Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beauty in the Details.

by Louis Bertrand Shalako


All Rights Reserved

The beauty lies in the details, but by focusing in on one thing, we might miss out on another. Having taken a little time to study what I did, and then how other people do things, I now have a basis for comparison.

My e-books seem to be formatted pretty well by the standards of the day and bearing in mind the diversity of devices they are expected to operate in. That seems fine, and as I read more e-books, I will probably find better ways to do things. This is true in any industry, and as far as 'newbies' go, I'm not exactly hopeless. Also, as an author, my primary focus is on the writing, not the typesetting or book design.

I care about the story and who reads it. That is what I tend to focus on in terms of skills development and even simply 'reading for the job.'

In that sense, I think I did a pretty good job, even to get into Smashwords, for example. They call it 'the meatgrinder' for a reason, ladies and gentlemen.

I can crack open any number of paperbacks and see that my work varies from the norm. For one, mass-market paperbacks are expensive enough to produce. It is also my assertion that ten percent of all production is wasted. Again, this holds true in any industry.

They need to save paper, and even ink. They need to save time. It's a competitve business. They might in one case have three blank lines at the end of a chapter, and then the start of a new chapter. This might be on the left-hand page. It doesn't bother me, and I had to make a few compromises in my own project. For one thing, on Lulu, a 411-page book is the max in the 4X7" size. There was simply no way to add more blank pages or end matter. It is true that a little compression of the text, by laying it out exactly like a mass-market book might have saved a few pages.

In that sense, my layout is a 'mistake.' However, on a POD platform such as Lulu, there is no possibility (at least for my own purposes,) of 'ten percent waste production.'

The key to any system of setting type is readability. It has to be smooth, neat and unobtrusive. For another editor to look at the work, I suspect with my layout this is not the case, but of course it is the end user, the reader that I actually care about.

Conformity has not been my strong suit in the past. An editor once put red ink all over my page.

He said, 'Don't mix up two persons' dialogue in the same sentence,' and as far as I know he's still right.

'Don't mix up two people's thoughts in the same sentence,' he wrote.

By focusing on the one thing, I missed the other. And now, you know the rest of the story.

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