Home » Tuck in Print » Printable Tuck » Text Presentation Part Duh
Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4391] Wed, 25 January 2006 10:09 Go to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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What I'd like to know, from you, is what font and font size you consider acceptable, and what space-between-the-lines is enough or not-enough or too-much... what margins you find good...

The printed version will almost certainly be 6"x9"; this format is called "trade paperback". I'd love to have it in normal-paperback size, but it's about the same cost per unit, and I think I can stuff 1.5x to 2x the quantity of text into the larger format, even if it doesn't fit into standard paperback bookshelves (as if anyone has these besides me; and I had to make my own).

Why do I need this information? My judg[e]ment is flawed. I consider the old 1st Edition AD&D to be nearly an idea for gaming reference books. Go check one out the next time you are in a used bookstore; you'll find that the print is rather smaller than you're probably used to...


So get in there with a ruler and a book you like the LOOK of (format, layout, etc) and tell me what you like.


Ellen
nosig
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4392] Wed, 25 January 2006 11:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
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Hmmm, let's see. Most of what I'm listing here is pretty well-known and therefore superfluous, but it might help anyway... at least to point out areas for possible debate.

To begin with, long text should be printed with proportional, serif fonts. Period. Anything different is eyestraining.

That said, there are literally hundreds of nice serif typefaces around, from the computer-standard and therefore overused Times Roman (which has a point in its favor, because it was designed to squeeze more text per page) to other classic fonts like Garamond to some stranger choices like Georgia (which was designed for reading on a computer screen, not on paper -- although it's not bad on paper either). This is mostly personal preference, though, and looking at books won't help much -- most books don't indicate the typeface they used, and it takes an expert to distinguish a typeface from an almost-identical copy (for instance, you have to really pay attention to tell Arial from Helvetica).

General formatting: I really advise justifying the text. Non-justified text is one of those things that's Just Not Done nowadays. People even find it odd looking at non-justified text, even if they don't realize why.

Font size: I'd say that the smallest easily readable size is around 11, but that depends on the typeface you choose. Some fonts may be readable down to 10 or 9, others may need a 12.

Whitespace: the default inter-line whitespace from most wordprocessing and publishing software is usually fine. You might add a couple points extra spacing between paragraphs, though -- it helps keeping them separated in the reader's minds. Just a little, though; keep in mind that the timestamps will add a lot of whitespace to the page, so you don't need to increase other places too much.

Margins: I'd say that half an inch is the bare minimum. Anything less than that and small printing problems become glaring errors. Like, if the page is printed a bit out of alignment, small margins will make it glaringly obvious, while larger margins will help to hide the mistake. I would advice a bit larger than that, especially on the top and bottom -- you might use 3/4 inch for the body text on top and bottom, leaving 1/4 inch each for header and footer.

Timestamps: I would give them a bit of a highlighting -- probably bold, I think, but I would experiment a bit with other options before settling in one. I strongly advice AGAINST using a different typeface for the timestamps -- it would probably just look messy, ESPECIALLY if you are not using another type of highlight with it (but then, the different font is redundant). I prefer to keep them right where they are now: flush left, with no indentation -- it adds to the "log" format. A bit extra whitespace on top and bottom would be nice, though -- more on top than on bottom, to keep it "closer" to the text below.

More to come later...

Sir Lee


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4394] Wed, 25 January 2006 14:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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What Sir Lee said, mostly. Don't forget to include wider margins on the inner side of the pages, about 1/5 of an inch, for the binding.

As for type size, the "ideal" line length for easy reading in single column format is about 66 characters but anything from 55 to 72 is considered good. 11 pt type works out well in 6x9, commercial books are often 12 pt. This depends also on chosen type face.

I like 1 pt leading between paragraphs, but the time stamps don't need a whole blank line before and after them. 6 or 8 pts above and below would be good. Bold or italic, or do them in a sans serif font like Helvetica.

Start each chapter about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way down the page and use the whitespace above for the chapter title in an appropriately large typeface. Since your chapter titles vary considerably in length, the point size of each title should be individually chosen.

No table of contents but do use a title page and a publishing history page.

Page numbers centered in the footer, with book title, author and perhaps chapter title in the header. Make these 12 or 14 pt sans serif italic so they don't look like any part of the text but are there for reference.You can set up alternating headers for odd and even pages: Tuck by Ellen Hayes on the left and Chapter Title on the right or just Tuck on the left and Ellen Hayes on the right.

Are you going to leave in the quotes after the chapters? If so, do them in some different typography.

If I think of more I'll comment or email.

If you want to see a Lulu book, I can to send a copy of Kelly Girl if there is some way you trust to get it to you.

- Erin
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4395] Wed, 25 January 2006 16:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
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About the quotes in the end of chapters:

When doing my reading copy, I initially thought about stripping them off -- but then I found a couple that were really on topic and relevant to the story, as they supplied extra information not available in the main text (like on #11). So, I left them, with different formatting to set them apart.

Generally speaking, I like the quotes. They are usually funny, they add something, and in a couple occasions they really help the story.

The only thing is... I think there are a couple chapters *without* endquotes (like #20). And a couple with repeated quotes (#14 and #15 come to mind). Maybe other issues. So, while I'm for keeping the quotes, maybe Ellen would like to review them to make some adjustments.

Sir Lee


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4396] Wed, 25 January 2006 16:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 19:09

No table of contents but do use a title page and a publishing history page.


I know what a title page is - and see absolutely no reason to have one; it'd just take page count I could use to squeeze in more Tuck, or other things - but what is a publishing history page?


