What I Learned at My Own Workshop

Have you ever wanted to design your own print books? I did, so I taught myself how. And recently, I led a workshop to teach others.

At the most recent gathering of the Toronto Indie Publishing Meetup group, I presented the FIVE MUST-HAVE TECHNIQUES FOR DESIGNING YOUR OWN PRINT BOOKS.

An exciting group of authors attended—newbies, self-pubbed, and hybrids—happy to network and connect. But the computers… not so happy. My PC ignored the projector. Sigh. Fortunately, organizer Michael came to the rescue with his own laptop. But… mine’s a PC and his a Mac. Would worlds—I mean, operating systems—collide?

I’d laboured over the PowerPoint deck. Would it work? Would it transfer? Would it be legible? Anytime you move a document to another computer, if that computer doesn’t have the same fonts installed, it’ll substitute some boring default.

It opened! Hallelujah! With my gut in knots, I scrolled through the document. All my lovely font choices had converted to Arial. Oh, no!

I zipped through the content—the learnings remained.

Whew!

With a deep breath, I began my presentation. It’s smooth sailing, until we get to the segment on sexy fonts. They’d all gone from sexy to boring.

But never fear!

I had hard copy of my work with me and was able to hold up books and pass them around.

We all know how important fonts are to cover art, but they can also be used to great effect in your interior. Here’s an example from Karen Blake-Hall’s You Are Mine*. The villain sends messages with letters and words cut from magazines and newspaper. How do I make this stalker tale more visceral, more creepy?

By reproducing the note visually in the print book.

YAMexcerpt

As a self-pubbed author and book designer, I strive for a professional look in the print books I craft. I study blogs and books, desperate to avoid the dreaded “self-pubbed” look. I follow the advice of experienced professionals, especially Joel Friedlander.**

But as I was showing off Karen’s book to the Meetup audience, I had a major AH-HA moment.

I can engage the reader in a way that big publishers rarely do.

Can you imagine an interior designer for a big corporate publisher being allowed to sift through hundreds of fonts to choose something as significant to a story as cut-out lettering?

Maybe if you’re Dan Brown or Stephen King, but for the rest of us? Uh… no.

Would they allow anything other than italics for a hand-written note? Or irregular spacing to mimic a real person’s note?

YAMexcerpt2

Nope. Not happening in a big shop.

Definitely happening in my small shop.

Have you ever considered your font choices when designing your print book?

See more examples of my work at Woven Red Sampler Page.

My favourite source for free fonts is Font Squirrel.com.

**Find Joel at thebookdesigner.com.

*Connect with Karen Blake-Hall.

Join our merry band of Toronto Indie Publishing.

Thanks to Micheal McPherson for organizing, and saving, the day!

cross-posted from Woven Red Author Services

© 2015, Joan Leacott

WORKSHOP: Get Word Working for You

Wednesday May 6, 2015, 6:45 pm to 8:15 pm
George Locke Library Meeting Room, Toronto

link to Meetup
Regardless of your path to publication or your genre, all fiction writers have one thing in common–we need to create a clean, error-free manuscript for professional editing, uploading to retailers, and sending to printers. The first step is to get Word working for you. The workshop will include an overview and, time permitting, a live demonstration of the must-have Word techniques: Styles, Margins, Headers, and Section Breaks. Don’t fight your book, write your book.

Register at Meetup.com.

Texture of Accomplishment

LonghandAndTeaIn early August, my laptop turned into a beast. It chewed through time like I chew through licorice whips. Snap, munch, yum, next hour, please.

It’s not like I was perfecting the craft of procrastination. Honest. I was working. I designed book covers, formatted ebooks and print books, updated webpages, created a whole new website. I was crazy busy and still not getting any writing done. Every morning, I put my butt in my  chair, and my hands on the keyboard and did everything except write story words.

And I was getting madder and madder at myself.

Then, I read a productivity book. I don’t usually like self-help books. I find most of them a little too “magical elixir” if you know what I mean. Just do precisely what the author says and you’ll sell a million books, lose a pound every time you blink, AND rule the world. Yeah. Right.

Anyhow, my dear friend Gina Storm Grant gave me this book. Gina has a very sensitive BS meter, so if she thinks something’s good, I believe her. So this book is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Talk about a whole new way of looking at your habits, good and bad. In the early chapters, Duhigg talks about the habit loop; cue, routine, reward.  A craving initiates a cue that prompts us to perform a routine that gets us a reward.

