After looking into several different options, I’ve decided to go ahead and do the interior layout and design of my paperback editions myself. I’m pretty comfortable with software, so the initial process of learning InDesign and getting the final text of The Leafstone Shield into the page layout file was not terribly difficult.
To be honest, I had rented InDesign a couple of years ago, when I thought I was ready to start doing print books, so this time around I was just refreshing my memory. Master pages, paragraph styles, character styles, text flow, fonts, tracking, Bob’s your uncle.
But then comes the process of making it look nice. A paragraph here or there has the wrong style applied — have to keep my eyes open for that. Are the running heads maybe a little too close to the body text? Yeah, probably. So I make the body text box slightly smaller in the master pages — but it’s important to do this first, because it will affect where pages start and end. That, in turn, could cause a chapter end to flow over onto an extra page. The master page for a chapter start is different from the normal master page for chapter text, so if a chapter start moves to a new page, different master pages have to be applied.
Inserting a discretionary hyphen here or there, to make the spacing in a paragraph more even. Making sure InDesign didn’t lose any material (it didn’t), which meant going through the last ten chapters to make sure every paragraph in the word processor text was still there in the book layout. The last chapters I figured would be important to check, because that’s where I had to add some pages manually and then connect the text flow widgets manually.
Everything was fine, but in the process I noticed that one of my characters had a pistol in an important scene, except in one paragraph, where he had a knife! The knife was left over from a previous draft. When I changed it to a pistol I missed one spot. I found that mistake without even reading the text; it just popped out at me.
It’s endless. At a certain point I’m going to have to just stop and say, “Okay — it’s done.”
And that’s only one facet of the process. Today I talked to a phone rep at IngramSpark about how their program works if I do paperbacks through them for e-books that are already up on Amazon. Learned a few things. I hired a friend to proofread Book 1, and he spotted a couple of dozen little errors (not counting the extra spaces between words in the text file, which I could and should have fixed before I sent him the file). Those corrections are now in the file.
And then there’s the marketing and promotion. I took a look at my Amazon author page and discovered that a couple of very moldy 15-year-old music technology books with stupid covers are still prominently displayed. That’s going to hurt my author branding — but you know what? Amazon won’t let you delete books from your author page. I’m sort of screwed, unless I switch to publishing my fiction under a pseudonym, and that won’t work either, because my two out-of-print novels are listed under my real name.
I’ll have more control over the rest of my online presence — and what that means is, I really need to redo my website. I now have Adobe Dreamweaver, so I can do that myself too. All I have to do is learn Dreamweaver and then design a website. Piece of cake. (Hah.)
Wait a minute — what about the actual writing? What about that almost-finished novel that’s languishing on my hard drive? Can I clone myself now?