Ellen
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Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4397] Wed, 25 January 2006 17:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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Come to think of it...
Erin Halfelven wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 19:09

Start each chapter about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way down the page and use the whitespace above for the chapter title in an appropriately large typeface.

Wasted space! Ick!


Erin Halfelven wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 19:09

Page numbers centered in the footer, with book title, author and perhaps chapter title in the header.

Why in Ghu's name would I put title and author on every bloody page? That strikes me as stupidity. Do I really need to stamp every page to prevent, uh, OCR-copying or photocopying? Or is there some REAL reason for this that I've missed?
I don't need to see my name in print that often; if I did, I'd go print out my name a few hundred times via our printer and tape the result to the monitor here.


Erin Halfelven wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 19:09

Are you going to leave in the quotes after the chapters?

At this point, I'm inclined to leave those out, and possibly leave out the original episode titles as well - maybe putting them on the hypothetical title page.
I can also see adding a header or footer that incorporates the story date on that page... though this would require some hand-work on my part.

See, unlike a lot of published books, I don't need to try and make the thing appear hefty with only a relative few words written. I've got enough to fill any reasonably sized book; an ASCII-text version of Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising is only 1.5Mb, and I'm well over that. Red Storm Rising is, for those of you that don't have one, 725 pages in paperback.
So, stuff that I think publishers have done to make books appear thicker and therefore worth more money, is not stuff _I_ need to be doing. I've seen a few books - a modernized re-do of "Backpacking In The 90's" by Victoria Logue comes instantly to mind - that seemed to be trying to put as LITTLE text on the page as possible, and as much whitespace... and the only reason I can think of, is that the page count was otherwise too low to "look" attractive at the price.

I'd like to put something out that real readers go, "Jeez, I got my money's worth on THIS book!" At least as far as text-per-dollar or text-per-ounce goes; the worth of the writing is of course not something I can objectively judge. =)


Ellen
nosig
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4399] Wed, 25 January 2006 19:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Amy!  is currently offline Amy!
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Ellen Hayes wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 17:11

Come to think of it...
Erin Halfelven wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 19:09

Start each chapter about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way down the page and use the whitespace above for the chapter title in an appropriately large typeface.

Wasted space! Ick!



There's a reason for it, though. It gives the reader a clear "place to stop"; it underlines the fact that this is a place to pause, go get a cup of coffee, whatever.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 17:11


Erin Halfelven wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 19:09

Page numbers centered in the footer, with book title, author and perhaps chapter title in the header.

Why in Ghu's name would I put title and author on every bloody page? That strikes me as stupidity. Do I really need to stamp every page to prevent, uh, OCR-copying or photocopying? Or is there some REAL reason for this that I've missed?



Won't argue about the author part (I don't think I've ever seen that), but the title is definitely common and potentially useful. The title of the work needn't appear, but the chapter title ought to appear in a running head, if possible.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 17:11


Erin Halfelven wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 19:09

Are you going to leave in the quotes after the chapters?

At this point, I'm inclined to leave those out, and possibly leave out the original episode titles as well - maybe putting them on the hypothetical title page.



Whhhhyyyyyyyy? It's part of the "experience," as far as most readers are concerned.

Readers certainly want to have as much text as they can get, I won't argue with that. However, if they want a printed book, rather than free-for-printing downloads, it's likely to be because they want the heft, weight, and attraction of a real book.

Which means paying attention to the aesthetics of the layout and the culture of the readers. Which means, inevitably, some whitespace. Whitespace is the key element in attractive layout; well-considered whitespace leads the eye to attractive blocks of text, in a format that readers expect to see (page number footers, chapter title headers), which lets them read the text without being distracted by "odd" or "idiosyncratic" (or worst of all, "amateur") presentation.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 17:11


I can also see adding a header or footer that incorporates the story date on that page... though this would require some hand-work on my part.



Sounds really hard, although I think it would add value. It might add sufficiently more value that you could dispense with chapter titles in the running head (though not at the start of chapters, please!).

Thinking about it more, I think that dates pulled out into headers (as a span, perhaps?) would be really, really tasty. Let readers flip through to find exactly the section that they want by date ....

Note, as far as the final quotes go, you're gonna have some space left at the end of chapters (unless you take out all the chapter breaks, which is not going to be universally lauded by any means).

Ellen Hayes wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 17:11


See, unlike a lot of published books, I don't need to try and make the thing appear hefty with only a relative few words written.



I'll grant that this is done, but I doubt that it happens all that often. Book market is low-margin, and authors on the whole prefer to see their text out there (you're not unique in that regard). Readers, on the other hand, value an attractive presentation. This is especially true for content that can be obtained for zero cost on the net.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 17:11


I'd like to put something out that real readers go, "Jeez, I got my money's worth on THIS book!" At least as far as text-per-dollar or text-per-ounce goes; the worth of the writing is of course not something I can objectively judge. =)



Please, please also consider that many (most?) of the folks who want a bound book printed copy would like to see it attractively presented.

There are reasons for a lot of the conventions in book publishing, and no, they aren't because publishers are out to make money-for-nothing (they'd like to, sure, but it's a sufficiently cut-throat market that they can't do so easily; someone else will offer content for cheaper).

If you have any of the O'Reilly zoo, check their colophons. O'Reilly are a serious content publisher; they sell on the quality of content (which includes, in their case, usable indexes, which is something you don't have to care about). It has to be easy to read by distracted techies, apart from having solid content. They take pride in it, so they always have a colophon. Other publishers may, as well. The colophon is usually in the back; it describes the technical information (fonts, for instance) associated with book production. You can actually learn a useful amount of publishing information just reading through the colophons of nice books in the local bookstore.

