Monthly Archives: July 2012

Are You Ready to Self Publish?

Maybe you’ve tried the traditional agent-query letter route and had nibbles but no success in landing a book deal. Or you’ve discovered a shoebox of your mother’s poetry and would like to publish them for friends and family. You believe in your story or topic and passion moves you to look into self publishing.

To be an independent publisher takes more knowledge and understanding of how a book is made and to how to reach your audience than you might think.  There are a number of popular books available on the business of self publishing by Dan Poynter, Peter Bowerman or Fern Reiss. These books will lead you through the mechanics of publishing such as what an ISBN is and do you need one.

Why do you need to learn how to self publish? It’s like gardening, anyone can buy a packet of pumpkin seeds and plant them in dirt. But will you have a fat, round pumpkin by October? People with yards of flowers and green shrubs didn’t start out randomly throwing seeds. The colorful yard took months of work and planning, plus more hours to maintain it. They’ve read articles and books on how to grow a successful garden. So should you about self publishing.

Yes, there are print-on-demand companies who offer to do most of the work as a publisher for you, but at what high cost? You can publish your book yourself and save that money for marketing, another major topic for another time.  No one understands the dynamics of your book better than you do. How much control do you want to give away to get it out into the world?

As a publisher you have decisions to make. How do you envision your book? What trim size will it be, approximately how many pages, and what quantity do you want to start with? Do you need a short-run book printer? These are important factors that will affect the production costs.

Congratulations on writing your book, you’ve already accomplished more than most. The adventure of self publishing can be a rewarding avenue for your book as you go through the process from creating back cover text to deciding the price on the barcode or whether you need a barcode.

Anyone can self publish, not everyone will fulfill their dreams by self publishing.

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A Title by Any Other Name

One of the most difficult entities of writing a book is giving it a title. Some authors may go through a handful of working titles before finding just the right one. You want something catchy to hook your customer, something easily spread by word of mouth to potential readers. Here are some tips when it comes to giving your book a name.

  1. You cannot copyright a title. Did you know that? However that does not mean you want to saddle your latest manuscript with a moniker like A Tale of Two Cities or To Kill a Mocking Bird. The popular phrase Hide and Seek is the title of more than a dozen books. How confusing must that be for a book buyer? You want your title to be memorable, to stand alone in a reader’s mind. The best way is to do a search with your title between quotation marks and add the word book. Example: “my title” book. See what pops up.
  2. Make the title four words or less. Four or less works to your advantage in easy to say, easy to remember. You don’t want to be interviewed on the radio and have the host trip over a long, strung out title. Instead of 32 Ways to Knit the Perfect Sweater, you could call it Sweater Solutions.  A book called The White Terror of the Dark Sea is more cumbersome than Moby Dick.
  3. Don’t settle for the first thing that pops in your mind. Use it as a working title, but until your book in completed, stay flexible. A great title may be buried waiting to come out when you’re editing or even in the seventh rewrite.
  4. Hold a contest. Still not finding the perfect name, then open a contest on your Facebook page and ask your friends to submit their  ideas based on a short synopsis. Offer a free autographed copy and mention in the acknowledgments as the prize.

Shakespeare was correct with his wrods, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But your title needs more care and attention if you want to build up your readership. A title is the moniker of your book, the handle to carry it across your audience through reviews, word of mouth, in print and at the bookstore. You want your readers to ask for it by name.

5 Keys to Using Twitter to Sell Your Book

Twitter can be a very powerful tool for helping you to promote and sell your book. Below is a quick guide to get you started.

1. Use hashtags. Hashtags are Twitter’s system for organizing tweets. You can create your own hashtag, or search for relevant hashtags other users have created. Hashtags can be used to run a contest, host a tweet chat or get involved in someone else’s chat! You can read more about hashtags here.

2. Consider the name of your book. Before Twitter existed, the length of your title may not have mattered so much. But in a universe of 140 characters, the length of your book title becomes very important. You can always use an acronym instead of the full title, but make sure it’s unique and memorable.

3. Create content people want. Twitter is most effective when you have original content to link back to. A blog is an excellent way to post excerpts from your book or share your writing process. Try to make most of your content useful to others. Use a url shortener, such as bit.ly, to link back to your blog.

4. Limit self promotion. This might seem counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t self-promotion the whole point of using Twitter when you’re trying to sell something? You need to add value (see point number 3) before you can expect people to want to buy something from you. Keep the self promotion to a minimum and keep creating content people want.

5. Build relationships. Social media is, at its core, about building relationships with others. It’s about widening our idea of who our neighbor is and allowing us to connect with people who have similar interests, ideals and philosophies as us–as well as those with completely opposing views. The more connections you make, the more avenues you have that you can use to sell your book!

How to Use Page Numbers in Microsoft Word

Many of our customers choose to submit ready to print PDFs for their books. Of this group, many will design their books using Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word is technically not a design program. At Gorham Printing, we use Adobe InDesign for all of our book design.

While we don’t suggest using Microsoft Word for book design, we know many of you will use it anyway! In this post, I’ll give some tips and instructions on how to make your page numbers look good, if you plan to design your book with Microsoft Word.

