Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.
When you set out to self-publish a family history book you need a variety of skill sets. These skills include research and writing, but there is another there is another type of expertise that many family historians overlook – technological skill.
Let's take a look at what it takes to create a beautiful heirloom quality book.
When you’re writing a non-fiction book, it’s a great idea to include headings and possibly subheadings in your manuscript.
Headings and subheadings not only help keep you organized and stay focused in your writing, but it also break up the content into manageable chunks for the reader, provides a visual break on the page, and assists them in locating the content they want to read.
These features can be easily added using the Styles feature of your word processing program.
Are you thinking about publishing a family history, photography or children’s book on CreateSpace or Lightning Source? Have you thought about what size the book will be? Before you start working on illustrations or editing your photographs, it’s important to decide what size of book you’ll be printing and where you’re going to print it so the illustrations fit well on the page. You don’t want to have all the art finished and then find parts of the illustration are going to be cut off or you have to leave empty space at the top or bottom of the page to fit it all in.
You have just completed the manuscript for your book. You are ready to publish and , after reviewing your options, you have decided that you will publish in e-book version only. After all e-books are the wave of the future, especially among younger readers who have grown up online.
Before you go ahead you should check out the Washington Post’s recent report that “wired millennials still prefer the printed word.”
Are print books an endangered species? You can find plenty of people to argue either side of the question. But if you find the whole debate a bit tedious and would be happy to continue reading your print book, you’ll get a chuckle out of Swedish furniture retailer Ikea’s video announcement of its 2015 Catalog.
You’re in a bookstore or at an event looking at a book and it’s so poorly designed that it’s distracting to you and you choose not to buy it. I’ve had this happen so many times that I want to write the authors and tell them about our book design services before they print their books again. Whether a book is designed by a mainstream publisher or is self-published, the design needs to look clean and professional.
Two of my new clients need me to perform OCR on their books. OCR, you say - is that like CPR? Sort of. OCR, or optical character recognition, can save the life of a book that would otherwise die in this digital age. It allows us to scan hard copies of books, one that are not already on a computer, and to transcribe the text into a word processing program like Microsoft Word. Then the text can be edited and designed just like a modern book.
Last weekend at the Wordstock Book Festival in Portland, Oregon I had an opportunity to talk with Beth Anderson, Executive Vice President and Publisher at Audible.com. We discussed how an author can get a book or ebook produced as an audiobook.
This spring Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, launched a new process for creating audiobooks called The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) Audible describes ACX as “a dynamic online marketplace, production platform, and sales system. ACX directly connects professional authors and other book rights holders with actors, studios, and audio publishers to…provide an easy way to turn professionally published books -new or old – into professionally produced audio books.”
Here's a short YouTube video to describe the process.
We deal with printers all the time. Every book we make has a destination: perhaps into the hands of a consumer, or perhaps to a darling grandchild. Our goal is to match our authors with the right printer for their needs. There are many printers offering an array of features, and we’ll examine the options here.
As an author, you are concerned about how to get your book into print, within your budget. For commercial books, the goal is to keep costs down. However, if you are printing a book for family and friends, you may want to pay more for higher quality, longer lasting book.
Writing a book is a creative challenge, but getting it into print is a technological one.
As we prepare for RootsTech, the annual conclave in Salt Lake City, which blends genealogical and family history research, storytelling and the latest and greatest technology tools, it seems like a good time to look at the dual challenges of creating a book.
The graphic below traces the author’s journey through the creative process and the technological tools that are required to produce a professional quality book
How do you make your book stand out from the thousands of other being published each year?
It all starts with your cover.
Chip Kidd, a top cover designer at Alfred A. Knopf, who brought us the distinctive book cover of Jurassic Park, and one of the best-designed, all-around-best books on my reading shelf right now, Haruki Murakami’s IQ84, explains: “The book designer’s responsibility is three-fold to the reader, to the publisher, and most of all to the author. I want you to look at the author’s book and say, ‘Wow! I need to read that.’”
