They call themselves Back Yard Publisher, but I prefer the page’s title tag: Publishing Your Manuescript. Their motto is good, too: Remember! There’s A Publisher in You’re Own Back Yard.Most of their page is given over to explaining hitherto-unknown Alternate Facts about book design, typography, and printing. For instance:
In gravure printing the letters are etched into a plate (usually Copper), then ink is forced into the letters, scraped from the area around the letters and paper is forced onto the ink at extremely high pressure. The ink is then transferred to the paper. This is what the song “In Your Easter Bonnet” is all about.You know— “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, / You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade …” Bet you never suspected. BYP’s biggest contribution to our understanding of movable lead type is the Alternate Fact that lead was wholly inadequate to the task:
Letter press printing is the original method of transferring ink to paper which was the predominant method of printing until the last thirty to fifty years. In this method ink is rolled on the face of the type, then a piece of paper is pressed into the wet ink and transferred to the paper. Obviously the method worked very well, although the pressure necessary to transfer the ink to the paper created many problems by smashing the soft lead type and making it useless. Letter press is seldom used today.And no wonder. This unfortunate property of lead type also affected typography:
Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in 1440 and every since that time there has been a struggle between topographers, the people who design the type and the printers or use it.Which makes the carefully justified lettering in some medieval manuscripts a complete mystery.
Typographers have been concerned with how the type appeared on the page and how easily it could be read. …
Printers, on the other hand, have had to deal with a different set of problems, one of the biggest was the smashing and destruction of their precious type. This was especially true when one line of type extended beyond the normal ends of the rows of type. To prevent this destruction of the type the printer simply put some of the spacing he would normally have at the end of the lines between the words (called word spacing) or between the letters (called letter spacing) thus, solving his problem. When this happened we then had a justified page.This is the only reason there ever was a justified page; …
In a recent unofficial survey of the best sellers in a local book store it was observed that some of the best sellers are still justified where others are not.That was a remarkably unofficial survey. With the exception of plays, poetry, and the Whole Earth Catalog, I can’t think of any bestsellers that have been set rag-right. One strongly suspects that what he was looking at was dialogue. And a return to his original theme:
Many books have been written on the use of type so it will not be discussed here. The important things one should know about type is that there are two basic styles of type. One is known as serif; the other as san-serif. A serif type is the style used throughout this book. The small lines under the letters, slashes on the “S” etc. are the serifs. There were probably added to the basic letter style by the typographer to prevent smashing the type in the days of letter press printing.I hadn’t known the Romans used letterpress. If you’re a type designer and are drinking coffee while you read this, pause now and swallow.
As a general rule if you want to have a book that is easy to read use 12 pt. type with 1 d line spacing. Smaller type with less spacing will make a smaller book that will be harder to read and more then 1 d line spacing does not significantly improve the readability.I’ll give him this much: He’s right about spacing in excess of line-and-a-half not improving readability.
Many people go their entire lives without ever giving much thought to the interior design of books, and aren’t any less happy for it. Book design is inside-baseball stuff. If you’re a reader, it does affect your life—a well-designed book is much easier and pleasanter to read—but it’s not something you’re supposed to have to think about. If you do, it’s probably because something’s gone wrong.One consequence of desktop publishing and the spread of DIY self-publishing is that amateurs are having to figure out the mysteries of frontmatter and type design. My advice would be to find a professionally published book that looks like what you had in mind, and do whatever it does. You can leave out the quotes from the reviewers. What you should not do, under any circumstances, is take Back Yard Publisher’s advice on anything. Title pages, for instance:
I’ll bet he means which printing this is.
The title page is the first page of information it contains all of the publishing information about your book. It will contain: Title of book
Wrong. First, these days the title page is most often the third page, preceded by the (if hardcover) half-title or (if paperback) front sales page, and the panel (other-books-by) page, and followed on recto by its fraternal twin the copyright page. Some other arrangements are possible, though they’re best undertaken under proper rabbinical supervision.
Library of Congress information
Where it can be purchased
Price of book
Second, most of that information belongs on the copyright page, not the title page. The price, and where it can be purchased (unless by that they mean the publisher’s address, or possibly the name of the distributor), belong on neither.BYP never even mentions the existence of the copyright page. That’s bad. It’s the finickiest page in the book, and it shares with the title page the distinction of having legal requirements attached to its design. One doesn’t want to get that wrong.
The Preface is placed on the third right hand page of the book. It is usually a short synopsis of the book. This is where your best pitch for buying the book is placed over the cover pitch.It’s possible for a preface to start on the fifth page of frontmatter; but if it’s a short synopsis of the book plus a sales pitch, it’s flap copy or front sales copy, and belongs on the cover flaps of a hardcover or the first frontmatter page of a paperback.
A Table of contents is normally used in a nonfiction book. It is normally not used in a book of fiction; however, chapter titles are sometimes used in fiction books. The table of contents should always start on a right hand page.The presence of a ToC in fiction is entirely up to the author; and a ToC can fall on a left-hand page if that’s where you need to put it.
Note: Many times it is easier to generate the table of contents after the last page of the book rather then at its normal position in the front of the book.Say what?
Generating it in the front of the book will normally change the page count and make it incorrect.We already know BYP doesn’t know squat about book design, but if we needed a smoking gun, this would be it.
Have you ever noticed that in many books, the frontmatter page numbers are Roman numerals, and the numbering re-starts with Arabic numerals in the main text? That’s to allow the frontmatter to expand and contract without affecting the main-sequence page numbers. Back before the days of electronic pasteup, repagination was a major issue. It’s still an issue if your book has a table of contents, a list of illustrations, or an index.
Why does frontmatter expand and contract? A lot of reasons. Authors remember things at the last minute. The map slated to be shot down to fit on one page proves illegible at that size, and has to be given a quarter-turn and made into a two-page spread. The table of contents is too long for its allotted page. The fulsome introduction never arrives. You know. Stuff. And sometimes, when the text come back from the typesetter a few pages too short or too long to make its divisible-by-sixteen page length, you can make it right without repaginating the main text by squeezing or padding the frontmatter. It’s very useful that way.If you know anything about frontmatter design, you know that. And if you think it’s necessary to throw your ToC into the back of the book to avoid repagination, you don’t even know basic word processing.
Chapters always start on a Right Hand (Odd Number) page. There is no reason for this other then TRADITION.Title pages go on right-hand pages because otherwise your book or pamphlet starts with a blank page, which is ineffectual, and disturbs the readers. Chapter titles are a variety of title page, and so tend to start on right-hand pages. However, you’re allowed to put them on a left-hand page if you want to do it that way, or even to “run in” your chapters, starting a new one on the same page where the previous chapter ended.
But you knew that, right? You’ve read a book or three. Doubtless, somewhere along the line, you’ve noticed the variable behavior of chapter starts. What dazzles me is the idea that someone who’s undertaken to explain book design has failed to notice it.