Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why Comb Bound Reader Copies?

Today was the day for printing and binding...no, it's after midnight.  Yesterday was the day.  It's a long slow process to produce this very limited run of a pre-pub novel so that a handful of helpful people can read it and scribble all their notes all over it.  The printer glitched a number of times.  I ran out of toner for the laser printer.  Working the comb binder kills my back, so I have to build these over several hours with break time in between.

And it's certainly crossed my mind that I could print the novel to a PDF, upload it to Lulu, slap a default cover on it and have them printed and shipped to me for not too much more than I'm spending doing it all manually.

But I won't change any time soon.  I think I like this compromise.  I've tried a number of different ways, with a dozen or so different novels.

A decade or so ago, I talked Mac, a co-worker at Motorola, to read several of my novels.  Back then, I gave him the regular manuscript, a ream of double-spaced courier printed paper loose in a box.  After all, that's what the publishers wanted.

But after getting his feedback, I realized I'm not getting this first-reader advice from editors in some publishing house in Manhattan.  I'm getting feedback from real people who read books.  And the books they read are single-spaced, with a good font in narrower columns.  And they don't have to work though hundreds of loose sheets of paper either.  So my first variation was based on magazine formatting.  I was using Microsoft Word at the time, so it wasn't terribly difficult to write a macro to change the font and spacing, and throw it into a two-column format.  That's what I used for several books.

Then by the time I began formatting books for real, I had acquired Adobe InDesign and could handily create the proper formatting for the 6 x 9 inch pages I'd be using.  So, it was easy to create the PDF that Lulu wanted, and I used that to create Advance Reader Copy books back when I was trying to get pre-publication reviews.

So why am I still printing a 6 x 9 page to 8.5 x 11 sheets and comb binding them?  I think it's to encourage my first-readers to mark up the pages.  Many people have a real problem marking in books.  I'm not sending these to professional copyeditors or proofreaders who do this all the time.  I'm trying to get the feedback of readers, and everyone is used to marking on 8.5 x 11 inch pages in various types of binders, especially if they have big fat margins.  Giving them a trade paperback is a different animal and I just have to believe they would be more reluctant to mark it up.

So, I'm stuck with a process that chews up the toner cartridges and leaves me with a back ache, but if I catch those typos and horrible sentences before publication date, it's all worth it.

No comments: