For the next few weeks let’s look at what is required to build a book (not the kind where your bets are placed with that fellow in the office down the hall), I’m talking about how to pull your manuscript out of the Word file you have lovingly used to create the masterpiece and then insert it into a publishing format. There are many ways to do this, I will show you mine. I am sure there are others who will gladly show you theirs.
I also suggest that, unless you are a masochist, most of these different and distinct publishing phases can be done by hired guns. They will probably do a better job than you, but if you want to understand the process, have some frustrating fun, and can can say I did it my way, follow along.
Here are the basic tools I use to write and then produce a paper book (pbook) and ebooks.
Pen and spiral notebooks for notes, threads, outlines and research
Microsoft Word to compose the manuscript
Adobe Creative Suite CS5.5 (check it out here)
Photoshop for interior artwork, photos, and covers
InDesign for book interior, text and font manipulation, and graphic insertions
Adobe Acrobat for PDFs – most printers require your manuscript in its final form to be a PDF
I use Adobe Creative Suite CS2 (I’m 3.5 versions behind; it’s on my Christmas list). This one package contains ten individual programs of which five are critical to your book production. I suggest that, even though possible, don’t use Word as the formatting program for publishing. It may work but it’s not the best way to deal with the little bits and pieces that pop up. The backbone is InDesign with Photoshop for all graphics.
Write the book (now that was easy)
Edit the Damn Thing Until You are Blind
As noted in earlier blogs, editing is critical to the success of the manuscript (MS), there are all kinds of editing depending on the type of MS (fiction, non-fiction, cook book, etc.). Fact checking, content, story line, etc., each has its experts. There are also step by step strategies and check lists that help, but the bottom line is DO NOT to do it yourself. Think of do-it-yourself brain surgery, it starts well but soon you soon lose touch with reality. Find a good editor. I use Dennis DeRose, but there are thousands. Some are focused, some generalize, there are even a few that can help you prep the MS for an agent or editor, sorry but you are on your own here. I can vouch for Dennis, the others are up to you; get references, check them out, and a good scope of work. Remember there are two kinds of editing (actually a bunch of different disciplines – but generally content and form are the basic types). For now I am talking about a great copy editor that knows his English and the Chicago Manual of Style (one of the bibles for writers and it is online – CLICK HERE). There’s too much to know for most of us, that’s why we use an editor. They really enjoy this stuff, that’s why they live alone and don’t get out much.
I set up folders for each stage of the editing process. Original-Final MS, Editing Process, Final Edit, and folders for PDFs as they are sent to printers, I date the folders and the files. I normally work on at least three computers (I bounce around a lot, go both ways - PC and Mac), so I have a dedicated memory stick for each book. I then save the latest changes to the computer I’m on, but the stick is the critical working source – like the old fashion black and white notebook.
The best editors use Word’s Track Changes. Learn this format that is built into the Word program. It can be quirky but it does allow you to see what changes were proposed as well as approve or disallow the edit; theirs is one color yours and subsequent edits can be another color. There are no short cuts and please don’t hit the ‘Accept All’. You never know what the editor might have changed. After approving (or accepting) the revisions, save a copy in this folder called Final for InDesign and date the file name, do not rely on the last access date in the directory. If you need to go back to this file it will be there.
More later . . . .
Setting up the InDesign File
Conversion to PDFs and Printing
Dealing with Printers
Constructing eBook files