Friday, December 1, 2017

Things I have Googled in the Name of Writing

I have looked up some really weird stuff in the name of writing. Here are just a few:

How long does it take for rigor mortis to set in

How long does it take for a wound to become infected

How long before eyes glaze over

How far away can a gunshot be heard

How hard is it to break a neck (harder than I thought, so I scrapped it)

What kind of alcohol burns best

Body temperature extremes for a pregnant woman

Can high schoolers still ride the bus? (Keep in mind I'm homeschooled.)

What to pack when running away

How high can birds fly

How fast can hawks fly

Do birds have eyelashes

Can you escape from the back of an ambulance

Birds sleeping

Dumpster diving

Bird flight

Clothesline trope

Do clothing stores throw away clothes?

How fast does hair grow

Dog enclosure

Do bats have hollow bones?

What is that type of small dog that every old lady has?

How many people can a helicopter carry?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Digital Versus Print

This is a debate that has raged since the rise of digital books. For a while there was a fear of the death of print. Then again, people have been fearing the death of reading itself since even before that. No matter how many times news sources use catchy terms to convince us, the demise of the written word is always greatly exaggerated. Instead, we find ourselves with a blend of both digital and print these days.

But which one is better? I've had both for years. My love of books exploded when I was about, I think, twelve? One of the first books I ever officially remember "owning" was in 1997 (I was ten years old at that time). I have also owned a Kindle Fire of one type or another for 4-5 years now which is why I will be using it specifically as an example. I used to be vehemently pro-print but I find myself switching over to a preference of digital as time goes on. So here, now, are my own personal observations.

Large print

I'm finding that, as I get older, either text is shrinking or my eyes can't focus as well. Even as I write this with my glasses on and my desktop monitor I find the text too small. I'm zooming in to 125% just so that I don't have to perpetually squint (handy tip: hold down Control and then use your mouse's wheel to adjust the text size.) I know, I know, you're thinking, "People still use desktops!?"

Actual photo of my computer that you're scoffing at right now.
With a regular book you're stuck with the print size unless you specifically buy large print editions, which you have to shell out extra dough for if a version even exists. Meanwhile, on a Kindle, you can change the print size from "Are those even words or just lines?" level of small to a massive "holy crap it's only 3 words per page."

Lighting

I have many memories of long road trips with books in tow. I would sit in the back seat and stubbornly keep trying to read as the light outside would grow dimmer and dimmer as the sun began to set, eventually giving up, closing the book with a satisfying snap, and succumbing to boredom.

I have attempted to read by flickering candlelight in the event of a power outage several times as well, when it's dark outside and the only other option is Monopoly.

I've been tucked away in bed, ceiling light glaring across the pages of a book, as I stay awake for just one chapter (I've never had one of those bedside table lamps.)

Hands down, the lighting feature of a Kindle wins in this regard. You have many more options and places to read when the page itself can light up. These days I pretty much only read books in the dark. These days you can make it even better with white text on a black background and a blue light filter so it doesn't affect your sleep cycle. So far I've been lauding the Kindle However. it comes a drawback, that being the...

Battery

Yes, the pro-print fandom's primary example of why print books will always be superior. I can't really argue against this point much.

Dictionary

It's great to be able to tap a word in an ebook and know exactly what it means instead of stumbling over words like cacophony, aggrandizing, dichotomy, or the words I just used being lauding and vehemently.

"Lauding" in Google Images only came up with politics, so here's a corgi ship.
Bad Covers


Hahahahaha! Oh my God if you want a good time look up "bad sci fi book covers" it was absolutely impossible to find the truly best of the worst in the lot. I picked this one because it's from the only author I recognized.

While I've given it a little thought, I didn't really actively realize this advantage until I stumbled across it in my reading of "ebook vs print" and read this. She makes an incredibly good point about book covers.

Anyway, the point is, you don't have a bad cover facing the rest of the world if you ever crack open a book, and I know you've read some books with embarrassing covers on them.