Books (as ready to print PDFs) have come to me with no page numbers, with page numbers only on the even or odd side, with page numbers that don’t line up front-to-back. If you think I’m talking about your book, I assure you yours isn’t the only one I’ve seen!

The most common problem, however, is when all page numbers fall on the right-hand side of the page. This causes even numbered (left-hand) pages to have their page number fall towards the spine. These page numbers can be difficult to find, as they are not intuitively where the reader expects. It may not seem important compared to your book’s content, but such a faux pas can give your book away as a first time effort. A reader might draw the conclusion that since the book design wasn’t given much thought, the writing wasn’t, either. Let’s make sure your readers get the right impression!

Word doesn’t act as if you are designing a book to be opened – it acts as if you are designing a packet of individual pages. I’m going to show you how to edit your page numbers so that evens and odds each fall on the outside, like a book.

In Microsoft Word, select View > Header and Footer. This will give you a dotted-line box at the top and bottom of your pages that you can type or insert page numbers in, and should also bring up a blue box/window/menu with Header and Footer options.

This is what the blue pop-up box should look like. The “Page Setup” menu is the third icon from the right on the top row.

In the blue pop-up box, select the icon that resembles an open book. This brings you to the “Page Setup” menu. In the “Page Setup” menu, select the “Layout” tab. In the “Layout” menu, simply check the box that says “Different odd and even”.

Select “Different odd and even.”

If you already had page numbers, this will eliminate the page number on the even numbered pages. Copy and Paste, from the odd page header, the page number and anything else you have in the header which you wish to include on the even pages (you may have a bar or a graphic). Highlight the even page header, and change the alignment (next to the font info on your top menu bar) to Left Align, rather than Right Align.

Left Align

Congratulations! Your page numbers are in place! Now you can make a PDF and send it to us for proofing and printing.

The Elements of a Page

Books are full of so many different kinds of information, that it would be impossible to condense every type of element found in every type of book into one article. Below are the most common elements used in book page design. Keep in mind that not every book needs all of these elements. Most novels have nothing more than text and a page number!

Running Headers or Footers
Running headers appear at the tops (and sometimes the bottoms) of pages and are useful in helping the reader know their place in the book. A basic header consists of the author’s name on the verso (left-hand page) and the book title on the recto (right-hand page). Depending on your book, it may be better to utilize running headers by putting the chapter name, part name, or another important element on the headers instead.

Page numbers
Pretty much every book has page numbers. They are most commonly placed centered at the bottom of the page, or toward the outside margin at the top or bottom of the page. There are no particular rules on the placement of page numbers as long as they are consistent and easy for the reader to find.

Footnotes
Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page in a smaller font than the main body of the text. They can be separated from the text by a thin line or simply by a space. For particularly lengthy footnotes, they can run onto the next page. For books with few footnotes, an asterisk is usually sufficient to indicate the footnote. In books with excessive footnotes, numbers are more commonly used.

Pull quotes
A pull quote is a quote taken directly from the text and enlarged or set off by a different typeface or color on the page in order to entice the reader. They are commonly used in magazines but can also be effective in books.

Sidebars
Sidebars, like pull quotes, are offset from the main text and highlighted in some way. Rather than a direct quote from the text, they contain information related to the content on the page, such as a relevant quote, a short list, or a pertinent fact.

When deciding what elements to use in your page design, keep your audience in mind. Also consider the size of the book. Sidebars might not work so well in a 5.5” x 8.5” size book, but would work great in an 8” x 10” to help break up the page and keep the reader engaged. Think about how your reader will be using the book and make your design decisions accordingly. If you’re unsure, your book designer should be able to give you guidance.

Reprinting Old Books by Scanning

Many customers come to us with old books that they want to reprint, but they don’t have computer files to print from. Sometimes it is a book that has an expired copyright that they would like to see back in print. Many uncover small projects done by a deceased grandparent, and wish to have them preserved for future generations. Others bring in books they have published in decades past, when they’ve run out of copies.

The best way to revitalize these old texts is to retype and redesign the books. For those who don’t have the time or resources to type out an entire book, we offer book scanning. Scanning does not produce an excellent book, but it can produce an acceptable book. Here are some of the drawbacks:

  • When scanning a book, it must be taken apart. Keep that in mind if you have only one copy of the old book you want to reprint! In most cases, this means cutting off the spine, so that the pages are free to run through our scanner. The original book cannot be rebound.
  • The pages run through the scanner automatically (the way a copy machine feeds a large stack of papers), so the pages sometimes come out crooked. We can manually rotate the worst of the pages that catch our eye, using our PDF editing software, after scanning. However, it would be impossible to adjust each page individually.
  • Photo quality is greatly reduced through scanning, though new equipment has recently improved upon the photo quality we were capable of in years past.
  • The text will no longer be vector. It will not be crisp and clear (see our Vector and Raster Graphics information sheet). When you look at it closely, the letters will have fuzzy rather than smooth edges.
  • Occasionally pages are missed going through the scanner, and are then missing from the book. For this reason, we send out hard-copy proofs that should be reviewed very carefully for content.

If, after these warnings, you still feel like scanning your old book is the way to go – then visit our website for a quote and send it along!