The New Publisher
Here we are in the second decade of the new millennium and we are faced with a brand new way of serving the Lord in the Kingdom. Publishing has radically changed. The new changes are almost designed for those of us who feel called by the Lord to share the vision of what He has called us to do. The new methodologies work better for prophets, pastors, and teachers than they do for almost anyone else.
But who cares about books?
Most of us start out as bloggers these days—short, pithy writing offering a conversation. On the other hand, in a world gone mad for the flashy immediacy (and minimal content) of video, why should we worry about books anyway? The key lies in the parenthetical phrase above “and minimal content”. We all know the difference between reading the book and seeing the movie. With an excellent novel, you enter an entire world, directed by the wordsmithing of the author. With an excellent movies you are handed a very intense, but brief slice of the life of that world you entered in the book.
But even this misses the entire point of a good non-fiction book. The depth of knowledge, subtle hints, tips, techniques and all the rest provided by a book could only be handled [if it’s even possible] by a very lengthy movie. And these exceedingly lengthy explanatory movies are simply too hard to produce for a nonexistent audience. A one page, twelve step procedure becomes a fifteen minute video—and there is often subtle information available in the printed list that simply cannot be translated into moving visuals. For us, non-fiction is a Bible study.
For believers, we study a book to learn to serve our Lord better
For many believers, our life is built around a book—though we tend to use the word Bible for this collection of books. The key to why books are so important to us as believers is Bible study. Though it is true that videos get us better numbers when we offer a class, it is also true that the students learn less from videos than they do from books, writing, and research.
But things have radically changed. As a writer, most of my research and reference materials are now online. To be forced to return to printed reference works would really slow me down and I would miss many opportunity to cross reference and discover new insights.
But the core is still the book. The Lord has been using books to advance His kingdom ever since our culture was torn apart by this new technology at the beginning of the Renaissance. At the top of the list of the most important advances in the past millennium was Gutenberg’s press and the Linotype typesetter also made all the top ten lists. Readily available books completely transformed our civilization.
The new digital production techniques have stirred up the pot. Smartphones seem to have taken over the world. But have they really? The new magazines apps for the iPad and other tablets are visually exciting. But none of them have been successful yet.
I suspect that the reason behind all of this online stuff is the need for the Antichrist to have global communication he can control. He has nothing like the Holy Spirit we rely upon. That is a discussion for another day. However, the new digital world presents us with many opportunities.
How have things changed?
The entire definition of a book has been revised. This piece you are reading will probably not be a book in the traditional sense at first. It will be released the first posting of a new series on my blog, The Skilled Workman. There will be a link to a free downloadable PDF version at Scribd. This may become a fully developed book.
But a whole host of new options will come into play as soon as this is posted. I will make a downloadable PDF for Scribd for sure. But I could also easily release a Kindle book, an ePUB, and several other ebook variations. I can also offer it as a printed booklet. The new paradigm of publishing enables me to easily offer it in a wide variety of formatted options to attract and communicate with various types of readers.
Desktop publishing has reached its potential
I clearly remember how excited I was when I realized that what I had been doing (designing printing materials) with a team of forty highly skilled people and millions of dollars of equipment could now be done by a single person working at their desk.
It is true that I have taken things a little further than most by designing my own fonts, doing all my own illustrations, and so on. However, the concept is clear and the freedom to communicate in words from your computer is exhilarating. Books, blogs, ebooks, brochures, emails and much more can be directed to your sheep to help communicate the message the Lord has given you.
A servant of the Lord can now have a world-wide influence from his office. We are no longer limited by locale. The Gospel can now be preached to the entire world, and we can minister to the sheep the Lord gives us no matter where they live. More than that, it can be done professionally and compellingly without the immense barriers erected by traditional publishing.
Here are some of the things that have changed in publishing since the 1990s:
- The million dollar machines are now part of fulfillment: The multi-million dollar presses have been taken out of publishing to become an option. The same is true of the expensive bindery equipment. All of the front end design and preproduction processes are given to us as software to be loaded into our computer and used in our office.