Portability

It's easy to bring a small paperback on your travels with you except, if you read like me, you finish it quickly and then have nothing to read anymore, and that's not even taking into the account the whole light problem I mentioned previously. I've brought as many as four or five books on a trip. It starts to get really cumbersome after two, and let's not forget if they get damaged. I take very good care of my books and even a single ding on them is heart-wrenching (but we'll get back to that later...) With a Kindle you've got tons of books in a small format that is incredibly portable. Speaking of tons let's not forget...

Weight

Along with portability, this is a big pro-point in the eReading fandom.

I moved when I was 10, then again at 18, and again at about 25, and again about a year ago. In another year there are plans to have a new house built which means moving once again. I can't guarantee it but I will probably be moving at least several more times in my life.

Holy bulging spinal disc, Batman!

Have you ever picked up a box full of books and moved them? Great, now multiply that by 10. Now add in the comic books which, based on their weight, is made by combining osmium, dark matter, and solid gold. You ever pick up just five volumes of The Walking Dead? I packed my comic books in a dozen tiny boxes because any larger and the strain of moving them would have violated some sort of Geneva Convention rules.

This, more than anything else, has motivated me to primarily switch to ebooks. I just have too many books, and if you've moved as many as I have just as often, you really start to question why you're still keeping half of them around.

Post-Apocalyptic Reading

Okay, so that may be a little exaggerated, I know. Everything thinks it though. How in the world are you going to have access to your ebooks once technology ends? Let's be honest though, the chance to read will probably be few and far between, and there will be plenty of books still left in the world. It's not like, once you buy an ebook, you're no longer allowed to buy it in print or, in the event of a post-apocalyptic scenario, raid a brick and mortar bookstore with your barbarian friends.


Price 

I've talked previously about the price of Kindle books and I still stand my ground when I say print is king in terms of prices most of the time.

But when it's not? Oh man...

Price is what got me writing this particular post in the first place.

Less than two weeks ago I got into Comixology. It's one of the largest distributors of digital comics if not the biggest at this point (they were purchased by Amazon only a couple of years ago.) Their prices are comparable to print except they had a publisher's sale on Image comics, which happens to include The Walking Dead, so we're going to use it as our example.

I bought all three Walking Dead compendiums for 50 bucks. To me the massive compendiums are awkward and, being paperback, are prone to damage, but in digital form that's not a factor. So, 50 bucks is a lot, right? Well, let me break it down for you. Keep in mind this is the combines price for all three compendiums. This is, narratively speaking, well into the introduction of Negan, this is #1-#144

I paid: $50
Original digital price: $98.81
Paperback price: $120.23

However, as I said, I don't like large compendiums, I prefer volumes, so let's throw in the price of those. I'm feeling lazy and don't feel like tallying the individual prices of each one, but the compendiums cover volumes 1-24. Assuming it's about $10 per volume that's $240.

What I'm getting at is that, with digital books, you have to bide your time and be patient, but it pays off unlike anything you could possibly manage with print books.

Oh, and since we're on the subject of comics...

Comic Book Layout

I just gotta give a couple of cents here really quick. I've read both digital and print comics and there are two things I just gotta point out.

One: nothing is better than seeing a full comic spread in print form. On my tiny little 8' Kindle it just doesn't cut it, some of the magic is lost. You know, kind of like this:

By Ryan Ottley
Do you have any idea how awesome that shot is in full size!?

Two: Comixology's Guided View is one of the best things ever. I mentioned above the whole large print thing for books, this is almost the comic equivalent. Another thing is that my eyes have a bad habit of darting ahead, even in regular books, but with the guided view it keeps me from any spoilers.

Anyway, back to books.

Damage to books

I've damaged books before.

Sometimes I'm moving an armful, they have slippery covers, and the top half of the stack just...

Falls.

To the floor.

One of two things happens: I instinctively crouch to catch them, causing more of the armful to tumble down, or I stare on in horror with the knowledge that there is nothing I can do to stop it.

Oh God.

Oh my God.

I've hurt my books

I've murdered them.

