Is it worth trying to pre-sell a book?

This is a question most indie authors would ask themselves at some stage. From the research I’ve done, pre-selling your book before it is released can give you the opportunity to begin building buzz and anticipation. You could get a jump start in sales and start building a fan base. In theory, by the time your book is released, your pre-sales could even place your book in the best selling charts!

Sounds great, but where does one start in achieving this?

Firstly, you have to write a book. Obvious, I know, but it is a necessity.

Once the book is written, it’s time to set up your pre-sale campaign by creating a sales page on your website. Spend time in writing a worthy description. Ensure your book cover stands out and draws the reader in. And if you have them, or can get them, compile testimonials.

These days, everyone wants and loves something for nothing, so offer a freebie with your pre-sale. This could be a free short-story, written by you or a writing buddy (this is a good way to help other authors too). Maybe you’ve got some resources or templates that you can offer. Put some thought into it and be a bit creative. The free item could possibly draw more readers to your book.

Offer your pre-sale readers the opportunity to read the book before the rest of the world gets hold of it. Allow them two or four weeks to read and, hopefully, review your book. They get first glimpse and you might get a review. It’s a win-win opportunity.

Think about offering a limited edition of the ebook to anyone who pre-orders your book. Perhaps include extra material or a different cover, or a coupon code for a discount for your next book.

Don’t forget to include a ‘buy now’ button on your sales page. How can people pre-buy if there’s no purchase button?

And once you’re all set up. Announce the pre-sale on your website and through email. And share it on Facebook, Twitter, and through any other online group you belong to. Start the buzz and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.

Editing Course: Formatting Style

Today’s topic was huge! However, there were pages and pages of practical exercises as I learn to mark-up page formatting. None of the mark-up material will be covered here, you’ll have to do the course if you want to learn that, so although the unit took forever for me to get through, this post is actually going to be very short. 😀

Unit 3, Topic 3: Formatting Style

Editors, copyeditors and proofreaders use a number of formatting marks when looking at the layout of a document.

Formatting styles include:

  • paragraph layout – whether they are indented or not
  • text alignment – left, right, centred or justified
  • headings – main headings as well as subheading
  • page margins – left, right, top and bottom
  • layout of images, illustrations and tables

 

More on Paragraph Layout

Indent Style: Newspapers, magazines and books commonly use indent style, which means the first line of a new chapter or section is always set full out to the left (not indented). Subsequent paragraphs are then indented three or four points in from the left margin.

Non-Ident Style: Non-ident style means that all lines of the text are full out to the left (otherwise known as left justified). When using this method it is usual to allow extra space between paragraphs for readability reasons. Without the extra space the paragraphs are not always clearly defined.

Editing Course: Typography

Typography refers to the type (font) used to produce a document.

Many years ago typesetting was a huge job and took hours to do. The craftsman would need a good sense of style and lots of patience as he would draw an entire typeface design and then cut out metal dies that would be used to create each letter, and in turn, each word.

These days, word processors have made the job a lot easier.

Type Style

An editor must have an understanding of the terminology, basic concepts and conventions of type.

Font describes three elements; typeface (ie Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman), type style (ie regular, italic, bold) and type size (ie point size such as 10 or 12 point).

Typefaces are designed to include space above and below so that the descenders of one line do not touch the ascenders of the next line.

There are two main kinds of type face: serif typeface and sans serif typeface. Serif fonts have the little bits on the ends of the characters, whereas sans serif (non-serif) do not.

It has been demonstrated that serif fonts are much clearer and easier to read in large blocks. Most newspapers and books use serif typeface for this reason.

Of the serif typefaces some are more legible than others. For instance, Georgia is easier to read than Garamond or Times New Roman.

Sans serif typefaces are harder to read in large blocks and can cause eye strain. However, for headings and headlines, sans serif typefaces carry more impact. For this reason it is not uncommon for sans serif typefaces to be used for headings and serif typefaces to be used in the body text.

Many businesses use Arial, a sans serif typeface, for reports and proposals. However, if the document requires extensive reading, it would be better to use a serif typeface as the reader will be more comfortable and the words will be better absorbed by the reader.

