August 23rd, 2008

Toolbox

A new tool for writers

I am indebted to m_stiefvater for a recent tip. She mentioned that she uses LuLu.com, the POD publisher, to print a copy of a manuscript in book form. She doesn't self-publish the book in the usual sense, mind you. On Lulu, when you create a project you can mark it private; no one can see that it's there except you. But you can then order copies of the book for a reasonable price (around $9-$12, depending on length, plus shipping).

I was interested mostly because my husband has read very little of my work. He reads on the metro (the DC subway), and manuscript pages are a pain to tote around. But a book now, he can carry a book.

So, I uploaded a book and in a couple of weeks, it came in the mail. It's still a thrill to see your very own book, even if it's a not-for-sale copy, but the interesting thing to me was that I saw my story in a whole new light. For one thing, I could spot the typos much better in the book than on the m.s. pages (which is contrary to what everyone had told me). For another, I could see how the scene breaks and chapter breaks worked.

The only down side is, you have to format the book yourself—Lulu doesn't charge any set up fee because you have to make your own camera-ready pages. That meant I had to convert the book to MS Word (I still work in an old DOS-based word processor called XyWrite which I love), format the page for 6" x 9", single spaced text, and put in Word headers. I hate how Word handles headers! Trying to put in no header on the first two pages of the file (title page and the blank page on the back of it) and then start a header that is different on odd and even pages (to put the page numbers in the outside corners), and start numbering with page 1 was enough to make me tear my hair out in clumps.

But it worked, and it looked pretty good! Thank you, m_stiefvater ! And no excuses now, Charlie!




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