I gently put the books I'm still holding down and do some damage assessment. Most of the time it's non-existent. Although occasionally I'll end up with a dinged corner in a hardback. But, horror of horrors, occasionally I end up with a folded over corner on a paperback cover.

More frequently is when I lift the book off the shelf faster than I'm pulling it out and it slams into the next shelf above. I've cringed at that. Have you ever thumped a book against something an said "ouch!" by accident, as though it were a part of you? Yeah, I've done that way too often.

I put way too much stock in the pristine condition of my books, but let's be honest, nothing lasts forever. Entropy is a harsh mistress. Even if I keep my books in perfect condition and let no one else read or even touch them there is still the potential damage from so many things. Mold could grow on them from buying an infested book, I'm not sure but I think it sorta spreads to uninfected books? Like a book plague? Same for silverfish or bedbugs. My basement could flood (I've lost a couple of books a long time ago that way), my house could burn down. Heck, sunlight and fireplace heat are slowly breaking them down.

I'm getting off track, basically what I'm saying is that you can't damage a digital book.

When You Buy a Bad Book

Sometimes you just get a bad book. It sucks. Whether you finish it or not, suddenly you have this awful book floating around your house. You certainly can't throw it in the garbage, people can't even throw away books that need to be thrown away.

See?

If you're lucky you can sell it, or donate it so long as it's not an instructional book about Windows 95 or something. Digital books I dislike? Heck I rarely bother to delete them from my library, they're so minimally in my way.

"The Feeling of Holding it in Your Hand"

I know, everyone dreams of that Beauty and the Beast library:


A lot of pro-print people talk about the feeling of a real book in your hand, that sense of completion, the beauty of your books on your shelves.

I remember a reading a webcomic a few years back where one of the characters was boasting about owning every single Terry Pratchett book...in ebook form. The joke was basically how the accomplishment was really diminished. (I would post it here, but it has since been lost among the chaff of the Internet. I could have sworn it was xkcd though.)

I used to be there in that same mindset too, but now I see it as overly romanticized. Since my last move I've taken more of a different attitude towards my print collection. These days my print books are like Navy SEALS: They are the best of the best. Only the finest books make it into the print collection. By doing so it allows those books to shine. To see my bookshelf now is to see my own personal set of what I consider classics.

Keeping books you don't ever plan to read again (or even read at all) for visual appeal is nothing more than ego stroking.

But have you seriously ever really moved that many books before!?


Sunday, October 1, 2017

What Have You Written?

Lots of people dally around say they want to be a writer. I've stated this lots of times. However, to all the people who want to be writers, I ask a question. One that I have asked multiple times before that bears repeating, italicizing, bolding, and possibly even underlining:

What have you written?

Lots of people have no answer because, if they're honest with themselves, they've written little more than a grocery list in the last year. When people hear that I've published a novel (and a short story) they get excited because, hey! I wrote something! What they don't realize is that, beneath my published story, lies tons of other work.


Do you honestly think Dusted was the first thing I had ever written? I don't say "Dusted is my first published novel." I say "Dusted is my first publishable novel" because most of what I've written has been complete and utter trash.

But it was necessary.

The first time Chopin put a paintbrush to canvas he didn't create a masterpiece. When Monet sat down at a piano for the first time he didn't create a classical piece of music. And very few of my readers will get the joke contained within those previous two sentences.

The point is, the first thing you ever write won't be published, neither will the second, nor the third. Do you know how many stories I wrote before writing Dusted? I don't even know, but I lost count at about six.

So, I know you're probably sick of math, but I'm going to answer my own question for you.

What have I written? Here it is (and don't make fun of the titles, some of these are over 10 years old.) anything with a * mark means it's unfinished.

