Still awake,…

Still awake, astonishingly. I got compulsive, and finished a draft of a small book to put together at Cafe Press. I'm a little confused about pagination, though. Now, at their learning center, they say that "At this time, book contents must be submitted in PDF format. PDF documents must be submitted exactly how you want them printed, so page size and margins are very important. For a 5"x 8" book, the PDF must be formatted to 5"x8" and CAN NOT be submitted as an 8.5"x11" document with 5"x8" content. Please review the Creating Your PDF section to learn how to create custom sized PDF files." This seems clear enough, right? Except I'm not at all sure how that works when you're converting from MS Word.

I had planned to do the saddle-stitch style, with 52 pages (the max allowed). I was also vaguely thinking of waiting and doing perfect binding, though it would cost a few dollars more to readers and wouldn't offer the immediate gratification of getting this done before leaving town. But I suspect poor Zak would rather have a few weeks to work on the image anyway, since he has to actually create it, rather than just assemble it. But whichever, 52 pages. Which I put together in MS Word, on a standard 8.5 x 11 page. What I don't understand is whether this means I have to also do the book in 8.5 x 11 pages? I'd much rather do either the comic (6.625 x 10.25) or standard paperback (5 x 8) size, but I just don't know if that's an option. Will the conversion handle that? Will it make my 12 pt. Verdana font unreadably tiny? (And if so, should I just give up on the saddle-stitch option, wait for perfect binding, and let the book be more like a 100 pages?)

Mary Anne's brain is feeling all muzzy and muddled at the moment.

Well, in any case, I've sent a draft off to Mike to try converting to PDF, so perhaps all this will be answered tomorrow. But if any of you wise folks wish to chime in, please do feel free!

One minor technical Word question; I wanted to put in running headings at the top, with my name on the left pages and the name of the book on the right pages, but I can't figure out a way to make Word 5.1 do that. Got frustrated enough messing with sections and trying to make it do that that I was tempted to just start all over in Quark, or better yet, FrameMaker -- but that seemed excessive. I can live without headings (the rest of the book looks so nice and neat and bookish), but if you do know how to handle this, please let me know!

Oh, and I added some more stuff, since I had 52 pages to play with. The current TOC:

  • Esthely Blue
  • Silence and the Word
  • Johnny's Story
  • Wild Roses
  • Exposure
  • Flowers and Branches
None of them appeared in my first collection -- I hadn't written them yet when that came out. I'm unreasonably fond of every piece in here, including "Exposure", which I don't think any of you have read. It's a nonfiction meditation on my romantic/sexual relationships with women (mostly Karina), along with assorted thoughts on beauty. I think if you like either of the first two pieces, you'll like that one too. The book ended up half fiction, half essays; fun mix!

Still feeling awake, bizarrely enough. But I think I'd best put myself to bed; at least to reading in bed. I'm running on two hours of not even sleep -- just dozing. At some point, I'm sure I'm going to just fall over.

8 thoughts on “Still awake,…”

  1. Note for all that follows: I’m using Windows XP with Word 2000, so all that follows may or may not apply to your system.

    Re: page size. I’d be inclined to assume that the most straightforward way of dealing with this would be to set the document page size to, say, 5″x8″, via File -> Page Setup -> Paper Size. On the other hand, I don’t know what options Mike may have on the PDF conversion, so maybe he’ll be able to just shrink it.

    Re: Different headers on odd and even pages. On my system, at least, you can go to the help system, type in “header”, and find instructions for this. They go something like this (w/graphics and links to additional explanations removed):

    1. On the View menu, click Header and Footer.
    2. On the Header and Footer toolbar, click Page Setup.
    3. Click the Layout tab.
    4. Select the Different odd and even check box, and then click OK.
    5. If necessary, move to the Even Page Header area or Even Page Footer box.
    6. Create the header or footer for each even-numbered page.
    7. To move to the header or footer for each odd-numbered page, click Show Next on the Header and Footer toolbar. Then create the header or footer you want.
  2. Okay, so I found where I could both a) set the page size to 5×8 and b) set it to have different even/odd headers — Page Setup, Document. So that’s good.

    But now my book is too long, and I can’t figure out whether to:

    a) cut stuff (in which case Johnny’s Story and/or Wild Roses would go), or

    b) go to a smaller font (I’ve already switched to Hoefler Text, which I like better than the Verdana I was using, but it looks pretty small at 12 pt on screen, and I’m worried that 10 pt printed might be hard to read), or

    c) accept that it will be longer than 52 pages and wait for perfect binding.

    Thoughts? Is there an option I’m missing?

  3. Reformatted to 5×8, it comes to 95 pages. I’m thinking that even switching to 10 pt isn’t going to help enough to get it to 52. So I think the options are reduced to a or c.

  4. Verdana was designed for viewing online; in print, big blocks of sans-serif text tend to be a bit less readable than serif fonts. But you should also use a PostScript font, and I don’t remember whether Hoefler Text is one or not.

    Consider using a 10-point serif font with 11-point line spacing (“leading”), or an 11-point font with 12-point leading—that can produce very readable pages.

    Also take a look at line length. IIrc, the best line length for ease of reading is around 11 words.

    I’m personally in favor of perfect binding (if it’s done well); I think it makes stuff look neat and professional. But you could do both—start with an abbreviated saddle-stitched version for instant gratification, and then do a full-length perfect-bound version for later.

  5. Addendum re readability: I’m told that studies show that the most readable font is the one readers see most commonly used. So it may well be that Verdana is pretty readable these days even in print. But the traditional approach is to use serif fonts for body text, reserving sans-serif fonts for headings and such.

  6. I think I’m abandoning the whole 52-pg saddle-stitch idea. It was charming, and I might use it for a book of recipes, but this is turning into more of a book-book. I don’t want to cut any of these pieces — in fact, I’m trying to decide if I should add more. Right now, Cafe Press will charge about $10 for a 100-page perfect bound book; if I charge $13 or so, I can make a little profit. But they’ll only charge $13 for a 200-page book; I could give readers twice as many stories for $16 or $17, which I *think* they’d want?

    Hmmm….this is where readers should chime in, I think. Which would you prefer? And if I go longer, are there particular pieces you’d like included? I’m mostly looking for stories that haven’t appeared in Torn Shapes; in some sense, this is the follow-up to that book. 🙂

  7. Ooh ooh, I’m all for the longer format, especially if you throw in some poetry too. I’m v. much in favor of more poetry (suprise suprise).

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