A great cover captures the reader’s interest, and great interior design keeps the reader reading.
At the November MIPA meeting, held Nov. 13 at the Carondelet Center, three professional designers described the book design process and why it is so important to send your books out into the world with the best impression.
Linda Koutsky, who has been designing books for 25 years including 15 of those with Coffee House Press, said, “Book covers are like billboards. You have an eighth of a second to capture people’s attention.” Koutsky is always on the lookout for great images to put on the cover of books, and she shoots many of her own.
“Tone is a quality, feeling, or attitude,” Koutsky said. “That is really what a book cover is all about.”
Interior book designers, Dorie McClelland of Spring Book Design, and Sherry Roberts, of The Roberts Group, discussed the importance of creating beautiful, inviting, and consistent book interiors. McClelland described a book interior as like a river: “Open a book, start at the beginning. It has a flow, a way of inviting you in from endpapers, to half-title, to title. It introduces you to the content, then brings you into the text. Timing takes you through the text, with some ebbs and flows but always within the banks (structure) and successfully brings you to the conclusion.”
“A well-designed book makes the reader feel comfortable,” said Roberts. “It’s this invisible connection between story and reader. It dissolves on the page and yet also guides the reader.”
Poor book design automatically stamps a book as “amateur.” The presenters not only talked about what good design is, but also what it is not. They discussed why Word is not a good tool for book design, how to use typography to avoid the “ransom note” effect, and handling widows and orphans.
For more information about the presentation, download this great handout, which also includes a list of 26 things that guarantee a book is identified as amateur.
As tradition, MIPA does not have a December meeting. Members instead gather for holiday party. Monthly meetings will resume in January. See the calendar.
Step 2 in the publishing process is editing. Beth Wright from Trio Bookworks, Pat Morris from Book Architects, and Sherry Roberts from The Roberts Group led a discussion titled "Professional Editing Sells Books," at the Oct. 8 MIPA meeting, held at the Carondolet Center in St. Paul.
Their presentation began with a discussion about the importance of editing. "Whether your book is fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, or a memoir, you will need a professional editor," said Wright. "Your editor is a consultant who will help make your book the best it can be."
Wright shared that the stages of editing include self-editing, developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading.
A developmental editor is someone who can get involved in the project before the writing process even begins to offer suggestions on how the author can accomplish his or her goals for the book. Advice can be offered in the areas of character development, narrative voice, pacing, style, and language.
Copyediting happens when the manuscript is in its nearly final stage. During this process the editor improves formatting, style, and accuracy of the text. Wright explained that she often will create a list of characters and places mentioned in the book during this phase, and as she makes her way through the read make sure the story stays consistent.
Proofreading is where the text is checked for typos, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. This is done at the page proof stage.
Both Wright and Roberts suggested that all authors self-edit their manuscripts as well throughout the process, and preferably do at least one round before they turn their manuscript over to an editor. "It's a good idea to read the text out loud," said Roberts. "I will often catch things that need to be changed in my own books by doing that."
"Errors are frustrating to readers. You need to make sure the book is perfect before you put it out there, and the only way to do that is to hire an editor or team of editors to help you," said Pat Morris from Book Architects.
The presenters also offered this important advice:
- Ask the editor you are considering hiring for a sample page or two so you can get an idea of how he or she will go about editing your work.
- Find someone you feel comfortable with and can trust.
- Inquire about the editor's rates before you get started. Rates range from about $14/hour to $125/hour. Keep in mind, an editor may read a manuscript two, three or more times.
Handouts: Download handouts from this presentation.
November Meeting: "Step 3: The Secrets to Good Book Design and Eye-catching Covers" will be on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Carondolet Center in St. Paul. Please join us.
MIPA met many readers, writers, and publishers at the 2014 Twin Cities Book Festival sponsored by Rain Taxi on October 11, 2014. The MIPA Board—Sybil Smith, Rachel Anderson, Judith Palmateer, Dorie McClelland, and Sherry Roberts—staffed the MIPA booth and spread the word about MIPA.
For the first time, we had some author signings by MIPA members. Thank you to Elizabeth von Berrinberg, author of The City in Flames, and Audrey McClellan, author of the Scottish Island novels, for stopping by and signing and selling their books. It is great to show the world what a diverse group of publishers we are.
Judith Palmateer, chair of the Midwest Book Awards, distributed flyers throughout the festival letting publishers and authors know the book awards are accepting entries. MIPA is proud to support literary events like the Twin Cities Book Festival.