Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Write books, not just words

For much of the 20th Century, writers composed their masterpieces on 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of paper. Later they used word processing software that emulated the same size and shape.

Also traditionally, most authors have a specific word-count in mind, such as 70,000 words, as they write their books.

But when I'm working on a book, I usually have a specific page-count and price in mind, such as 300 pages/$19.95 or 400 pages/$29.95.

And rather than just spray words onto my monitor, I set up MS Word for the actual page size of my book (usually 6 x 9 inches) and correct margins, and start writing a book.

By viewing actual pages, it's much easier to judge my progress, and to know if chapters should be chopped or stretched or shifted, and when illustrations should be enlarged, reduced or moved around.

And I alway insert a temporary left-hand "page zero" ahead of the real right-hand "page one" so I can view pages as realistic two-page spreads, instead of onesies, or with left-right-reversals.

This is not very important if a book is all-text, but if you have photos or illustrations or tables, it's important to view the spreads as your readers will see them, to avoid graphic disasters.

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