Dusted: 74,858
Wanderlust: 10,909

*Jessica Swift (as of this writing): 36,000
The Stars of Eternity: 41,650
*Dusted Sequel: 34,632
All Just Survivors: 76,396
Angel Queen: 50,743
Angel Gray: 32,130
*Angel Fall: 3,380
*Grey Witch: 9,064
*Eve: 2,095
Hello Diary, Goodbye World: 29,724
Misc Short Story One: 633
Misc Short Story Two: 2,575
*Misc Manuscript One: 2,861
*Misc Manuscript Two: 6,388
*Misc Manuscript Three: 3,378
*Misc Manuscript Four: 1,788
*Sheepdog: 10,464
Tears of Brass: 9,999
Beneath The Gaslamp: 17,600
Waste Not: 9,350
Thicker Than Blood: 7,605
*The Betrayer: 773
*The Witches of Dunraven: 13,408

That's 488,403 words. That's more than the entirety of Stephen King's The Stand which, according to a website called Novelwordcount.com, clocks in at 472,376 (another website had the count at 471k so this is only slightly unreliable)

Fun fact: Stephen King and James Patterson actually have a feud going.

But what about what I have published? Well, it breaks down to 17% of my work being published. That's less than one-fifth. Keep in mind that I'm self-published so this is what I think of my own writing is worth publishing

All of these numbers don't count my blog posts or the collaborative writing I did for over six years with others. Both have helped to hone my skill and, as such, drop my published percentage further.

Don't let this discourage you, however. I'm not saying you have to write the equivalent of The Stand before you can get published. In truth, with a little dusting off and some editing, a lot of my manuscripts could be published. That's not the point I'm trying to make though, what I'm trying to say is that you won't get published at all if your word count remains at 0.

So what are you doing reading my garbage for? Get writing!

Seriously though, Patterson wrote a novel called The Murder of Stephen King.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Does My Novel Have Enough Pages?

I can't answer that question for you. I can, however, hopefully educate you so that you can answer that question for yourself.

Because my answer is: "You're asking the wrong question."

When it comes to writing a lot of writers put stock into page count. Unfortunately page count can be a dubious thing because of how many words are on each page. I used to own a couple of books in multiple formats, but they were victims of The Great Book Purge of 2016 in order to move, so I can't offer a direct comparison of hardback to paperback page count.

"How many pages is it?" I hear from pretty much everyone whenever I tell them about something I'm writing and, every time, I launch into a description of how word count is actually a more accurate indicator. I've seen a lot of eyes glaze over as a result.

Even I used to put some stock into Microsoft's page number, so I was floored when I got my first proof copy and, expecting it to be thin, found it to be a fairly average-sized book!

So here, for your education, is my attempt at a translation of word count to page count.

Readers: "Uh oh, she's bringing math into this."

First, consider text size. I have a manuscript in progress that is 17,000 words. I can immediately change the page count from 37 to 35 by changing it form Calibri font to Times New Roman font. I could also change the page count from 37 to 42 by changing my Calibri font from size 11 to size 12.

There are too  many variables in a document to rely on page count and this is why you should rely on word count instead.

Unless your manuscript contains nothing but "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" the word count is going to be an accurate representation of your hard work. No matter how much you tinker with the font type, size, or margins, your word count will always be the same unless you actually add or subtract words from it.

James Patterson could publish this and it would somehow be a New York Times Bestseller.
Next are some guidelines in regards to word count and what your manuscript technically is. I could swear I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Camille LaGuire of The Daring Novelist lays it out beautifully here in this blog post you should totally read. She has 8 different types but I will only be listing 3 as I have always understood it:

Short story: 1,000 to 10,000 words.
Novella: 10,000 to 50,000 words.
Novel: 50,000 and up.

A lot of writers wonder if their novels are long enough. I wondered this a lot with Dusted in its early stages. The story was wrapping up after just 100 pages and I worried it was too small because I had equated 100 pages in Microsoft Word with 100 pages in a book. In reality 100 pages in Microsoft word is pretty respectable, and Dusted actually grew after several edits.

Let me break down some of my manuscripts in both their word count and their Microsoft Word page count and, if applicable, their paperback page count (all of my paperbacks are 5x8 in size.)

