Building A Book

I have learned that there are many steps involved in preparing a print-ready book for the printer. Writing is one thing, but it’s only the beginning. Editing, formatting according to printer specifications, photos, cover design, pdf preparation, marketing; all of these are necessary to produce a print-ready book.

All of these steps can be obtained as paid-for services, either from one’s online printer, or by hiring professionals. I understand these can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars for the author, one estimate being in the neighbourhood of $25,000. This is fine, I suppose, for those who can afford it, or for those who do not feel knowledgeable enough in these areas and want a professional quality book.  I’m game, however, so I’m going to tackle all this myself with one exception, proofreading.

I am very, very fortunate that Benita has experience as an editor and volunteered to proofread for me. I always thought I had a fairly good grasp on grammar, but have been amazed at how many errors she has caught. Also I have my husband, son, and daughter-in-law proofreading for me, so I am getting feedback from several points of view. This has helped me not only correct problem areas, but clarify terminology and concepts.

Benita and her husband Scott are both familiar with self-publishing, another tremendous help. It means I have the benefit of someone else’s experience as I begin this daunting journey for myself.

All the chapters have been written, being based on my 5 Acres & A Dream blog. I did find, however, that writing a book is different from writing a blog. Blog posts are chronological, so reading through a blog is like jumping back and forth between topics. Consequently, I want my blog posts to be concise and pretty much complete within themselves, because not even regular readers read every post. Plus there are many one time readers who find me via a search engine or by following someone else’s link. Chapters in a book, on the other hand, don’t have to be that way because a book is reading differently than a blog. One usually expects to read a book from beginning to end. Putting related blog posts together required quite a bit of work to make the chapter flow logically.

The next step was to email them off for proofing. As they come back, I make the corrections and then start on the formatting: chapter number, title, page size, margins, etc. This has meant I’ve had to learn to use my word processor as I never have before. It’s been a lot of frustrating trial and error, but definitely worth the effort.

Next I add photographs. It’s true a picture is worth a thousand words, so I add the photos to clarify the text. Photos must be rendered grayscale and at a specified resolution (dots per inch). I’m hoping my photos will add interest and personalize for the reader, what I write. They not only give a visual aid to what I am describing, but I can give additional information about the topic as well.

After the photos, the formatting has to be corrected. This sometimes mean adding or deleting text to give a proper visual perception of the page. I actually feel fairly comfortable doing all this, because of my art background. I think I have a grasp on composition and balance. In addition, I’ve found online articles with tips and pointers, plus I have scoured many books produced by professionals with an eye to formatting details. I’ve noted little things that I have tried to incorporate myself. One suggestion that has helped, is to print out copies of my pages to see how they look. This has helped me with photos, and especially with diagrams. I learned that what is legible on a computer screen, is not necessarily legible printed out.

Once all the individual chapters are done I’ll put the chapters together to number the pages. Then I can begin writing an index. Also I have a few appendices in mind for related material. Another biggie will be cover design. Since I’m the publisher as well as the writer, I have the option of developing an identity as a publisher. To me, that means name, logo, etc.

Some of my chapters are tentatively done, some need specific details attended to, and a few are written only. Progress is steady, albeit slow. But that’s okay as long as I’m diligent, building my book one step at a time.

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