Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of We Make Books - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!
This week, Kaelyn gets Rekka to go on (at length) about the process of laying out a book for print and digital, once a manuscript has reached its ultimate form.
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor. Together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, and concerns!
Episode 40: For That You Get the Print, the Digital, the Whole Damn Thing
transcribed by Sara Rose (@saraeleanorrose)
R: Welcome back to another episode of We Make Books, a podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between. And I am Rekka, I write science fiction and fantasy as R.J. Theodore.
K: And I’m Kaelyn Considine, I am the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press. And today we’ve got an interesting episode. Full disclosure: we debated whether or not we should do this one. We were a little worried that the subject material might be too dry—
K: But, that said, it’s, I think, an interesting part of publishing that’s frequently overlooked and that is actually assembling a book. And we don’t mean finish writing it, we mean, at some point, you’ve gotta put a book together.
R: Right, and we don’t also mean physically gluing it to the binder, which is also fun. I’ve done that, too, but this is more the magical process that happens when you finish your copy edits final pass and the publisher says, “Okay, we’ll get you page proofs in a little while!” and what happens there. What’s going on in that moment, or those long moments if you’re just waiting.
K: Yeah, if you wanna talk about one of the unsung heroes of the publishing world, it is certainly the designers who actually have to go through and make it so nobody realizes that they did any work on this. You don’t pick up a book and think about, “Hey, look at the nice order that the dedication and the table of contents and the acknowledgements and everything is in! Look at all the great work that was done with the typeface and setting and how all of this is really easy to read and I don’t even have to think about it.” And that’s the whole point.
R: Yep. Really, the only part of the book you want to notice is the cover. The design of the interior, you definitely want to be perfect but completely unnoticeable. In a sense.
R: It’s not disheartening for the designer to hear that. It’s literally the goal of the designer is to make the book an easy reading experience. And so if their work goes unnoticed and they get paid, so be it.
K: Yeah, so it’s, like we said, we were worried that this might be a little dry. But as we got into it, we realized it’s really not. Actually, there’s a lot of really interesting steps that go into this and things that the average reader or potential author doesn’t know or think about. Anyway, as always, take a listen. We hope you enjoy and we’ll see you on the other side of the music.
[intro music plays]
R: Yeah, I’ve been trying not to walk outside too often, lately. Which, you know, with nowhere to go, that works out really well. Except that my office is outside… but then I lost all my files so I didn’t even wanna go face my computer. So, again, stayed inside.
K, sighing: It broke my heart.
R: No, it broke mine, too.
K: Are we recording already?
R: Yeah, of course.
K: Yeah, of course we are. Okay. [cheerfully] Hey, everyone!
[R and K giggle]
R: So I’m hoping that this conversation will be useful to more than just two groups of people. But the two groups of people that I think are going to perk up the most about this episode are the people who want to self-publish but have been wondering how to get their final document into book form, and then the people who already self-publish or are involved in the process and then want to know how other people are doing it, to see if they’re missing anything. Because when you do things by yourself, you tend to worry.
K: Yeah, and so as we mentioned in the intro, today we’re talking about actually putting a book together. It’s—I think it seems like when you’ve written everything and you have it edited, proofread, copy-edited then you’re like, “Well, I’m basically done,” and there’s actually a lot more that you still have left to do.
R: There’s a lot more after that.
K: Rekka has, especially, been up to her elbows in this recently, doing some work with Annihilation Aria, released a week ago, at this point?
R: Yeah, a week ago.
K: Yeah, so it’s out now. You can go pick up a copy, it’s by Mike Underwood, it’s a fantastic book. But Rekka started doing some work for Parvus, stepped in and was doing the layout for this. And I was working very closely with her on it and that’s the first time I was ever directly exposed to how this works. [laughs] I was, maybe not horrified, but certainly a little frightened by the process. It is a lot of words, as it turns out. And characters—
R: Turns out, over 100,000 words! In a novel! Who’da thunk?
K: Yeah, books have words in them! So many words… So yeah! You’ve got a final version of it. Now you actually gotta make it a book. And there are ways that you can do this fairly easily, and ways that will take a lot more time. And obviously, the ones that take a lot more time, you’re coming out with a higher quality product, I guess, if you want to put it that way. So anyway, we just thought that this would be kind of an interesting thing to talk through of what happens when you’ve got a finalized manuscript. How you make that a book now.
R: So, I will just clarify that I began working on Annihilation Aria, there was already a layout from Catspaw DTP and that’s who Parvus uses for most of their layouts and because I have some expertise in design, it is my day-time career path, I was able to handle any changes that needed to happen after the fact.
Normally, if someone does an interior layout, they might be using InDesign and then if you need changes, and you don’t have InDesign, you go back to them with all your changes and incur more costs! But I was able to handle the changes as we went through the manuscript, and that’s very fortunate. Not normal, I would say, for somebody who comes in to help with promotion, to also be working on layout.
K: Rekka is a master of many skills.
R: You know, I used to be jealous of the people that say, like, “Oh yeah, growing up I always took everything apart to see how it worked and then put it back together,” and it worked better or whatever, and I was like, “I wish I could say that about myself!” And then I just realized, talking to you, I did that. I just always did it with files and processes.
K: Yep! Hey, it counts. And we’re very grateful that you did. So, maybe first let’s talk about the elements of a book. Of what you need besides just a finalized manuscript.
R: Well, you need to save that manuscript that has gone through all the tracked changes and stuff, you need to save a fresh copy and you need to make sure there are no comments or track changes active or anything like that in there. Because let me tell you, somehow that’ll end up in your layout and it’ll mess something up. It’s not supposed to, from both Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign, it’s not supposed to, but it does. Somehow it just does things.
