Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Travels in Xanadu-du - part dux

One thing that is taking a huge amount of time with publishing 'Travels inXanadu-du' is the proof-reading and 'interior design' of the book. I'm too poor to afford external proofreaders and editors. But BetterArf knows her way around books and also the Engrish language, and so do I. I was working on the design of the book a few days ago, and when I thought it was ready I printed it out on the laser printer on 80 gsm recycled paper. I also printed the cover on heavy, glossy photographic paper. And then I glued the pages into the spine of the cover, and trimmed it (a bit roughly, but hey). So now I have a reasonable facsimile of what the finished book will look and feel like.

Over the last couple of days, I've taken the book and a red pen out with me, to cafés, restaurants and bars: anywhere with free heat and decent light. I find it much easier to read things this way. Very long documents on a computer screen? Forget it. Double-spaced text on A4 paper? Definitely forget it. Something that looks and feels like a book? Yes please.

So, I've spotted a few typos, and added maybe 100 words in this final re-reading process. But the thing that has amazed me is the effect of font choice on the 'length' of the book. The final version is in 11 pt Garamond, and it's 294 pages. I had previously tried 11 pt Book Antiqua, which gave us 322 pages, and 11 pt Palatino, which also resulted in 322 pages. Page count is obviously very important, especially for print-on-demand, because we have to pay for every page we print, and there are no economies of scale. It's quite important for our bottom line that we do not go above 300 pages.

Other things I've been obsessing about: dashes; hyphens are no good, apparently. You have to use long dashes. So I did a search-and-replace for the evil hyphens, and it replaced all of the legit hyphens (as in 'search—and—replace'). Dang. So then I had to go through the whole thing to sort out the short from the long. And then we have problem of single-quotes and double-quotes. You can confuse the hell out of M$ Worm with these things. Which is great, except you then have to go through the entire document line by line to sort the buggers out.

And finally, widder's endorphins. Sorry, widows and orphans. This is printer's-guild code for lines that appear on their own on a new page at the end of a chapter. They look like shit. There are a couple of them currently in the book, but they will be the last things to be dealt with, after typography, pagination, etc. The usual cure is a small amount of re-writing. I can do that.


dubaibilly said...

Still looking forward to this Keef - I've never had a mate who has published a book before! Clearly this is a claim to fame!!

the real nick said...

POD sounds great. All you need now is demand.

How about publishing it on your blog in instalments. I promise to read it every day.

Macthomson said...

A painful process indeed! Why not at least give us a 'back-cover blurb' so that we can spread the news about your book virally?

Keefieboy said...

Guys - I'm just finalising the website; as soon as it's ready I'll be splashing the URL about all over the place. You'll get the back-blurb, a couple of sample chapters, and the all-important order form!

Jayne said...

I'm gonna put it on my 'On My Perch at Night I'm reading' sidebar Keef. If you can tell me how to put the pic up as well, I'll be extremely grateful.

Colin said...


I'll happily proof read your book, for nowt.

Keefieboy said...

Colin: that's stupendouusly kind of you - pls send your email address to keefieboy arruba gmail punto com