“It’s a billboard,” said Peter Mendelsund, Kid’s colleague at Knopf who designed the cover for the Stieg Larsson novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels. “You hope yours shouts the loudest or entices the most intriguing way."
A bad cover shouts out in a different way. “The first outward sign that your book is self-published is a crappy cover design.” said Guy Kawasaki, APE: How to Publish a Book.
Let’s look at some excellent covers and some thoughts on what makes them effective.
It's hard to describe what I do. I help authors. As you know, it’s easier to understand a process when you break it down into manageable steps. Like a recipe; you just gather the ingredients, prepare, cook, and serve, right? Yes, but it’s not really that simple. Experienced cooks know that there are lots of choices, methods and tools at each step, and these will determine how the dish tastes.
My guide for authors outlines “6 easy steps” - to imagine, plan, create, edit, design and publish. At each step, some authors will need help. It’s my specialty to know all of the choices, methods and tools, to prepare the book right along with the author, and to ensure the final product is excellent.
I’ve never identified with the term “book shepherd.” That implies that authors are sheep who need to be driven with a stick. I am a mentor, a skilled craftsman, and a seasoned veteran. I don’t push or carry anyone. My job is to carry the ball into the end zone. The team scores.
How can you tell the difference between a Saturday night B-movie on the SiFi Channel and a Hollywood blockbuster like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus?
Simple. Production values. The blockbuster has the budget and the special effects wizards to create a world that appears real and plausible. We are drawn into it. The B-movie creates a world that might have provoked us to say, “Man, that’s fakey!” when we were kids at a matinee. It distances us from whatever merit the script might have.
Keep that in mind when it comes time to self-publish your book.
Do you buy hardcover books? Nice, but expensive, right? There is a place for hardcover books, and that is exactly when you want to create that impression: nice, and expensive. These books are “keepers” and are meant to last. They are also great as gifts or family heirlooms.
Mass produced hardcovers in bookstores are affordable for big publishers because they use an offset printer. You would need to order a minimum of 500 books to get these lower costs. If you can sell that many, go for it! Or you can print a few hardcovers, and then release the same book in softcover and/or as an ebook, as some of your buyers may not want a nice, expensive keeper.
The general rule in scanning photos for inclusion in a print book is that they be scanned at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. What’s important to understand is that means that the quality of the scan will be acceptable if it is printed at exactly the same size as the original. A 4”x6” photo scanned at 300dpi can be printed at 4”x 6” or smaller in the book. But that’s only part of the story. If you want to enlarge the photo size in the book the original must be scanned at a much higher resolution. The Scantips.com website gives a good summary of the basics of the relationship of scanning dpi and print size in an article Pixels, Printers and Video – What’s With That?
Self publishing authors who are working on manuscripts often try to mix two steps of the process of creating a book – writing and book design. This is unfortunate, not to mention often frustrating. What happens is that these authors try to format their books in Microsoft Word and place their photos as they create their manuscript. When they edit text the photos move from the spot they were originally placed. Word 2010 is better than previous versions, but the reality is that it’s not a tool for book design. A printer will ultimately require a manuscript designed in Adobe Creative Suite’s InDesign software. So let’s look at a better way to manage your photos as you create your book.
If you haven’t yet explored the TED talks (TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading) check them out at http://www.ted.com/talks. You’ll be sure to find something that speaks to your particular interests.
For me, that particular interest is in books – reading them, making them, sharing them. So this talk from Chip Kidd, king among book designers, pleased me to no end. Chip Kidd brought us the distinctive book cover of Jurassic Park, and one of the best-designed, all-around-best books on my reading shelf right now, Haruki Murakami’s IQ84.
Chip Kidd is clever, he’s funny, and he is right on about books! Check out his performance for a laugh, and maybe it will also inspire an idea for how you’d like your book to look.