How a Book is Born: Copy doesn’t just jump off the page

November 5, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Posted in Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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You never know what you don’t know until it hits you in the face. That’s my new motto.

For the past 16 years I have been the publisher of two niche magazines. I have been responsible for getting at least 250 publications to press. On the other side of the coin, I am also an avid reader. So how hard could it be to oversee the publication of one book?  As I look back over the last year and a half, I realize that I didn’t have a clue on how to approach this new project.

I had my author and the rough edit had been completed. What about an illustrator? It was only then that I realized that I couldn’t see an illustrator until I created chapters and completed the layout. Layout? With our magazine we studied which fonts work best for families…that which is most easily readable… and what works for older adults. But what do we use for kids? I know I wanted an easy to read font but fonts are not part of my expertise. So I turn to my two favorite sources…the public library and bookstores. I copy pages from books that I like. For example, I love the font family used in Cornelius Funk’s books. (Actually I love her storytelling techniques. Ever read The Thief Lord?)

So what fonts do I have to look for…body copy, chapter headings, table of contents, illustration captions, cover copy, book title, author and illustrator copy? It’s too much for me so I turn to Philip Ritzenberg, a longtime newspaper designer who has won many awards. He admits this is his first book (Mine too. So we are in good company.) but he feels good design is good design.

He uses some of Gloria’s story copy and completes layouts for my review. Not only do I have to approve the font, but the font size, spacing between lines, page size and margins and more. Decisions don’t come easy but I finally choose Nimrod for the body copy and Clearface for all chapter heads.

Now more than ever I realize that I have to turn to experts to produce a quality children’s book.

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