Some terminology and their meanings:

Kearning refers to the spacing between the characters, however the letters themselves are unchanged.

Tracking affects whole lines of text. It tightens or stretches the characters and the spaces between them. If used correctly it can get rid of the gappy effect some fonts have, but it can also cause unevenness, which will be distracting to the reader.

Line spacing is not limited to single spaced or double spaced documents and is very important. If spacing is too wide then readability decreases. If spacing is too tight it causes eyes strain. The amount of space between the lines is called “leading” as many years ago the lines were separated by strips of lead. The proper way to set line spacing, which gives the best result for reading, is to set the leading for type about 2.0-2.3 points greater than the type size. For example, if the type size is 12 point then the leading will be 14-14.3 points.

Type Layout

Layout of type is essential for design of a publication. It is the way the reader views the document or book at first glance. It can determine if the reader will continue because they must find it appealing to the eys, pleasing to read to read on. If not, they will move on to another book. This may not be a conscious decision.

Headings: The publishing industry is divided in whether full caps should be used in headings and headlines. Headings are used to introduce a section of text. Headlines are used to make a statement or attract attention, but can still be used to introduce text. Generally, it is best to use upper and lower case for readability but all caps can sometimes have a stronger impact value. It comes down to personal preference.

Subheadings: In contrast, subheadings should generally be in lower case, with only the first letter capitalised.

Body Text: This is always in lower case — excluding proper punctuation, of course.

Drop Capitals: These are popular in magazines and newspapers, and some books also use them. They can enhance the layout and draw the eye to a point on the page.

Line Lengths: The best readability line length is about 12 words per line. A person’s attention span is limited so it is important to keep this in mind when planning a book layout.

Mixed Typefaces: Avoid using too many typefaces as it can become chaotic and slow the reader down. It is generally better to use one typeface for text and one for headings.

Blocks of Capitals: These should be avoided as it reduces readability a great deal. Only use all caps for headings and headlines to achieve impact, if required.

Bold and Underline: It is considered bad practice to use bold and underling together and should be avoided at all costs.

Editing Course: Book Publishing and Design

Unit 3 of the course is mainly theory. Luckily for me I worked as an Office Manager for a printing company for five years so I have a good understanding of the content. And, as it happens, G is a printer by trade so if I don’t understand anything I can ask him to clarify things for me.

Here are my notes:

Unit 3, Topic 1: Book Publishing and Design

Taking a book from the raw manuscript through to the finished product is a time-consuming process. It is important that the publisher/self-publisher understands the stages involved.

There may be extensive marketing research prior to starting a non-fiction book to ensure there is a market for the book.

Other questions will include the size of the publication, the format it will take (ie digital, paperback, hardcover), the length of the book, the potential audience and the retail price.

The design of the interior and exterior are also critical. These details need to suit the audience and must be reader-friendly.

Reproduction

This means to copy something so that it imitates or resembles the original.

The stages from creation to printing is as follows:

1. The document is created by the author.
2. The document passes through the pre-press stages.
3. The document is printed (or reproduced).

These stages are pretty basic, but there are a number of aspects to each of them. Some of them can overlap.

Naturally, the author will take care of step 1 and the substantive editor, copyeditor and proofreader will help revise and refine the work until it is as best as it can be.

Step 2, pre-press, refers to everything done prior to printing. This includes book design (cover, layout, typography, formatting, punctuation, images and illustrations), colour corrections and separations, proofing, conversion and whatever else needs to be done.

Step 3, printing, covers the printing stage, including print runs, paper used, method of printing, cost and binding type.

More on the Pre-Press Stage

Graphics and Illustrations

The following is a rough guide for resolution required for graphics in publication. DPI stands for “dots per inch”.

  • Websites require images to be 72dpi for on-screen viewing and 72-150dpi for ebook printing.
  • Newspapers and in-house publications require graphics to be 72-150dpi.
  • Magazines and colour advertisements require resolutions to be at least 150dpi.
  • Professional publications and brochures require resolution to be 300dpi.
  • Large posters and displays require resolutions of 600dpi or more.

 

Graphics can be captured using a digital camera or flat-bed scanner but for more professional publication, the images may need to be sent to a digital pre-press studio for high resolution scanning.

