New: The Supernatural History Series!

Some of my new Supernatural History Series packs are done! The store can be found here.


Included in the series are newly designed and typeset editions of:

The Wonders of the Invisible World/A Further Account of the Tryals of the New-England  Witches … by Cotton Mather and Increase Mather (Boston, 1693),

A Report of the Mysterious Noises Heard in the House of Mr. John D. Fox … by E.E. Lewis (Canandaigua, NY, 1848), and

The Vampyre: A Tale by John William Polidori (London, 1819).

The new publications of these works are included in collections of artifact reproductions focusing on places and events in supernatural history. Each pack includes a book, postcard, bookmark, and other related paper goods. These unique, handmade parcels come pre-wrapped, and are the perfect gift for monster and history fans alike.

GhostPack1 copyThe Hydesville Ghost Pack and the Salem Witch Pack are available now. The Geneva Vampire Pack will be available later this month. Check them out!

Lulu Books Update & Review

littlebooks A few of the wee Victorian novels have arrived, so here’s an update.

COVERS: The covers came out great. The color reproduction is good, and the cover stock is of similar quality to that of Lulu’s premium paperbacks. It feels as if they may not be quite as slick, but that only makes them a bit less shiny. As mentioned before, the only style choice for these little books is glossy. The trim margin is a larger percentage of the entire cover for books this size, so adjusting for variations in cropping requires a bit more attention, and variations in individual print runs are more noticeable, but they’re generally pretty centered and even. It’s very useful to have the cover dimensions available in the earliest steps of the creation wizard so I can work on finishing them up while the body text uploads.

STOCK: The paper stock is of good quality. My previous paperbacks were done on cream-colored 60# paper, which is really nice—as good as Lulu gets. These books are only available in 50# white, but it is still very good paper—much nicer than “pulp” paperback

Melody Illo

Reverse-side print is visible, but not bad. Images printed nicely. Click image for a closer look.

stock. You can definitely see the reverse-side print through the paper, but not so much as to make reading difficult.

PRINT: Other than a bit of bar code visible near the spine on one last page (you’d have to look for it to notice), the printing seems good. The ink is, as with all the Lulu books we’ve done, crisp and does not smudge. The illustrations also printed true to the originals.

SHIPPING: Shipping cost is the biggest expense in the making of these books on my end, so I try to order them in batches, and I take advantage of free shipping coupon codes whenever possible. Books ordered on October 6 were shipped on the 10th (printing of these books takes from 3–5 days) and delivered on the 15th. The least expensive shipping method uses a combination of UPS and USPS—UPS delivers to my post office, then USPS takes it from there.

PACKAGING: Lulu packs their books somewhat strangely, but securely. Although these books are tiny, they come in the same large shipping boxes as bigger books. The box is strapped with plastic bands, and inside, the books are shrink-wrapped onto a large piece of cardboard. (I’ll take pictures next time I get a new batch.)

ORDERING: I’ll need to collect more reports from others on the ordering process, but one problem seems to be that if you are not yet a Lulu customer and you click on one of my links to a book and add it to your cart, at checkout you are prompted to create an account.

Pen for scale.

Pen for scale.

But when the account creation process is complete, items previously added to your cart are no longer there. It’s true Lulu’s shopping cart is not perfect, and with print-on-demand books it is pretty much impossible to make changes of any kind after ordering.

MARKETING: Although most of the marketing tools available for premium books are still there, I don’t see a way to have an ISBN automatically added to the tiny books (you can always buy and add your own).  This is particularly important to know for designing a one-page cover, as the templates still have blacked-out sections where space is meant to be left for the bar code. (There’s no bar code.) Also, it looks as if the page preview function doesn’t work on the book’s sale pages, but this issue may be a bug rather than a choice on Lulu’s part. There doesn’t seem to be any information about the issue on the site.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with these little books next. Any ideas?

The New Lulu & my Laura E. Richards Editions

I tried out the recent changes at Lulu by publishing a series of books by Laura E. Richards marie_thumbnailfrom the 1890s. The new publication process has a few changes, both good and not-so-good:

Now you can choose all aspects of your book format on the first page, and easily see which formats are acceptable for retail distribution by a green check symbol. You can also get information on available volume discounts, and the cover  measurements, including the spine width for your number of pages (important for cover design). There are more photos of the available cover styles  and bindings, Jim of Hellastoo. They have a distinction between “standard” and “premium” paperback formats now—you’ll need to choose a premium format if you want retail distribution or cream-colored paper. There also seems to be less choice of paperback finish—the formats I’ve looked at so far are only available as glossy.Melody I also noted that for the new “standard” paperbacks, there do not seem to be any volume discounts available.

The Content Creation Wizard follows the book type selection page, and it is largely the same as it was before the recent (fall 2014) changes. As before, the Wizard defaults to sending you to the Cover Wizard for cover creation, but if you have some graphic design skills, you’ll want to choose the advanced one-piece cover designer.

Rosin The BeauI made the Laura E. Richards books in the smallest available size: 4.25″ x 6.88″ paperback—Lulu calls it “pocketbook” size. They should be here soon, so I’ll post about how they came out and how they compare to my previous paperback publications when they get here.

Editing these little stories in the public domain, using a variety of sources, gave me the opportunity to spend more time learning the ins and outs of Nisus Writer Pro, which I like as a word processor quite a bit so far.  It was also interesting to look over the differences between online versions of the books, and the errors that propagate through various digital versions. (For example, every digital text version of Marie I looked at, including a free Kindle version, was missing an entire chapter.) I usually started with a .txt version of the body text, and compared it as I went along to scanned PDFs to make OCR corrections and to try to replicate some typesetting styles.

It’s been a fun project. I’ve enjoyed learning more about the work of a lesser-kown prolific and popular American author, and I’m already starting on another series.
Books by Laura E. Richards: New Pocket Paperback Editions

Working with a Line Editor

In her blog, “Disregard the Prologue,” Kate Sparkes has been writing about her experiences with independent publishing. Her post on working with an editor is excellent. She also has a publishing FAQ that deals with some of the questions she’s asked about her choice to self-publish. Included in her post is a link to another
 page that explains how much editors should charge.

Bonus link: Seven Deadly Myths and Three Inspired Truths About Book Editing.

The Great Singular ‘They’ Debate

#Abstract, by Ronosaurus Rex

#Abstract, by Ronosaurus Rex

The lovely and talented Ronosaurus Rex (author of the finely edited book Narrative Madness) has written an argument for the use of “they” as a generic singular pronounA Case for the Singular They as a Genderless Pronoun in Formal Speech and Writing.” The Chronicle of Higher Education has also recently covered the idea a few times in the recent past, largely agreeing with Professor Rex, as do I—recasting around the pronoun can affect shades of meaning, and “they” is already in common use in non-formal language (and has been so for centuries). (RR also discusses the use of “they” as a pronoun for agender people; we will comment on that usage, as well as some gender-related neologisms and current debates, in future posts.)

Books by Ronosaurus Rex (Ronald B. Richardson):
#Abstract, available at Blurb
Narrative Madness, available at Amazon (coming soon in dead tree format!)

Pietsch on Editing Wallace

We’d agreed early on that my role was to dfwshelfsubject every section of the book to the brutal question: Can the book possibly live without this?
Michael Pietsch on editing DFW’s Infinite Jest.
From Infinite Summer, a 2009 project in collaborative study and reading of IJ.
Bonus: a conversation in Slate between Pietsch and novelist Donna Tartt.

Thirty Tables of Contents

smirkThirty Tables of Contents: A Flickr set from the Design Observer Group

Some quick-&-dirty ToC tips:

  • Title it “Contents,” not “Table of Contents.”
  • ToC should always begin on a recto page (usually page v of the front matter).
  • If every chapter begins with an introduction, you can safely leave the “Introduction” subheadings out of the ToC, as the Chapter page listing will serve the same purpose.

DIY Book Care and Repair

BOOKCRAFT: Simple Techniques for the Maintenance and Repair of Books (pdf) is meant for schools and fox portraitlibraries, but provides quick reference to the parts of a bound book along with illustrated guides to their maintenance and repair.

The Alaska State Library also has a helpful series of PDFs, collectively called Conservation Book Repair: A Training Manual, similarly filled with illustrated instructions ranging from cleaning musty books and tightening loose bindings to maintaining an entire library collection.