Amy!
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4400] Thu, 26 January 2006 02:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Title pages are things books have. Smile It doesn't look like a book without one and it costs 2 cents. Publishing history is usually on the backside of the title page and has info like previous appearances, ownership of copyright and who printed the book. Another 2 cents.

I took two years of Typography and Design in college and I've worked for printers and publishers; this stuff is like formatting and documentation inside the code for programs. I didn't mention the BLANK pages a book usually has cause I KNEW you wouldn't go for those. LOL. And that I understand, and many books don't have them.

If you really want to get in as much as possible, the two column format on 8.5 x 11 costs the same per page. Doesn't look as good though and isn't as rugged.

The reason to have the title and author on every (or every other) page is to identify even loose pages of a book as your work. Page numbers make the book easier to read by being able to find one's place easier. History page is needed to distinguish different editions; if you eventually end up having them, they will be useful. White space makes text more readable (too much is wasteful of course), and makes ownership of the book more satisfying. Really. Smile

- Erin
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4401] Thu, 26 January 2006 07:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
rachel.greenham  is currently offline rachel.greenham
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Just want to third the aforegoing opinions. We can all (and in fact have all) already read the work in hard-to-read ASCII. If we want to pay for it in print form, the reason for that is to make it a pleasurable reading experience. Aesthetics Matter. The way books are typeset - including the whitespace and header/footer stuff, size, font, average number of words on a line - these things are not random; they're that way for a reason, and that reason is because people who are much cleverer about this sort of thing, and who are working from literally centuries of experience about the way readers interact with the printed word (you know, publishers) found that it works best that way, and if it works better, the punters buy more books.

Do you want us to buy the book out of loyalty and gratitude and guilt, or do you want us to buy it because we genuinely want the book, to lie in bed and read, to give to friends, to recommend others to buy? It's a thing, it's an artifact, it's something you expect people to pay money for. Ideally that means more than just us, who've already read it and probably could be persuaded to buy it out of guilt. It means getting people who don't owe you that to fork out the dosh. You are selling a reading experience. Aesthetics Matter. Otherwise I could just print my copy out here and stick it in a ring-binder.

Some of us may only be aping those typographical conventions, but especially if someone coming from a professional typographical background tells you the same, please give their knowledge its due. This is not one of those occasions where stubbornness is a virtue. Smile

[Updated on: Thu, 26 January 2006 08:32]


Rachel
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4402] Fri, 27 January 2006 03:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Roxanne  is currently offline Roxanne
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Just a word from the business side -- since I'm a midlist novelist (which means you wouldn't have heard of me Smile ), I've had the dubious pleasure of seeing my words translated into books, and a lot of this formatting stuff has at least a psychological necessity behind it.

First and not least, it's expectations. People know what 'a book' looks like. If it doesn't look like that, it's not a book - which means they're less likely to pick it up and read the back cover or the first couple of paragraphs, and therefore less likely to buy it. In that sense, it wouldn't matter if the standard presentation was crimson 48-pt type printed on sheets of green cheese . . . people would still demand a 'real' book be printed in that format.

Or to put it another way, there wouldn't be a proverb about not judging a book by its cover if 99% of people DIDN'T judge a book by exactly that.

Cover, typespace, whitespace, header, page numbers, back cover blurb -- you name it, people categorize your book by it, and that's before they've read a word you wrote.

Whitespace. I've occasionally had publishers who think it was a good idea to start each chapter immediately below the preceeding one, no matter where on the page that falls. Bad idea, in terms of how people react to it. The eye seems to like enough white space at the end of a chapter/episode/bit of dramatic unity to give them breathing-space. There's not much you can do if your chapter ends on the bottom line of a page. But the 1/3 to 1/2 of whitespace on the new page, with your chapter heading halfway down it, will give the reader mental elbow room.

Same thing for margins. And line length, which in a justified-text book is essentially the same thing as margins. Somewhere between 66 and 72 characters per line is good for the human eye (even if only because that's what it's been 'educated' to like through a lifetime of reading books produced by modern publishers). Anything longer tends to look like a monolithic slab of text to the reader -- which is not something I personally object to, but most people are put off by it, as hard experience tells me . . .

I can think of at least one long novel (not by me, so I've got no axe to grind) that did well in the US market because it was a damn good book, and vanished without a sale in the UK, because some editor thought it was a good idea to choose a tiny text and a long line-length and tiny margins. People picked it up, looked at the text size and lack of white space, and put it straight back on the shelf without reading a word.

Page headers. Essentially, they're there to tell the reader 'what page am I on?', 'what chapter am I in?', and 'who wrote this book?' The first two allow the reader to look up where they left off reading, or find something they vaguely remember where it is in the story but they're not sure. The third one keeps the name 'Ellen Hayes' in front of the reader's subconscious, so that they buy the NEXT book with your name on it. Or recommend this book to their friends.

Title page. The same reason there's a curtain in theatres these days -- it allows a sense of presentation and anticipation. It's about drama, I guess - it emphasises your title because it stands alone in white space. And, as someone else mentioned, it can provide a useful place on the back to stick copyright history and ISBN number and all that gubbins.

In terms of professional book publication, what costs most is the covers. What goes between them, regarding number of pages, is less important -- there are break-points, beyond which sheer length makes a book more expensive to produce, but they don't really do more than break books down into 'short', 'medium to long', and 'bloody long'. Which is one reason why a few blank sheets here and there can give you more 'elbow-room', without it costing more on the production front. I think it's not quite like that in POD, but I'm not too sure how they handle that.