Proof Checking

Throughout the entire process the book will undergo several rounds of revision by a copyeditor and proofreader. If the book needs indexing, this can be a detailed and time-consuming process.

If proofs are printed in-house on a laser printer, they are referred to as page proofs (formally galley proofs).

Once the copy is finalised, it is sent to the printer for laying up (imposition) and the printer will make up a set of proofs. These proof sheets, set up as economically as possible, will be 4 up or 6 up on an A3 or larger sheet (it varies depending on paper size and finished print size).

The first set of proofs (master proof) will need to be thoroughly checked. The second set (revised proof) and any other set will only be checked to ensure corrections previously marked up have been taken up.

Some things to check, other than the content itself, are:

  • Top and bottom margin (also known as head and foot) – ensure they are consistent.
  • Inner and outer margins (also known as back and foredge) – the inner margin forms the gutter and may need extra space for binding.
  • Folio (also known as page number) – make sure they are consecutive and that odd page numbers fall on the pages on the right (recto) and even numbers fall on pages on the left (verso). This is also known as “pagination”.
  • Page headers and footers (also known as running heads and running feet) – ensure they are consistent.
  • By-line (the name of the author) – make sure the name and spelling is correct.
  • Bio (biography of author) – if included, make sure it is correct and is exactly how the author provided it.

 

More on the Printing Stage

Paper

Once the master proof or revised proof has been finalised and signed off, the job will progress to the printing stage.

If printing is to be done externally it is common practice to get three quotes. Printing costs can vary considerably depending on the job and requirements.

Things to be considered are method of printing, number of copies required, layout and paper. Colour printing will always be more expensive than black and white printing. Specialty papers will also be more expensive. As will satin art paper or semi gloss. The requirements will depend on the project. For example, a picture book usually required coated paper due to young children and their sticky fingers whereas a novel for adults would not have this requirement.

Differences in absorbency of the paper can also make a difference to the final product and this must be considered too.

Book Binding

There are a few options:

  • perfect binding
  • stapled binding
  • looseleaf binding
  • case binding

 

Perfect binding is when the pages are glued to a card stock cover that is wrapped around them. Most paperbacks use this method.

Stapled binding is when the pages are printed double sided and stapled together, often with a card cover and backing sheet. This method is used for tutorials and documents with less than 100 pages.

Looseleaf binding is when a person uses a method such as spiral binding, comb binding and ring binding. The pages actually remain separate.

Case binding is usually labour intensive and quite expensive. Methods used are hand binding, saddle-stitching and other prestige binding methods.

Book Promotion and Distribution

Once printed and bound, the book must then be marketed and distributed.

Many publishers and self-publishers have a marketing campaign…and budget! The extent of the campaign will largely depend on the budget available. Marketing can include advertisement on TV, radio and in newspapers and magazines. Or more traditionally the publisher/author will arrange book readings, book tours, author interviews and create a solid web presence. They will also use marketing material such as leaflets and bookmarks.

Distribution can be taken on by the publisher and self-publisher or they may decide to out source the work to a book distributor. Again, this will largely depend on finances.

Course: Processes, Conventions and Practices

As discussed previously the editor, copyeditor and proofreader use the same marks but in a slightly different way.

The three jobs are separate but are often overlapped.

1. The editor works with the author to make substantive changes to the manuscript (ie changes to characters, chapters, scenes, etc). This is NOT done so that the words are those of the editor’s. It is done to find weak scenes, bad grammar and inconsistencies within the story. It is also done so that the manuscript conforms to the publisher’s editorial styles. The marks are placed within the double-spaced lines.

2. The copyeditor works on the edited copy of the manuscript. It is usually still double-spaced so the marks are again placed between the lines instead of in the margin. The copyeditor does NOT make substantive suggestions, it is not their job to do so. It is their job to ensure all editing is changed from the previous copy and to ensure the best words are used. They also check for grammar, spelling, literals and inconsistencies in regard to style. Again, they do not make suggestions on how to improve the writing.

3. The proofreader must find and correct errors. All markups are done in the margin as the copy is now single-spaced. The proofreader is looking for errors that may have been missed by the author, editor and copyeditor. They are also making sure marked-up errors in the dead copy have been corrected in the live copy.

