Back in July of this year, I posted about my adventures with writing and self-publishing a music teacher education book up to the editing stage in hopes to help you start your book endeavor or to make things easier for you when you do decide to begin. This time I am going to be sharing with you my adventures with this book up to the Proofing Stage. This post will begin with where the last one left off—after the editing stage. Here are the things that I’ve learned in this phase:
1. I know way less about grammar than I thought
- Up until this point, I thought that there was one dash to rule them all like in Lord of The Rings. Now, you’re probably thinking, “what do you mean?” As it turns out, there are three:
- The hyphen (-) used to link conjunctions or words representing a single idea (for example: Two-measure phrase).
- The en dash (–), you know, the one that MS Word defaults to when you type ‘space-dash-space.’ It is used in the place of the word “to.” For example, when you are giving ranges 15–20, an en dash with no spaces is the proper dash to use.
- The em dash (—) can be used in place of a colon, a comma, or a bracket all to a slightly different effect. All this time I thought the hyphen was the only one and used it for everything. Most of the issue is that there is no way to generate an em dash as there is no dedicated key on any standard keyboard. There is also no easy way to make it in a word processor so I had to copy and paste an em dash from the internet after searching “em dash” in Google.
- Numbers one through nine should be written out, the rest should be numbers. I always believed to be consistent or to follow the mantra of spelling out every number to get my word count up. Apparently this is not true—only numbers one to nine should be written out.
- Setup vs. set up: I didn’t even catch this until my last proof-read. Setup is a noun, set up is a verb. I used them in the right context naturally for the most part without really thinking about it. It’s the difference between someones guitar setup and someone helping you set up.
2. Hire a professional editor
There were sections of the book where I knew what I was saying and thought that I clearly and concisely expressed them. My amazing editor caught everything that I didn’t about my own writing and expressed what I was trying to say in those sections, but better. There were other parts of the book that I felt were weak but didn’t know how else to portray those ideas. My editor knew exactly how. My lesson? Don’t do the copy-editing and proofreading yourself. Get a professional—it will be worth the money.
3. Formatting and layout design for your book takes just as long as the editing
I had originally thought about hiring out for my book interior layout but ended up using MS Word to do it all. Some words of wisdom—do not do any formatting until your book is complete and save often when you do start. I had begun to do some of the formatting earlier on and pressed a button that rendered all previous formatting pointless. And it could not be undone. I have no idea why. I had to start all over with the formatting. To avoid this, experiment with formatting in a different file.
The heading features in Microsoft Word can be customized to fit your book’s feel. Using the headings feature will also allow you to create a table of contents with one click. Super handy.
4. Interior layout can be done using MS Word
It took a bit of experimenting but I did all of my interior design on Microsoft Word. You can too! Make sure you follow the guidelines from wherever will be doing your printing. Createspace gives you all of their recommendations for layout so that it is approved for printing. Take a look at other Music Teacher books you might have for design ideas.
5. Don’t use the wrong font
There are two basic families of fonts: Serif, and Sans-serif. They basically mean “letters with fancy ends on them,” and “no fancy ends.” The serif fonts are common in books. Examples of serif fonts are: Times New Roman, Cambria, or Book Antiqua. Chances are if you open a book right now it will be in a serif style font. Many of these fonts date back to the dawn of the printing press and are widely used for their readability on paper. Sans-serif fonts can be used in books too but are less common. Examples of sans-serif fonts are: Helvetica, Calibri, or Trebuchet. On top of this, there are some fonts that are designed for a screen as opposed to paper and fonts that work better for headings and signs as opposed to a body of text. Fonts can be downloaded from the internet for free and installed to MS Word which is pretty handy. If you have your cover designed already, try and use some of the fonts from that to keep it consistent.
Heading fonts should be different from your body text fonts but you need to make sure they flow well together. Chapter titles should be different too. As mentioned, take a look at some other music teacher books and copy some of their design ideas. I used the following fonts in my book:
- Matiz for chapter titles and Impact for the chapter numbers along the side.
- Century Gothic for all chapter introductions.
- League Gothic for all headings (also used on the cover).
- Helvetica for the body text (aslo used on the back cover).
Just Google things like “best fonts for non-fiction book” and you will find great places to start.
Please, do not use fonts like Jokerman, Matisse, or Comic Sans—just don’t.
