I have gone through my manuscript more times than I care to admit, and I’m happy with where it stands. It’s time to layout the paperback.
Originally, I thought I’d only release Tied on Kindle. After doing some research, I found it wouldn’t involve a lot of extra work to have a physical book created through CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service. I have to admit, having a physical book in my hand that I wrote will be very cool.
For those who don’t have a graphic design or document layout background, I could see the process as being overwhelming. Save yourself the headache and hire a professional. Our writing deserves that much. Luckily I do have that experience, and it was like going back to my roots, producing print materials for clients. However, CreateSpace’s documentation is very clear and after working through it step by step, I found it to be an easy process. I think most people would, as well. The CreateSpace community is very helpful as well.
My first challenge was to create a look for the interior of Tied. I had been reading the first Jack Reacher novel, Killing Floor (affiliate link), and I liked the style of that novel, so I used it as inspiration. Using Adobe InDesign, I chose a body font of 10 point ITC Galliard with 15 point leading. It looked nice, but most of the people I showed my samples to said the font was too small. I am targeting a young adult audience so I prepared a second version using 11 points over 16 points leading. This small change made a huge difference.
This gave me a very close idea of the final page count, and depending on that number, the gutters (space between text on facing pages) needed to be a minimum amount due to CreateSpace’s guidelines. When the gutters change, the book’s length changes too. The more pages a novel has, the bigger the gutter needs to be, or the spine will break to read it.
When laying out the interior pages, whether using InDesign or Word, use styles! The advantage being if you need to change the font, or spacing after the book is laid out, a change to the style is all that’s needed and that change will carry through the entire document. You have been warned.
The next challenge was dealing with all those widows and orphans. In document design speak, a widow is the first line of a paragraph sitting at the bottom of a page. An orphan is the opposite, a single line (or portion of) sitting at the top of a page. It’s accepted practice to leave widows, but the orphans have to go. The way to do this is to tighten or expand the letter tracking slightly (space between letters), stretch the letters horizontally slightly (width of letters) or a combination of both. This is accomplished easily in InDesign, but I’m unsure how to do this in Word. Doing anything in Word chills me to the bone. It can be a maddening process but it has to be done. Sorry, little orphans, but you have to go. You are damn ugly on the page.
All this is important because I need to know exactly how many pages the book is to properly create the cover, allowing for the spine width. Yes, it’s easy to loose sight of the fact that a book has depth. CreateSpace has cover guidelines and will even generate a template for you based on the size of your book, number of pages and paper stock.
I’ll talk about cover details next week. I’m beat. Those orphans are strong little buggers…
[Update, July 2020]
- Createspace has been replaces by KDP Print.
- I now use Affinity Publisher instead of Adobe InDesign.