I don't think your original message mentioned the book cover. It's important. It shouldn't need saying, but given what I've seen on some POD books . . . if you can't afford decent professional-standard artwork, don't put bad/fannish art on it just to have a picture. A plain coloured cover with a well-chosen font, just giving title and author, is better than an amateurish-looking picture. If you can find something classical that doesn't have a copyright problem, that's not a bad idea; one of the POD lines in the UK, reprinting Sabatini, put old paintings on the cover. (There again, they had the advantage of being able to match them to roughly the historical period of the adventure novel, which doesn't really apply to Tuck.)

Back cover blurb - also unbelievable important. I'd guess, in POD, that it appears as the advertising for the book, as well as on the back cover of the finished object. You want the usual stuff -- a strap-line, a paragraph from the text, and a brief enticing summary of the set-up.

I think the stats a publisher last quoted at me were that most people have taken 80%-90% of the decision to buy or not to buy a book when they've glanced at the cover and read the back-cover blurb. Which is fairly frightening, when you think about it. A lot of people then read the first sentence or paragraph of the main text. Flicking through to find that first sentence gives them an impression of how easy the book will be to read (which is where whitespace and title page come in). So you have maybe 30 words to hook people into parting with their money . . .

(pauses for a fit of the dismals) Crying or Very Sad

Anyhow, one thing I'd personally add -- make sure you've proof-read the text as perfectly as humanly possible. The Sabatini PODs (which are the only ones of which I collected a whole set, just because they were so nice), were evidently OCR'd in. Every so often there's an uncorrected hiccup. You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at how disconcerting that can be when you're lost in the story. I find it odd that it doesn't matter to me, up to a point, what text is like on a PC screen -- I read a lot of fanfic, so I have to develope a tolerance. Smile But when it comes to a book that's a physical object, every typo makes my brain scream, and throws me out of the story. I guess that's expectations again: I've been educated to expect printed books not to have errors in.

The trouble with POD is that it collected expectations early on, when it wasn't well developed -- that it would produce a poorly-bound book that would fall apart on reading, that it would be slabs of non-justified text with no margins or whitespace, and that the quality of the fiction would be as poor as the presentation. POD's shaking off that reputation, but I think people have developed a knee-jerk reflex -- it doesn't matter that Tuck's good, if it comes out looking 'amateur', no one who doesn't already know the web version will pick up the book to give it a chance.

Which is hardly fair, but then again, 'fair' and 'publishing' don't really belong in the same sentence . . . I hope some of this has been of some help. I think it all comes down to 'don't cramp your text' inside the book, and 'make it look classy' on the outside . . .
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4403] Fri, 27 January 2006 03:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eric  is currently offline Eric
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Quote:

So get in there with a ruler and a book you like the LOOK of (format, layout, etc) and tell me what you like.

FWIW, a few years ago I published an 72-page booklet (250 copies from a local periodical printer) in connection with a set of APBA Baseball cards. I wanted to fit the whole thing into as few pages as I practically could without overwhelming the reader, but the author wouldn't let me go as far as I might have, left to myself.

(In this particular case, while the book was a solid piece of research and exposition, the card set was really what people would decide to buy (or not), so the aesthetics of the booklet wasn't as critical as a stand-alone item would be.)

Anyway, we ended up with an 8x11 size, two column copy, with half-inch margins right and left and a quarter inch between columns. Top and bottom margins were also half-inch, but there was an additional quarter-inch between the top line and the beginning of the copy, a quarter inch between the end of the copy and the bottom line, and a quarter inch for the page number below the line. (So there were 9 column inches on the page, in each of two 3-5/8-inch-wide columns.)

The print was in a serif font, 11-point Book Antigua (TruType equivalent of Palatino (PostScript)) regular, with 12-point leading and 12 points between paragraphs. Space between subheadings (which were boldfaced and underlined) and the first paragraph was 8 points rather than 12.

Chapter numbers/titles were in a contrasting sans-serif type, Lucida Sans Unicode Bold (TruType). Size was 31-point, 36-point leading, with 36-point (half-inch) white space above and below. Chapters only started either at the top of a page or between one-third and two-thirds of the way down. In the latter case that usually meant a quarter of a page of white space at the bottom; we inserted a baseball logo as needed to take up the space.

Appendix (statistical/index) charts were 7-point Arial/Helvetica with 8-point leading; appendix headings were 22-point Lucida Sans Unicode bold with 24-point leading and 24-point space above and below.

We used a card-stock cover, and saved pages by putting the copyright data on the inside front cover and doubling the title page as the table of contents (Page 1), with the document starting on the back (Page 2) of the contents page. The inside back cover contained only about an inch of copy, identifying the art on the outside back cover.

(It's probably more of an off-the-wall idea than something worth considering, but given the POD technology, there might be some point to publishing both a "tech" 8"x11" edition, with minimal spacing and greater consumer value, and the more leisurely set of trade paperbacks that the others here seem to be suggesting.)

Eric
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4404] Fri, 27 January 2006 09:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
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A generalist reply to a bunch of you.

First: apparently a few people have thought that I am considering this because Tuck as it is now isn't pretty enough or something; they're asking if I've considered an ebook version. That's Not The Point, folks.

Second: I've no idea what the 'culture' of my readers is, or what subset of 'all readers' is involved. I don't necessarily know what makes people read Tuck, much less (hypothetically) spend money for it in paper format; or ANY book. I know I'm strange and unusual (sick, twisted, downright fucking aberrant) in my preferences; I don't know how much of this is shared with other people, or how often.
I need more votes, in a sense, to find out what the aggregate readership wants/needs, loves or hates, etc. Five of you, three of whom claim some sort of professional background, isn't enough.
F'rinstance, the only time I ever look for a title page in a fiction book is when I think it has separate stories in it; otherwise, I don't even conceptualize a title page.