So, to Kaelyn’s point, you don’t just need your final document, you need a final, cleaned-up document, a separate one.
K: A final, clean document. All notes, comments, changes, edits, everything removed. You save that in no less than 10 different locations.
R, laughing: Pretty much! Having just gone through a little bit of data loss myself. No, you save that everywhere you can. And to the cloud.
K: You put it on flash drives and mail them to different people so, you know, in case somebody comes into your house to steal copies of it or your dog eats it or something, you—no less than ten locations. Okay, so.
K: You’ve got that. You are one hundred percent sure you have removed everything from the manuscript that is not supposed to be there.
K: Well, now what? Hopefully, you’ve registered the book and gotten yourself an ISBN because that is an important step one right there.
R: The ISBN, actually, as long as the book isn’t due, like tomorrow, to the printer, the ISBN can kind of happen at any point. You can leave a placeholder for it. You just need to remember if you’ve left a placeholder for it, so you can go back and fix it before you send in the finals. So your back cover usually has the barcode, a UPC that ties into the ISBN, and usually the ISBN is also printed somewhere in the book, very often the copyright page.
K: Yeah, so, you’ll notice if you pick up a book, or even just read a digital one, you’re gonna see pretty much the same things over and over again in the same order. We’re always going to start with the title page: such and such by such and such, that is frequently followed by a Copyrights page. This is the one with all of the good information about the author, who published the book, it will have the ISBN on there, it’ll have some threatening information about copyrights and reproduction and selling. If it’s Parvus, we always try to put a little joke on that page just to lighten the mood a bit.
From there, then, there’s usually a dedication. Most authors like to throw a dedication in there. And then, typically, you go into a Table of Contents or a Chapter List, depending on what you’re writing.
R: For digital.
K, confused: What do you mean?
R: You don’t tend to see the Table of Contents in a print book, unless it’s non-fiction.
K: Oh, okay. Yeah. The other thing, then, that you might find in some books is some information about what you’re about to read. Some books put a Glossary of Terms at the beginning rather than at the end, sometimes you might get sort of mini character introductions, or there might be a map. There might be some information about the world that this is set in.
R: That you need going into it, though.
K: Yeah, that they want you to have going into it. And, once you get through all of that, then you actually get into the fun part, the meat of the story, and typically, by the time you get to the end, then you’re gonna have an Acknowledgements section from the author. Then, before or after, there’s also usually an About the Author section. That tends to be the last thing in the book. And just, you know, we’re talking like a picture and one-page bio about the interesting stuff, how awesome the person who wrote the book is.
R: And by one-page bio, we tend to mean half a page because usually the heading takes up a large margin at the top, and then that photo will be either above or inset into the text, so you end up with—Don’t worry, authors, you don’t have to write a full-page bio for yourself. It’s really more like 2-3 paragraphs, and shorter is just fine.
K: Yeah, and the only other thing that you might find at the very end of that book that is maybe a preview chapter for either the next book in that series or another book by that publisher that they think readers of this book might enjoy. Not always, but if it’s in there, that is usually the dead-last thing in there.
R: Or if the glossary that we mentioned being at the beginning is a little bit extensive, that might go in the back. Especially if it contains spoilers.
K: Exactly, yes. And so that is kind of most of what you’re gonna find in there. And, again, we’re talking fiction. Depending on what it is that you’re reading, there could be endnotes in there, there could be chapter notes, there could be additional information at the end as well. But that’s kind of a general sense of what you need to include in there.
R: And, for the most part, that’s the order that they appear in. I have definitely seen variations on that. And I don’t know if in those cases it was given over to the author preference, or if it was just a house style that, say, the acknowledgements came first.
K: Exactly, yeah.So, how do you get all of this stuff?
R: Hopefully! Hopefully it’s been getting gathered all along, but…
K: And, like the book, you’ve gotta be the one to write most of it. Your bio, authors should always have a few different versions of their bio. You know, the 2-3 sentence one, the two paragraph, and the full-length bio. Just, those are important things to have for press-related things. Also, you write your own acknowledgements, you write your own dedication, you’re writing all of your own supplemental material. So, I don’t know if I’d call it the bad news, but the gist here is, yeah, you’ve finished this book. You still got a little bit more writing that you have to do here.
R: And that’s something that I, as an author, tend to work on while my book is in the editor’s hands. I want to keep touching this book and working on it, but I’m not allowed to touch the manuscript anymore because I’ve handed it off to somebody. So I will do things like try to work on the acknowledgements, try to work on the glossary, which is a mistake. Both of those things would go a lot smoother if I would keep notes throughout the entire process. Like, “Hey! This person helped me out with this concept, I can thank them in the acknowledgements. I’ll add that now even though I don’t have to write the acknowledgements for four months.”
Same thing with the glossary. It’s a pain in the neck to go back through the text and try to find all the things—basically, everything that your spellchecker wants you to fix, that probably belongs in the glossary. And so that’s a pain in the neck to go through it manually, start to finish, on, you know, in the case of Salvage, on a 470 page book. It’d be a lot easier if I just went and added things to it as I added characters and topics and subjects and that sort of thing to the story and then I can just go in at the end and clean it up.
Like, “Oh, I changed this character’s name,” or “Oh, this didn’t end up in this book after all,” and stuff like that. It’d be a heck of a lot easier than writing it from scratch, from memory, or, like I said, with the pages open in front of me.
K: Yeah, but what’s the fun without the challenge, right?