They are now part of the creative process leading to many different types of fulfillment. The art department and prepress department of the printing companies are long gone as are the $100,000 copy cameras, the $500,000 scanners and color separators, the extremely skilled (& expensive) typesetters, layout specialists, camera operators, film assemblers, and all the rest. We, the document creators, now control all of that.
- No expensive proofs: Before the digital revolution a true proof, an actual copy of the finished product, cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Now we can simply have a single copy of our book printed—usually for ten dollars or less. Plus we can print proofs of individual pages for pennies.
- Lengthy lead times are eliminated: I can remember my shock when my first book was published. It took so long to actually get it into print. It was common, back then, to spend a year writing a book and then another year to get it actually printed and released. This is the old paradigm. Now I write fully formatted. So, as soon as the book is finished, I can give it to the proofer, and it can be released within a day or two after the copyediting changes are received.
- No minimum orders: In traditional publishing, just setting up the plates to be printed cost at least $25 a page and usually closer to $50. Plus you had to run a couple hundred copies through the press to get the first usable copy. Plus there was no real way to bind a single book on a practical level. As a result you spent a thousand dollars to get the first copy of each sheet of paper (which usually held four to thirty two pages of a book) and less than fifty dollars to get the next 2,000 copies as they were printed at 10,000 to 50,000 copies an hour. You no longer need to print up hundreds or thousands of documents to get the cost per unit price down to the place you can afford. You can print a single book.
- Not limited to brick and mortar bookstores: You can publish what you need when you need it. You can use the mammoth online bookstores to distribute your documents and books—as well as email and your own Websites. You can even serialize your new book in your blog—getting reader feedback as you go. All you need to do is give your readers a link to the finished book in Amazon or Barnes and Noble for them to get a copy.
- Not limited to print: You can offer your book in the iBookstore on the iPad, NookBooks at Barnes & Noble, the Kindle store on Amazon, at Scribd, and many more ebook venues.
- Changes and corrections are normally free: You are no longer dependent on your copyediting budget to get a professional book. You can upload a new version with typo fixes without interrupting the availability of the book. Once a book is released with an ISBN#, you can still change everything except the title and author of the book. But even if you want to change that, all you need to do is publish the book as a new book or a new edition. You can leave the old book for sale if you like, building separate readerships for similar content.
- Targeted editions are no problem: You can make specialized versions for various churches, areas, countries, and/or ministries with little effort required.
- Existing pieces from multiple books and documents can be assembled for special programs: you can take your work and make it into a custom curriculum or special presentation at the conference or church which calls you to share your work.
So, this is the free lunch
Nope! It does take work, perseverance, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and a vision from the Lord—the normal Christian life. You will need to do some reading, studying, and practicing. It is not instant success. This would be the type of thing to start in your first year of Bible school or seminary—with the hope that it will have become something by the time you graduate.
But let’s face it. Kids don’t normally have the foresight to do something like this in most cases. In fact, there is little Biblical ground to inflict the church with immature work anyway. By the time the Lord gives you something to do like what we are discussing, you are commonly well on the way to maturity. If we look at the New Testament we do not see letters from Timothy, but from his teacher and mentor, Paul. Tim was considered too young for work like that. After all he was in his forties when Paul was writing.
It takes a while to learn to walk in the spirit, to become reliable and trusted by the Holy Spirit, to learn to love in truth, and to minister effectively. It takes time to learn how to write, how to communicate clearly, how to convert the vision you’ve been given to the nuts and bolts required to work in reality.
Plus, there is a lot to learn: typography, page layout, printing limitations, ebook limitations, and much more. BUT! You can do it simply, step by step, as you grow into the publisher the Lord has called you to be.
Where do you start?
My assumption is that this is something you are already doing. You have been writing and you have a body of work you want to publish. If you are not writing, you are not a writer. This is not for people who say “I really want to write a book.” This is for people who have a lot of the book written, or a completed book, who want to get it published so they can share what the Lord has given them. This for the minister who is constantly writing sermons, columns, blogs, teachings, and the like.
In this new publishing, we can publish blog postings, whitepapers, books, booklets, essays, Bible studies, prophecies, brochures, and more. Of course, this assumes that you are writing on your computer. You already have a computer and some software. The question is whether or not it can do what you need it to do. Some upgrades may be necessary, though you’ll be surprised at how little is actually necessary.
