Time Tables — part two

29 Sep

One of the best things about self-publishing is that the only deadline you have is one you create for yourself. You can work at your own speed, and not have to conform to anyone else’s whims. This is not to be overlooked, believe me!

Of course, you want to get the book done and out there! If you didn’t, why have you done all the myriad things you have done so far? Books don’t write themselves, after all. And then there’s the editing and the proofing and the formatting and the – enough, already! Not to mention designing the cover, and maybe trying to find someone who’ll praise your baby to the skies and then let you post their words on your back cover, as well.

But sometimes it’s important to just say ‘STOP!’ Sit back, take a deep breath and assess your position, what you’re doing and why, and maybe even take a day or two away from the rat-race, before continuing onward. Sometimes coming back to a project with fresh (or at least rested) eyes can result in a new opinion or idea that you might not have thought of, otherwise.

And, as I’ve stated previously, the more you hurry, the more likely you are to make mistakes. You really do NOT want to do this. So, get up from that chair and walk around for a while before digging into your masterpiece once again.

It helps to make a list of all the things you need or want to do in the process. Then check them off as you go. May I recommend that, when you first begin, (presuming you’re doing this all by yourself-especially if you’re doing this all by yourself!) you make a Style Chart for formatting. Most likely, you’ll want 7 columns across the page, and several lines down (in a table format, for instance.)

The first column on the left edge is for the various sections of the book, such as but not limited to: cover, front matter, introduction, table of contents, chapter # or name, sub heads to chapters, drop cap?, text and possibly others. (I’ll explain more, please be patient.) Any element of your book can be listed here – maybe photo size, too.

The columns are headed (beginning with the second from the left) Font Name, Size, Style, Spacing, Line Height, and Miscellaneous.

Now then, what goes in all these spots?  Very often, the font you’ll use for the cover of the book is not the one you’ll use for the text, so to help you keep all this straight, you’ll note the name of the font under ‘font name’ and the size in the next column. Trust me on this, by the time you have the book in your hands, this formatting page will be all tattered and grubby-looking, from referring to it every five minutes or so!

Style means is the font in bold or italics? In the last column (miscellaneous) you might note the size for sub titles or even your name, if it isn’t the same size as the title font. You’ll do the same with all the other categories mentioned above under columns. Under spacing will be such minute little details as – how far down the page do you place the title or text? Most word processing programs will provide you with a ruler across the top of the page, as well as down the left hand edge, although you may have to dig to find it. It should also give you a line number, which is also very handy.

Spacing is different from line height, because of font size. So in a large font, the line number might be 46, but the spacing is only 4 inches or so. (I just  made that up, so don’t fret if your numbers are different.) But maybe the ‘chapter one’ line will be down 1 inch from the header space, and then the first line of the text will be another 3 lines down.

Okay, onwards here. Front matter is the business/legal page, generally on the back side of the title page. Here is where the copyright info, ISBN etc., information is listed. A commercial publisher will list the company name, address and so forth. You won’t have to do that, unless you want to. If your book has been previously published (under the same or a different title) you should state that information here, along with the previous ISBN and publisher info. You may certainly list any other books you’ve written that have been published, too.

You may or may not have an introduction and/or table of contents. (Or dedication – acknowledgements, etc.) Generally these are used more often in non-fiction, but you can certainly use them in fiction, if you wish. A sub-head is just that – if you divide a chapter, and have subsequent sub-titles, for instance. Will you use Drop Caps? You know what those are – the very first letter of the first word in each chapter is many times larger than the text – and can even be in a different font or style, if you like. It can be at the edge of the paragraph or out in the margin.  Don’t forget to list your font name and size, as well.

As I mentioned a week or two ago, I now have a new computer, which has been driving me nutso! (more than I ordinarily am, that is!) and the new word processing program came with a bunch of different fonts. But guess what? None of them appealed to me as much as my trusty older selection. I had an awful time trying to recall what fonts I was using for what, and without my handy chart, I’d have been even more distressed. At least I knew the name of the fonts I wanted, and had to then go back to the older computer to rescue them. Which I finally did, thank you very much!

Ready? Set? Go! Don’t wait for me. Nothing happens until somebody writes something! Remember that. If you have questions or comments, please write to me at bookmechanic@gmail.com Thanks!

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