Third: Just because "everyone does it that way" or "it's always been done that way" does NOT guarantee "This is the best way to do it." Those that tell me this are invited to destroy their computers and cellphones because they didn't used to exist.

Fourth: I don't see my market as EVER being composed of more than a TINY percentage of random pick-up-a-book-then-buy-it people. POD books are not stocked on store shelves, and not sold normally in bookstores. I doubt that any physical location ANYWHERE will carry it unless I exert myself to the point I'd be working a full-time job for pennies on the hour; I'd do better working in fast-food.
Thus, some of the physical considerations one person (sorry, mind gone - Roxanne?) mentioned are not-that-important. I really doubt that ANYONE will pick this book up, look at the covers and maybe the first page, and THEN decide to buy it; the opportunity will simply not exist. If anyone not-already-a-fan buys it, it will be because it was recommended by a friend or someone else whose reading-selection judg(e)ment they trust. And then they will look for it and buy it, knowing before they start looking exactly what they are looking for.

Fifth: most of the people over the years who have asked about a print version, have not mentioned "Gee I want a print version because ASCII is ugly"; they want a print version because print versions don't need batteries, are far more resistant to shock and water, and are lighter and far more portable and convenient (even the Sony thingus a friend has for e-books is not as convenient as a paper book; and he's the only person I know personally that has something like that).


So, most of those that have responded - not enough total responses, mind; if you read this, you ought to say something - have said something to the effect of 'Yes, make it somewhat pretty rather than entirely efficient', or otherwise indicated that inefficiencies in maximizing text-per-page will be encouraged to a degree. Okay.

I really can't see putting my name as a header/footer on every page, because I've heard one person mention that it was an association to buy more books. I don't work like that; I remember more of the text and cover (in a vague way), and go find the book if I want to know the title and author. I think the space (always limited, remember) could be put to better use; if practical, _I_ would rather have story-date as a header/footer; this would also serve the purpose of 'showing which book the conjectural loose pages have fallen from' since I haven't seen anyone else do that page-layout-design.

More of you have said 'keep the chapter titles and quotes'. I'll have to consider this; I don't especially like the artificial nature of splitting a life into episodes, since my life isn't especially episodic and neither is anyone else's I've met.

Cover design IS important, and in some ways more flexible than page layout; but I think I have to do that myself, since I'm better at knowing what I want than any of you, and in some ways I have more leeway on the cover than on the page layout. At this moment, ideally, I'd have Pacchi come up with cover art much like the few finished pieces I've got on the website, enough for each book, and then I'd want to create a design which is 'good' enough to handle all the projected volumes while looking enough similar to each other that the books when piled up or lined up on a bookshelf look like a series.


BTW, I'm not entirely sure, but one person in email may have indicated that if the cover price was $25 they'd want the entire series in one go. If any of you are delusional enough to think this will happen, I'm going to hurt you now by saying It Will Not. There's too much to fit into a single reasonably sized text, and if I wait until I finish the series to a conclusion... let's just say you really shouldn't hold your breath, put off vacations, or delay seeking medical care.


Ellen
nosig
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4405] Fri, 27 January 2006 11:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
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OK, Ellen, you made a number of valid points about Tuck not being stocked on bookstore shelves. Yes, I agree that it probably will never be an "impulse buy." But...

...there's the "friend recommendation" (and the "borrow the first volume from a friend") thing. It will be far easier to convince a friend even to READ the thing (buying her own copy comes later) if it looks like a "real" book, professionally edited and printed.

Chapters: you are not alone in disliking chapters. Terry Pratchett, for instance, sides with you in this. However, there are at least a few places in the saga where you HAVE to have breakpoints. The "Pink Floyd" chapters, for instance -- the change in viewpoints need some kind of visual break in the narrative.

Also, there is at least one point in the narrative in which you deliberately did a cliffhanger/out of sequence thing -- the transition from chapter 50 to 51 comes to mind. This chapter break COULD be eliminated, of course, with a bit of retouching the text; but would it IMPROVE the story?

What I'm saying is... in the end, you will probably have to have at least a few "chapter breaks" in the story; if so, then you should be consistent and do more of them, at least to keep the "balance" of the chapter lenghts. Of course, you might decide to have the chapter breaks at DIFFERENT points than they originally were... maybe taking a the first 10 parts, say, and publishing it as a 5-chapter book or something.

Sir Lee


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Some numbers [message #4406] Fri, 27 January 2006 13:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Assuming that Tuck is eventually printed through Lulu, it will cost about $160 per volume up front to have it listed and available for being carried in bookstores. Or about $40 a volume to have it carried in Amazon Marketplace.Both options will also naturally push the retail price up because more people are involved in distribution. Just information.

Trade paperbacks of more than about 400 pages are unwieldy and more likely to fall apart. With reasonable economy in design to produce a denser but still readable book, 400 pages at 6x9 comes to about 160,000 words, more or less. Going a little farther in economy, still producing a dense but readable book, this might be pushed to 240,000.

Tuck chapters are 8000-10000 words long. Fifteen to twenty chapters per volume seems doable in 6x5, perhaps 25-30 chapters if page count is pushed up to 450 or so.

An 8.5x11 form holds basically twice as much per page allowing perhaps as many as 50 chapters per volume. Again, information.

A 400 page book in either size has a base Lulu price of $12.53. If Lulu does the shipping, any markup is shared with Lulu 80/20; a $5 markup would net Ellen $4 per book. Buyer pays shipping. There's really no way to price these so that Ellen gets a reasonable compensation for her effort of writing them, given the expected sales.