Let’s start with the computer. The main thing is that ebooks are so new that current software is required. This requires a relatively new computer.
- You really need a Mac, but I won’t argue about it. You’ll need an Intel CPU, a monitor at least 1600 pixels wide, 2 GB or more of RAM, Mac OSX.5.8, a 100 GB hard drive or better, and safe backup storage. You’ll need a full keyboard—especially if you have a laptop with all its limitations.
- If you already have a PC, you can use it providing it meets the criteria above. Plus you’ll need to be able to calibrate your monitor. You’ll need Windows XP (service pack 3), Windows 7, or better.
- These are all minimums. You’ll actually want at least 4 GB RAM to keep working at speed and to avoid crashes. Each book will add a Gigabyte of storage, at least. So a 300–500 GB hard drive is not out of line at all.
- You’ll also need high-speed internet and a PostScript printer for proofing: You will be uploading and downloading PDFs that are often dozens of megabytes in size. Sometimes this needs to be done many times in a day. It often cannot be done with a slow internet connection.
- You might be able to get along without the PostScript printer, but your printed proofs will have to be done elsewhere—as they require PostScript. (Warning: HP’s PostScript clone is not very good. So, be careful of that.)
Adobe’s InDesign 7.5
- This is found in Adobe’s CS5.5 Design Premium software bundle. Actually, you can get by with CS4 or even CS3 for almost everything else, but you need InDesign 7.5 (found in CS5.5). You can simply upgrade InDesign.
- Only with version 7.5 can you export an ePUB from InDesign that will validate so that iBookstore and NookBooks will accept it. Increasingly, ePUBs are leading the sales of ebooks. The 5.5 upgrade from CS5 is all about easier production for ebooks. Get the non-profit or academic versions (if you qualify). A good resource for these discounts and information on whether you quality or not is found at the AcademicSuperstores Website.
- You will need InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Acrobat Pro: Illustrator is handy, as are Flash and Fireworks. But as I mentioned, older versions of this software will do fine for you—except for InDesign.
Again, reality intrudes
You will find that it is very difficult to get InDesign 7.5 without getting the rest of these minimums. InDesign 7.5 is what determines the hardware requirements mentioned above. You need the full keyboard, for example, because styling shortcuts use a modifier key plus a number from the numerical keypad. You need the 1600 pixel wide monitor because the Control panel in InDesign requires it. You need the large hard drives because these projects take up a lot of disk space. You need high speed internet to upload your finished documents.
What is On-Demand publishing?
The concept is simple. The printer or distributor stores the book on their hard drive. It is printed or downloaded only after it is ordered and paid for. So, unless there is a demand, it is not printed or downloaded. Much like just-in-time manufacturing, your book is delivered upon demand.
- You upload the digital files: and they are stored on the servers of the on-demand printer or ebook distributor.
- They print the document or offer downloads: after they receive an order. There is no warehousing and no storage issues with cartons of printed books.
- Your royalty is large: You commonly get 70% to 80% of the money received after printing costs are deducted. For the ebooks, the maximum production costs are 99¢ (commonly nothing). Even with retail books you do much better than you would if you got a contract with a traditional publisher— where a 10% royalty is respectable.
- You receive your royalties quickly: In most cases, you get the money the next month. Some suppliers delay things up to two months. And a few only pay quarterly. All of those options are far superior to the once a year payments of traditional publishers.
- You do not have to deal with wholesale orders and returns: One of the worst parts of traditional publishing comes after your book sales taper off. The retailers return unsold inventory to the publisher and you take a loss.
- Sales continue to grow: Unless you are publishing very unique time-limited work, on-demand sales slowly grow and continue to grow. Because there are no warehousing issues, there are no reasons to stop selling your books. In many cases, your sales will continue to build for a decade or more.
With traditional publishing, there is a huge marketing push and shipments to all the stores, and then all the sales happen very quickly. When that initial rush is over—so is your book. There is no shelf room for books that might sell some day.
It’s basically a very simple process
The complexity is added by the fact that the individual on-demand publishers all have different requirements for artwork. The differing formats have unique limitations. The result is that you usually have to layout your book at several times to get it in the different formats. In this way, you can have many printers and distributors selling your work at the same time.
