A WRITER'S WIT
Art is animated by invisible forces that rule the universe.
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Born October 9, 1906
Taking Care of the Interior
CreateSpace offers a “Supported Interior,” which means you upload your MS and they guide you through the process. Free. The “Simple Interior” offers ten “polished templates” you can use. “Simple Custom Interior” is what I chose for my book, My Long-Playing Records and Other Stories. I paid a modest fee to work collaboratively with the CS staff to come up with a look that was unique. The last choice CS offers is the “Moderate Custom Interior,” in which the staff works with you to individualize your book through formatting and typography. This means you can include up to twenty images—great if you’re writing a nonfiction book that needs illustrations or photographs. This option also adds special accents to give your book certain flair—if you like flair.
As part of the interior work, you will fill out a questionnaire. The staff encourage you to be wordy in this case, to provide way more information than they’ll ever use, but it allows them to pick and choose from what you give them to formulate a satisfying biography (at the end of the book) and back cover blurb. The process forces you, as the writer, to think about your book and conceptualize what it really is. For example, I wrote out a short but cogent synopsis of each of the fifteen short stories; I included what I believed was thematic material that runs throughout the book. I believe that CS may have used only a fraction of what I submitted, but the process did help the staff to write the back cover material with a knowledge of my characters and stories. I do think it is better if someone else writes your back cover copy; it sounds so much more objective. And because you’re paying for the service, you do get final approval.
After CreateSpace has formatted your MS, they will return it to you in a PDF format. You will want, of course, to give this proof more than a quick review. I, in fact, printed out my copy. I then placed a ruler under each line and read the MS once again. Yes, you should read slowly, word for word, aloud if you can stand to hear your own voice. The payoff will be to discover any errors that you overlooked or errors that were created by the CS software.
In my case there was a pesky case of suspension points. These are three dots . . . that indicate the halting nature of a character’s speech or thoughts. The CS software has an annoying habit of turning . . . into … The former is traditional; the latter is something the computer people have dreamed up because it must be easier to program than space dot space dot space dot. I had over 175 of these suspension points that had to be changed at my request. I am only allowed 200 changes, so in addition to sixty other changes, I had to pay an additional fee. Other formatting errors included the failure of the software to enlarge the first letter of a chapter (in my case, a story title) on a couple of stories. In one place “along time” had to be changed to “a long time,” demonstrating that even with a vigilant copy editor, a few things had slipped by. This early reading allows you to locate these errors before the book goes to print.
At this point, I am waiting for CS staff to reformat my MS, incorporating the changes that I suggested. When the second interior proof arrives, I will again reread it word for word, line by line. Wish me luck.
Ah, the saga continues. I did receive the updated proof. After the reformatting, every change that I wished for was done correctly, indicating an attentive and efficient staff! But I also discovered that in the reformatting, the software had created a few new errors, mostly where the magic software got the syllabication wrong at the end of a line! I don’t mind paying extra for my own errors, but paying for the software errors . . . not so much.
I would end by saying that PATIENCE must be the hallmark of your work as a self-publisher, because you may continue to locate errors in the second proof, some of your own, and some that the reformatting may have caused. Patience!
NEXT TIME: DIY Publishing 101-F, Marketing Your Book