After ten months, Kelly Girl has sold 50+ copies, including two copies this week. About 12 of those were e-book copies, even though KG is available for free through three different websites. Tuck Volume 1 is likely to sell more but how much more is speculation; 100 copies in a year seems likely, 200 maybe, with promotion by Ellen and fans. Numbers larger than this would suppose lightning striking, but Tuck could continue selling for years.

Some POD books do sell in the thousands; usually these are heavily promoted by the author and are generally non-fiction.

This is a digression from Ellen's thread so I'm going to stop now.
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4407] Fri, 27 January 2006 14:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Roxanne  is currently offline Roxanne
Messages: 14
Registered: January 2004
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Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 27 January 2006 14:21

A generalist reply to a bunch of you.
[...]

F'rinstance, the only time I ever look for a title page in a fiction book is when I think it has separate stories in it; otherwise, I don't even conceptualize a title page.



I'd have said that if you know you're on the extreme end of people's preferences -- as, frex, I know I am, in terms of not minding reading Ciceronian paragraphs -- it makes sense to look at the average way of doing things. By definition, more people do things the average way.

Granted, POD's still working out what will be the 'average' presentation, but there are still POD books around to be looked at. A surprising amount have a physical presence in bookshops, or indeed places like Amazon.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 27 January 2006 14:21


Third: Just because "everyone does it that way" or "it's always been done that way" does NOT guarantee "This is the best way to do it." Those that tell me this are invited to destroy their computers and cellphones because they didn't used to exist.



It's not a matter of 'everyone' or 'always' -- more 'lots' and 'since the 18th century', in terms of Western publishing. (I don't know much about non-European and non-USAian methods.) Publishers aren't in the business for charitable reasons, and I'm assuming that getting money for copies of Tuck would be better than a slap around the face with a wet herring, as they say.

One reason for doing it the most common way is that people don't have to think about it -- they don't have to wonder whether this is a well-edited book, or worth the money, or whether it'll fall apart. They recognise it as A Book; all they have to think about is whether they specifically want to read Tuck or not, which is the point.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 27 January 2006 14:21


Fourth: I don't see my market as EVER being composed of more than a TINY percentage of random pick-up-a-book-then-buy-it people. POD books are not stocked on store shelves, and not sold normally in bookstores. I doubt that any physical location ANYWHERE will carry it unless I exert myself to the point I'd be working a full-time job for pennies on the hour; I'd do better working in fast-food.
Thus, some of the physical considerations one person (sorry, mind gone - Roxanne?) mentioned are not-that-important. I really doubt that ANYONE will pick this book up, look at the covers and maybe the first page, and THEN decide to buy it; the opportunity will simply not exist. If anyone not-already-a-fan buys it, it will be because it was recommended by a friend or someone else whose reading-selection judg(e)ment they trust. And then they will look for it and buy it, knowing before they start looking exactly what they are looking for.




Things may be different in the USA, I don't know - there are definitely a small percentage of POD books in bookstores here. I don't know too much about how the distribution differs in the USA.

Regarding buying because of word-of-mouth -- yes, that's still the way most print books sell (despite publishers spending yonks on ad campaigns). In which case, if someone's bought Tuck because of recommendation, yes, you're talking more about reading pleasure than point-of-sale impulse buying.

That still means you want someone to get the book and NOT be disappointed with the physical object. Because then they don't read it, they badmouth it to others, and they don't buy volume 2 (I'm assuming that Tuck will run to several volumes).

You really don't want to fall foul of "I paid X dollars and I got THIS?" Syndrome. It's more than possible to buy something that someone else has recommended, and open it to be confronted by endless slabs of tiny text, and decide that however good it is, it isn't worth that amount of eyestrain.

A couple of hundred years ago, I could have handed you a book with small margins, cramped text, and no paragraphs, and you would have read it, because economics meant you'd have grown up reading that kind of book. But far fewer of them, and far more slowly . . . Currently, books have a lot of white space, and even websites have got hold of the concept that they need to be literally easy on the eye.

Looking at #114, I can see quite a lot of white space, because of the line length and the gaps between short scenes -- how would that compare with what you were thinking of for a print version?

Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 27 January 2006 14:21


[Most] have said something to the effect of 'Yes, make it somewhat pretty rather than entirely efficient', or otherwise indicated that inefficiencies in maximizing text-per-page will be encouraged to a degree. Okay.



The maximum number of words on a page isn't the definition of efficiency.

What's efficient is getting the maximum number of words on a page in a format that the reader wants to read.

If people didn't object to tiny print and small margins, then believe me, print-fiction publishers would be publishing exactly that. They don't put white space in for any other reason than because it sells books. Because people find text easier to read with sufficient white space.

You can debate the definition of 'sufficient'. Smile But these are matters of how the brain and vision are wired up, not taste.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 27 January 2006 14:21


I really can't see putting my name as a header/footer on every page, because I've heard one person mention that it was an association to buy more books. I don't work like that; I remember more of the text and cover (in a vague way), and go find the book if I want to know the title and author.



You don't work that way, fine. A lot of other people do work that way. There's lots of things that strike me as redundancies in print publishing, but they cater to either small majorities or sizable minorities, and as often as not, they're worth doing.

If you set out to sell books to people just like you, you won't sell many books. None of us will. If we're on the outer edges of the Venn diagram, we need to appeal to the overlap.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 27 January 2006 14:21


I think the space (always limited, remember) could be put to better use; if practical, _I_ would rather have story-date as a header/footer; this would also serve the purpose of 'showing which book the conjectural loose pages have fallen from' since I haven't seen anyone else do that page-layout-design.