Dusted
Word count: 74,858
Microsoft Word Pages: 189 (I found another version that's only 105 pages but contains the same amount of content, weird.)
Paperback Pages: 297

Wanderlust
Word count: 10,909
Microsoft Word Pages: 24
Paperback Pages: 46

Book 3
Word count: 17,125
Microsoft Word Pages: 37

Book 4
Word count: 41,650
Microsoft Word Pages:95
Paperback (proofread copy) pages: 211

Book 5
Word count: 76,396
Microsoft Word Pages:93

So, if you decide you want to use Microsoft Word's page count as an indicator of whether or not your manuscript is at novel-length, let's break it down into averages. Here are those same manuscripts from Microsoft Word, rounded down to the nearest whole, and in no particular order because I have already managed to confuse myself:

712, 396, 821, 454, 462, and 438 words per page.

So, as you can see, the words per page can vary wildly.

Let's break down my paperback page-to-word ratio.

252, 237, 197.

That's pretty significant. One Microsoft Word page can equal as many as 2 or even 4 paperback pages!

Long mathematical story short: If you're using Microsoft Word page count as an indicator of your success, then you're really selling yourself short.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Get Dusted and Wanderlust for Free!


Holy Frumious Bandersnatch, I haven't done one of these in forever!

Today only on Rungis's (sort of) birthday you can get Dusted and Wanderlust for free on Kindle! That's $4 in savings! What are you waiting for! Go go go!

Get Dusted for free here!

Get Wanderlust: Girl Goes Offline for free here!

Meanwhile, your regularly-scheduled post appears below!






Exclamation point abuse!!!

Things I Forgot (and Learned) After Publishing Dusted: Part 2

In my previous post I focused primarily on the interior but, as all published authors know, the interior is just the beginning. The bane of my own existence happens to be the cover, especially...

The cover margins


It’s times like this I’m glad I have a big, clunky, powerful laptop instead of a lithe little manuscript writer. Book covers are a huge pain if you have no idea what you’re doing (I don't.) Even if you do manage to create a gorgeous cover that works out beautifully for Kindle things will be a little trickier for a paperback version. Createspace likes to have extra room to allow a cutoff point.

That means this:

Pretty!
Will now look like this:

Blarg!
Correcting this problem will vary. I managed to fix this on Dusted's paperback cover by having extended black edges. Wanderlust, meanwhile, I just made the text smaller by a few points and moved my author name up closer to the model's...ehrm, tooshie.

The real problem came with the cover for Book 3.

"But Jennifer!" you cry, standing up and allowing your multiple copies of my books scatter to the floor, "You only have two books published!"

Yes, my overly good-looking reader, I do.

I was only 14k words into my next project when I decided to create to create a cover for it. I actually designed it before I even wrote Wanderlust. This was met with some skepticism of anyone who knew this, because why should I bother to make a cover for a book I hadn't even finished writing yet?

I had a couple of reasons. The first is that I hate making covers, or rather, I hate the process because it bogs down getting published once I'm ready to finalize things. The second was that I hoped it would provide me with motivation to actually finish it. If I had a cover it would make the project feel more real and, thus, I would be more committed to it.

But I digress, the cover for Book 3 fought me at every turn.

Even though I don't know a lot about graphic design I at least do my homework enough to fake it. If you do a Google Image search of "action book cover" you will come up with covers that have BIG TITLES that span the entire width of the cover.

Your brain just read my capitalized words wrong and is now giggling.
I wanted to do the same for Book 3.

The problem with this is that I had to tweak the text size to within an inch of its life, each time reuploading to Createspace every new time only to find it was still being cut off. Not only did I have the title in this manner, but the subtitle and the author name as well, each one needing their own fixes every time.

Frustrating? Absolutely. Worth it? You bet.

Then again, it wouldn't have been so bad if I had realized I should...

Keep detailed notes about the cover

This one might sound a little dumb, but I have had to start all over on a cover from scratch because I didn't have any details written down. Let's say you have a main title font and you need to reduce it by just a few inches. Grabbing the text and shrinking it will cause an eyesore so it's best to take it down only a few points in size.

