The Business of Words: The Art of Books

Yesterday, I attended the Business of Art event, in Peoria. I knew from the promotional materials that writing was not included as an Art but, as expected, I did learn a few things. In particular, I learned from Jenna Scifres that I really need to up my game when it comes to social media.

I want to whine that it is challenging for a writer to create behind the scenes video of what we do. It isn’t going to be very interesting if I post screenshots of text, right?

Actually, that isn’t true. I can think of all kinds of things I can video, or upload as still photos.

Like someone recently asked me what I do with my thumb drives. I can answer that both in terms of what I store on them and how I keep from losing them. And, I can talk about where I use them and how I organize what is on them. Believe me, I can actually make that interesting.

Jenna photographs her tools and how she uses them. I could certainly photograph the tools I use. I use a plethora of databases and writing techniques that, believe it or now, would photograph well.

My art of Writing was overlooked by the Business of Art event. This year.

I am dying to replicate the event from the viewpoint of the writer. Writers are artists. Writing is an art.

Writers also need art. The writer who can create an artistic dust jacket is rare. I have never found the courage to even try. I opt instead for cookie-cutter jackets, sometimes decorated with my own photographs. Anything to escap

But, when I teach self-publishing, I fill the room with books. We look at books. We examine books. We talk about how graphic artists, photographers and artists of all kinds add value to books. With the exception of the artist who is self-publishing their own work, books need art.

I recently discussed this in my six-part series on the six hats a self-publisher wears. The one place where self-publishers skimp is on the art of designing a book, inside and out.

Nearly every print-on-demand publishing concern offers templates anyone can use as book covers. I have seen artists selling book covers, independently from book content. Yes, even for self-published books. And why not? Jacket designers have long been employed in the book industry.

People who love books love well-designed books. I fell immediately out of love with digital publishing as soon as I saw the original eBook reader. It was as elegant as a typewritten page. There was no style, quite literally. (That’s a pun for anyone who knows that text Styles are the key to creating beautiful books!)

There is room for style, design, creativity in all self-published works. I would even contend there is a dire need for it. A book—any book–is more than words.

The glut of self-published works are creating books that all use the same margins, fonts, headers and footers. Their covers are exactly the same except for maybe a random original photograph. Most self-published books (I venture to say without researching the statistics) are published in monotone black-and-white. With no art, whether it be graphic design or photographs or original art, there is no need for color. Black text on a white background is sufficient.

I cry fowl! I crave beautifully designed books. I crave books with original design.

I crave Art when I look at a book. I expect it to be there. Nay, I demand it.

I was disappointed that my entire area of Art was overlooked by the Business of Art this year. Maybe it will be different next year, or maybe I just need to create the Business of Words.

#Self-PublishingGuru

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Self-publishing: hat #4

Every self-publisher wears six hats. Six. It’s not an option. That’s how it is.

  1. Writer
  2. Editor
  3. Graphics
  4. Technical Layout Designer
  5. Marketing
  6. Coordinator

Even if you plan to provide self-publishing services for others, you need to know the process. You need to wear six hats.

Hat #1: Writer

Hat #2: Editor

Hat #3: Graphics

Hat #4: Technical Layout Designer

The technical layout designer is the one who makes it all look pretty and function well for the reader. There are specific parts to a book. Readers expect to see those parts. The designer incorporates text, graphics and photographs to build a book.

The one rule most people break is the rule that stipulates whether the first page of a book needs to be on the right, or the left. Yes, it does matter. One new self-publisher on the scene forces your book to begin on the correct page, regardless of whether you created it to do so, or not.

That matters. That matters tremendously.

Moving the first page, either forward or backward, one page, means all your layout will be in mirror image when the book is printed. Your page numbers will be on the “wrong” side of the page. Pages you have left blank intentionally in order to keep your pagination attractive, will suddenly be on the wrong side.