Here’s an example from the book; I hope I’m paraphrasing correctly. At work, in the middle of the afternoon, a woman is craving stimulation; she’s bored. She goes to the cafeteria, gets a doughnut and chats with her friends. She leaves the cafeteria feeling refreshed and ready to finish the day. However, she’s slowly gaining unwanted pounds.

Duhigg focuses on changing the routine of the habit loop. The craving is still satisfied, but without the unwanted side effects. Instead of going to the cafeteria, the woman goes for a brief walk, or chats with a friend at her desk.  The woman still satisfies her craving for stimulation, but doesn’t gain the weight.

For me, in the mornings, I craved the stimulation of creativity. My routine was to go to my desk and create all kinds of things. I was happy with what I’d created. My dilemma was there were no story words piling up on the page. So I changed my routine. Instead of going to my desk, I stayed at the kitchen table with my coffee and wrote my stories longhand. No distractions from email, Facebook, loops and groups, GIMP, WordPress etc etc. I wrote 200 pages of story, filling one notebook and making a serious dent in another.

Two hundred pages.

Totally blew myself away. Still can’t quite believe it.

So did this change of routine work for anyone else?

Here’s why Gina recommended the book: “At the time I sought out The Power of Habit, I was spending 10 hours a day at my computer, but rarely feeling I’d accomplished as much as I could have. I was also trying to form better eating habits and spending more than $50 a month at Weight Watchers to do so. I found this book helpful in both endeavours. I now accomplish more in my day and lost a total of 25 lbs.”

This is what my friend Wayne Tedder said after he took my suggestion and had been writing longhand for a while: “My heart opens up and expresses itself when I’m holding a pen. Since neither my heart, nor my pen, have a backspace key, or the ability to cut and paste, my word count while writing longhand always eclipses what I can accomplish at the keyboard. In writing longhand, I often feel that I’m not only writing a poem or story, but like I’m composing the music of my heart.”

Wayne is also the source of the title of this post. Don’t you just love those words? The texture of paper does change when it’s loaded with words, and so does the sound it makes when you turn pages. It’s such a tangible marker of progress. Somehow, more real than a number on a screen.

It’s tough job to change a habit. Understanding habit building, breaking, and rebuilding will help you get the job done.

There’s no magical elixir involved.

You can get The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg on Kobo, Amazon and other fine retailers. Gina and I recommend it.

© Joan Leacott, 2014

New Name, New Home, Same Great Course

Tips 4 WIPs + POD has a new name and a new home.

You can find Mastering Word for Fiction Writers at Woven Red Author Services. While you’re there, register for the next online class at Savvy Authors using the link in the sidebar.

On our new home page, you’ll find a Quiz to Test Your Word skills, a Tip Sheet for eBook Formatting, and a Reference Guide for Print Book Formatting.

So come on over and click around the new place.

link to Woven Red

© Joan Leacott 2014

Snakes Need Safety, Too

HalfRattlerI was out for a walk along the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay and came across this poor creature.

The massasauga rattler is a threatened species. It’s kind enough to tell you when you’re too close. Just back away and leave it alone. Choose another direction for your walk. Don’t kill the snake. He deserves a peaceful home just like you.

For more information, check out http://www.massasauga.ca/

FREE Books! July 14th is Digital Book Day!

LOTS and LOTS of FREE books at www.digitalbookday.com. But only ONE day. So click now.Link to Digital Book Day FREE Romance Books

 

Or go direct to Kobo for Above Scandal.

Instant family: just add daughter.

link to buy

Three generations of Rossetti women are hoarding secrets.

Cathy Rossetti’s secret is Hayley, her outspoken ten-year-old daughter, who’s about to meet her family for the first time. Sadly, it’s taken a terminal illness to bring Cathy back to her home town.

The elder generation of Rossetti women guards a thirty-year old secret with the power to rock Cathy’s world. Will her mother take their secret to her grave, or will her aunt break her punishing vow of silence?

Hayley hates secrets, so she’s sleuthing around Clarence Bay looking for her daddy. Is it her new BFF’s father or mayoral candidate Ryan Chisholm or Ryan’s handsome campaign manager?

Ryan has a secret, too. He’s still in love with Cathy, his high-school sweetheart. For a man running his election campaign on a platform of honesty, this could cause problems. Will dumping his popular fiancée cost him the election? And if Cathy still loves him after eleven years’ absence, she’s not telling.