“The Boy“. I’ve been picking up my ‘Proof’ and going over it – and my! – it’s good. If you don’t believe me, check out these reviews . But I’m trying to cut costs so the consumers will buy this thing. And that means cutting length.
I started like many young amateur authors – using the ‘default’ page provided by my word processor: 8.5 x 11 with 1 inch margins all the way around. I wrote it over and over et cetra ad infinitum ad nauseum until the wee hours of the morning, during breaks at work . . . here and there. Writers know this thing. Burning the coffee pot in the morning because you’re too anxious to get to work . . . *something* is driving you . . . call it ambition, call it what you want, but in “me” it was my ‘souls’ crying to be let out . . . in some kind of way.
Finally I was ready. I created the cover according to the vision I had and began looking into POD: Publish on Demand.
Anyway . . . the first thing I found out is books don’t come “8.5 x 11”; no, they come in ‘standard industry sizes’ . . . so like the 3 Bears, I found a size that seemed just right . . .
And those 750 pages changed to over twelve hundred. The paragraphs – which had looked so right in the 8.5 x 11 format – were sometimes pages long! One paragraph occupying just ONE whole page can be annoying; one going on for two and a half pages? Ugh . . . gimme a BREAK !!! (If you didn’t see the ‘double’ meaning – maybe you need to stick to “How To”.)
So . . . I had to go back through the whole book page by page, deciding what to do: how to split the overly long paragraphs at some ‘change’ in subject (English rules) while maintaining the style; not losing the meaning; breaking it down . . .
And it swelled even more. After all, you are adding lines to your book . . .
“So what?”, I thought, thinking of Stephen King’s books. “The Stand” was well over 1000 . . .
No way. Come time to submit the book – it is too long. The presses can’t ‘bind’ a backing that thick. A technical problem but I what am I to do? This stuff was (and is) ‘free’ – am I to complain to the publisher? Nooo . . . but I don”t want a bigger book. It wouldn’t look right. After all, who wants a coffee table NOVEL? Plus it wouldn’t ‘fit market demand’. I needed a ‘popular size’, one people would be willing to take to the pool. Yeah, I did do some homework.
That’s one of the lessons I learned in self-publishing, or “POD”: Print On Demand. Get some idea as to the finished product as per popular industry and market standards for your book (eg. a coffee table book would start big) – and start your formatting that way! Use the same font, page size, margins, et cetra as you wish to SEE in the finished product. Turn automatic hyphenation on (that’ll shorten your book as well – and aids in readability sometimes, especially if you use long words like I do sometimes).
Also remember: it has to be to be printable publishable files by the Publish on Demand publisher. These things are read – and judged – by a computer, not a man or woman. And in some cases (for instance Createspace), those computers can be quite picky! Make SURE not to put anything in margins. I (and others) have spent months trying to find ‘hidden characters’ that ‘they’, the POD computers won’t reject . . . it delayed my publishing by about three months, all the above . . .
That’s one of the things you gotta realize: you can either do this on your own as I’ve done – A to Z, haven’t got a clue – or you can hire someone to do it for you. I don’t know about you, but I’m living off SSDI and don’t have money to spend.
But that’s one of the things you learn. You CAN do it yourself – but getting the right start will help!!! (And remember; I started our novel “The Boy” 34 years ago; writing it by hand . . . it’s seen BASIC systems, early DOS 1.0 . . . and so on, LOL’ing! Not many options back then . . . )
So if you go to write the next great novel, bear in mind: you want to start with a template which will translate into a finished product that you – AND the publisher can stand. One that will be ‘acceptable’ by their computers and system (for instance, most call for PDF format). Nothing in the margin – even invisible anchors, comments . . . just the computer’s mumbling and notations to itself, or the byte of bit gods . . .
“The Boy” – Give it a try. You can find a free copy on Fictionpress and you’ll see. You’ll find what it’s like to be a child – understand an abused child’s mind – and for some, they will see the ‘fight’ we had over the years under the hood. I do know this: thus far the reviewers (and a few copyright buyers) have said it was good.