Graphic Layout

Once you have graphics, put your Designer hat on. Where do graphics go? How do you make text wrap around an image? What graphics resolution does the printer need? What graphics mode do they require?

Page Layout

Publishing companies provide you with a template. But, a savvy designer quickly learns to understand and adapt the template to create a beautiful book. Making those adaptations requires unique computer skills.

Layout includes choosing fonts and embedding them. It requires a keen understanding of fonts and font decoration, deciding what margins to use, how many spaces equal a tab, and so much more.

Never select text and change the font.

Never use menus to apply fonts, font sizes, font colors, font styles, paragraph or alignment, or lists.

Always apply styles instead.

And, then when you are done, save your template and copyright it. Protect your work.

CONCLUSION

Six hats. One book. Let me show you how.  Register today.

Next time …Marketing

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Self-publishing: hat #3

Every self-publisher wears six hats. Six. It’s not an option. That’s how it is.

  1. Writer
  2. Editor
  3. Graphics
  4. Technical Layout Designer
  5. Marketing
  6. Coordinator

Even if you plan to provide self-publishing services for others, you need to know the process. You need to wear six hats.

 

Hat #3: Graphics

Most books need some kind of graphics. If nothing else, the cover needs some sort of visual design. A book should look good, inside and out.

You have two choices. You can create images yourself, or you can use someone else’s graphics.

Either way, graphics need to be copyrighted and that copyright needs to be embedded in your images. This is true whether you create the images, buy them, or use free ones. The copyright information explains who can copy—and reuse–your images. Each image needs to be copyrighted and uploaded along with your publishing package.

This information needs to be embedded into every graphic you use. It is what protects your images, or grants you permission to use someone else’s images.

 

 NEVER copy and paste an image into a document. NEVER drag an image into your book. Always use Place (Adobe) or Insert (Office).

CONCLUSION

Six hats. One book. Let me show you how.

Next time …Designer

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Building a book

Writing a book is about more than writing a book. We treasure books. We understand how to read books. A book is more than words. It can, and should be, an interactive experience.

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Lulu Author Ray C. Freeman published the FIRST EVER Augmented reality pop-up book! His book features virtual three-dimensional artwork by eighteen artists. Learn more about Ray’s book Pop Up (AR)t A Technology Enhanced Publication here: http://ow.ly/1kCo300zNKx

 

 

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Lulu Author Suzanne Conboy-Hill’s new book Let Me Tell You a Story is geared towards individuals with literacy difficulties. Her book is a collection of short literary fiction and poetry, exploring themes of relationships, disability, loss and vengeance. All sound tracks are accessed by scanning an QR code. Lulu is proud to be part of this wonderful project! . Learn more here:http://ow.ly/LK59300CoLF

hackFieldtrip! Making a QR code is easy and younger people love them. I used QRcode Generator. There are several out there but this is one that lets you create something more decorative than the traditional black-and-white QR code.

tfwf.png

You just type in your web address and your QR code is generated. You can alter the shape 14 different ways and choose colors for foreground and background. You can embed your logo in the center. Mine is a big long so it isn’t as pretty as it could be. Save it. Use it like any graphic. People scan it with their smartphone, using any QR code scanner. Your website pops up. You can direct QR users to a specific page, or to your website. In my case, I used my WordPress blog instead of my website. Have fun. Share yours! I’d like to see your QR code!

You can do really interesting things with books. Self-publishing has moved way beyond what your local copy shop can handle.

Yes, I am biased. I prefer Lulu. I admit it. I don’t work for them. I publish through them for myself and others. They offer hardcover and other options you just can’t get from other publishing companies.

#lulurocks

#thinkfastwritefast

 

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Gimme a pipe

One unresolved self-publishing issue is pipes. Browse an old copy of PC Magazine from 1993 and you’ll see that the pipe concept has been around for a long time. Basically, for those who don’t want to click-and-read, it’s a method of moving digital information from one place to another.