You can add new versions as needed: As new distributors appear in the world, it is usually very easy to make up a version for them to sell. As you hear of them, you can try them out. There are no limits other than the availability of suppliers.
All of these changes were relatively frantic during the early parts of the new millennium. But they have settled down. It has been a while since a new supplier came out who captured any large portion of the market.
Well, that’s not really true either. The iPad has only been out a little over a year (early summer 2011) and it is already a major player. Its sales are getting close to matching those of the 500# gorilla, Amazon. There are some people (and I’m one of them) who expect the iPad (and maybe the Nook) to take over quite quickly.
But then Amazon is not going to sit around and let that happen. Liz Castro on her Pigs, Gourds, and Wikis blog posted news from Kindle and Overdrive (a library ebook provider) a short while ago that indicates that Amazon may be supporting PDFs and ePUBs quicker than we might think. They claim Kindle will be able to read all existing ebooks in the Overdrive system—and they are all ePUBs and PDFs. There are still more Kindles sold than anything else. It’s going to be fun to see where this all leads. The Overdrive site states that Kindle compatibility is coming later this year!
This is industry is rapidly growing & changing
The good news is that it is changing in our direction. The era of author-controlled publishing is here.
What skills do you need?
We need to talk a bit about skill sets you will want to have to do this well. Obviously, this new publishing paradigm is radically intruding upon areas held by editors, copyeditors, illustrators, typographers, and graphic designers. It has taken over the skill sets of camera operators, separators, and the rest of the prepress world. That’s a pretty daunting list of knowledge and skills.
The key is to realize that like all Christian growth it comes line by line, precept by precept. There is help available. Plus, a lot of it is covered naturally by the design of InDesign itself. Yet, several of the things you need to know are almost completely unknown outside the industry.
Typography is a good example
This was an assumed baseline skill of any graphic designer in the late 20th century. But that has been eroded by our modern video-centered world. Many modern graphic designers can barely read—if you can imagine that.
However, your readers will still expect excellent typography and will consider your output untrustworthy (subconsciously, at least) if you do not provide them with it. All of us who read have been trained by the fact we’ve seen nothing that is not professionally typeset until the last decade—except for bureaucratic stuff like Word default documents.
The good news is that InDesign has relatively good typography built in—with few modifications needed. We’ll cover some of those in a bit. But before we get into that:
What is typography?
Here are some dictionary definitions. In truth, they are helpful only to show us what typography is not. You will quickly discover that outside of our industry,publishing, almost no one really knows what it is. Even graphic designers rarely know what the art of setting type is all about.
Webster’s: The craft of composing type and printing from it; art and technique of printing with movable type.
Random House: the art or process of printing with type; the work of setting and arranging types and of printing from them; the general character or appearance of printed matter
Cambridge: the style, size and arrangement of the letters in a piece of printing
What’s unusual is that none of the dictionaries really get it. First of all, they are all tied to printing. Online typography is not considered. Secondly, they describe the physical act, but typography really has little to do with the physical act of arranging letters on paper for printing.
Obviously physical considerations and traditional shapes play a huge role in type design. But typography goes far beyond the actual shapes into cultural and subjective responses of individual readers.
Wikipedia: art of arranging letters on a page to be printed, usually for a combination of aesthetic and functional goals
Wikipedia does the best job of word definition here. What we are about is directing those responses with our craft. To reword things, I would call the art of using letters calligraphy—the craft of using letters is typography. My focus here is that craft we of typesetting on a professional level.
Not surprisingly, the best quote is from Hermann Zapf, one of the 20th century’s outstanding type designers
“Typography is two-dimensional architecture, based on experience and imagination, and guided by rules and readability· And this is the purpose of typography: The arrangement of design elements within a given structure should allow the reader to easily focus on the message, without slowing down the speed of his reading.”
My definition is simple:
Typography is the art of communicating clearly and easily with type
What do you need in a font family to make it exceptional for designing books?
That is what we need to cover here. Good fonts families for book design are relatively rare. I’m prejudiced toward my designs (after all I designed them to meet my needs), but you need to be aware of which fonts might work for you and why. Let’s start with some basic criteria for book design fonts.