Processes

Processes are the steps taken to complete a task. In publishing, a publisher will have a preferred set of steps that will take a book from being a manuscript through to the final print.

Conventions

Conventions are simply accepted standards of use that have been agreed upon across the industry. For instance, the proofreading marks used to mark up a manuscript is a globally accepted convention.

Conventions also include legal and moral conventions, such as copyright, privacy laws, authors’ moral rights and industry standards.

Within publishing there is a law that states every published book must include the publisher’s name and address in the front matter, traditionally on the reverse page of the title page.

Also, every work that is published for commercial sale must be lodged with the National Library and also with the relevant state library.

Legal conventions can be a minefield and it’s up to the publisher to know what is expected of them.

Practices

The term “practices” refers to the usual way in which things are done, the manner in which a task is undertaken. For instance, the preferred colour of pen used when editing, copyediting or proofreading.

Practices are often preferences developed by a person, a group of people or an organisation.

Editing Course: Inside Publishing

When we talk about publishing, most people think of printed books. However, that is only one sector of the publishing world. There is also newspapers, magazines, the education sector and business.

Publishing is not limited to printed material either. E-commerce is also part of publishing. This includes ebooks (a fast growing sector), web pages, e-newsletters, ezines and e-journals.

The Birth of the Manuscript

Long before typesetters came into existence a manuscript was a handwritten work by an author. Manuscript is a Latin term: “manu” means “hand” and script comes from “scibere” meaning “to write”.

The printed version of the manuscript is never referred to as a manuscript. It is the completed work, the book. Only the author’s work is given the term manuscript.

The first “books” to be published date back to the seventh century when religious manuscripts first came into creation. However, it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that book production spread to manuscripts that were not religious in nature.

The Crusaders, returning from their fighting, brought with them books that told about worldly and historical matters. Some of the early writings came from the Greeks, especially the two Greek historians, Herodotus and Thucydides, who wrote in-depth accounts of the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars.

It wasn’t until the fifteen century that the first actual printed books came into being. That’s when the printing press and the development of mass-market technologies were introduced and used. Yet the term “mass-market” is a bit misleading. Many average people could not read and the books produced were very expensive. Only the wealthy could afford to buy them. Also, the church frowned upon non-religious books so it took a few more hundred years for the present-day book publishing industry to evolve.

Modern-Day Editors and Proofreaders

Editors and proofreaders play an important role in preparing a manuscript to become a book. However, the chain starts with the author and ends with the publisher. And it must be remembered that the author wrote the words to be read and the publisher printed the words to make money. The author and the publisher want the book to sell. If it doesn’t then months and even years of work can be lost and neither the author or the publisher will benefit financially. The editor’s and proofreaders’ roles will help make for a better investment.

Literals in Published Documents

The word “literal” means typo. These can be made simply because the typesetter is typing too fast or because their fingers are hovering over the wrong keys. Typos are also due to transposing characters (such as “hte” for “the”).

Often literals can be indirectly caused by the use of spell checkers too. Some writers rely heavily on spell checkers to do their proofreading for them but this is a practice they should not get in to as they are not reliable. Authors should always print out the manuscript and proofread it themselves.

Publishing Stages

Preliminary Assessment is when the publisher assesses submitted manuscripts for possible publication.

Editing the Manuscript is done once an accepted manuscript has been contracted and signed by both parties (author and publisher). A structural edit is performed. The editor and author should work closely together to ensure the story is the best it can be.

Copyediting the manuscript is done once the changes are made after the structural edit. The copyeditor will check for literals, consistency and correctness.

Proofreading may be done now, or at any stage during the publishing process as long as it’s done prior to the final print run. The proofreader may do a standard proofread or a comparative proofread to check the newly typeset copy.

Designing and Typesetting is when the copy is typeset for publication. This will include illustrations, photos, table of contents, front matter, etc.

Page Proofs used to be called galley proofs but this term is beginning to fade now. Laser printed on plain paper, the editor, proofreader, author and publisher will generally all check the pages for errors.

Artwork Proofs are run off and checked by the editor, the designer and the author.

Final Proofs are checked for errors by the editor and designer one final time before going to print.

