Guest Blog Post
Today is kind of a special day. I get to post my first guest blog post! My post last month was all about how I designed the cover for It Gets Darker. This month, Lorna M. Hartman is talking about how she laid out the book interior. It’s a great post, and I definitely learned a thing or two just from reading it. Here are a couple pictures I took of the interior layout of the book. (I was not at all biased in which story I decided to post a picture of… hint, hint, L.P. Masters is the best.)
Front page of a story
Author Bio of one story, and front page of another
So now that you know what the inside looks like, and without further distractions from me, I’ll let you get to Lorna’s post.
Inside It Gets Darker: Laying Out the Book Interior
Lorna M. Hartman (www.LornaHartman.com)
To lay out the interior of a book appears straightforward. Drop in the text, some page numbers, add chapter titles and a table of contents. Piece of cake.
Here’s where I (obviously) say it’s not as easy as it looks. This shortened version of the process gives you a bird’s-eye view of a book layout project.
To prepare for It Gets Darker’s print layout, I read the entire book. There’s no other way to get the feel and flavor of the book, and the layout must reflect that as well as harmonize with the book’s cover. Emails flew back and forth as the group decided on their story order and sent me their author bios.
I’d originally received the chapters in separate Word files from the members of Spokane Fiction Writers Group who wrote for this anthology, but It Gets Darker author Erik Schubach (www.ErikSchubach.com) later sent me a single long text file he’d created to use in his design of the e-book.
Since e-books start with a fully stripped-down file, this was helpful. When starting the print book layout with this file, I didn’t have to deal with variations in font sizes, random indents, and other surprises.
While the others worked on their parts of the book, I laid out a single chapter in Adobe InDesign and tried out different fonts and artwork. I chose to use spiky artwork to go with the book cover font, which is called Dark11 (find it at UrbanFonts). The spiky circular swirl art at the beginning of each chapter worked better than any other option.
After I landed on a good visual look for the chapter, I used the pieces of that chapter to set up Styles for the whole book. A single Style is a set of formatting details used for a specific recurring piece of the book, such as a chapter title: the font, font size, alignment, and so on.
For example, the Body Text style for It Gets Darker is 12-point Minion Pro, left-aligned, with a first-line indent of 1p6, and so on. Readers of the book will remember that there are sections of radio commentary in one chapter, and the Radio Dialogue style was 12-point Corbel with indents on both left and right to set it off visually from the body text.
Want to know what’s fun? Getting your drop cap (that big first letter) at the beginning of each chapter to left-align, which ignores your first-line indent—but keeping the indent for the rest of the chapter. I’ve long ago learned this trick, but I haven’t forgotten the entertaining experience of figuring it out for the first time. Good thing no one was around to overhear that.
Even a straightforward book like It Gets Darker, with no footnotes, illustrations, or index, took well over a dozen styles to lay out.
I also created Master Pages. Each chapter’s first page contains the chapter title plus the swirl art, the author’s name, and the beginning of the body text for that chapter. To make sure each such page was laid out identically, I created a Master Page with alignment guides. These guides show up in the on-screen layout but don’t print.
Chapter titles and automatic page numbers can also be added to Master Pages, which saves considerable wear and tear on the layout editor.
(“Wear and tear” is a technical term. “Wear” refers to the way the seat of the pants wears thin over a long project; and “tear,” of course, refers to the customary tearing out of hair as part of the layout process. Possibly “tear” also refers to the tearing of clothes in frustration, but I couldn’t verify that. It is lost to history.)
I applied this Master Page to each chapter’s first page so the guides would show up on that page. I used a different Master Page with different guides for each different type of page.
I also added the spiky swirl art to my Library tab in InDesign because it appears in two different sizes in each chapter. With both sizes available in the Library, I was able to easily drop the right swirl in the right place.
InDesign has a Table of Contents tool that uses Styles to pull out chapter titles and whatever else is to be included in the TOC. It’s not the easiest tool in the toolbox, and it doesn’t cover all the bases, but once you learn it, it does save time for straightforward TOCs.
After completing the full book layout I sent it to several sharp-eyed editor types. They sent their feedback and I incorporated it into the book–there’s no such thing as too many eyes on a book when it comes to proofreading.
Finally, I saved the file in the proper format for the publisher and submitted it. The publisher ran it through an analysis to make sure it would print properly, checking for common layout problems. Last, it went to print, and now you can buy it in paperback as well as e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.
To keep in touch with Spokane Fiction Writers Group, follow @It_Gets_Darker on Twitter, check us out on Meetup, or visit the It Gets Darker landing page. We’ve got someone working on a new website right now, and we’re in process of setting up a new Facebook Page.
Our Twitter account is active, so if you would like to be notified when the Facebook Page is up, message us there.
Most importantly, if you write or want to write, we welcome you to a monthly Meetup group meeting. We don’t just talk about writing—we write. Thanks for your interest.
What a great post from Lorna M. Hartman.
Here’s a little more about Lorna, she writes fiction from the scenic Pacific Northwest. She’s two-thirds done writing a feature-length action/adventure screenplay. See more of her varied careers at http://www.LornaHartman.com and connect with her on Twitter (@Maro_Virino).
Lorna M. Hartman