...So what size is the font right now?

Well great, now you have to play a guessing game and work your way to the correct size. Except now you have the problem that you don't know what font you used and you have to find that one again or else settle with one that looks pretty similar because you can't remember.

Nope it's still giving you grief so you're just going to start all over.

...now where did you download that image from in the first place?

My own problem arose because I like to add black text behind the white text for some pop (and to keep the white from getting lost in a brighter part of the cover) but I found myself not knowing the font size and starting all over. This became a double frustration when I had to adjust it for the paperback edition.

Ever since I had this problem I began creating a document whenever I make the cover. This is what the cover notes for Wanderlust look like:

KINDLE EDITION
Main title font Boopee size 550
Subtitle Boopee Size 288
Author Boopie size 192

PB EDITION
Main title font Boopee size 500
Subtitle Boopee Size 250
Author Boopie size 144

They're not that far off in size difference from Kindle to paperback based on the numbers, but it's a pretty significant one when every pixel counts. It only gets more complicated if you add more fonts (the cover for Book 3 contains two different fonts and I have seen some book covers contain 3+)

And, while pretty much out of your control, this is something new I learned since publishing Wanderlust

The book spine

Books with spines are like a capital U while books without spines are like a capital V. It wasn't until I was partway through the cover of Wanderlust that I discovered it wouldn't have a spine.

Why are spines important? Well, because you can read the title on them. I'd give you an example of spineless books but I don't currently have one at my disposal. Basically take five pieces of paper and fold them in half. That fold point is the spine.

I'm not a fan of Wanderlust being a spineless book, but I'm not going to kid myself on the size, either. It's just 10k words.

So how big does a book have to be in order to have a spine?

I did look this up and the answer is 130 pages, but Createspace can bend some rules and add a spine to books as small as 130 pages. Wanderlust, at 5x8 size, is less than 50 pages. I couldn't add that much padding even if I wanted to. This also translates to needing about 25,000 words minimum in order for your 5x8 size book to have a spine.

Update: It has been a couple of months since I wrote this. I have since received a copy of Wanderlust and found that, technically, it does have a spine, it just happens to have one small enough that Createspace can't technically call it a spine. It does, however, have a satisfying flat spine in case you were wondering.

ISBN

The ISBN is a unique identifier of a book that gets assigned as one of the steps in the publishing process. Think of it as a home address or telephone number for your book. For example, if you plug 1546604650 into Amazon's search bar you will come up with the paperback edition of Wanderlust.

I strongly suggest having the ISBN assigned last just in case you have some physical changes you want to make. I learned this the hard way when I decided I wanted to make some changes to Wanderlust. I really wanted a spine, so I decided to pick the smallest format for a book that Createspace will allow, a smaller size meant more pages, which would make for a thicker book. It would be tiny, Patterson's Bookshots size (which, I must admit, is a brilliant idea) but it would have a spine.

When I went to change the book size down from 5x8, however, Createspace wouldn't let me.

It was then that I learned, apparently, the ISBN locks in your book size. In order to change the size I had to delete the whole project and start all over again (which I realized was pointless because 5x8 is actually the smallest size Createspace has available.)

Oh well.

Finally, we come to our last point.

It's all the little things you have to wait for

Publishing, even self-publishing, takes time. I began publishing Wanderlust on May 8th and wasn't finished until May 13th. This was a very rushed publishing process (that I'm a little ashamed of) because I was trying to meet the deadline of the UK Storyteller Contest, which was May 19th. Most of this was a whirlwind of work on my part that took only an hour or two followed by 24-48 hours of waiting between steps (it's taken less for me, sometimes only an hour or two.)

What were those steps?

Well, first you have to submit your manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing. Once you've done that there will be a 24 hour waiting process while they quickly review and approve the material (as well as the cover) to make sure it can be published.

From there you have to hit the big GO button and it will be 24-48 hours before it shows up in the Kindle store.

For Kindle, that's it.

