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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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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 23rd, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
LOL. If you'd sent me a book for crit, I'd probably never have read it for you.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm glad I didn't know about Lulu when I asked you, then. I was surprised at how much easier it was to spot problems in book form, but of course, it's NOT easier to mark up.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 23rd, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
It's funny how the format changes your perception, too. It just FEELS more like a book.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
I've heard a lot about Lulu, even bought a book through them, but I'm curious, what is the editing like? Do they print it completly the way you upload it, or do they have people looking over, making sure there are no typo's or bad grammar?
Aug. 23rd, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
You are totally on your own with Lulu, at least as far as I can tell. You provide "camera-ready" copy in the form of a Word file (or I think it can also take a PDF). If you don't want typos, you have to take out the typos. That's why there are zero set-up charges.

There are other POD publisher that do charge but they do some of the work for you. Depends what you want. In this case, since I'm not trying to sell the books, only to see what they look like, Lulu works fine—once I can ge the ^%$# headers right in Word!

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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