R: Yeah. Yeah, no and like I said, if you’ve been working on it while the book was in revisions, then it’s not quite such a rush. When you’ve been working on it because you need to give the files over to the publisher in five days and you just remembered you didn’t do any of that, then it’s awful.
K: So, let’s talk about those files. Because we mentioned at the top of the episode, you have a finalized manuscript. It is saved in no less than ten places, but you can’t—that Word document is not a book. That’s a manuscript, but it’s not a completed book at that point. You need to get a layout together, and this is kind of what we started talking about when we were figuring out this episode is, all of the stuff that goes into a layout, and doing a layout, that you don’t really think about. So we did kind of want to talk about the other elements of the book, but the thing that’s gonna be most time consuming here is the layout.
R: Unless you go through a service that makes it not time-consuming.
K: Yeah. So we’re gonna talk about a couple different ways you can do this. I’ll start with the first one, which is the way I do things when I have to come up with a layout real quick, be it for an advanced copy or a chapter book or something, Draft 2 Digital has a really great service where you can upload a Word document, your manuscript, and they will spit out a pretty decently impressive looking layout.
K: And they’ve got a few different formats and styles. They’ll even let you do some chapter—not chapter art, but flourishes and some little drop caps in the start of the chapters. And it looks great. They have a really cool program that will do this for you. And I’ve absolutely used it for manuscripts that we just needed together for a quick press run or an advanced copy or something. It’s completely free, it’s a really, really great tool.
That said, it is not the same as having a professional layout done by someone who knows how to do these things. Back when books were printed with an actual press, it was a typographer’s job to sit there and actually put all of the individual little letters and spacing in there, and they had to do this backwards and upside down, pretty much.
That is, I think, and Rekka would you agree? Maybe one of the only trades from publishing that is sort of carried over? I mean, I would go so far as to call it a trade. It’s still a really specialized thing that you need somebody who knows how to do. I think I would say that might be the one of the only holdovers from the days of actual printing press runs.
R: Well, you still have somebody operating a printing press. And that is definitely a trade still. Even though we’ve got digital presses and everything is print-on-demand and it feels like a human never touches it, that’s not necessarily true. It’s just that it doesn’t take as many people to make as many books as we do anymore. So, I don’t want to disparage the people who are maintaining these machines that we rely on for everything that we do.
K: We appreciate and love those people and want them to continue doing their very important work.
R: Absolutely. There are people on a line making paper for us. There are people—then there are people laying out the book and making sure the letters are in the right place and all that kind of stuff. The author has, hopefully, made sure that the letters are in the right order. It’s just our job that they look right and read well.
One of the things that, you know, it’s not a shame, but the better that a layout person does their job, the less you notice that they were there at all.
R: Reading through a book and not noticing how the letters are spaced or anything like that, and getting to the end of that book and thinking about the story that you read. That means that a layout person did their job really, really well. So, in the Draft 2 Digitals and that sort of those things, those are not touched by a human being. They’re fed into a service and that service is very well designed to make some important choices for you.
Like, you don’t have full-range of options in Draft 2 Digital’s layout utility that you do in InDesign, because a lot of choices are, to a designer, obviously not correct to make. But might not be obvious to someone going in and laying out their first book. Like we do not use comic sans for body copy—
K: Yeah, to be—
R: —you know? But if you give somebody the option to do that, invariably somebody will.
K: To be clear, the thing you’re getting if you use Draft 2 Digital’s service, that’s it. What they give you, it’s a PDF or—
R: An ebook.
K: —an ebook file, you’re going for here and then that’s it.
R: Yeah, you can’t make any adjustments. I don’t know if that’s a hundred percent true. You might be able to go in and fiddle just a little bit with the settings to see if something improves something else—
K: Yeah, you can fiddle with the settings, but you can’t go in and change certain areas where you’re like, “Oh, I don’t like the way this looks.” The only way, then, that you could do that is if you drop it into InDesign and then you’re just kind of starting the process again.
R: Yeah, you’d be starting from scratch at that point because the files that Draft 2 Digital give you are not going to be editable in any way that’s going to be useful to a designer. You know, you couldn’t just take that as your first draft and hand it over to the designer like, “Here, I got you started. Now will you clean it up?” Like, there’s no way. You can’t do Step 1: Draft 2 Digital, Step 2: InDesign. You might as well start in InDesign.
I will also mention that Smashwords also does the same service as Draft 2 Digital and I believe Reedsy, last I checked, they did not have the print up and running but I imagine if Draft 2 Digital figured it out then Reedsy did, too.
K: So let’s talk about InDesign. Rekka, there’s probably some people listening to this that have no idea what InDesign is or why it’s such a scary program.
R: It’s not scary, it’s just—
K: It’s scary. And I’m scared.
R: It’s just overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing, all the options are too many options.
K: It’s terrifying.
R: Well, so… InDesign is a multi-page layout program that is published by Adobe, who makes Photoshop and PremierePro. A lot of very, you know, trade… standard for both film and music and photography and design.
K: Yeah. Everything that you might publish. Adobe has bought pretty much every software company that ever touched on any part of my design career. I don’t think they ever bought Quark, but they certainly replaced it. At least in my portfolio.
So InDesign the program is multi-page layout, which means that if you need a brochure, if you need a book, if you need a pamphlet—you know, you can even do stationery—
K: Oh! Wanted Posters!
R, amused: Or wanted posters, yes. You can also do single-page layouts. The multi option is a choice. So a lot of PDFs out there in the world began their life as an InDesign file. The more complex and polished the design, chances are the more likely it started as a multi-page layout in InDesign or, like I said, Quark.
I don’t know how best to explain what you’re looking at in InDesign. You’re seeing pages, but you’re seeing them with those invisible margins drawn in. You’re seeing boxes around the text that contain it.
