Read-Through Time

Before I’m ready to order a printed proof of my book, I need to read through it several times to catch errors and problems. There are a lot of little details to catch, so each time through it, I read with a particular focus.

My first read-throughs are in the desktop publisher (DTP).

Read-through #1 is for text continuity. The DTP is where I build and format each page the way I want it to appear on a printed page. I’m working with text frames, image frames, caption frames, and page numbering, which means there is a lot of tweaking to get a pleasing balance of images, text, and white space. If it doesn’t fit on the page; cutting and pasting are required. Sometimes I have to reword several sentences to make the paragraph fit on the page. On occasion, something gets omitted or doubled. So the first read-through hopefully catches all that!

Read-through #2 focuses on small text details. Everything must be consistent. For example, sometimes I wrote 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, sometimes I wrote 5 Acres and A Dream The Book. Sometimes I miss italicizing a book title. I check to see if all paragraphs are correctly indented or not. A paragraph continuing on the next page is not indented, so I have to check. Are the temperature symbols all formatted the same?

Read-through #3 examines photo captions. These are written as the images are placed on the page, so I go back to check them for accuracy, spelling, and punctuation.

Read-through #4 checks citations. Is each one notated in the text with a superscript numeral? Are the endnotes and bibliography properly formatted?

Read-through #5 isn’t a technical read-through, but it checks page numbers so it’s a necessary go-through. A mistake means all the following page numbers must be corrected! I also make sure the page numbers in the table of contents are correct; also any pages I reference anywhere else in the text. This is the last read-through in the DTP.

The next read-through is after I export the manuscript as a PDF.

Read-through #6 is to look for key words for the index. It also serves as a double check for all of the above, but my mental focus is on keywords. I make a list of these in a text editor. When I’m done with the list, I go to the tools menu and select “sort” to put the list in alphabetical order.

Read-through #7 isn’t technically a read-through. It’s to go through each of the words on my keyword list, and using “find” on the PDF, make a list of all the page numbers for the index.

After the index is built and I know my exact page count for the book, I can request a cover template. Once the cover is done, it’s time to order my first printed proof copy.

Read-through #8 is with the printed proof. It’s amazing what you miss on a computer screen but catch on a printed page! This is also when I make notes of images that aren’t printing well. Corrections of both text and images are made in the DTP, and another proof is ordered.

Read-through #9 checks everything again!

Hopefully, everything is perfect by that point! But if it isn’t, I continue working the process until it is. Only then will I approve the book for publication.

Next Step: Images

The text for 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel has at last reached final draft status! The next text check will be when I review a printed proof copy. This is important because it’s amazing how things you miss on a computer screen. Yet, they pop out at you from a printed page.

Before I can do that, however, I need to prepare the entire interior book file for print. This includes selecting and optimizing the images for print, designing the book interior page by page, then designing and preparing the cover.

I do all of my image prep with Gimp Photo Editor. After I open the photo in Gimp, I follow these steps:

  • Image > Mode > Grayscale
  • Image > Scale Image > 300 pixels/inch
  • Colors > Brightness-Contrast > Brightness 30, Contrast 20
  • Filters > Enhance > Unsharp Mask > Radius 1.5, Amount 1.0, Threshold 0
  • Image > Scale Image > width 1350 pixels (4.5 inches) or whatever final print size is desired
  • File > Export As > (.jpeg), Quality 100, Advanced Options > uncheck everything. This decreases the image size (kilobytes) as much as possible.

At this point, the images don’t look good on the computer monitor because optimizing them for print is very different than optimizing them for a screen. Anything that looks questionable can be run off on a printer at its desired print size. That gives me a fair idea of how it will look in a paperback and whether or not to replace it.

I organize the images in their own folders by chapter, and number them in the approximate order they will appear in the book. This is important, because when the photos pile up, it becomes confusing as to which one is next.

When I get my first print proof, I will be able to see how the photos turned out. I then make both image and text adjustments in a revised interior file, upload that, and order a new print proof. I repeat this until I’m satisfied with the proof copy. Then the book is ready to publish.

My record for proofs was 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. I ordered seven proofs, mostly because I had trouble getting the cover right. Hopefully, The Sequel will go faster than that!