- Readability: Body copy set with the font must be exceptionally easy and comfortable to read. Reading comfort is imperative to help the reader enjoy your writing.
- Extremely smooth type color: Type set with the font you choose must have excellent letterspacing and produce a smooth even texture when the type is set in paragraphs. That smooth, medium gray type color generated by the body copy is the background that you must have to easily contrast the headers—to make heads & subheads pop off the page, as it were.
- Legibility: The fonts need to be quickly absorbed when being used for headlines, subheads, captions, pull quotes, and the like.
- Oldstyle figures: It would probably help if we called them what they are: lowercase numbers. They are essential for good type color—where lining figures are shouting in that instance just as all caps is shouting in an email.
- Variety of weights: You will really need regular & bold weights, but light & black weights will help immensely.
- True, but readable, italics: Obliques simply look wrong to an educated reader. Many italics are closer to a script with all of the attendant readability issues.
I could add more to the list, but that should be enough for now. In the 1980s and 1990s, fonts that could do these things were not common. What I saw in the textbooks perpetrated on my students angered me. Most of the textbooks I was given to use were useful for little other than readily available examples of terrible typography. My students all complained how hard they were to read.
So, I made student reading comfort the primary focus of my textbook designs. I started hearing student comments like: “I started reading my assignment for the first week and read five chapters before I noticed how far I had read.” Actually, I’ve only heard that particular comment a few times—but it was (and is) really gratifying…
If you ever took one of my classes, you know how much I harped on readability—especially the importance of aperture and other factors concerning readability. There are many technical font design issues that control this. Here’s a little graphic to show you some of them.
It’s not important that you understand these seven characteristics. What matters is that you see that Jenson, Brinar, and Caslon (in that order) are the most readable.
But before we can go further, we need to define some terms. There are some basic terms used to describe type that you must understand. This is mainly true because we cannot talk about type without using these terms. I’m trying to keep this as brief as possible: Typography is really a lifetime study, but you need to get into the basics quite quickly for our purposes in this book. My goal is to show you enough to get you started.
The basic parts of type
Again, this goes further than you need to go. However, you can see how the point size of the type relates to the ascender, cap height, x-height, baseline, and descender. More importantly, you get a glimpse of things that are important in the world of typography.
These two illustrations are from my font design book, Practical Font Design: Third Edition, which is available in print at Amazon & B&N and as an ebook at iBookstore, NookBooks, Scribd, and Kindle. For an introduction to typography in publishing read Introduction to Digital Publishing which is my old textbook I used for my entry-level publishing classes. The book is ten years old but typography has not changed.
What fonts should you use?
The goal of this book is to teach you good stewardship. You can spend a lot of money on fonts. The good news is that the Creative Suite comes with some excellent fonts for book design. Included are four good fonts for body copy.
- Adobe Caslon Pro—6 weights
- Adobe Garamond Pro—4 weights
- Chaparral Pro—4 weights
- Minion Pro—6 weights
The Mac OSX software gives you several more—including those used on the iPad. They are quite pretty.
- Baskerville—6 weights
- Cochin—4 weights
- Optima—5 weights
Many of you will also have others installed by various hardware and software you have purchased over the years. What you are looking for is a professional quality serif font face. Check Font Book on the Mac. It is a free piece of software that comes with OSX to install and view the fonts you have installed on your computer. You may be surprised at some of the gems. Some you probably have are
- Adobe Jenson Pro—4 weights
- Palatino—4 weights
Any of these font families will work for you as you get into the industry and learn your craft. Eventually you will probably buy something special for your taste and style—but it certainly not necessary. If you like the fonts I am using in this booklet, email me and ask. I will sell you the 12 Fonts used: Contenu Book (4), Contenu (4), and Buddy (4) for $50.
Typography is probably the major skill set you will be adding as you learn to publish your own books. As mentioned, InDesign naturally tends to produce good typography—unlike Word. In Word it is very difficult to do excellent typography. In fact, many of the things you need are impossible in Word.
I’ll continue in further booklets and postings with some basic skills needed to use photos professionally. It requires the use of Photoshop. The next booklet will be about basic page layout.
If you have any special needs write me and ask.