Advanced Book Copies are not always printed, but if they are they will be used to be distributed and checked. If a major error is found, the error can be fixed prior to the full print run being done.

Marketing is undertaken to varying degrees by the publisher depending on the size of the company and the budget available. The author will also be expected to market their own books.

Distribution is important as it is essential to make the book available to the public otherwise sales will be low to non-existent. Bookshops and distributors will not sell your book for free and their margins must be factored into the price of the book. Bookshops generally ask for 40% of the recommended retail price (before GST). Distributors can vary between about 15% and 25%.

Editing Course: The World of Publishing

I’m officially a student. Instantly, images of a young girl pop into my mind, carrying an armful of books as she heads off to her next class. She’s smiling and laughing and surrounded by equally young, active people. That’s definitely not me in the crowd! The ageometre stopped pointing to “young” a couple of decades ago, so I’m trying to adjust that persistent image to something a little closer to the truth — a middle-aged, no that will never do — a mature woman carrying her stack of books to the kitchen table to study. Yes, that will do just fine.

Yesterday I read through all the course material I received — I’m doing distance learning — and discovered that there are 14 units of approximately 10 topics each. The entire course is expected to take about 600 hours to complete.

Today was my first day. This morning I put in almost three hours and completed the first topic of the first unit. There were a few practical exercises to do, but this topic was mainly theory. This is what I learned:

1: The World of Publishing, The Big Picture

75% of books are sold through bookshops (online and brick and mortar shops). The other 25% are sold through department stores, newsagents and supermarkets.

Following is a list of “positions” in the publishing industry. Some of the information given is common sense, but I’ll include it anyway, so that the big picture is clearer.

Author: the person who writes the manuscript.

Publisher: the person responsible for publishing the manuscript in print and/or digital formats.

Editor:

  • Managing Editor: the person responsible and accountable for the entire publication process. This includes but is not limited to budgeting, acquiring new titles, managing projects, preparing and negotiating contracts and distribution.
  • Structural Editor: the person responsible for reviewing the manuscript and making substantive changes or suggestions. This includes the plot, changes to characters, the chapters and the overall structure of the story, including tone, pace and all other elements of a well-written book.
  • Copyeditor: this is really a sub-role of editing or a super-role of proofreading.
  • Proofreader: the person responsible for picking up errors and typos in the typeset pages. These can be spelling, grammatical, punctuation and/or layout errors.

 

Graphic Designer/Illustrator: the person responsible for jacket design, layout illustrations, photos, charts or tables. This person is also responsible for designing promotional material such as posters, bookmarks, etc, to be distributed to bookshops.

Desktop Publisher/Typesetter: the person responsible for typesetting the manuscript and making corrections to the typeset copy marked up by the editor, copyeditor and/or proofreader. It is their responsibility to ensure the printed product is pleasing to the eye.

Book Publicist: the person responsible for the promotion of the book and inevitably the level of sales. They liaise with the author, arrange book signings and readings, communicate with the media, write press releases, organise book tours and photo shoots and arrange any other publicity function.

What do I want from this course?

First and foremost, I want to be a successful author. I plan to couple the editing and proofreading skills I learn from the course with my writing so that my finished manuscripts will be of a higher quality. By doing this, I believe my goal will be easier to achieve (and I realise there will be nothing easy about the journey).

Setting Stories Free

I’ve discovered another informative website – Publetariat.

If you click on the “Publish” tab, you’ll find a long list of articles that could steal several hours of your time. I read a few of them and intend to read more. But this post is related to one of the articles Setting Stories Free…For Free.

If you read the article, you’ll discover the author has been giving away free stories for nine years and she intends to continue doing so. Over the years she received a lot of flack over it, but that made no difference. Then, near the end of the article, she tells how she also has seven best sellers since 2005. No wonder she didn’t/doesn’t listen to the flack. What she’s doing is working in her favour, why should she stop doing it?

This is a great example of someone who made a decision and stuck with it. It’s also an example of how giving something away for free can lead to a readership that will support you when you publish too. But what I liked best about the article is that it gives a clear message of determination wins through, which is encouraging as we sometimes get disillusioned on this long journey.