There's no reason why you can't have page numbers as footers, title+author on, say, left hand headers, and story-date as right-hand headers. (Or vice versa, according to taste.) Depending, I suppose, on how many times the date changes during the course of two pages.

Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 27 January 2006 14:21


More of you have said 'keep the chapter titles and quotes'. I'll have to consider this; I don't especially like the artificial nature of splitting a life into episodes, since my life isn't especially episodic and neither is anyone else's I've met.



Everything you do in fiction is artificial, let's be honest. The writer takes a visual-verbal-sensory mass of Stuff, and structures it as a narrative, no matter how loosely. Fashions come and go as to how much you indicate this in the text itself; as things are at the moment, I think more people expect landmarks like chapter titles than don't. But judging from what I see of people's sales, it doesn't seem to make a huge difference which way you do it.

It's down to perception and expectation, really. You assume that you'll be selling mostly to people who don't mind reading fiction on a PC, and I would guess that's a sound assumption. But in the same way that a print book doesn't need batteries and you can read it in the bath, a print book doesn't have to be horribly formatted in tiny fonts and gross colours (some fanfic sites, as an example, leave me breathless in that respect), and it can be physically pleasant to read. I don't think people who read on computer are immune from the usual demands when they're reading a printed book.
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4408] Fri, 27 January 2006 14:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
Messages: 695
Registered: August 2004
Location: Portland, OR
Senior Member
I agree with most of what other folks have said about keeping lines short, having margins, and yes, even having that block of whitespace at the top of pages that begin a chapter.

They *do* affect readability. Ever run into one of those emails or forum replies (in other forums) that's a solid, unbroken lump of text?

Whitespace really does matter. And whether the way "normal" books do it is "best" or not, it *works*. And people are used to it. Which means that anything else gives this "something's not right" feel to things.

Now with Tuck, the chapters you've published on-line might *not* be the best chapter arrangement for print. On the other hand, it's probably not worth the extra work to do *that* level of reformatting to convert it to print.

The end of chapter quotes are a ggood thing. There are a number of books, even *series* books that have start of chapter quotes. And they make a difference. They help set the mood.

End of chapter ones are unusual (I can't think of any other cases, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any)

Finally, the page headers and footers.

I can give you one *excellent* reason for the ones with author & book/chapter name as part of them...

There *will* be cases of people Xeroxing pages to giver to other people. Stuff that is illustrartive of a point or that "shares well" For example, Kelly's "coming out" in the current chapter would likely have that happen.

If the header info is there, as these pages get copied and recopied they'll still be linked to you and the book. Which means people have seen them but not the book they were copied from will be able to try to *find* it if what they read interests them.

Without that, they'll chuckle or whatever after reading the section and then go away with a "wish I knew where that came from".

Not everyone will care to track down the "original". But *some* will.

Now, I'm sure that this copying and recopying is n ot something you'd care for much. But it *will* happen. So it's worth thinking about.

Oh yeah, another reason for author/title/page # info on the pages. It's so that the *printer* can catch errors more easily, including "Where do these pages go?" if someone knocks stuff over.

There is *always* a stage where the pages exist as "loose" stacks of paper between printing and binding. So that info reduces "spoilage" due to minor mishaps. Which reduces costs.

Think of them as being liked the sequence codes some of us used to punch into the last 8 columns of the 80 column cards for our punch card decks. Saved a lot of time if some idjit in the DP center dropped a deck.
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4409] Fri, 27 January 2006 17:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
T.  is currently offline T.
Messages: 20
Registered: February 2004
Junior Member
Jeez. Who knew there'd be an essay question?!

Here's my vote:

If Tuck could be transposed to paper exactly as I see it on my laptop screen, that would be perfect. I feel that the timestamped entry format is enhanced by the monospaced ascii text.

Timestamps should not be highlighted. Some pages will have many of them, and they would distract from the body text, IMO.

Chapters are important as breakpoints. Not all of us can stay up the whole night reading! Books with no chapters, or with very long chapters, are detrimental to productivity at work the next day.

If there is a way to use the quotations without copyright problems, then they should be there.

Page numbers are useful for when I don't have a bookmark handy. (Turning down a page corner is a despicable habit! Tsk.)

I'm against cover art that shows any depiction of Tuck/Valerie, even if anime-like. I prefer to use my own imagination.

Erm. That's my vote. Hope it does more good than voting in our recent (Canadian) election.

T.
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4411] Sat, 28 January 2006 09:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
Messages: 684
Registered: September 2002
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End of chapter type "quotes" seem to me to fall into the Fair Use provision of copyright law 'exceptions'.
Song lyrics are another matter... it might be prudent to drop them entirely.
The music-publishing industry seems to have an insane territoriality, and I'd hate to be sued when even travel to another state would probably cripple me financially.
This link
http://www.planetsimpson.com/radiohead.aspx
describes some uncoolness, though it's unclear why he got that letter in the first place; did he ask for it?
Also this:
http://www.greenbag.org/just_let.htm

I think that, as usual, the music-publishing industry is using the corporation's favorite tactic (setting legal attack dogs on your ass until you scream surrender) to chill any sort of possible thought of not paying them somehow, like "legal under fair use".
Certainly it's working on me... And I certainly don't want to wait an additional year begging for permissions from all the varied peoples etc.

Thoughts?


Ellen
nosig
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4412] Sat, 28 January 2006 11:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Book publishers do not want to tangle with the rabid dogs that music publishers keep as copyright lawyers. The situations you noted were both decisions made by publishers; one chose to seek permissions for essential quotes and the other chose to excise quotes rather than seek permissions.

