I took a break from reviewing and editing this morning to figure out some formatting issues. The font I had chosen originally for its nice look turned out to be too fine and faint in print. The printing didn’t translate well, and the headings actually got changed to smaller fonts than in my original, so that’s no good.
My brain has been full of neurology and neurobiology and neuropsychology for quite a while, now. And it’s nice to take a break and focus on something as straightforward and objective as making sure that all the 10.5pt Caslon540BT fonts got changed to 12pt Constantia.
I’m sure it doesn’t sound thrilling to everyone out there, but to me, it is.
There’s something very fulfilling about coming up with the right font. Setting the right margins. Finding a visually pleasing balance between a chapter heading, a leading quote, and the text. Tracking down all the improperly indented first paragraphs… resetting styles… making the often difficult choice between italics or bold or a combination of both.
Each font handles things differently. And how things look in print is often different from how they look on the laptop screen. So, it’s always important to get a proof copy up front, to make sure your vision carries through to the finished product.
Print-on-demand can be tricky stuff. They can replace your custom fonts with their own. They can trim your pages so they have a different margin than you want. All in all, the technology and techniques have come a long, long way, since I started in it, back around 2000 (or thereabouts). And the improvements have been great. So that’s a relief.
Of course, when you’re putting your own work out there, it adds to the work at the end. Probably the most problematic thing is how distracting it can be, when you start thinking about formatting before you’re done writing. Then again, as you’re writing and choosing your images, you have to keep in mind how the whole book is going to flow, not to mention how it will affect the overall presentation and ultimately cost. My 150 pages in the smaller font has expanded to nearly 200 pages with the larger font. I’ve shrunk the spacing of the text so it’s more compact (but still readable), and I’ve adjusted the page margins a bit. Another 50 pages to print will add another $1 to the production cost, so I have to consider that, as well.
Choices, choices. Tradeoffs galore.
Okay, I’m done thinking about formatting stuff. I need to run to Lowes to buy some home repair supplies. And later, I’ll get back to my reviewing.
It’s good to take a break. And it’s even better to know when to get back to work.