Outline For Chapter 6

5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel

F. Ch. 6. Food Self-Sufficiency: Feeding Ourselves
   1. Production
	a. garden
            1) downsizing garden
	    2) year-round
		  a) fewer annuals
		  b) more perennials (permaculture hedgerows)
	    3) soil building - never enough compost and mulch
		  a) chipper - mulch
	    4) permanent no-till (but not raised) beds
	    5) hugelkulture swale beds
	    6) continue diversity with companion group planting
	    7) planting by soil temperature
	    8) cover crops for resting beds
	    9) hoop house 
	    10) greenhouse (future)
	b. orchard
	    1) pectin
	c. field crops 
	    1) wheat
	    2) corn
	    3) other: cowpeas, cushaws, mangels, sugar beets (shared with critters)
	    4) goal - try rice				
            5) challenges 
	        a) not pushing the soil 
		b) soil building (discuss in  ch 10, "Resource Self-Sufficiency")
		    i. cover crops
		    ii. carbon
            6) no-till
	d. perennial foods 
	    1) herb garden
	    2) permaculture hedgerows
	e. eggs, milk, meat
	    1) eating seasonally
	    2) challenges with eggs
		a) storage
		    i. dehydrating
		    ii. water glassing
	            iii. liming
		    iv. see Prepper's Livestock Handbook for more
	    3) challenges with milk
		  a) year-round milk for kefir
		  b) cheesemaking in a hot climate
		  c) brine and oil packed cheeses
	    4) challenges with meat
	f. honeybees (fail)
	g. mushrooms        
        h. miscellanious            
            1) smoke flavoring
	i. hay (discuss in ch 7, "Food Self-Sufficiency: Feeding Our Animals")   
    2. Preservation
        a. less preservation / more year-round growing	
        b. canning / freezing / dehydrating / lacto-fermentation
        c. dry pack vacuum canning	   
    3. Storage	
        a. challenges - heat, humidity, insects
        b. eat more fresh (year-round garden)	
        c. rethinking storage goals 
        d. root cellar
        e. solar powered pantry (discuss in ch 8. "Energy Self-Sufficiency")
    4. Miscellaneous
        a. apple pectin
        b. smoke flavoring (canned or frozen)
        c. hops for homemade yeast
        d. leftovers frozen soup mix
        e. foraged foods
            1) greens
    5. Challenges
        a. diet fatigue
        b. diet diversity with limited foods

The Light at the End of the Writing Tunnel

Writing is work, hard work. It starts with inspiration but must be carried along with careful thinking, much deliberation, and stick-to-itivness. After awhile it becomes a chore; something that must be done or else it will never be done. That’s how it was getting with Critter Tales.

Finishing the last set of tales then, felt euphoric. The writing is by no means done, but the first draft is done. My beta readers have had at it and made good suggestions. The rewrite of the first draft was completed soon after that and was sent off to my editor. Things are looking much brighter these days.

The tales will next need to be cleaned up and details addressed. Front and back matter for the book must be determined and written as needed. After that I can finally begin designing the interior of the book. I really look forward to that.

I like lots of photographs in my books, so these must be selected and prepared for print. Page size must be determined and the page elements formatted to fit within prescribed margins. These include the text, photos, captions, page numbers, and chapter titles. Once the pages are set and numbered, a table of contents can be written. Next, the index. I like a good index and these take time to create, but I think they are worth it.

I think I will give copies of the book to proofreaders while I work on the index. 5 Acres & A Dream The Book had so many nit-picky little mistakes that it was embarrassing, after the fact. But I grew so weary of reading and rereading that I finally didn’t care any more. I’m hoping more sets of eyes will catch what I miss.

Lastly will be creating the cover. I have an idea for it, so that’s a start.

A new phase brings a new boost of enthusiasm. I’m excited once again. Most of all, I’m looking forward to getting it done. I already have ideas for books to follow, but I want to do this one well. I’m willing to take the time to make it so.

Critter Tales Progress Report

Phase one is the writing and editing. I have seven sections on my outline, each one containing as many “Tales” (chapters) as it takes! The ones with a first draft written are crossed off the following list. The rest await being written.

Concerning Critters (introduction)
Chicken Tales
Goat Tales
Kitty Tales
Llama Tales
Puppy Tales
Guinea Tales
Pig Tales
Looking Ahead (Conclusion)
Appendices

Some sections are longer than others. For example, we’ve had cats, chickens, and goats the longest, so there are more tales to tell. The other sections are considerably shorter.

Finishing the above list is the first step. Once I’m satisfied with the text I can move on to working on formatting the book interior and adding pictures. With 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, I learned the hard way to finish the writing before getting on with the rest. Doing it in proper order will be less frustrating in the long run, I think.

A Chapter A Day

Not too long ago I blogged about a writing schedule for the book I’m working on. I was careful not to be overly ambitious at the time, and only made a schedule for what I as working on: gathering possible homestead blog posts for Critter Tales. Even though I successfully met that schedule, I confess that’s as far as I got concerning scheduling.

Something else writers do is set a goal of writing so many words per day. This is similar to how NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) works, challenging participants to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  That seems like a lot but I’ve read blog posts by participants who divide it into a daily goal. Spreading that 50,000 words out over 30 days means only 1666.66 words per day, which doesn’t seem so bad, does it? If one takes the weekends off, it would be more, but hopefully still a manageable goal.

For me, I’ve thought it might make sense to aim for a chapter a day, rather than a word amount. My chapters aren’t terribly long anyway, and keeping focused until the chapter is done really helps with my flow of thought and various ideas that pop into my head. So that’s my goal, a chapter a day.