Getting a paperback is trickier, and longer.

First, Createspace has to have 24-48 hours for a similar approval process.

Once you're done with that it's time to proofread it.

Digital proofing is faster, but if you're ordering paperback proof copies, like I did with Dusted, it will take about two weeks for shipping for each version of the proof. Not counting the actual time it took for me to proofread, make changes, and resubmit, it took a combined total of months just waiting on the shipping process as Dusted had several different proof versions.

Once your paperback is as close to perfection as you can get you press the big GO button for it.

It will take 24-48 hours (or is it 24-72? I can't recall) for your paperback edition to show up on Amazon.

There is now one last little thing to wait for before it becomes official.

Linking the Kindle and paperback editions

A book is a single product, available in different formats and editions.

Dusted looks like this:

Wow, used copies!

Wanderlust, meanwhile, looked like this:



So how does this get fixed? Normally Amazon is good and can automatically link them in 24 hours (which they explain here), which is what happened with Dusted. There are some times, however, when something falls through the cracks, which is happened to Wanderlust. They like you to wait 48 hours before contacting them to request a linking. I hope I did wait 48 hours but it was probably more like 42.

When I sent them a request it said it would take 24 hours (or longer).

Authors are some of the most patient people you will ever meet.



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Things I Forgot (and Learned) After Publishing Dusted: Part 1

I haven't written about writing for awhile. The biggest part of that is the fact that I hadn't published anything in a long time, even my writing had slowed down because of the move and other factors.

Still, when the Amazon UK Storyteller Contest was announced I gave it a go and survived the publishing process once again to make Wanderlust.

Not only did I learn new things, I also forgot quite a few as well.

Herp derp.


I wish I had remembered that I wrote this before I gave it another shot, as well as my So You Already Wrote a Novel posts (The Blurb, The Cover, and Advertising) so that brings me to my first point:

Write down (and reread) the things you learn.

Seriously, if you find yourself tripping up at one part of publishing, you will do so again. Write it all down and then, when your next manuscript is ready, read your old notes. This should be done before you even take the first step so that it will be fresh in your mind. Never, ever expect yourself to just remember it. Your brain is unreliable and, while it can turn out tale after tale of whimsy, it won't remember how painful the process of getting it into print was. It will always be a pain but, because I didn't make note of anything while publishing Dusted, I made the process of publishing Wanderlust a nightmare for myself.

I forgot about headers and footers

Headers are spaces in the top part of the page and footers are the bottom part of the page, neither of which include the body of text in a document. If you've written a paper on a computer for school chances are you've added page numbers so you're familiar with them. Headers are footers are each separated by the left, middle, and right sections.

With that in mind open a book, any book. In fact, grab several, I'll wait.

You're back? Wow, nice selection. You've got good taste in books.

Or not.
Open each of your books to any page except for the beginning or last few (title pages, copyright, and previews to other books play by different rules) look at the top and bottom parts of the pages. Chances are you're going to see page numbers, author, and book title in nearly all of them. I currently have a handful of random books from my shelf and a copy of Dusted. The headers and footers are the following:

Jim Butcher's Cursor's Fury
Even header: page number on left side, author name in center.
Odd header: Page number on right side, book name in center
Footers are blank.

Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why
Same results as above

Andre Norton's Darkness and Dawn
Same results as above

So it sounds like that's the way to go, right? Wrong.

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare's The Copper Gauntlet
Headers are blank
Even footer: Page number on left
Odd footer: Page number on right

Jennifer Clark's Dusted
Even header: Book title on right
Odd header: Author name on right
Footers: Page number centered

The headers look awkward in Dusted, and it's a mistake I didn't notice until much later, but it's too small of a mistake to completely redo the process unless I make some much larger changes while I'm at it.

There's no hard and fast rule that states you need to have any of these things included in the headers and footers of the book. I could see some problems arising from not having page numbers but, as in The Copper Gauntlet, you may not want to bother with author name and title on the pages at all.

