Laura Lynn Leffers
...and Enabling (the Arts)
Publishing Primer for the DIY ©
Laura Lynn Leffers
E-books are flinging about possibilities, these days, like pollen in a breeze. Writers everywhere either have—or are about to—plunge into cyberspace to achieve readership, income, and relief from an industry prone to redundant rejection letters.
Print-on-demand and digital technologies have made the term “out of print” obsolete and, for the press-published author who regains the rights to his work, they enable him to re-introduce it to a new generation of readers.
There are still good reasons for those taking the traditional publishing route. The royalty press-published author gets respect, which means better opportunities for publicity and reviews. He might even get cash up front, which means he can pay to send out more books, generate more publicity and reviews.
The self-published author has historically had a harder time getting reviews, unless he can count on well-read friends—or can afford to buy them (legitimate review publications now offer reviews for a fee). But promotion opportunities, in both print and digital media, are opening up to the self-made author, often for only the cost of a copy of the book.
A self-made author can purchase all types of marketing help too, just as a newly published royalty-press author—the writer with the up-front cash—can do. I prefer the short-pocketed approach because I believe the do-it-yourself promoter has more control.
After publication then, the work’s about the same. Most writers, both self-published and press-published, must promote their book. Very few authors get pre-paid book tours from their publishers, and rarely does the advance cover the cost of even modest promotion expenses.
The book’s the thing, and the “good old days”—when a writer spent all his angst on the writing—are long gone. We do double duty these days, and dig deeper for the extra angst needed to spend on promotion. The book has to be worth the effort, we must love it enough to live with it long after it’s been published.
So, is it worth it? Reason enough.
Take a hard look at your working manuscript. Let’s say it’s a novel, and we’ll assume you’ve done the usual editing and that, by now, even your Aunt Polly (who wrote and produced the church newsletter for twenty years) has no complaint about your prose or your commas, and is prepared to ignore your penchant for swearing.
Your book is ready. Its pacing and plot’s in order, and the resolution is sound. It’s in Microsoft Word, it’s been spell-checked, and its quotation marks are all “smart.”
For this example, we’ll assume that you plan to publish it as an Amazon.com, Create Space, 8.5” x 5.5” paperback print-on-demand first. Afterwards, you plan to reformat and submit it to Amazon’s Digital Text Platform as an e-book. There are other free services and other formats, but let’s say you’ve chosen Amazon.
The Create Space platform allows authors to order a proof of the book multiple times until it’s right, for little more than the cost of printing a manuscript. Even better, single copy proofs are so cheap you can give one to Aunt Polly—or take proof copies to your writers’ group—who might have seen only a few pages or a chapter at a time, till now—before you click the “publish” button.
Before you begin, look at books you like. Notice the small details and refine your own preferences. Decide how you want to “brand” your writing work—can you live with that tiny paw-print scene break you’re using for this doggy who-dunnit, when your work-in-progress features an art heist?
The Print-on-Demand Process
First, make a copy of the original Microsoft Word. Make another copy. In fact, make a third, and save it on CD. It’s much easier to format an e-version later, if you have an original manuscript available to work from. Otherwise, you’ll be undoing most of the formatting work you’ve done for the print version.
For the print-on-demand book, begin by reformatting one of the copies:
•Add the header and/or footer, if it’s not in place
•Justify right- and left-hand margins
•In the MS Word page set-up, set the header and footer size at about 3/8”
•Set margins as left and right facing, with the outside margin at .5” and the top, bottom, and inside margins at .75”
•Select mirror margins
•Select different odd and even pages, different 1st page
•Uncheck widow/orphan control (in paragraph formatting)
•Decide how important conservation is to you: Single-spaced text and shallow margins, for example, translate into less paper waste, cheaper book costs, and lower shipping charges
Next, check the manuscript. Both the title page and the first page of your novel’s text should be right-hand facing pages. Each chapter can have a title or a number or even decorations, but scroll through your book and make sure each is at a consistent height—three inches from the top of the page, for instance.
