A Guide To Self-Publishing Part III

Posted on: 15 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Johnnie Johnson's next installment on self-publishing.


Now let’s have a look inside a book, any book. Let’s look at the pages and immediately you’ll see that there are several preliminary pages before the text begins. These prelims are sometimes very lengthy. The book I am currently reading, Kate Summerscale’s ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ has 23 pages of prelims with a prologue and lists of characters. But my guess is that you will not require quite so many.

Ms Summerscale also has 55 pages of back-matter: notes on each chapter; a list of illustrations; a bibliography; acknowledgements and an index. And she needs these. It’s a work of considerable scholarship. If you are a non-fiction writer you may need some of these.  If you write fiction it’s just as simple to put acknowledgements among the prelims and avoid back-matter altogether.

So, let’s get on with the prelims. I shall try to indicate the general rules. When you open your book, the first page you see is on the right hand side. This is the recto. Turn that page over and the page on the left is called the verso. It’s the reverse page. Here is how you may use the prelims.

Recto 1 – leave blank or give only the title or autobiographical detail

Verso 1 – leave blank

Recto 2 – title page – shows title, author’s name, publisher’s name or logo

Verso 2 – printing history – details of copyright, publisher’s address, ISBN, details of typeset and where printed.

Recto 3 – contents

Verso 3 – leave blank

Recto 4 – text always begins on a recto page; all recto pages have odd numbers; take into account the number of prelims there are including any blanks. This text begins with page 7.

Do look at other books. They will have other arrangements of the prelims but the general rules are as I have expressed them

So what else matters? Well, you need to select a typescript that is appealing.  Again see what other authors favour. I rather like Garamond but have a look at the fonts on your computer and again look at other books.

I could go on at length about margins. These are important because decent margins make a book easier for the readers who do not like cramped text. As a rule of thumb I think that 15mm width is the minimum for the outer margin but beware being too mean with the gutter, that space between the verso and recto pages. If you are not generous enough with this spacing you may find some of the text slipping down the gutter.

If you bear these matters in mind, you are well on the way to producing a book that looks good.  Then, it’s off to the printer with your disk.  Perhaps you will discuss the whole business with him in detail. At least you will have some of the language. If a firm does the layout for you, you will have been able to tell them what you require and when the proofs come back you’ll be able to see if your book is as you want it. And get rid of all widows and orphans!

Just another little warning. Altering the proof is easy. All you do is make your recommendations in the margin against what you wish to have changed. But do be careful. Changes can be costly. Get it right before sending the disk to the printer.

I expect that your printer will print more covers than are needed. Ask him if he will let you have them. He will. And you can use them for advertising purposes.

By Johnnie Johnson

About The Author

Johnnie Johnson and David Arscott have written more than 60 titles between them, both fiction and non-fiction, and have a broad experience of both mainstream and self-publishing.

Now the two local authors with a wealth of publishing experience between them are organising a day's seminar in Lewes to take writers through the process of organising your book, hardware and software, designing a cover, preparing your book for the printer, costing and pricing and promotion and distribution.

Their seminar is at the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes, on Tuesday, 21st October, from 10am until 4pm.

The fee is £100 a head, including morning coffee and tea in the afternoon. The Tavern serves snacks and lunches.

For further details contact David or Johnnie by Tuesday 30th September on:

Johnnie Johnson: 01323 725524 or johnhijo@btinternet.com
Website: www.johnniejohnson.co.uk

David Arscott: 01273 470100 or pomegranatepress@aol.com
Website: www.pomegranate-press.co.uk.

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