Hey! Look what came in the mail on Friday:
After designing an awesome cover for my ebook version, Ryan Sawyer took a stab at formatting the image for a paperback binding. This proved maddening for several reasons:
1) Createspace has an automated review process that checks out any PDF you send them for a cover design. Ryan’s kept failing because the block caps of the title were too close to the bleed (that is, the edge of the printable image). That’s what we wanted, of course: we wanted to preserve the claustrophobic effect. But when Createspace flags your cover as failing, there’s no “override and print this anyway” option. So Ryan squeezed the title a bit and we pressed on.
2) Print layout is a science as much as an art. When you read a paperback novel, you’re accustomed to a serifed font of about 10-pt, with between 50-60 characters per line of text. Bigger than that and it looks odd; smaller than that and the eye tires out. Getting it exactly right took several tries, each of which meant printing, ordering and shipping another galley proof.
3) And every time I changed the font, I changed the page count, which meant I had changed the width of the spine, which meant Ryan had to do another cover.
4) Add to this the fact that Createspace didn’t always recognize the fonts I used in Word for Mac, meaning I had to save the file as a PDF, see how it rendered, make any changes, re-save as a PDF and re-upload, etc.
Maybe I’m spoiled, starting out in the era of ebooks, but page layout is a pain in the ass. Deciding what font my book has to be in? Or how many words per line? Why can’t I let the reader decide that? They paid for the book; it’s theirs to play with. And on Kindle or Nook, those options are available to you. In print, I have to govern the experience page by page. What century is this?
Having done the print layout myself (with a bit of help from Sylvia), I can see the value of paying for a professional. Not that I think I’ll need to next time: I have a template now that I can re-use for the next book in the series. But maybe a huge industry grew up around this process for a reason!
If you have friends who don’t own e-readers, but would like this book once it’s available in paperback form, please tell them what you thought of Too Close to Miss via Facebook, Twitter or old-fashioned word of mouth.