At this point I don’t know how many chapters there will be, so I don’t know how long it will take me to get them all done. The chicken chapters are finished (I think) and almost all edited. The next step has been to compile them into a “Chicken Tales” section, after which I’ll recruit beta readers for feedback. I’ll do the same with the other sections as I get their various chapters done.

I have to say it helps having a goal. Summertime on the homestead is so busy that it’s far too easy to run out of day before running out of projects. But, as a wise man once said, by the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it’s hard. I just have to make sure those inches keep adding up.

[UPDATE: July 26, 2014] Perhaps a whole chapter per day was a bit ambitious. Given the time I have available for writing each day, I’m finding it realistically takes more like 3 days. One to gather the blog posts, one to rewrite them, and one to do another go-over before sending it off to be proofread. Still, it’s a good goal and that’s good progress for me!]

A Schedule To Write By

For someone who likes  to sees herself as an efficient person, I have to say that that in reality, I’m anything but. While I was working on 5 Acres & A Dream The Book I was diligent to get up early to work on it (between 4 and 5 a.m.). I admit there were numerous times I felt like chucking the project, but I had committed myself to my editor, so I kept at it.

Between a love of writing and a little success (over 900 copies sold in less than 6 months), I’ve been wanting to do a companion volume based on the blog posts I’ve written about our animals: goats, chickens, cats, guinea fowl, llama, and puppies.  It’s been fun blogging about them and I’ve learned a lot. Plus folks do love critters.

This project has been approached with the same haphazard style as the first, but with a little less time committed due to other happenings.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it would be great to have it out by next Christmas, but at the rate I’m going, you can forget that.

Then I had a brief email exchange with fellow author and blogger Garrett Alley. He asked if I’d come up with a writing schedule for my second book. A writing schedule? Okay Ms. Self-Proclaimed Organized Person (I said to myself), why didn’t you think of that?

I decided to begin with just a small schedule, just a snippet of a complete schedule. If I can manage to stick to it, then I’ll expand and commit myself to the next steps, which would be the rewriting of the blog posts into chapters. For now, I’ve made a schedule for collecting a list of potential blog posts, organizing them according to critter:

      Week 1 – Guinea fowl – done
      Week 2 – Chickens – in progress
      Week 3 – Goats
      Week 4 – Cats
      Week 5 – Puppies
      Week 6 – Llama

That takes me through the first week of June. If I manage that, I’ll move on to step two, and make a serious schedule for the rest.

Styles Are Our Friend

There are many labors in self-publishing a book. Simply writing the text is a huge one. I opted to design my book myself, so that is another. Interior design is the order of the day: front matter, body text, fonts, images, captions, page numbers, chapter titles, appendices, index, all have to be added and formatted.

Originally, I did all this in LibreOffice. It was relatively easy to figure out how to add images to a document, how to work with text for various applications such as title or captions, how to add page numbers, even how to tweak paragraph placement. At that time, I thought all I had to do was to save each chapter in postscript, import it into Scribus, do whatever I was supposed to do there, and then save it, ready to load into Adobe Distiller. Of course it wasn’t that easy.

Scribus, I learned, couldn’t just take one of my LibreOffice .ps files and render as I left it in LO. Things happened that made me realize I would have to start from scratch in Scribus. And, I would have to learn how to do it.

The prospect of having to learn a new program and re-do my entire book was just a tad discouraging. I mentally kicked myself in the behind for “wasting” all that time in LO.  As I struggled to find tutorials on Scribus and researched how to put it all together to redesign my book, I realized that it hadn’t been a waste of time after all. True, I changed fonts, but the formatted book in LO became my visual guideline as I tried to figure out how to make Scribus do what I wanted. In addition, LO had made creating the index relatively easy; I had needed the images and formatting for the correct page numbers. Still, going was slow as I added text page by page. Having to format every title, every paragraph, every page number, got to be a drag.

Then I ran across a Scribus tutorial that mentioned styles. What are styles? These are a way to pre-set page formatting details so that they can be added automatically. I can create a style for different things: chapter titles, image captions, first chapter paragraph, the remaining chapter paragraphs, even page numbering. What a time saver!

Progress is still slow, I’ll admit it. There are many learning curves and learning Scribus has been no small one. Still, as I press on through my problems and challenges, it gets a little easier. The best part is that knowing in the end, it will be worth it.

Proofreading Checklist: Chapter Formatting Details

I’ve been going through my book chapter by chapter, page by page, double and triple checking certain details.

Chapter number and title

  • font
  • font size
  • font spacing

Photos

  • correct dpi (at least 300)
  • captions
  • spacing from text

Page numbers

  • font size
  • font style
  • correct numbering
  • spacing between page number and chapter title
  • consistent location on page

The last thing I do is go to print preview, two page view. I first check for obvious problems and then scroll quickly through the pages. If the page numbers are off, they appear to “jump” as I scroll. I then correct them until they appear stationary when I scroll through the pages.