5. Self-plagiarism is a thing
I know, right? I never really thought about it before. In Rock Coach, I used a number of large sections from works that I had previously published in the Canadian Music Educator Journal. Common practice in the publishing industry is to absorb the rights of the work. The only aspect the author retains is their name on the work. The publication owns all the copyrights to the work, therefore copying sections of it in another publication is illegal—even if the author writing the new work wrote all the material originally. So, even though I was the original author of the works included in Rock Coach, I had to ask the Canadian Music Educator Journal for permission to use the portions of the other publications. If I didn’t ask and they found out, they would be entitled to some of the revenue the book generated. Also, if you use a short quote or phrase from another one of your publications, cite it. Make sure you don’t get caught for “self-plagiarism.”
You will need an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for your book. In the United States, for some reason, you have to pay for ISBNs. In Canada ISBNs are under the jurisdiction of Library and Archives Canada and are therefore free, like our health care—awesome right? You can set up your ISBN Canada account here.
If you choose to not reserve a block of ISBNs, Createspace assigns you their own ISBN for you to use. When I reserved by block of ISBNs I reserved them under the name “Steve’s Music Room Publishing” therefore the publishing company name that pops up for my book is “Steve’s Music Room Publishing.” If Createspace assigns you an ISBN, the publishing company will be “Createspace.”
Barcodes can be generated for free. If you have an ISBN assigned to your book, you can generate a barcode from that. If you don’t have your own ISBN, Createspace will generate a barcode for you from the ISBN they assign you.
I used this site to generate my barcode. Just make sure you get a high resolution one. Also, you can decide weather to include a smaller price barcode with your ISBN barcode as well. I opted to use the price code ‘90000’ (no set price) so that I could change the price without changing my cover design and having to generate a new barcode. You don’t have to have a price barcode on the back. I opted to use it because most books I looked at had the price code too even if it was the 90000 code. It’s up to you weather you want to include it or not.
8. Cover design
You will need to make sure your cover fits the Createspace guidelines for cover submission. You can find a template on the above link that fits your book. You should have your final page count before you set up your template because the template is chosen based on your page count and your page dimensions.
I did all of my cover design stuff in Canva. I downloaded the Createspace template and converted the template into a file format Canva could read (.PNG) and superimposed it onto a canvas that it would fit into (using the measurements provided on the template) and then designed it from there copying and pasting what I already had from another file. Of course this would all have been easier if I had just bought a subscription to Canva PRO but I was being stubborn. Besides, if I can do it a different way and it doesn’t cost me any money, I am all for it (even if it has a couple of more steps). Another program that I used that is much more powerful and is completely free is GIMP. There is a bit of a learning curve however but once you figure it out there is no limit to what it can do. I designed my promo banner using GIMP.
9. Review process
When all your files are ready, you will need to send them for review. Createspace accepts PDF files so you will need to convert your files into PDF format. You can easily convert your files to PDF in MS Word by selecting “Save As” and then selecting “PDF.” In Canva, for your cover, you will just download as “PDF – Print.” If you are using GIMP there is a way to do this using the “Export” function in GIMP. The annoying thing about converting all your files to PDF is that during the conversion process everything is “flattened.” This means that all of the independent layers of text, graphics, or even fonts will move slightly as it becomes one image all in one layer. Using a somewhat tedious process, I was able to make sure everything was where I wanted it in the final PDF version. Here is how I did it:
- I split the screen so that the MS Word version was on one side and the PDF was on the other.
- Then I found parts that needed to be altered or moved in the PDF, and adjusted in the Word document.
- Then I saved it as PDF again to see if it was in the right place.
- I did this over an over until I had everything in the right place.
- It was not overly time consuming, just tedious.
Even if it is way off in the Word document, it could be in the exact right place in your PDF.
Once your files are approved after the review process (which could take up to 24 hours)
you should definitely order a proof of your book to make sure everything looks the way it should. If your files are not approved. you will have to change them and upload them again. My proof took longer to arrive than I thought it would due to some unexpected shipping delays because of Hurricane Nate. Unfortunately, it put my release date behind by more than a week and I wasn’t able to have print copies at the NLTA Music Special Interest Council RESONATE Conference where I was presenting. This being said, expect delays in shipping.
I am glad I ordered a proof because there were a number of things I noticed that, on a screen, I didn’t catch. I also gave it to my editor one last time and she noticed a few things that she didn’t catch before either. Once all the changes are made, you will have to go through the review process again and I would recommend proofing your book a second time. If you have time to get another copy sent to you, do it, if you don’t there are options for online proofing where they will send you a copy of how they will print it and you print it yourself to approve the proof.
Once it is approved, your book is ready for distribution. Good luck!
I hope this helps you with your book project.
How far along are you with your book? I would love to hear about it.
Until next time, Happy Musicking!