Check your chapter (scene) breaks, too. In a print book, if a break occurs at the top or bottom of a page, you should indicate it as such (by inserting three centered asterisks or even a fancy bit of original artwork). When a scene break occurs in the middle of page, the break is obvious and it’s not necessary to indicate it with more than four single-spaced hard returns.
Look for sentences that are badly spaced because the text is now justified. Rewrite when necessary, but note any rewrites for the e-book version that comes next, so both versions are identical.
Finally, check and clean up unnecessary hard returns and page breaks, using the “non printing character” show/hide (¶) function.
You’ll want to reserve some pages at the front of the book for dedications, thanks, and even for early reviews (blurbs). Those front pages won’t require pagination, so add a section break to the top of the novel’s first chapter, its first page of text. For the front of your book, create your title page and, at the very least, add a page with either your own purchased—or the Create Space assigned—ISBN number, along with a disclaimer (“This is a work of fiction…”). You might want a bit of verse in these front pages or, for a technical work, a table of contents or forward. Assemble your front pages.
Now, check to see if you need to add an empty page. The title page and the first page of the book should both be right-hand facing pages.
Check the section break; depending on your software--and the preferred upload format--follow similar steps to consolidate the document in pdf:
•File>print>to PDF both title pages and MS separately if necessary; check to make sure fonts are embedded (“Fonts” tab or, in Adobe PDF, check file>document properties).
•File>create pdf> Multiple docs>click "create pdf from multiple documents," change or okay order of documents (title pps in front) if the title pps and the book had to be created as two separate pdf files. Assemble pdf document.
•Consolidate pdf files using file>save as>(new name).
•Upload the pdf to Create Space
After you’ve clicked the “publish” button and ordered your first proof, click on “preview cover,” and copy the image for your promotion work. Copy all—the MS, pdf, cover, and Create Space page (with its title information)—to a personal, dated archive disk.
The E-Book Process
Use another copy of the original manuscript if possible. Even better, copy the MS, and work from the copy.
You won’t need much of the formatting you’ve used in creating the manuscript. Even page numbers—as helpful as they are while editing your book—must vanish. Readers of e-books get to choose what size the words are (and throw away their reading glasses).
To completely remove the original formatting from your manuscript, follow these steps:
•Select all, remove header & footer
•Select all, remove the typical left-hand justification
•Use 1” margins in page set-up & document format
•In document format, select no odd-even, no different 1st page, no mirror margins
•Use page breaks under the last line of each chapter; check each using the show/hide (¶) feature.
•Move through the book, checking all chapter headings. Select and center each chapter number and/or decorations (such as chapter flourishes), and set chapter numbers at a consistent mark and style, such as at the 2” mark, bold. Check and center every scene break with a consistent system (such as three asterixes, bold, centered, hard return before, hard return after)
For the front pages:
•Here, you may use page breaks at the end of each page in the front section
•Be careful of hard returns; use only 3 hard returns to separate portions of dedications, for instance
•Use up to 5 hard returns to separate the title from the author name
Your front pps. can be be centered or embellished, using the same content used in your print book. Use only one “next page” or continuous section break, at end of front pps., after adding them to the book.
Digital Text submission technology is changing quickly. The following was fine when Mobi Pocket Creator was still in use to submit content to Amazon’s digital text platform. By March of 2011, it was possible to upload the work as filtered html, which can be done from a Mac. Use the preferred method, but if Mobi is usable, the following steps might help:
•If you’re on a Mac and Mobi Pocket is preferred, transfer your content to a Windows laptop as a “.doc”
•Open in MS Word
•Save as a filtered web page in Windows MS Word software
•Follow Mobi Pocket instructions (Mobi>add file>browse>upload>add cover>Build>save to shared folder or upload to dtp site)
•Upload to DTP site
If you own an e-reader, you may order an author proof copy or use the free service from Amazon to e-mail a copy to your e-reader. You can also simply send a pdf copy from your computer to your Kindle for proofing, but I prefer to see exactly what a customer will see. I actually bought the book, which wasn’t necessary (but I’d priced it at 99¢).
Best wishes. Write. Then publish, proof, promote, and prosper.
Laura Lynn Leffers