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LloydBrown
01-11-2008, 08:44 PM
I have a title that might make a good self-publishing candidate. I have the manuscript finished, endorsements, a platform, and semi-distribution. I have a couple of printing estimates and most of the rest of it.

I have effectively no knowledge of page layout and no software other than Word, which I hear is not up to the task.

I'm talking to a student who's familiar with InDesign and might be able to help me out, but I'm not certain of her skill level. Besides, how would I be able to judge that, other than obvious errors.

Is there a place or book I can go to that can give me the basics of manuscript layout? A brief tutorial here would be fine. I'm surprised that searching the posts here doesn't turn up anything on this fundamental aspect of self-publishing. Does everyone else just print up their Word doc?

HeronW
01-11-2008, 09:16 PM
Self-publishing layout depends on many things:
the paper size you'll use,
paper type,
binding edge & type of binding: perfect, spiral, saddle-stitch, comb, etc,
the font type and size,
3-5 indented letter spaces for new paragraphs,
margins,
extra pages if needed for acknowledgements, dedications, chapter lists, glossary, index, etc.

Industrial printing usually goes 8 pages per sheet-folded, 4 per side, but at home use you'd be better off with letter or A4 size folded, 4 per side, your page count would be a multiple of 4. Most books now are close to 4.5 x 8.5".

A place like Lulu.com specializes in self-publishing.

LloydBrown
01-11-2008, 11:15 PM
I'm talking specifically about the manuscript layout.

For the record, I plan on doing this in a perfect-bound 6x9 tpb. I'm tentatively planning on a #50 offset paper weight, but that's subject to change. I plan on an SRP of $14.99, but that, too might increase. I don't think most of my market will blink at $19.99.

The book will have few or no illustrations, so formatting the text is all I need. The fanciest thing I expect to do is bottom-of-the-page sidebars (bottombars?) and maybe a few icons to identify certain features or topics (the For Dummies series uses these).

ResearchGuy
01-12-2008, 01:30 AM
. . .
I have effectively no knowledge of page layout and no software other than Word, which I hear is not up to the task.

I'm talking to a student who's familiar with InDesign and might be able to help me out, but I'm not certain of her skill level. Besides, how would I be able to judge that, other than obvious errors.

Is there a place or book I can go to that can give me the basics of manuscript layout? . . . Does everyone else just print up their Word doc?
A few comments.

One book design expert I know, Pete Masterson (Book Design and Production, Aeonix Press) states in his chapter on Word that you should not use it to design a book. However, he then goes on to explain how to do just that. That book might be a good starting point for you.

I have designed several books in Word, with good results. Perfect? Maybe not. But quite presentable. BUT I have been doing that sort of thing, with increasing skill and knowledge, for more than a dozen years now, and pretty seriously for the last couple of years. Yes, it absolutely can be done and the result can look good. BUT there is a long learning curve. Once the user is over the curve and knows the norms for book layout, it is not hard to use--quite efficient, actually, in my experience. (Recently I turned a rather difficult set of Word files into a 250 page book within two days and only seven hours of billed time, including turning the Word file into a pdf and some go-rounds of revisions after I received the initial file. I formatted another file, some 119K words, starting from plain .txt, into a finished book over a weekend--including cover design and all other steps required.)

InDesign is one of the often-mentioned professional tools. It seems to me that I have heard it is not best for book-length manuscripts, but I could be mistaken on that. Anyway, it is a complex product and reputed to have its own long, steep learning curve. And, of course, it still requires that the user know what a book should look like in the first place, including subtleties of headers and footers, section breaks, headings, tables of contents, font selection, and so on.

FWIW, see my Lulu storefront (http://stores.lulu.com/kenumbach) for some examples of books I have laid out in Word. You'll see that it can be done respectably. The preview function gives a grainy view, but you can see the basics, at least.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
01-12-2008, 01:36 AM
. . .
The book will have few or no illustrations, so formatting the text is all I need. The fanciest thing I expect to do is bottom-of-the-page sidebars (bottombars?) and maybe a few icons to identify certain features or topics (the For Dummies series uses these).
Sounds like a piece of cake if it starts from a reasonably clean Word file. (And even if it does not, the recourse is to copy the text and paste it as plain text into a new file. That way troublesome formatting goes away and one can start from scratch to do what has to be done. Then it is just tedious mechanics.)

I sell exactly the services you need. I'm not soliciting the business, and I am probably more expensive than you would want anyway, but you should be able to find others in your area who also do that sort of layout. Ask for references. You probably also would want to see examples of books the person has designed. A guarantee of satisfactory work is also a good thing.

--Ken

LloydBrown
01-12-2008, 08:44 AM
Well, since the information will be useful to others, even if I pass on it, what should I expect to pay for layout services? It might help as a guide if I end up giving the work to that student I mentioned.

ResearchGuy
01-12-2008, 09:17 AM
Well, since the information will be useful to others, even if I pass on it, what should I expect to pay for layout services? It might help as a guide if I end up giving the work to that student I mentioned.
Since you asked: My current basic fee is $75/hour. I do not advertise that, but it is not a secret, either.

I have no idea what others charge for book layout. Nor do I know how well my efficiency compares with that of others.

--Ken

Manny
02-03-2008, 03:14 AM
Yes but how many hours? Say a 9x6 200 page book, format supplied in word?

ResearchGuy
02-03-2008, 05:10 AM
Yes but how many hours? Say a 9x6 200 page book, format supplied in word?

In general, assuming a problem-free file, two or three hours minimum. With any complications (lots of subheadings, mechanical problems with punctuation or spacing, formatting I have to undo or clean up after, special requirements, proofreading requested), longer. This is a general statement, not a solicitation of work.

--Ken

tombookpub
02-06-2008, 07:07 AM
In addition to InDesign, have you thought about MS Publisher - easier to use, supposedly!