Things have been a little hectic on the new book front. Looks like my first book will be Time Bomber: The Forgotten Yippie, and am going with a new start-up publisher. Looks like I have the cover all set, now I have to finish writing the book.
CoverCover design, even with professional help, is pretty rough stuff. I suggest everybody watch this video of Chip Kidd at TED to get your head in the right neighborhood on what a good cover should be.
If you have the time, and I happen to have too much of that on my hands right now, I suggest you do a YouTube search for Chip Kidd, set the filter to videos longer than 20 min. and watch a few more of his videos. Even if you think he is repeating a talk, keep watching and there will be something new in there.
He emphasizes that the cover by itself does not sell the book. I must agree. However, and I think he agrees too, a horrible cover will not get anybody to pick the thing up and look inside. Especially if you are an unknown author like me.
InteriorDesigning the cover is not the end of the story either. The interior of the book needs to be designed too. Sure, you can sit down with MS Word and bang out a bunch of pages, but they won't look like a book. You will end up with something that visually resembles a high school history class paper that never ends. Sure, some people might start reading it, and if it is good then they will buy it. But they have to get to that point first.
Another point, some book people do not like MS Word and want you to use something else. It is fine if you already have Adobe Creative Suite and know how to use it, but if you have any relatively new MS Word/Office version you can design the interior like a pro. Of course, a pro might be better at it than you, so you might want to let them do it. However, it is YOUR book, so wanting to take some control of the process is understandable.
Templates and TweakingCreateSpace.Com has book interior templates for MS Word that get you most of the way there. However, you still will not have a professional look. For that, you need to look at some books in the bookstore and get some ideas.
One thing I noticed is that I never paid much attention to book interior design when I was "just" a reader of books. I started noticing when I started looking at books for researching Time Bomber. I liked Mark Rudd's beginning the first chapter with a "dropped cap". I'd seen that before, but never paid much attention. I am using it in my book.
Of course, I like to see my name at every turn of the page just like any other writer. However, as a reader I like to see where I am at the top of the page. With the CS template, the even and odd page headers and footers are different. So, I put my chapter titles on the even pages and the book title on the odd pages. At the bottom of the even pages is my name, and on the odd page footers is the publisher's spot. None of that is on the first page of a chapter.
If you don't already know how to do this in Word, it is pretty easy. You paste and format your chapter title into the header of the side you want it on (even for me), select "same as previous" on the next even page. For the odd pages, paste what you want in their headers and footers and do the same. You really don't want any of that on the first page of your chapters, but the first pages are unique, so if everything is set right you don't need to worry about it if you didn't put anything in there.
Something I finally noticed was hyphenation in print books. I was under the mistaken impression that justifying the document to both margins would create a better looking book. Well, it doesn't. It makes big giant spaces that look crappy, like someone created the book in a word processor. Under Page Layout/Page Setup, turn on automatic hyphenation.
While you are at it, learn about "Orphan Control" and use that too. I use Word 2007, and this is a good set of instructions:
Open your document in Microsoft Word. If you have not started writing yet, you can set the widow/orphan control before you start. If you have already started writing, select all of the text before proceeding.
Select the "Home" menu. In the "Paragraph" section, click on the box to the right of "Paragraph." A dialogue box will appear.
Click on the "Line and Page Breaks" tab. Look for "Widow/Orphan Control" at the top, under "Pagination." Click on the box to the left. If there is a check mark in the box, the widow/orphan control is turned on and Word will make sure there are no single lines separated from their paragraphs. If there is no check mark in the box, the control is turned off.
Click "OK" when you have made your selections. Your paragraphs should now be set the way you wanted.There is a style debate about putting page numbers on the first page of a chapter. Some publishers do, others do not. I like all of the pages of the body to have numbers, so every page of every chapter has a number. The first page of my chapters has the page number in the bottom center. Other pages have the numbers at the bottom corner farthest from the spine. Of course, that can change before it goes to print.
One thing I do not like at all, and most everybody does it, is sticking every picture in the center of the book. I stuck most of mine at the end, other than four pages of scrawled notes by the bomber that I placed in the first chapter, along with transcripts of the notes on facing pages. Also, I have a few FBI documents in there, so when they come up in the narrative I transcribed them using a typewriter font and reference the document in the documents section that they came from.
One thing I am saving for last is the index. Some of the books I've read were jammed full if great information that you have to just remember where it appeared in the book, because there is either no index, or the index is horrible. I've never used the Word indexing tools yet, so wish me luck.
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