You are your own publisher, it's up to you and it's perfectly understandable that you may decide that the angst of deciding to keep such quotes is not worth it.

There does seem to be a threshhold though; two lines or twenty words of a song appear to be considered fair use. I think this is related to some specific case but my research hasn't turned up a specific.

Oh, the $350 for the licensing agreement mentioned in one of those stories--that's probably the fee for the lawyer who drew up the contract; one billable hour. Some book contracts protect authors from being billed for publishers' lawyers time but other legal fees--in this case the music publisher's reimbursement for their lawyer--have to be paid by authors. The band didn't get a dime of that, likely.

What was it Falstaff said? Smile
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4413] Sun, 29 January 2006 22:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Josea  is currently offline Josea
Messages: 56
Registered: December 2004
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At the library I was looking at 6x9 fiction books to see the formatting. I found one that was 565 pages of story (plus 2 pages of prologue) with 1/2 margins all around. It had 50 chapters. The first page of each chapter started 1/3 of the way from the top. The type size was probably 10 points. It looked that same size as magazine or newspaper text. The book was around an inch and a quarter thick. It was hard cover but I also saw a paperback with around 540 pages of story (not counting credits in front and so forth).

This book did not have chapter or author name in the header or footer. Other books I saw did have this info but on the same line as the page numbers.

I used a publishing application to see how much of Tuck would fit into a similar book. I ended up with a 566 page pdf file with the first 25 chapters. But with the first page of each chapter starting at the top.

The first chapter fits in 19 pages and the last page is less than half filled. If the '***' on top of the date stamps were removed it would probably fit into 18 pages, since there are 46 lines of text per page and I counted 45 '***'.

-Josea

Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4414] Mon, 30 January 2006 00:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Bernard  is currently offline Bernard
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Location: Montreal, Canada
Junior Member
Here goes my two cents worth...

I've read all of the saga several times and will probalbly do so again and again in the next few years. Doing so with a set of published books would be good, as a in having a friend that you can hold on to, something that means a lot to you; but not so nice if the book breaks down easily as I fear would happen with a 500+ POD book. That would be rather sad, and a waste of effort.

I have already purchased some of the POD books, such as Wanda Cunningham's "Kelly Girl" form Lulu.com. Their quality is quite good but using the same materials to cram all of Tuck into the smallest number of books would be a mistake. I would rather appreciate something smaller that also follows all of the accepted editorial standards (fonts, headers, chapters, etc) that ease the reading experience as discussed in several previous messages. If that means only 20 chapters per book so be it.

Concerning the price mark up, Erin's mentions $5 as standard value. This seems very low for me. Why not make it more interesting for Ellen to get this thing done with a larger added amount ? Won't make a big difference for most of us but it will for Ellen. We all know that getting Tuck published is going to take her quite a bit of time and effort. Why should that be free ?

Hope it all works out. I really would like to see this done.

Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4415] Mon, 30 January 2006 01:34 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Cate
Messages: 78
Registered: September 2002
Member
My preference for text size would be no larger than eleven point. Personally, I prefer ten point; but I know I'm an oddball in this regard.

As far as a title page, it is a must! No title page, no verso on its' reverse. This is an important early work in TG fiction.
As we become more accepted as a community, researchers will be looking for works like Tuck to put us in context. Look at the interest by documentarians and scholars in the early paperback fiction by gay and lesbian authors. For God sake Ellen, do you want us represented by some published version of the "Joe Bates Saga"!?!?

Besides, some archivist down the road will need that information to catalog Tuck.

Also, if you have to sue the pants off some scumbug plagarist; it's a matter of one more legal "i" that's properly dotted.
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4416] Mon, 30 January 2006 06:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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I mentioned $5 only as an example, not a standard. It was just cause the math didn't require any fractions.

Laughing
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4430] Sun, 12 February 2006 12:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iWindoze  is currently offline iWindoze
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Registered: September 2002
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Amy! wrote on Wed, 25 January 2006 18:07

Whhhhyyyyyyyy? It's part of the "experience," as far as most readers are concerned.

Readers certainly want to have as much text as they can get, I won't argue with that. However, if they want a printed book, rather than free-for-printing downloads, it's likely to be because they want the heft, weight, and attraction of a real book.

Which means paying attention to the aesthetics of the layout and the culture of the readers. Which means, inevitably, some whitespace. Whitespace is the key element in attractive layout; well-considered whitespace leads the eye to attractive blocks of text, in a format that readers expect to see (page number footers, chapter title headers), which lets them read the text without being distracted by "odd" or "idiosyncratic" (or worst of all, "amateur") presentation.

Amy!


I couldn't agree with this more. If I (or others likely) are going to pony up for a 'real' book copy of Tuck, its gotta look better than something that I could whip up in a few minutes myself at a internet cafe or Kinkos. It has to look good, it has to be sturdy, it has to be beautiful. I have to make sure I seal it in a crystal clear polypropylene to preserve it as a first print edition... Embarassed Did I say that outloud? Ahh whaddya care? It just means I have to buy two copies--one for now and one for posterity!

--iWindoze
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4432] Mon, 13 February 2006 08:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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You need a third one for lending out. Smile

- Erin
Re: Text Presentation Part Duh [message #4433] Tue, 14 February 2006 18:01 Go to previous message
iWindoze  is currently offline iWindoze
Messages: 172
Registered: September 2002
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[grins] Probably. Yeah..dang it this is going to get expensive!

...



...


Twisted Evil I know! I'll get four copies and sell the fourth one to collectors!

--iWindoze
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