K: I’ll describe it, as somebody who does not have a design background.
R: Yes, because I shared my screen with Kaelyn once making some integral corrections—
K, outraged: Multiple! Multiple times! Multiple times.
R, laughing: And Kaelyn did not like the experience.
K: It is—and I will say this again, as somebody who does not have a design background—it is overwhelming to look at.
R: It’s a little bit like a NASA control room, but for pages.
K: The way I can best describe it is: if you’ve ever seen an architectural drawing of a building. You can look at it and see that, “Ah, yes! This is what the house is going to look like,” except it’s covered in other lines and notes and arrows and all of these things that don’t mean anything to you, but you can tell they mean something to the architect. This is kind of like an architectural drawing page of this book. This is what—all of the invisible stuff that you don’t see in the final page, is visible on these pages.
You’re gonna see all the margins, all the markers. You’ll see the pilcrows. You, depending on what you want to make visible, you can actually see dots or some sort of indicator in there that’s showing you the spacing between words and characters. You’re seeing all of the stuff that the computer knows to acknowledge how this is supposed to look. And it’s a lot.
To pair with tomorrow's episode of We Make Books, here's a look at a page layout in InDesign. @kindofKaelyn gets @bittybittyzap to dig in (like a tick) and expound on the designer's process when it comes to turning a Word doc into a multipage layout. pic.twitter.com/He2bsh5bM2
— We Make Books podcast (@wmbcast) July 27, 2020
R: Just shy of the zeroes and ones, yeah.
K: There is. There’s a lot that the computer is doing to get the page to look the way that you’re saying it should look. So that, as a non-designer, that is the best way I can describe what you’d be looking at there. And we can, we can post some screenshots maybe of what these pages look like. Just so, you know, if you’ve never seen one you can kind of get an idea of what you’re looking at there.
Okay! So, Rekka, here is a finalized manuscript.
K: Please make it a—
R: Would you like me to make it a book for you, Kaelyn?
K: I would like you to make it a book.
R: So, as I said, this is a multi-page layout. If you open any book on your shelf and you look at a couple of different pages throughout, like the start of a chapter or the meat of a chapter, the front matter or back matter, you’re going to notice that some things change and some things stay the same across multiple pages.
K: Yeah, and—
R: So, for each one of those, you need a page template.
K: Yes, and before you’ve really dived in, hopefully you’ve had a conversation with the author or the editor and made some decisions about some things.
R: Right, so you need the trim size. Like, the most critical thing is how big is this book going to be when you measure the outside of it with a ruler?
K: Yep. Let’s start there. How big is the book? The first most important thing you gotta figure out.
R: Yeah. Yeah. Because that’s gonna tell you, by percentages, how big the margins should be. The inner margin that goes into the fold is going to be bigger than the outer margin. The top and bottom margins have to account for the running header and the page numbers, and where do you want those? Does the publisher have a house style where everything tends to be in the same place for that publisher? Does the publisher have a selection of fonts that they prefer to use, and they might have a selection of fonts for sci-fi versus fantasy.
K: And that’s exactly what I was gonna say. So, other things that I’m sure you’d wanna know: what is the format of the beginning of each chapter supposed to look like? Is it just a chapter number, does it have a name? Does that get a different font than the rest of the text? How are the chapters or pages laid out? Does the text start half-way down or do we stick everything as close to the top as possible? Is there chapter art for each chapter? What about drop caps? What about fonts?
So there’s a lot of things that the designer needs to know up front, before diving into all of this stuff.
R: Yeah, and those decisions can get set up, to a degree, before the manuscript is even done. So you can bring a designer in and, if you’ve worked with them before, then you can say, “We’ll be using this house style, similar to this title that we did, but maybe this font is the title font, as opposed to the one that you used for that book.”
R: So, for example, Parvus’s series, The Union Earth Privateers, there’s three books in that series now and they all use the same, or similar font, and that’s consistent within that series. Whereas, Flotsam and Salvage, as part of the Peridot Shift trilogy, are still technically sci-fi but use a very different font, different fonts inside, shaded a little bit more like a fantasy book, in terms of some of the details because it’s a genre-crossing story.
K: And I think that’s something very overlooked, frequently. A lot of decision actually goes into picking the font because the font is kind of, it’s one of those tricky things that us publishers do. The font is reinforcing to you what kind of a story you’re reading.
K: Without you even noticing it. If you’re reading a high epic fantasy, you’re not going to be reading a font that looks like it’s been generated by a computer and you’re reading it off a screen. There’s gonna be something in there that’s a little twist, a little element of the fantastic so that maybe it looks a little bit more like something you’d read on a scroll.
R: Yeah, yeah.
K: And these are the decisions that are being made behind the scenes to help you really get engaged and involved in the book. And we do this without you even noticing, most of the time.
R: So sometimes you can just pick up the font from the titling. You know, if you have the font that was used in the title layout on the front cover, which sometimes is done by the illustrator, sometimes it’s done separately from the illustrator as, you know, a titling designer. If you have that font, then you can pick that up or, some variation from that font family, without all the fancy styling on the cover, and just use that to keep reinforcing the style throughout.
It’s not ironic at all that the font that we used for Flotsam and Salvage and then is used for the chapter headings on the inside is called Charcuterie. I mean, it’s just appropriate and it also looks kind of, you know, that pirate fantasy kind of look. It’s heavily modified for the front cover, but on the inside it’s used as it came out of the package, as you would.
[30:43] (from this point on, the transcript is by Rekka. Don't blame Sara for my mistakes!)
