Out of curiosity, would self-publishers benefit from a book detailing standard book publication format? Such a book would be trade paperback, roughly 120 pages, and priced retail roughly $12.00. The function of the book would be to aid and guide self-publishers in preparing mansucripts for publication through CreateSpace and Lulu. Maybe also bonus content would be available free through book buyer access to a password enabled Web site.
Such a book would include book template graphics broken down by page, individual paragraph and page formatting, and checklists for overall book and page fomatting using wordprocessor applications and publishing software.
In an alternative, perhaps an altogether free Web site hosting such content instead of a book. The Web site would provide free guidance but also be an outlet advertising project editing services for self-publishers. Several tiers of services would include basic formatting for book preparation, middle tier services for nondiscretionary copy editing--proofreading, in other words--mid level developmental copyediting servces, intensive, heavy developmental copyediting services, and cover and any interior graphic design services.
Many self-published print works I've sampled have numerous formatting issues, major ones being how paragraph indents are managed, page and margin dimensions, line leading and width, text justification, page sinks, frontmatter and backmatter content, and typeface choices.
Note please that preparing a manuscript for print self-publishing also prepares it for electronic self-publishing. An expert project editor may format an average length prose book in a matter of twenty hours or less. Straightforward text-only book interior may only require eight hours, if the manuscript is ready for formatting.
Many manuscript formatting codes may need to be stripped from or replaced in a manuscript before preparation for publishing output. They are the major and tedious time-consuming issues of preparing a manuscript for publication: extraneous spaces, missing spaces, tabbed indents, extraneous line, paragraph, section, chapter, and page breaks, or missing same, special formatting codes that don't cross platforms or applications or are unsuited for book formatting, like automated ellipsis points, dashes, em and en spaces, special symbols, etc., and shy hyphens. Basic nondsicretionary proofreading also is tediously, intensely time consuming, if warranted.
A shy hyphen is one that wordprocessors and publishing applications may include to break words on logical syllables so that any given text line word spacing is not overly strecthed out when justified. This is not a default setting in most text applications. InDesign, though, yes, it is a default paragraph style.
Would you be an interested consumer of the book, the web site, both, the services, or all three?
Edited to add: By the way, what about online prose publishing page format standards? Which vary widely and capriciously, whimsically all over creation's purview format-wise.
Thank you for your support and encouragements. I too do believe a strong market exists for such a formatting guide. I'll develop whichever book, website, or both as I move forward with research and composition.
Online booksellers list several how-to self publish books. Sampling them, table of contents, indexes, sample content, they're more about marketing and getting publishing access and getting the word out. They skimp on format preparation, production values, and formatting nuances.
Lulu recently overhauled their website, now offers detailed formatting and style guidelines. I found more than a few misapprehensions firmly stated as required. I give their formatting guidance a 7 on a 0-to-10 scale. CreateSpace's similar formatting guidance I give a 6.
This research is part of due diligence prewriting planning, for comparables and contrastables in the marketplace and for how and why and what ambitious self-publishers would most benefit from. So far, I'm confident a succint though comprehensive publishing format guide is needed.
I think three categories are in the self-publishing vangard of self-publishing needs: formatting, navigating publication, and marketing; all packaging as one of marketing's four corners, plus advertising, promoting, and publicizing. Before any of the publishing and marketing, packaging first of all, of course, is the writing merits, then packaging in terms of converting a manuscript to book conventions, which naturally comes sequentially next.
Many self-publisher writers overlook packaging's many benefits, first and foremost, mechanical style, notwithstanding craft, voice, appeal. Let alone how and why invisible nuanced formatting signals professional publishing. I feel any committed self-publisher writer who minds one minds the other and consumers notice.
That is one of my current writing focuses, a guide to publishing format standards and nuances. I've got quite a full plate, narratives to write, revise, submit, and track, and one poetics text, and this one, publishing format guide. So it may be a few months before I get a raw draft together.
One area I'm still looking into is electronic publishing's ideal typefaces. Sans serfif typefaces on electronic screens are less eye-straining than book Old style serif typefaces. However, book typefaces are more appealingly comfortable. Their serifs anchor type baselines, descender, ascender, lower case, and capital case lines. Their luxiourious kerning and elegant bowls, elegant strokes distinguish their readability for readers with above average reading rates. Times New Roman is not a book typeface, though; it is for serial publications and formal manuscripts: college papers.
Garamond type family, probably second next most popular serif typeface overall after Times New Roman is one typeface that is sort of crossbred between book and newspaper typefaces. Elegant, fluid, and spacious like Caslon, Jensen, Goudy, etc., though slightly smaller type heights and closer kerning like Times New Roman. Typography is an important formatting nuance. Huh. One succint chapter's worth for sure. The outline comes together.
If it hasn't been done, or if it has and there are more details you can add, I say go for it. My only caution is to make sure the prose is accessible to the average reader. But there's definitely a lot of interest in self-publishing, and any advice/suggestions increasing the professionalism of the projects will probably be well-regarded.
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Speaking of font, did you hear about the science project that determined that if the US government would switch to a leaner font than Times New Roman for its publications, one such as Garamond, it could same millions of dollars?
So if Garamond is not only less expensive for printing and easier to read, it might be the one to use, especially if people want to be able to do print as well as electronic versions without having to do any converting.
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I did hear that. My printing experiences is Times New Roman, among nonfancy typefaces, consumes the most ink, up to a fifth again as much as other serif typefaces, sans serif too. About a tenth less paper, though, than most other serif typefaces, except, as far as I've determined, Garamond, Goudy, and Caslon.
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