Tag Archives: writing

National Encourage a Young Writer Day is April 10th!

The crew at Gorham Printing was excited to learn that Encourage a Young Writer Day is a thing, and it’s right around the corner! Monday April 10th is a day marked to let any young writer in your life know that they should keep up the good work.

We participate in and support many young writers and literacy projects in our community. Last year we sponsored a young writer contest in affiliation with the Roosevelt Elementary Read-a-Thon, and we’re doing it again this year. Last year Arianna’s The Girl Who Saved a Dinosaur was a hit in our shop. A winner has been chosen for this year and we can’t wait see his story (we’ve heard it’s about a ninja pig!).

Last spring we also sponsored the printing of the Olympia High School Literary Press anthology, Attic. This anthology showcases the talents of English classes at Olympia High School and pairs it with submissions from the art department. Students solicit and gather submissions, curate and edit the content, then design and promote their book.

A few of the local colleges hire us print anthologies and other projects, too. South Puget Sound Community College printed their annual literary anthology, The Percival Review, with us last spring. We print The Evergreen State College’s Vanishing Point anthology, too, along with collections of student work from various creative writing courses.

We even have one young author who published Small Stories, an adorable 5×5” collection. Hadley Stanfill’s mom Laura is the editor in chief at Forest Avenue Press and we take great pride in helping her encourage her daughter to write and publish!

Young Writers

Do you know a young writer? Whether they’re a college student studying creative writing in an undergraduate program or a third grader writing stories in their journal, let them know you support and admire their efforts as a growing artist.

And if you happen to know a young writer who has a story they want to turn into a book, let them know Gorham Printing is here to help!






Read a Book Day – Sep. 6

Not to be confused with World Book Day in March, or National Book Lovers Day in August, Read a Book Day is on September 6th and this year it falls on a Saturday. What better excuse two days from now to set aside time to indulge in a good book than Read a Book Day?

If you don’t currently have a book in progress in your stack, why not visit the library, a local bookstore, or an online eBook seller to find something of interest? Or, go back and revisit an old favorite. Heard the book was better than the movie? Now is a great time to grab a copy and find out. Curl up on your couch, rocking chair or your bed, but if the weather is just right indulge by heading to the beach or a park!

The best research for being a writer is reading books. The more you read, the sharper your creative skills will be. Though unable to find the history of how this special day started, Wikipedia has nothing, Saturday, September 6 is your day for grabbing a book and enjoy!

National Read a Book Day, Saturday, Sept 6

National Read a Book Day, Saturday, Sept 6

Why is My Word Count Important?

Ever wondered why traditional publishers require certain word counts to a manuscript? It comes down to number of pages in a completed book and the cost of printing x-amount of books. A 300-page book will naturally cost more to print than a 240-page book and a publisher knows the magic formula for estimating the page count of a book.

When you self publish, knowing the approximate page count of your book is important. So what is the formula based on the word count of a manuscript?

Free 2014 guidebook available at GorhamPrinting.com

Free 2014 guidebook available at GorhamPrinting.com

With professional, book-industry design, your word processor file is imported into a page layout program such as InDesign. To get an idea of your estimated page count, use the following formula:

For a 5.5×8.5 trim sized trade paperback, figure approximately 300 words per page and for a 6×9 size book figure approximately 350 words per page.

As an example, if your book contained 48,000 words, it would end up at approximately 160 total pages for a 5.5×8.5 size book. (48,000 words divided by 300 words per page = 160 5.5×8.5 finished pages).

If you have photos or drawings in your book, a fair estimate is two photos or images per page added to your page count.

Don’t forget front matter such as title page, copyright page, dedication and such will also add to your total page count.

Professional or Casual? Your Author Photo

When purchasing a book generally the cover design is the first thing that draws a reader in. Within seconds they flip the book over and read the back cover copy which should i04 Shaputis photonclude an author photo with a few lines of bio. Readers like to know about their authors.

A photo or head shot brings the author into the reality conversation when reading a book. Stephen King seems rather normal with his dark hair and beard. Yet his mind is a carnival of storylines leading into terror and entertainment. If you passed him at a grocery store, would you realize you were seeing the king of scare? Without his author photos, readers wouldn’t recognize him.

Granted, an author typically isn’t going to become an overnight celebrity but having a photo on the book resonates with your readers. Makes you more personable to your readers, not just a name. If placed on the back cover, the image can be in full color. Maybe your photo was taken at sunset, so the oranges and yellows of the evening sky would radiate around you. Maybe the color of your shirt matches the color of your eyes, why not put the author photo on the back cover. If located on the About the Author page inside the back of the book, typically the image would be grayscale, black and white for economical reasons.

Do you need to spend hundreds of dollars for a professional head shot? No, a simple well-taken photograph in high resolution will do. But if you haven’t gone to a photographer since your school days, you might want to look into having a session done. Not only is a professional shot good for your book but having copies made for family is a side treasure. Whichever you choose, you’ll want two digital copies of the image: One in high resolution for printing and another saved-for-the-web size you can upload to your website, Facebook or any online marketing.

Select your photo carefully, whether a portrait or outdoor shot. You may need to send copies of the image to various media and social media outlets during the marketing of your book. Be sure the photo is something you are very comfortable seeing over and over again.

Editing – 5, 6, 7, 8!