So, um, yeah, absolutely. What you said. It's like the font choices, um, constantly remind the reader as they go through the book, what they're doing. Body copy—and when I say body copy, I'm talking about the running text—typically is going to follow some basic, uh, legibility rules. And so that font is less likely to change for the publisher than, um, than the other fonts that are more, uh, you know, highlights, uh, throughout the book or used for emphasis. The body text itself needs to be legible. It needs to be clear. It needs to, you know, adhere to standards. So that one is far less likely to change. Just like you wouldn't print black text on a dark purple paper. You know, we, we have cream color paper as a standard. We have certain fonts that work more as a standard, um, things like Garamond things like Georgia, you know, um, these are texts that you will see, you know, you can pretty much learn to identify them.
So when you are creating a layout in InDesign, you are picking fonts because those fonts are selected and permanent. When it's printed on paper, that font doesn't change sizes. That font can't be enlarged. It can't be, you know, reduced somebody can't increase the spacing. So you've really got to come up to like the best universally legible version you can. For that reason, a lot of people, you know, like my parents who are in their seventies, they are reading on their, their e-readers, Kindles in their case because they can change the font size. Because they could even pick a different font if they wanted, um, from the ebook file. And so when you are creating your layout, pretty much the font you choose in InDesign, if you're the one choosing it, um, assume that going forward. Cause I'd have to keep saying it at the end of every statement.
Um, those fonts are not necessarily the ones that are going to end up in the e-reader because the readers have their own preloaded set of fonts. And if you don't use one, they will pick what they judge to be the next closest font for you. So if you pick a serif font, but you use, you know, Garamond, but Garamond is a licensed, you know, proprietary font under the font foundry that created it and they own the rights to it. And if you don't purchase the rights to distribute it, you cannot package it in with your file. So you're going to end up with something that's a serif font that is similar. Um, if you go into your settings on an e-reader, you can see the fonts that are prepackaged in there. Cause you get to choose which one you want to use. And it's like maybe 15 at the most. So the fonts that you choose in your layout will go into the book, but unless you choose to, um, license your font so that you can distribute it, which is a whole other price point, um, you're not going to be controlling the fonts to that level in the ebook file that will get generated at the end here.
Gotcha. So, okay. Rekka, we've picked the font. We've come up with all of the, um, you know, how the beginning of the chapters are going to look, we've decided on how to handle drop cap. Uh, what are, what are you going to do now? What's the first thing you start digging into when you run through this.
Well, I'm going to block out the pages that I know we're going to need. So all the things we listed, um, and we, we forgot to mention like a praise page. So if there are industry blurbs, you know, that might be page one in this document. And um, if we know we've got a lot of them, it might be page two to maybe page three. You know, like if you're, you know, Gideon the Ninth got a lot of industry blurbs, for example.
Hey that's great. If you've got it, flaunt it.
Exactly. Um, so the idea of that is if someone picks us up in a bookstore, they are still deciding whether or not they want to buy it. You're hoping that, you know, you got him past the cover, you got him past the book description on the back, they've opened it and now you see like," Oh, well, you know, Terry Brooks loved this, so, okay, I'm going to read this or I'll at least keep paging it. And maybe I'll read the chapter in the bookstore." You have, you know, the title page, you might have another one we didn't mention was also-buys, uh, lists for the author or even sometimes the publisher I have seen, um, put those in a book, um, copyright, all that stuff. Those are all going to come to the designer as a separate word document. So you're going to start making space for it.
If the publisher has already provided some of it, then you lay it in. If you know it's coming, then you leave a spot for it. Because as you do things, um, you want to make sure that you are accounting for, what's going to start on like the right side of a page. What can go on the left side. On the right usually is where the titles fall. The dedication, the first chapter will start on the right. Um, the left side, you know, things like the copyright can live there, things that flow over from the page before, like those long praise lists we were talking about, or even long also-by-authors. Although at that point you probably want to pare it down to the most relevant. Um, so what's gonna fall on the right or left side of the page. You create a text box for that.
And, um, then you might need to insert a blank page and then start another text box for another right page. And then, um, if you set up your file properly, things will flow. And um, so if you bring in something that's, overlong, it will automatically add pages for you to make room for that, so none of it's hidden, but, um, as we'll get into later, that's one of the pitfalls that you have to deal with as well.
So, so one of the, so pretty much what you're doing right off the bat is you're blocking out, apart from the manuscript, the additional things that we talked about at the beginning of episode that are going to have to go into this book and you're literally laying it out, you're trying to go like, okay, there's going to be this. And that's going to take up two pages. Then I'm going to need four pages for this, then a page for that. And you're creating this file with then all of these, can I call them checkpoints? Does that make sense?
It's a little bit, it's maybe just like a, to do list or, you know, it's a table of contents. It's the living table of contents, but without the table, it is the contents. Um, like I said, they're each going to be coming in as a separate word file and you'll be treating them as separate, uh, story blocks in InDesign so that, um, when one ends, it gets to a stop and then you have another one that begins on the next page as a separate story. So that, like I said, if something runs over, it pushes everything, but it doesn't flow into the next text block with like, you know, your dedication will accidentally end up on the same page as chapter one.
Gotcha. Okay. That makes sense.
There, I think there are ways to style like your chapter headings so that they appear correctly. So like if I took, if you gave me one solid word document and inside, it said chapter one, that, um, the, you know, as a chapter one and then the text and there's a chapter two that I could import that. And then if those chapters are marked as headings, you know, separate from the body text that they would be spaced properly with the text around them. And what this does is in the reflowable, it guarantees that like accidentally you won't lose the last paragraph of a chapter. If something you do with a spacing ends up pushing it.