Whether you are self-publishing for someone else, or hiring someone to self-publish for you, pipes matter. How do you get your information into the cyber bookstore?

The person who will receive the royalties needs a self-publishing account. That person sets up their tax information, designates what account should receive the royalties, and a host of other bits of data.

The person who actually uploads the content of the book and the book cover needs access to that same account.

So if you hire someone to format your file for any kind of a book, they need to have access to your account. If you are an author, do you really want to give your Createspace or Lulu password to someone you hire? The author’s account contains credit card information, which is actually pipe in from CyberSource.com.

Once a client accesses an author’s Createspace account they have full access to edit the account so that all royalties are deposited in the client’s account, instead of the author’s.

Someone needs to invent a way for editors and layout personnel to access a self-publishing author’s account without giving them full credit card, and other payment, access.

As editors and design staff, we need to inform authors that they need to help us advocate to protect their payment data.

No client has ever asked if I am bonded before giving me their passworded information. They don’t ask for legal contract wording to protect them.

I am concerned about the liability on my part. How do I protect myself? If uploaded data is less than perfect, I need to see the online viewer only accessible via passworded access.

All self-publishing companies need to address this issue.

How do you handle this? As an author, do you give out your password to editors and layout providers?

As an editor or designer, do you log in with authors’ passwords?

#pipesmatter

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It’s About Us

I edit nonfiction more often than fiction. There are rules for editing both and not just because some people like rules. The rules exist to make reading easier.

I was recently editing a book for a writer who frequently mentioned the names of companies. Part of the rationale, no doubt, is to capitalize on SEO. So many Short Reads, in particular, are thinly-veiled advertisements. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But, if you are going to namedrop, you need to drop the correct name, spelled correctly. The easiest way to know if you are using the name correctly and whether you are using it legally is to refer to the company’s website.

No S

Comb through the Nordstrom website. Does it look like I spelled that name wrong? I have meticulously combed through the Nordstrom website and the company never uses the spelling “Nordstrom’s.”

It’s simple to find this information. It’s on the company’s About Us page. If you’re still not sure, look for a Press Release section. Nordstrom always says Nordstrom.

05/16/16 Nordstrom Brings 1,600 Jobs to Toronto for Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Stores
05/15/16 34th Annual Nordstrom Beat the Bridge Race Results
05/12/16 Nordstrom Reports First Quarter 2016 Earnings
04/28/16 Nordstrom to Report First Quarter 2016 Financial Results on May 12

How do you spell Ray-Ban? The company hyphenates it and capitalizes each word.

Book layout

Speaking of Ray-Ban, if you need a photo of sunglasses, it is illegal to copy one from their website and print it in your book.

How do you know? Well, first of all, you should assume that it is illegal. But, Ray-Ban makes it perfectly clear on their terms of use. Copying images and citing the source is not sufficient. Don’t do it unless you have permission, in writing, from the company. The company often doesn’t own the artwork. They have likely purchased it or hired the photographer and have a legal agreement with the photographer or artist not to give away the artwork for other people to use in for-pay publications.

There may be exceptions, for educational purposes. But, be sure to read the copyright permission, as posted on the website or available directly from the company.

copyrightInfo

Give credit. How do you know how to credit artwork? The website often explains the rights and cost of use, for how long, in what kind of publication and in what part of the world. In the above example, the rate varies based on use.

upclose

That seems like a lot to keep track of but it isn’t. Photographers and artists often embed the ownership inside the image. It is your responsibility to know that and to give credit where credit is due.

hack Need to copyright your images? Need to know if an image is copyrighted and by whom? Open the file in Photoshop and open File/File Info. No, I didn’t stutter. That’s really the menu option. There is a Copyright section where the owner or creator can add as much copyright info as they need or choose.

tonyFrench

Play nice. You wouldn’t like it if someone made money or a reputation on your words without compensating you. Support the arts community.

#thinkfastwritefast

 

 

 

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