for the opening paragraph of each section – the paragraph isn’t indented here. Then there is the normal one for the rest. In addition, we have a style for emails and another for letters. Note also that we use slightly different sets of styles for our various imprints.


Some problems arise if the writer has formatted their text “manually” i.e. typed in spaces or used the tab key rather than the paragraph tool. This creates odd code and we can never be sure whether the code is what the writer wanted or if they want their text to look the way it appeared when they sent it.


It’s worth remembering as well that we block text for both e-books and print books.  This is convention. The text used to run to the edge of the page to stop ink pooling  at the side of pages. We don’t really need to worry about that anymore. Ragged right is useful for all sorts of reader – young readers, publishers and academics. So it would certainly be useful to the ordinary reader. However, we stick to convention.


In order to block text, the programme spreads the word out along the line. Unfortunately this emphasises any extra gap the author has left in. So, a good strategy is to remove all of those extra gaps before the book gets to this stage. We have software that does this but it saves quite a bit of time if the author already presents a pristine text. Incidentally there should not be a double gap between sentences. That was to do with the way typewriters worked; that practice actually feel out of favour in the late 1950s but many writers persist.   


It’s good for the writer to see their text in this form. It looks substantially different form the double spaced A4 sheet. This change in appearance can encourage a closer reading.


We present this first stage of design to the author who rereads it and can rectify any misunderstanding about the layout plus find some odd typos no one has spotted yet.   This sometimes leads to several conversations between the author, editor and designer.  We then take all of the changes on board and hand it to another proof reader. This is usually not the first editor although if the text has a distinctive style we may hand the work back to the first editor. And more conversations follow.


The cleaner a text is, the less time we have to spend on it, which means in turn that  the book will recover its set-up costs more quickly  - and we’ll have the time and money to publish more books.                   


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