But what it ends up being a mess in terms of, um, dealing with where the chapters headings are and whether they're space properly and all that kind of stuff. So what CatsPaw does, and what I've started to do is create a separate story for each chapter, which does mean there's a little bit more handling when it comes in from the word document. I can't just throw the word document in there and have it go "zzzzhzhhhhzhzhzhzh" all the way down and look perfect.
That's the noise it makes.
That is not the noise it makes, uh, that is the sound of disappointment when it doesn't work as intended, hopefully the styles are set up in a way that makes sense. So what you do is you go in and you delete the word styles, and then it says, Hey, uh, the, you know, the styles in use, do you want to replace the instances of that style with another style? And then you can apply your own style without having to go in and look for every chapter one chapter two, chapter three, you know, that kind of thing.
Yeah. So Rekka, without getting too technical with all of this...
Folks, that's her way of saying "you have four pages of notes and they frighten me."
She does have a lot of notes for this one. Um, but without getting too technical about this, you've done the initial import, you know, you've corrected the, you know, real quick things you've, you know, checked the headings, made the stories for the chapters. And, uh, this is absolutely a leading question because I got to experience some of this firsthand recently, your next step, you're going to go through the manuscript and start looking for things that, for lack of a better term, look a weird.
Yeah. So once everything's laid in, then hopefully the styles that you set up for paragraphs and such are, um, pretty low maintenance in that you've already decided how many words per paragraph are allowed to be hyphenated.
And real quick, just to be clear what you mean by that. If a word is too long and is hanging off the end of the line, you can allow the text to hyphenate, put a hyphen there and then continue to word on the next line.
Right. Like I said before, what you want the reader to do is not notice that they're reading. And so part of that job falls to the author to make the story engaging the other part, falls to the layout person. And typographer to make sure that there's nothing getting in the way of an easy reading experience. Sometimes that word "frustrating" would make that line either super compressed, if it fit all the words on that line, or super spaced out, if it decided to move it down. So by allowing hyphenation in your settings, you tell the computer, sometimes it's going to be necessary, please do this, but you can also tell it "if the word is capitalized. You know, if the first letter of that word is capitalized, do not hyphenate," because sometimes as a proper name and in fantasy and science fiction, you really don't want those words to get any more confusing than you've already made them you creative, creative, wonderful people. So, um, you maybe don't want to hyphenate those words at all. Uh, you can also say "don't hyphenate in the first line or don't hyphenate to the last line." There's little settings like this, and then there's sliders to say "more hyphenation for better spacing" or "I'd rather sacrifice some of the spacing for less hyphens." Cause it can be really silly to look at a paragraph and the first four lines end with a hyphen because you're using sciency words and they're really long.
Yeah. And so then, uh, one of the other things that you're gonna look for is weird spacing. Um, as you mentioned, text here is typically justified. Um, this is why sometimes you'll see in books that there's not uniform spacing between words and what's happening there is the computer is making adjustments so that everything is kind of a box, just like these neat lines down the side.
It will go for the spaces between words first, before adjusting the tracking between the letters themselves.
So yeah, there's two ways to mess up the spacing here. You can mess with the spacing — You're wondering why I said this was so incredibly overwhelming, and this is why you can mess with the spacing in the words. So you could also mess with the spacing in between the letters.
You know, if you were doing a poster, you would be really, really fine tuning every letter on there when you're doing a full book layout, um, unless this is a book about idealism, you know, or this is going to be a coffee table book, generally, you're not getting too close into the kerning, except in cases where like say you have a drop cap at the beginning of a chapter where the first letter is like three lines high. And that first letter is an "A," so you have this letter that leans away from the text at the top, but is running into the text on that third line that it's, that it's inset to. And so you might want to adjust how those letters fit together. That's where the reader is going to go. "Woah, that looks weird," as opposed to they're already sucked into the narrative and you know, they might completely overlook it.
And I can actually give an example that a wreck and I came up against that was really strange when we were working on Aria. Um, because it's a space opera. We had some names that started with a Q, but were not followed by a U, which is obviously very unusual in English, but not in this galaxy. And the Q that was built into the font was this large ornate sort of letter, capital letter ,with this flowing line. And we were looking at this going, well, why is it doing this? And we realized that there was a different setting built into the font for if you were doing Qu versus just a single capital Q.
New Speaker (00:44:11):
Right. And that's called a ligature, which is a standard, um, aesthetic manipulation of the way letters fit together so that they are more attractive, and, and this is like, you know, typographers will really have fun with these. So in the case of the character's name, it was "Qe" and there was no ligature for that. But for the word "Queen," you have the stroke coming out of the Q and it extended, I think, past the u, um, it was very, very, pretty. It was very Royal.
It was really, it was gorgeous. It was almost the length of the word.
But we were looking at it and going, why, why is this? And then finally we figured it out. Um, I think you leave it because you're like, well, it's a queen. Yeah. She can have the long stroke.
We found a way to sort of minimize it because the way they had it in there, it was very distracting in the text.
They call them alternatives. So when you highlight a letter in InDesign, you get an option to switch that letter form to one of his alternatives, but yeah. Um, ligatures, are generally something you want, um, because of the way like F will go into L or F will go into I, um, you know, they're very, very common. Um, and you probably don't even realize you're looking at them. Uh, if you see two letters that basically connect somehow or, um, the letter forms overlap into the horizontal space of each other, it's probably a ligature and they're, they're good. They're a good thing. But in some cases you may want to manually override them.
All of this is to say that then this becomes a really time consuming process of just needing to read through the manuscript and to make sure that it looks okay. We're not fussing with words at this point, we're fussing with layout and with presentation.