I kept the page numbers centered in Dusted because I didn't want to have to bother with odd and even being kept to the right or left. I should have also centered the title and author name as well but, for reasons I can't remember, I wanted them left and right. One suggestion you should probably stick with is that things go on the center and the left on even pages, and things go on the center and the right on odd pages. This is more visually appealing and the information doesn't feel like it's getting sucked into the spine of the book.

This leads me to one small mention that is, apparently, a big deal:

Even pages go on the left, odd pages go on the right.

You didn't know it could be that complicated, right? I didn't know either until I sent Wanderlust in for review and this message was sent to me:

In case you can't read it because the font is too small it says:

Our reviewers did fine some non-blocking issues with your files. Some of these issues may have been fixed causing alterations to your files.

The interior is currently set up so that even page numbers will appear on the right-facing pages, and odd page numbers will appear on the left. You may wish to add a blank page before the text begins to correct the pagination as the first page of the printed book should be a right-facing, odd page.

Best regards,

The Createspace Team

I already knew that the beginning of the story always begins on a page on the right side (and I had actually added a blank page to correct this very problem), but I wasn't aware that there was an unspoken rule that even pages are on the left and odd pages are on the right. I mean, I had used books as reference to know before I formatted Wanderlust, and I guess at some point they got mixed up, but I didn't realize this was an actual issue. So, make sure your right and left pages are even and odd, respectively.

And don't think you're being free-spirited for doing otherwise.
Image source Pixabay

If you have a digital previewer, use it

I don't recall having this option when Dusted was published, but boy I sure wish I had. I would have noticed the odd and even header problem as well as the fact that I had accidentally uploaded an ancient version, complete with massive gaps in between the paragraphs.

Using Createspace's Interior Reviewer allowed me to make changes without having to order a new proof copy every single time to look over it. I would suggest using the previewer and go through every single page. Yes, every single page of your manuscript. While the beginning and end are where you are most likely to stumble across layout mistakes, like the title page and copyright page being wonky. I caught the first chapter of Wanderlust trying to start on a left-sided page and was able to correct it. If you want all of your chapters starting on a right page (which I don't bother with) then you definitely want to use this. Going through the entire contents also allowed me to catch a blank page in the middle of the story and remove it (there was a blank page in the middle of a proof copy of Dusted as well, once again making me wish I had a digital previewer).

I know you think you'll catch everything in Microsoft Word (or whatever program you use) but sometimes there are some bumps in the formatting process, and digital previewers allow you to see your manuscript as though it were laid out in a page by page left and right format.

All of the loading times will take forever

This one I still actually remember, but it bears mention. Even though Wanderlust clocks in at a tiny 10k words I still had to upload it and re-upload it over five times. This took me about an hour because, with every little wrinkle you smooth out, it creates another one you have to then fix. You have to upload your manuscript, which takes time, load it into the previewer, which takes time, view it and make changes, then start the process all over again. Even though Wanderlust is small it still took a long time, and the larger manuscript you have, the longer it will take.

Trust me, have something to do on the sidelines during all of this.

I typed a rough draft of this particular blog post while I was waiting for Wanderlust to upload a billion times and for the Interior Reviewer to launch half a billion times. Nothing will ever be "real quick." Quality takes time.

And, finally, one more thing I think is important to mention. I'm not familiar with other publishing platforms so I'll just specify Createspace.

Allow Createspace to fix your book size for you

A 5x8 book won't have the same interior margins as a 6x9, and neither will Microsoft Word. Whenever I upload a manuscript to Createspace it always has a fit, showing me four different errors.

So basically this.
Now, rather than try to fix it all myself through Word wizardry, Createspace is happy to offer a resized version in the exact size you're looking to publish it in. I just download that, check to make sure the manuscript isn't all dorked up, then upload it.

With one exception (that being the odd and even pages thing) I have had zero errors.

In my next post I will discuss the cover and the details of a book showing up on Amazon (including the Kindle and paperback versions showing up as a single product.)




Wait, this blog is about writing? I thought it was about satyrs.