Monthly Archives: March 2013

This is Not Typing Class

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Professionally designed page layout.

Whether you were trained on an electric typewriter or more current keyboard classes, there are definite differences in what you were taught in school and what works for page layout in books.

Did you learn the home-row keys in school? Can you say them in order without moving your fingers to remember which key is where? Those who type with two fingers may not understand what home-row keys are, but for those that do, let’s take a closer look and undo a few concepts.

Design layout for a business letter is not the best layout for a book. Business letters, school reports and other documents you produced while learning to type were set up for easy, quick reading in short amounts of time. A book, on the other hand, is multiple chapters of information and a professional looking page layout has been designed from research over the years to be easy on the eyes of the reader, where hours could be spent reading umpteen pages with the least amount of strain.

In the world of self publishing, you want your book to be of high standards as it has to compete with traditionally published books and the growing population of new self published authors. Many writers feel they can design their own book after finishing the manuscript and save money by doing it themselves, right? Warning: Nothing stands out, or screams amateur more than pages of a book set up like a business letter, blog or how you were taught in typing class.

When a possible buyer flips through your book, the pages should look professional, book-industry standard. Sadly, many self published books do not keeping a negative vibe over the process and you may lose sales because of it. Open a similar genre book in the library or local bookstore. Nothing should pop out or immediately draw attention away from the information or story.

Most common mistakes found are:

  • Using Times New Roman for the text. There are a dozen serif fonts you can use which will enhance the readability of your book. The TNR font was originally created for newspaper print, columns of text. Trying to read a novel in Times New Roman is tough and tiring on the eyes. It can be used in a double-spaced manuscript for an agent or publisher review. The double-spaced lines and wide one-inch margins will compensate for the font. Just because it is typically the default font in your Word program is no reason to use it for book layout.
  • Extra spacing between paragraphs. When reading a novel or memoir there should be no additional break between paragraphs unless there is a scene break or change in the point of view. When your eyes see the extra divide, they will pause and alert something different is coming. If you layout your text with double-spacing it is more difficult for your reader to stay with the flow of the story. Subconsciously, there is a slight pause after every paragraph disrupting the action or drama going on.
  • Two spaces after a period. Since book design is set up for full justification, you want only one space after a period. Any more will hurt the flow of the type causing compression or expansion between words in a sentence or paragraph. This can create rivers of space in the text or just noticeable gaps.

These are a few of the differences between a professionally designed book and one homemade. You want to give your book, your information, the best advantage out in the world of publishing. It’s not worth saving a few dollars now to possibly losing more revenue in the future.

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Plant the Seeds of a Story This Spring

Ah, spring is near, when hearts turn to delightful desires and fancies. Longer days of sunshine bring new energy and motivation. A perfect time for getting winter holiday shopping started.

Start thinking about holiday shopping in March? Most people haven’t finished shoveling snow from their driveways or recovered from winter doldrums. Don’t cringe. This is the year to plan on giving invaluable printed treasures of memoirs, novels, poetry or family genealogy as beautifully published books. Create tomes of family recipes, interspersed with personal stories of where they originated. Is there a box of poems and essays miserly hidden away in a drawer that if published would make a great holiday gift for friends and family?

Gorham Printing, short-run book printer, has made giving such gifts an affordable reality to the American people for over thirty years. Our staff produces quality design and production of cookbooks, genealogy, memoirs, war stories, or fiction of any genre. What is a short-run book? At Gorham Printing this means a minimum of twenty-five printed copies up to a maximum of two thousand books. Imagine ordering thirty to fifty copies of your book delivered in plenty of time for autographing and gift-wrapping as the hot item for your 2013 holiday season.

Spring is the perfect time to start writing or compiling tales of childhood or familial lore. Typical arguments from Baby Boomers and the Next Generation against writing memoirs are: My life is boring; I have nothing worth saying; I don’t have time. Yet imagine holding a copy of essays or letters from parents or grandparents long past, let alone a published book, of their childhood experiences. Children today have never lived in a world without fast food, microwaves, cell phones and the Internet. Tales of transistor radios, milk delivery, ice boxes and party lines on a rotary phone are ancient history. Or use the longer days of sunlight to flesh out character descriptions and plot lines of a novel. Sit outside on warm afternoons and listen to various conversations around you for contemporary dialogue.

