Paperback Writer, part 2

The paperback version of “The Shadow of Black Wings” is now available on Amazon (.com and all the European ones)

Here’s the continuation of the story of how it became a reality, which might serve as a guide for those who would want to follow my footsteps. Read the previous instalment here 

Formatting the manuscript in three headaches.

Ooh boy. I sure did not make it easy for myself.

Normally, formatting the manuscript for paperback is an easier task than ebook. For one, you don’t need to know any html or do any conversions. Just make sure everything is fine in the .doc, export it to pdf (or not even that – CreateSpace handles raw .doc conversion pretty well if they’re not too fancy)

But I wanted the paperback edition to be different from the Kindle one, offer something more to the reader. Since the file size was no longer an issue, I’ve decided to add a few pictures – an appendix with the family crests of the main characters, and more complex chapter vignettes. This was the first reason for a headache.

Another reason was trying to use a fancy font for the Chapter headers. On Kindle, fonts are non-issue: each reader can choose from three pre-loaded fonts on the device, that’s it. For printed version, it was all up to me. The body font was plain old Garamond – standard for paperbacks – but for the headers I used the same font I have on the cover. It’s a paid font, with commercial licence that turned out to be very limited. A bit too limited, in fact. That was the second headache.

The third headache was making sure that all the many tiny things work: a) all the section headings are there for the table of contents, b) they are invisible to the printer, c) all the chapters start on the correct (right) page, d) the main body text ‘looks’ pleasing to the eye – ie. there are no widows and orphans or lost paragraphs, e) headers and footers are exactly where I want them to be. All of these things are paperback-specific. There are no page breaks on Kindle, no headers and footers, the table of contents is generated automatically.

Solving the first headache meant printing the actual manuscript pages on a heavy duty laser printer to see how they will look like on the actual page. Word of advice: when converting from doc to pdf on MS Word, you HAVE TO make sure the pictures transport in the correct (uncompressed) resolution. There’s a setting in save options for that in Word 2010, but I couldn’t find one in 2007.

The images must all be 300 dpi or more. There’s just no other way. Create Space will flag any less as error, anyway. Otherwise they get either blurry or pixelated.

Solving the second headache was a bit more tricky. Normally, all you need to do is embed the font in the file. But the licence for this particular font disallowed embedding. This meant every chapter header had to be transformed into a separate image. Another word of advice: simply copy and ‘paste special’ as image doesn’t work in Word. The header becomes an image, but the font is still not embedded and will revert to default whenever you try to open it on another machine. You have to painstakingly copy each header into a graphic program and paste from there. Again, see previous headache for dealing with images in the manuscript.

Digital era, they said. Death of paper, they said.

Solving the third headache was just long hours of menial work, moving the paragraphs back and forth, reading page after page of the exported pdf with a notepad and marker. For some reason the template provided by CreateSpace has the text aligned to the centre, which means that any lose paragraphs get transported right in the middle of the page they’re on. Change that alignment to ‘top’ in page layout. Another quirk that lost me a day of worrying: if you accidentally set the page breaks to ‘hidden’ (it may happen if you forget to set your paragraphs straight) – they will disappear from the document while printing or exporting.

Basically what I’m saying here could probably be summed up as ‘don’t use MS Word’. The CreateSpace template is a .doc file, but that could be opened in a number of alternative applications. I haven’t tried any of them, so I can’t vouch for the results, but others have and they say it’s well worth the change. I may try another office suite when working on the second volume. We’ll see.

Eventually, the manuscript had reached the point where I was satisfied with it. It was the time to move on in the process and create the cover… But that is a tale for a different time.

Buy the book! Paperback or ebook, doesn’t really matter – it’s a good read either way 🙂

PS: Interior templates can be found here.

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