Monday, January 25, 2010

Design Your Own Novel With Microsoft Word.

A new one-on-one class: We don't recommend that authors do their own production work unless they meet several criteria. Novelists are more likely than others to fit a couple of those criteria. For example, their interior design is almost always simpler than that of non-fiction authors. Also, their projects tend to be more financially challenged, needing more pages than non-fiction works (which makes professional preparation and printing more expensive) and having a more elusive buying point (which makes revenue less predictable at best).

Even so, not all novelists should take this on--you need some computer savvy and a genuine interest in doing it. However, if you want to try it, we've come up with a one-on-one course that will give you a good start on designing your own novel with Microsoft Word. The text, that is. The cover is another story. The class has the following elements.
  • Achieving Balance: Style, Readability, and Space
  • Preparing Your Manuscript: Dashes, Spacing Mistakes, Ellipses and More
  • Defining Your Page: Margins, Headers, and Footers
  • Defining Your Basic Fonts: Font Styles and Uses, Font Sizes
  • Defining Your Paragraphs: Line Length, Line Spacing, and Justification or Not
  • Defining Other Elements: Chapter Headings, Indents.
  • Getting the Bugs Out: Widows, Orphans, and Other Bad Breaks
  • Getting to the Printer: The Trouble with Word.
The class takes place in my studio at Cottonwood Center for Arts, costs $100, and takes about three hours. If you're interested, call 719-630-0783 for an appointment.

The Publishing Pro

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Use a "First Edition" to Sell Advance Copies.

A publishing technique borrowed from printmakers: Thanks to novelist and artist Anne Flint for asking me how to go about creating a first edition in this world of on-demand printing. I hadn't thought about it, but the following made immediate sense.
  • Before you print any books, decide the number of books in your "first edition." Let's say 50.
  • Begin promoting your "first edition" to your most likely customers. Ask them to pre-pay, in which case you will give them a discount and, once the books are printed, send them an autographed and numbered "first edition" copy. Specify the number of copies in your first edition.
  • When the time comes to print your first books, go ahead and print whatever you need. It must be at least 50, if that's what you promoted, but it could be more. No need to add any printed indicator on the copyright page that this is a first edition.
  • When the books arrive, sign 50 copies (if that's what you promoted) and number them adding an FE after the number (e.g., 1/50 FE, 2/50 FE, etc.). The numbering system is the same one used by artists to sell numbered prints. The FE is one way to indicate that the copy is a "first edition." This way, you can do another run of signed and numbered copies, but you won't add the first-edition indicator after the number.
  • You may want to reinforce that your customer is getting a "signed and numbered first edition" with a little insert when you send him or her your book.
Offering a discount and an autographed copy to those willing to send you money before you even print your books is a well known technique for getting early orders and funding a first printing. You're just leveraging this technique by numbering the copies and specifying that a certain number of books are the first ones off the press. I like it.
The Publishing Pro