So I would argue that you're not necessarily reading through the manuscript. Um, but you are scanning, you know, across every page to, to catch these kinds of things.
And someone like Rekka, whose eye is trained to look for this stuff. Um, you know, there are like someone like me, there's stuff that I caught on there that I went, "ah, this is weird." Or like I would find, um, there's a thing that can happen called a river where the spacing in between letters, stacks up line on top of line. And it looks like a river, essentially.
New Speaker (00:46:33):
You could trace a line, you know, with a pen through multiple lines in a paragraph. And that's, you know, there's rivers, uh, and the fully justified text kind of creates quite a few of them too, unfortunately. Um, but again, you can kind of control that by setting up your styles really well. Um, the Draft 2 Digital's, as well as InDesign's, um, algorithm that lays out the text for you tries to control that, like it knows to try and avoid it. Can't avoid it everywhere. Cause again, especially with science fiction books, sometimes the words are just really long and you're kind of stuck with them, but you also, you know, you're going to look out for widows, which are single words at the end of a paragraph. In something as long as a, as a novel, they're going to be some of them, you just can't avoid it.
It's just, it's going happen. Yeah, there's no way around that.
But you can try to minimize them. Um, other things that just, you know, again, the hyphenation, you're just, some normal words become less normal when they're split across two lines. You know, your brain is going to try and guess what the rest of the word is as you're reading. And so you don't want anything that your brain would go immediately to something else.
Uh, one of the other things, um, if there's a scene break, you're signified us by a break in the text. If that break comes at the end of a page and then starts at the other, it's not going to be clear to the reader that there's supposed to be a break in there.
Yeah. So generally you want some kind of ornament um in there for that break. Um, I actually was reading on a Kindle last night and twice in a row inside the same chapter, I did not realize I was supposed to be dealing with a scene break because it came at the end of the way my Kindle had flipped the pages. So I was like, "wow, I sure would've put an ornament in here. Uh, just to signify that the scene breaks." You know, sometimes it's three asterisks. Sometimes it's a line. Sometimes it's a little illustration. The scene breaks, again, are communicating something to the reader. So if it's not being communicated, it needs to be adjusted. Um, and then you've also got, uh, orphans which are single lines at the end, or start a page. You, you kind of want to keep your paragraphs together., Again in a 400 page novel, you're not going to be able to control every single one of them, but you do what you can. And sometimes you end up doing what you can by going back three paragraphs to find a really long, chunky paragraph that could probably, uh, you know, be adjusted to either push or pull that, um, that line upward or back so that you can control that.
So, yeah, Rekka... Someone like Rekka is, you know, scanning these, looking through everything and knows exactly what to be looking for. Um, it's a very time consuming manual process, but if, again, you're a designer like Rekka, this is just, you know, you've got like a third eye that is just going, "yes, no, no, no, no, no, yes, yes, yes, widow, orphan, other upsetting family status."
So that is kind of, I would say is that is that sort of, once you go through and finalize that, is there anything else assuming there are no changes being made, is that sort of the end of your involvement at that point?
So that is for the print book. Now for the ebook, there are a couple of different ways to do it again, drafted digital we'll happily take your word file and make an ebook from it. Um, as will SmashWords, as will Reedsy. Um, there's a program called Vellum. Yep. And that is Mac only, unfortunately I a hundred percent think is a worthwhile, uh, program to have, because the option that remains from that is, uh, to take your, either your word document or your InDesign document and export it to an epub. And then what you need to do is manually edit that epub to make sure that it's clean, because sometimes styles come in from other programs that are, uh, bloated for what you want an ebook to be. You want to keep the size down. You want to not confuse the e-reader with too many, you know, instructions for how to handle a paragraph, et cetera. So, um, InDesign lets you, uh, create rules for your various styles in how it exports them to epub, which is a good thing. Um, however, I have found that the epub that's, uh, exported still requires an awful lot of work. So if your Word document is kept up to date with the same changes that go into the layout after the page proofs are made, I definitely recommend taking that Word document and feeding it through, uh, either Vellum. I know um, Draft 2 Digital has been working on their epub, you know, converter so that, um, it's probably getting closer and closer to perfect. Um, but right now my experiences with Vellum and it's just night and day between having to edit an epub because InDesign still, you know, separated out your files weird or whatever, um, to just loading it into vellum and having it recognize this, you know, the scene breaks and the chapter breaks and all this kinds of stuff. And again, Draft 2 Digital, Reedsy, Smashwords, Vellum: they're, um, ebook creation tools, know what fonts are available in e-readers and know how those styles will be rendered. So when you pick a style in any one of those, you can be fairly certain that it's going to look the same across multiple e-readers, which with InDesign, you kind of have to manage on your own. And that's not a lot of fun. And by the time you're done with this layout, you kind of want to be able to like, just output that ebook and just go.
Um, I definitely recommend if you can do the ebook last, because every time you create a new format of this book, now you've got to keep all the changes straight between every different format or you have to re-output the ebook again from your final_final_final_dot [[grumpy noises]] final, you know.indd file. So, um, that would be my recommendation. Uh, yeah, the, the process of maintaining multiple files across different versions and stuff like that is, it's not great.