The easiest way to write and complete a memoir or manuscript is doing one page or story at a time. Do a little bit each day small steps. Ask questions such as: A favorite subject in school? A first paying job? Questions are the simplest way to get the creative juices flowing. You don’t wake up one morning and show up at a marathon starting line until you’ve worked up your stamina. Same with writing a book, don’t get discouraged. Few things in life will have the lasting, long-term effect as the satisfaction in publishing a book. Ask a first-time author what they would have done differently and they’ll tell you they wished they had written their book sooner.

Once the manuscript is written and edited, the final draft needs be in a computer file format, such as a Word or WordPerfect document. Gorham Printing has graphic designers on staff that can design a gorgeous cover for the book and format the pages into an enjoyable, professional look. Do-it-yourself-ers would provide a high quality PDF file of the text and/or cover. Keep in mind production time can be two to three weeks for soft cover editions or up to six to eight weeks for hard cover book. Mark a day on the calendar for shipping off autographed and wrapped copies then work the schedule backwards to when the manuscript would need to be finished.

What is planted in the creative sunshine of spring, will harvest generations of enjoyment between the covers. Plant an idea and grow a book, a gift of joy forever.

Does the Size Matter?

When you look at a shelf of books, what sizes seem consistent, what size stands out? When you imagine your book in your hands, what trim size is it? Industry book standards such as 5.5 x 8.5” and 6 x 9” are not arbitrary numbers. Research was done to find the best use of parent sheets of paper to create minimum waste during production. A square book size of 6 x 6” will print in a 6×9” format with special cuts, creating additional wasted paper.

printerBooks can be printed in a number of ways: sheet fed offset, roll fed offset, and many different varieties of digital printing. The method of production is typically based on the quantities needed for that order. Digital sheet fed printing is most often used for shorter runs of twenty-five copies even up to 2000 with today’s equipment. Sheet feed offset usually takes over for higher quantities and for long-run print runs to keep the cost per book down. Roll fed offset is the most cost effective.

For this discussion let’s use the scenario of a 500-book order, printed digitally, sheet fed. For most printers, paper is bought by skids in what is known as parent size. Two common parent sizes are 25 x 38” and 23 x 35.” If your book is 5.5 x 8.5”, it would likely be printed on stock that started as 23 x 35.” If the book is 6 x 9,” it would most likely be printed from 25 x 38.” These sizes give you the best cut out of the parent sheets with the least amount of waste and still allow for finish trimming.

So what if your desired size is 6 x 8”? It would be printed from the 25 x 38” parent size which means the 6 x 9” paper expense as well as the possibility for additional charges for a non standard size. Any trim size larger than 5.5 x 8.5” would be printed on the larger parent sheet. Book trimming is typically done with a 3-knife trimmer, cleanly cutting all three sides of the book for the finished trim. With non-standard book sizes, some book printers may not be able to use their 3-knife cutter and would charge for the specialty cuts.

That might not be the case if your book is printed on different equipment or the bindery is able to adjust to a non standard size without time loss. Check with your book printer before you do the final page layout to find the most cost effective approach for the production of your book.

10 Strategies for Fiction Writers – A quick how-to for novelists

Gorham Printing released its first informational free eBook on March 1st. These ten publishing strategies provide over forty tips and tricks to help you jump into the world of self publishing: including building a platform, developing your business and more. Easy to implement, and cost-effective tips for self-publishers and small publishers!

More fiction writers are taking their publishing future into their own hands. This free informational guide for authors is written by a published writer, Kathleen Shaputis who works at Gorham Printing short-run book printer. Shaputis is a published author of three non-fiction and two novels. Her genre is romantic comedies and contemporary fiction.

At Gorham Printing Shaputis deals with newbie authors and veterans alike every day and has found a way to support and encourage fellow writers everywhere with this new informational guidebook.  “Whether you have a kernel of an idea staring or a complete manuscript, I wanted to help share some ideas a writer may not have thought about,” Shaputis said. “This eBook is short, fun and may help kick start writers.”

Reading “10 Strategies for Fiction Writers” explains:

  • How to define your fiction genre market
  • Ideas to develop your own publishing company
  • The importance of professional design
  • Grassroots marketing ideas.

You can find this free ebook at: www.gorhamprinting.com/writer