As some of you will recognize, the numbers (5, 6, 7, 8) are usually expressed by a choreographer before a dance sequence starts. What does dancing have to do with editing? Quite a bit actually, both are about practicing, doing something over and over until it becomes almost second nature. Editing your manuscript is like doing a difficult routine of movement. You want to catch the passive voice or the grammar glitches. The more you understand, practice or do the more easily these revisions and re-edits flow.

Authors with the most success, the larger followings, have their books professionally edited before the text goes into design. (Making edits after design can be expensive whether you self publish or are working with a traditional publisher.) Professional editors vary in price and you’ll want to be sure you’re compatible – the editor knows your style or genre of writing. Typically sending them a few sample pages to critique will be enough to know if this is a person you can work with. However, the cleaner you make your manuscript, the less time and money it will take to give it that professional edge.

Whether it’s shuffle, ball change, the electric slide or a two-step, every dance has certain movements, certain beats. So should your manuscript. Edit with the idea of looking for the rhythm in your words. Take each sentence and see if it flows or feels clunky. You can have a very emotional scene and trip your reader flat on their face by grammar.

“The children cowered in the dark corner, memories of they’re grandmother’s death …”

Ouch, the stubbed toe will break the connection for your reader. Too many of these in a book and the reader will put it down and walk away. Practice editing, until these jump out at you. Or at least as many as possible before having a professional editor take over.

Decide on what level of editing you want. Here are the levels listed on Gorham Printing‘s page about editing:

  • Copy Editing (also called proofreading) is the simplest level of editing. A professional who proofreads your manuscript will check for punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, spelling, and typographical errors.
  • Line Editing is more advanced. An editor providing this service will help you develop your voice. This process will explore word choice, paragraph structure, flow of narrative, language style, and readability.
  • Developmental Editing will hone the storytelling aspect of your work. Both fiction and nonfiction require a narrative structure that encourages the reader to continue reading. For novels and in many cases memoirs, your editor will provide feedback on plot, character, theme and symbolism. Rearrangement, rewriting, and new writing may be recommended. Nonfiction books may need work with chapter/section organization, clarity, and indexing.
  • Research Editing may also be necessary for works of nonfiction. In this situation, your editor will provide citation verification and check for citation structure and plagiarism.

If you want to be noticed at the dance, or in this case stand out on the book shelf, practice or edit your work until it flows naturally. You can do it! One book I recommendon grammar and editing is The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a great book to have in your collection.

Puppies at Gorham Printing

The three-day Memorial Day weekend is almost here and one thing on my to-do list (above working on my sequel romantic comedy) in my other spare time was to pick up two sweet bundles of fluff I was adopting from a woman in Vancouver, Washington. Two brothers (toy Pomeranians) born April 3 would be old enough to leave home and start a new adventure in Olympia. Best laid plans and circumstances change, of course. It came to be that the pups could be delivered Wednesday night.

Guess who I brought to the shop? That’s right, Brugh and Bouncer are spending these days at Gorham Printing

Kathleen Shaputis, Customer Service, and Brugh and Bouncer.

Kathleen Shaputis, Customer Service,
and Brugh and Bouncer.

All two pounds of them, each, maybe. Working with self-publishing authors all day, I typically hear dogs barking over the phone as the author talks about their book. I knew they’d probably understand if squeaky noises came from this side of the phone for a change but the boys have been fairly quiet.

Memoirs, novels and spiritual revelation books have come across my desk today and I wonder if the author has a dog. Writing can be a very solitary process, yet a warm four-footed friend at your feet helps keep you grounded and not alone. And piddle parties are a natural break to get up from the desk and stretch now and again.

Now time to get back to work.

“Show, Don’t Tell” — an old-but-true adage for fiction writers

Today let’s talk a little bit about writing. After all you have to finish the manuscript before you can publish your book, which a whole other topic by itself. Writing a novel is more about re-writing and editing than completing the rough draft. And one of the larger trolls hiding in pages of a first book or a fifteenth book is flat, boring writing.

What does “Show, Don’t Tell” mean? Telling your reader what to think or what to feel leaves no room for their imagination, their own perception of a character or what’s happening. You may ask, “Isn’t writing fiction telling a story?” Yes and no. If you “tell” too much of the story, your reader will lose interest rather quickly. Two obvious examples: 1) John was fat and very lazy. 2) Susan felt angry and frustrated.

Showing your reader is providing facts and details, engaging them into what’s happening at the moment. You want to “show” the story using the five senses or get them involved emotionally. Remember John? Rewritten: John forced himself from the chair with a grunt, spreading his legs to balance his pear-shaped frame, while muttering about the stupidity of mowing the lawn when the grass would just grow back. See the difference?  And what about Susan? Rewritten: Her face flushed a crimson red, lips pinched into a straight cold line, as she shuffled through the stack of papers again.

Showing will take more words to describe for the reader but the effects will be worth it. Do you always have to be more word fluent? No, there are times where telling is enough to move the story along. But overdo the telling and you may come across as a weak or amateur writer.

Just as good writing mixes long and short sentences throughout paragraphs and pages, so should you mix show versus tell in your writing. Paint a picture for your reader, splash color on the page. Let’s try another example: Jason sat on the couch holding his guitar. Now this is a decent sentence with basic information, we just don’t know much about what’s going on. Now compare it with this: With eyes closed, Jason cradled the guitar in his arms as if trying to hold on to something, leaning back into the plush couch cushion.

Read your pages and see where you can punch up your writing using “Show, Don’t Tell.” Pick out a book by a favorite author and flip to any page. Reading the paragraphs, spot where the author used Show and where they used Tell. The more you become aware, the easier it will be to spot this in your own writing.