This Is Why We Have Publishers.

So, Stronghold is done. The final polish is complete (until the inevitable proof-polish after my next beta reader finishes it). The book is ready.

Well, all except for the cover. And the formatting. For a number of different platforms. In both digital and print.

Oh, and the fune-tuning for each of those platforms. Oh, and of course the proof-read on the printed version before conversion to any digital format can be done.

Oh, and…never mind.

This is why publishers will not be going away, at least not anytime soon. I am finding that creating the text of a novel is only the first step toward releasing it. There’s this little stage between the two called production. The author pours his or soul into a blank page, but then those pages needs to be re-formatted for maximum readability. Once upon a time that meant offset printing for hardback and, hopefully, later paperback editions. Now it usually means at least the latter plus a number of digital formats, all of which have their own nuances.

Publishing houses have people that do this. Self-publishers do to. Themselves.

I can see why some folks refuse to take the self-pub route and continue their pursuit of traditional publishing. Other than the increased legitimacy of being able to say, “A professional publishing house thought my book worthy of publication”, the individual can also boast, “and they are doing all that non-creative, tedious work of formatting, which requires a huge amount of time and energy–time and energy, I, the author, will now have to write.” Yes, there is some wisdom there.

Formatting is messy. Fonts. Spacing. Page breaks. Section breaks. Margins. Tabs. White space. Indents. The list goes on and on, and when one is doing all this by himself or herself for the first time, the frustration and complexity is compounded by always second-guessing what is truly the best choice. Funny thing is, on some subconscious level, we kind of know. We’ve read enough books (hopefully) to know how spacing should dictate pace on the pages and how certain fonts feel more comfortable than others. But finding that answer takes some trial and error, to be sure.

If nothing else, this process has been a stretching one. I am becoming far more appreciative of books. The fonts that are used, the manner in which their are laid, the way space is utilized to assist the reader, providing guidance for the experience. I am hoping these new concepts I have learned will translate into my own production method and thereby enhance my readers’ ability to pour through Stronghold. I guess we’ll see come May (oops, did I just let something slip about the release?)

Thanks for letting me vent for a few…back to the drawing board. Or notepad. Or whatever it’s called for writers.