Five weeks after the first day of the second new year
Last week Author cut the post short, because the same busyness that was its subject led to her work on her next book for you constantly pulling at her so that she was less focused on the post than she thought she should be. And so this week she wanted to return with more of what she had to say there, share with you more of what being busy is about these days for Sister and her.
Work on Author’s current book for you is still filling her time, but formatting is now far more dominant than content. This is the stage of the work where Author sits in front of everything she has, which is two manuscript formats (the ebook in Word and the print in Indesign) and the formatting-related checklist for each. Unlike the content-related checklist that includes items that are relevant to both formats, such as common misspelling errors, these formatting checklists focus on layout-specific items, such as indents that might have been removed or added (this happens sometimes during the conversion from Word to Indesign, Author still needs to figure that one out), or page numbers that have so far been added automatically and need to be checked in the Indesign document if you don’t want certain pages, such as the title pages, to have page numbers, or, in the ebook file, where the page numbers need to be entirely removed. These and quite a few more items that need to be checked and taken care of, and this can only be done after all content-related work has been completed, since any change in content can introduce new formatting errors, such as, say, a space between a word and an end-of-sentence period, or perhaps page number discrepancies where a new page might have been added to a chapter.
What else? Oh, yes. Author is getting ready for the next book she’ll be writing. As you know, she doesn’t start working on a new book until she is finished with the previous one. As in, completely finished, that is the ebook is ready for upload and the printer has the paperback text file. But one thing Author did do: she paused her formatting work on the current book to make sure she has what she needs to proceed with the new book, the necessary reference and research material. She could do that because she already knows what the new book will be, and she knows what she wants to do with it. She thought it was a good idea to prepare, so that she can get to work on it without delay as soon as the one she is preparing for publication now is ready. But more on that new book after this one is out of Author’s hands and in Sister’s, okay? Every book deserves its own, undisturbed time. Although Author will say that it’s important—and it’s nice, too—to know there’s another book waiting after this one, some more intriguing work on a future publication.
The cover for the current book is ready, by the way. It was supposed to be ready earlier, and it was, but then Author and Sister decided to make a change in the print book’s back cover, one that would improve it. That change has now been made, and Author and Sister have just received the new cover. So looks like it’s time to wrap up that side of the work. All that remains is for the cover designer to close a final cover file for the ebook, which will later be uploaded by Author along with its content file, and the one for the paperback, which will be prepared by the designer to the printing company’s specs and later sent to them by Sister along with the final manuscript text file. Of course, for Sister, finishing with this cover means moving on to the one for the next book. Because one thing that Author and Sister have learned is that the cover preparation process—from building its concept, through bringing it to life in a number of possible designs, to selecting the design that makes you say ‘yes, that’s it’, to finalizing all the details that need to be included in a cover (the right font, a back cover blurb, a bio and an ISBN), is a lengthy one. And keep in mind also that you’re working with a designer, who needs time to come up with ideas. Creativity needs some freedom, after all. It’s quite a bit of work, and important at that: a cover, never forget, is the gateway to your book. It is the first thing that people see, and it should attract their attention when it’s displayed among other books online or sitting on a shelf beside print books in a brick and mortar bookshop. And while we’re at it, Author has just taken a break from this post to heat lunch and had a talk with Sister, who has a serious message for you on this subject, one she’s reiterated twice: don’t design your own cover. Get a professional to do it. You’re a writer, you know words, you have a feel for them that others don’t. A good cover designer has the same feel for images, for how your book should look. And you’re after all the one who chooses the cover that best reflects your story, so don’t worry about handing this part of the work over to someone else. Choose a cover designer, make sure they know what the book is about and what you want, and let them do their job. And you, just focus on what you do best.
Right then, back to book-work, but not before Author and Sister’s tip for you in this second part of the ‘explaining busy’ posts. And how about a forward-looking one, in a week when it’s so easy to drown in endless details and forget that there’s something beyond? Here it is, then: remember last week Author said that you should do your thing, publication day will come? Well, guess what. When it finally does, you’ll be able to move on to your next book. Busy again with new challenges, immersed again in a new story, enjoying again the next word that you put on the page—exactly the right word, in exactly its right place, exactly the way you just seem to know it should be. This is what you do, after all. You write, and you will keep on writing, and you will put the whole of yourself in every book that you write, and then continue to the next. There is always the next book, more of that pure writing work that you love to do, more of the excitement of creating a new story for your readers. Never forget that.