Sending Us Your Manuscript

An Unmolested Manuscript is Best

We see a lot of interesting things come in at Gray Dog Press. And it’s not just the content of a manuscript it’s how some of them come to us “ready to go”! Laying out the text for a book is considerably different from just about anything else I can imagine. While not necessarily difficult, there are conventions to follow, techniques to consider, and styles to use. If anything it’s time-consuming.

In most cases, really, I have to emphasize most cases, what we get and is considered ready to print is far from it. Some authors will not take the time trying to set it up which is usually better than the one who spends hours formatting and then finds out little if any of that time will be kept on the final product.

It’s not too much like the sign at the service station: Rates: $50/hour, $75/hour if you help, $100/hour if you worked on it first.  If we have to take the time to undo what was done so we can get it going in the right direction and end up with something that is printable it can easily add 10%-20% to the cost of the layout.

We can usually run through the entire text of an average novel in a couple of hours and have the bulk of it set up. Then it’s a matter of details such as defining and applying styles, setting sections and page breaks, headers, footers, hyphenation, and going after those pesky widows, orphans, and runts. That’s where time gets eaten up. You can probably paint the bedroom walls in an hour or so, but finishing that trim work seems to go on forever.

So when someone asks, “What do you want me to send?” Although cash is the first thing that comes to mind, I give them the following…

Specifics on Sending us Your Stuff

1) Regardless of what method you used when you were writing the manuscript, when it’s ready to head our way collect everything into one file. Sending 30+ files just adds to the time I’ll be charging to put it all together.

2) Don’t waste time on formatting. If you can’t figure out how to get Roman numerals in the front matter and Arabic in the body don’t worry about it. Headers and footers are the first thing to go. Also, use page breaks to go from one chapter to another, do not ENTER, ENTER, ENTER, a dozen times to start the next chapter on the following page, again, it takes time to get rid of that.

3) Don’t insert or embed images. Simply use a bold line with something like: “image-001.jpg goes here” and we will try to get it as close to that location as possible. Going from the 8-1/2 X 11 format the manuscript in to the 6 X 9 format you want your book made into is going to move text and images around. We will be using something other than Word or Open Office to finalize the book and moving from those to something like InDesign images do not copy over.

4) Send the images separately. If it’s more than a few, put them in a zip file. Make sure you have at least 300dpi for photos, and 600dpi for line art. And a raw photo is always better than one you have doctored to crop out the black sheep of the family. Let us know who he is and we’ll take care of him. If the best image of X you have is about the size of a postage stamp, no, there is nothing I can do to make it the cover image on a 6 X 9 book. Either pick something else or find a larger image.

 5) If you want a professional looking book then, no, using Comic Sans (Or Papyrus, or Monotype Corsiva, or…) for the text and some other goofy thing for the headers is not going to work. We have plenty of fonts for just about any situation. But when you get down to it, there are really only a couple dozen that are used in book design for the body. And many more for the headers and titles. the key element is for the font to be properly licensed and embedded into the run file. Most of the free fonts will not work to get a quality result.

Just Ask Before You get Too Far

Sometimes we can save you a lot of time, aggravation and money if you ask what we need and how we need it. In many cases we can work with you to save a bunch on the layout of your book. Really! Just ask.

The Elements of Book Layout

In a recent conversation with an author we were discussing the various “parts” that make up good book layout. After looking over what he had I made a number of recommendations. He did not layout the pages but had a friend or relative do so and the idea of correcting their work was giving him some anxiety. Unfortunately, I see this all too often. If whoever is doing the work would just look at and mimic a professionally designed book interior at least they would have the elements in the order of what is generally accepted.

So what are the various parts of the book and where are they? The three primary parts are: the front matter, the chapters or body of text, and the back matter. And, each of these are made up of specific parts in a specific order. Continue reading

Resurrecting Your Lost Manuscript

If you have an older manuscript that was published a few years ago and do not have the original text file available what can you do to resurrect the text so you can make a new edition or possibly offer it in eBook form? Or maybe your computer crashed (this is where backups are handy) but you have your work in a printed form.

In the last few years OCR technology has made great strides and continues to advance. Not too far back you would be lucky to correctly retrieve maybe 80% of a fairly clean hardcopy text. Now, scanned properly you can see on upward of 98% or better. For as many as we have converted, I’ve never seen a 100% correct conversion but I’ve seen a couple that were very close. Continue reading

Your Two-Sentence Summary

So you are at a book signing. You are sitting at or standing by a table with your books on display and what’s this? Someone is looking over? What? She’s heading this way! She’s in front of the table! She asks, “What’s your book about?”

Now what? While you have put years into developing the book and you can go on for hours about the characters, the story, and the setting. Don’t. Just stay calm and give them your two sentence summary.

Two sentences? What? That does not even begin to describe the book! Yes, two sentences, quick and concise. This is also referred to as the “elevator pitch.” Continue reading

What you need to do before you publish your book

Whether you are going the traditional publishing route or are self-publishing there are a number of things you need to do before the book makes it to market.

First, you need to create an awareness of your book. Let people know what it is, when it is coming out, and why they will be interested. Social media has become an excellent vehicle for getting the word out about your forthcoming book. Most of it is free except for the time you put into it. If you are a writer, you should be able to write something about it. Are you excited about the book? Let people know why it’s going to be the best thing they will read this year. Continue reading