You want to minimize it so that you can have all the files open on your computer, on your, you know, if you're like me, you have two monitors and you can have them side by side and make every change, uh, one at a time, side by side so that, you know, it's done. So from there you have, you know, you just have your final checks and, and once you have all the pages laid out in InDesign, you'd have a final page count, which means that you can finally go get the template for your cover. Because you can't make your cover final until you know the spine width, which you don't know until you have your page count. So all these things kind of like wait until the end, so you're, while you're laying things out, if you don't have all those pages on the inside that we talked about in the front and end matter, you're bugging the publisher for those. "Uh, can I get that? Can I get that?" If you have a direct access to the author, you might be reaching out to them, you know, "just to confirm, I want to make sure I have everything." Because, um, that page count means that you can finish your cover. And then, um, you output that according to the, you know, guidelines of whoever will be doing the printing, whether it's, you know, uh, press printing or a POD digital, you match their specifications and you upload the file, you preview everything a hundred times. You know, you'll proof it one more time from the, um, they'll output a PDF and send it to you. And you just make sure that, you know, no pages are missing or whatever that you know could go wrong. That it's not a truncated file. Like you uploaded it and it didn't only partially upload or, or whatever. Cause most of the system is pretty automated. You don't have people who—you cannot trust, let's say, that there's someone on the printer team who is going to be going over your page with as much care as you would. So always take that care to go over everything. Just like I, you know, went through the entire layout to make sure the words were falling on the right place. You want to make sure that you go through the entire proofing process with that same eye. If you've ever seen the movie Elf there's, um, there's a scene where the president of the company marches him with a briefcase and he pulls out a page proof. You don't get page proofs like that anymore, but you do get PDFs. And it sh... And he points at the bottom of this blank page to where the publisher had signed off on a page that did not output. And so kids who read this book, didn't get the ending of the book, right?
No one knows what happened to the puppy and the pigeon.
So the printer will make you sign, you know, essentially digitally sign this proof to say, "I approve of this, go ahead with printing." So if something happens that was shown in the proof and you didn't flag it and fix it or flag it and have them fix it, it's on you. So there's no, there's no amount of hurry that is worth having to swallow the cost or swallow the embarrassment when your readers get, you know, books with mistakes in them. So I mean, through the entire process, as laborious as it sounds, and as much as it sounds like you might want to get through it and be done with it, like, the care you put into it makes a better product.
Agreed. So, um, on that note, uh, the big takeaway here is attention to detail is always important, but never so much.
And pay someone else to do it if you can.
But never so much as when you're doing your layout. You know, as I said, this was just meant to sort of be a little bit of a kind of walkthrough of what happens to get a book taken from a manuscript to actually be formatted as a book. As, as you can see, it's, it's a process and there are different levels of how much detail and attention you can pay to it. And there- one is not necessarily better or right or wrong. Sometimes it's a matter of money and cost. Sometimes it's a matter of time. It's- at the end of the day. You just want to make sure that you've written a good book that can be easily read. And when I say easily read, I mean, as Rekka has said multiple times through this, people reading, it should not be conscious of the fact that they're reading. They should not have to make an effort to read the book.
They shouldn't have to concentrate just to see the page, you know, or to get through the page. And to your point about, you know, sometimes budget is a concern. I mean, obviously Draft 2 Digital's is free. Um, when you upload the files, I don't even think you have to publish or distribute to them. You can just download the file that it generates. Um, because they know that people will see the value in their service and come back and maybe eventually will distribute through them because every time you hit their page, they're showing you like, you can get this into libraries, you can get this into, you know, various distribution channels that you might not be able to get into on your own. So, you know, that's why their stuff is free. It's not free, cause it's not valuable. They work very hard on it. And it shows.
If you want a little bit more hands on than that, but you can't afford the page by page line, by line tracking. You know, there are designers who will probably be agreeable to do slightly less of the, you know, nitty gritty work, get it laid out for you. And do you know what they know works well, which is, you know, setting up those styles so that there's a minimal amount of, you know, all the things that we've warned against. And so you might be able to get somebody who, you know, will charge you less because they'll do less of the process, but a little bit more than you might get from one of the free things. And, you know, that's just something to experiment with and see how it works out and know that, you know, like if you say, "Oh, no, I really want to, um, you know, fiddle with this more," that, um, you need to probably get them to agree, to give you the InDesign file and then maybe, maybe you start paying for Adobe Creative Cloud and get a copy of InDesign yourself and you learn how to fiddle with these things. But it's, it's not all or nothing. It's not hours and hours and hours of paid labor at, you know, a designer's rate necessarily, but you do get what you pay for. Yeah. So yeah, there are multiple options on more of a sliding scale than, you know, just "free" or "all of the money."
That's, that's our episode about books and layouts and putting them together and everything. Um, you know, I know it was, there was a little technical in some areas.
I could go on for a few more hours.
Yes, yes. Um, you know, hopefully that was informative, kind of gave you a little bit of an idea of what's going on in the background here. And, um, you know, as always, if you have any questions or, you know, anything that you were looking for more information on or wondering about, uh, please feel free to contact us. We like when people ask us questions and contact us.
Yep. You can reach us on Instagram and Twitter @WMBcast. You can find us at WMBcast.com for all our old episodes. And if you find our information valuable enough to assign a dollar number to a, you can find us at patreon.com/wmbcast, and we'd super appreciate your support. But of course we know that's not always possible. So the another way to support us, uh, free of cost to you is to recommend our podcast to a friend who might be interested in some of the discussions you've heard. You can tell them to subscribe if you think everything's great, or if there's something specific, you can just send them a specific episode. Um, and of course the pinnacle of free support for this podcast will be to go leave a rating and review at Apple podcasts, even though we are available on all the podcast apps, that is the place where the reviews really seem to do the most to boost our visibility. So you can do that and help other people find us.
Yeah. That's certainly the algorithm that we need to feed the most of all of them. Well, thanks again, everyone for listening and we'll see you in two weeks.
Take care, everyone.