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Physical book considerations: Editor's Notes #323
September 30, 2020

I've always loved the physical book and remain committed to it.
—Sonny Mehta

In this issue:

1. Physical book considerations
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. My Covid-19 offer to you

1.Physical book considerations
First come the words. They, after all, are what we usually mean when we say, "Book," and they are, hands down, the most important aspect of your written work. Physical books also demand considerations of their physicality, and if you self-publish, you have to dress your book much as you dress a child going out into the world.

How will your words look on the page?
  • First, consider fonts for the text, chapter titles, captions, and footnotes. Check the fonts of at least ten, and preferably more, books like yours. Some books mention the font used, often at the end of the book on a separate page. But if you can’t get the exact name of the fonts, get a general feel for what a book like yours is supposed to look like.
  • Next, decide on the font size.
  • White space matters. Readers need a place for their eyes to rest. Some writers like to make notes. To accommodate students, academic texts often leave very wide margins specifically for such notes. The spacing between the bottom of a line of text and the top of the next line of text is called leading. Again, look at a variety of books to see what is expected in the genre you are writing. Word gives you a good degree of control of leading. Do a search for how to change the leading (line spacing) in your version of Word.
  • Other layout aspects also deserve attention. Will you have headers? Where will the page numbers be? Will chapters begin at the top of the page or partway down?
  • Do you need any color? If so, which colors, and where?

Consider the paper for your book. There are options for colours, finishes, and weights.

Your cover matters. The reader sees it first, and if it sends the wrong message, your perfect words inside will never see the light of day. If your book is going to be in the mail, the weight of the whole book matters, and the cover can add a great deal to the weight. On the other hand, how long should your book last? A paperback isn’t expected to outlive the reader. A cheap cover on a book meant to be an heirloom will be a mistake.

Your words are the most important part of your book and should occupy the bulk of your time and expense in producing it. A well-dressed book makes a good first impression so readers are enticed to read the words you worked so hard on.

A final word of warning…

Do NOT, under any circumstances, send your editor anything other than your simple text. The more you try to format your text, the more errors, or at least hurdles, you are likely to introduce. Formatting comes AFTER every word and bit of punctuation is perfect, not as perfect as you can get it, but as perfect as you and your editor can get it. So, go ahead and play with fonts and leading and interesting paragraph spacing, but do it on a test page and keep it to yourself until all editing of the text is done.

2.Tickled my funny bone
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." --John Bright with thanks to Albert Hall

3. Interesting Web site
Some thoughts about ebooks and physical books.

4. Writing prompt
Write a love letter to physical book you enjoy.

I’d love to see your result.

5. My Covid-19 offer to you
Most of us are getting used to a new normal again as the second wave of Covid-19 hits. I’m not as paranoid as I was when the virus was so novel that no one seemed to know what to do to stay safe and toilet paper was the new gold. Now I know that touching surfaces is not nearly as dangerous as being too close to unmasked people. I feel like I have some degree of control. At the same time, the longevity of this process of coming to terms with something so big and dangerous to the whole world can seem daunting. It’s a time to dig deep, which is what great writers always do. When you are ready to move forward with professional editing, consider taking advantage of the offer I’m making here.

What follows is a copy and paste from issue number 309. It’s still in force for you and anyone you choose to tell about it.

Along with the health threat hanging over the world, we are facing a huge financial hit. I’ve decided one thing I can do is to make quality editing less expensive during this trying time.

For subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends, I am suspending the fee for the sample edit to anyone using the code EN19 until I cancel this offer. I intend to keep this offer open as long as the world is in crisis with Covid-19 and its aftermath, so watch this space. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. You can submit your writing sample at Be sure to click the link below the heading "Promotion Code" to get to the special form for a free sample edit. If you find yourself at a form before clicking the special link, scroll slowly back up the page, and you should see the link for the code (EN19).

But it gets better…

When I return an edited writing sample, I include quotes for the full range of my editing services. Until further notice, I will give a true quote, but I will not charge writers the full amount. I am discounting my services 50% for subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer.

Feel free to pass this offer along to any writing friends you think may be interested. As long as anyone uses the code, I’ll honour the offer.

This is what I can offer you in this time of crisis. I hope it encourages you as you face possible illness and financial uncertainty.

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