InDesign is Fun!

We are nearing the end of March and it is time to provide another update on the progress of Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails.

First off, I had no idea how difficult it was to decide on a font for the material. I wanted something professional looking, but readable (which I am assured actually is a word different from legible). Special thanks to Jim Leach, The Font Guy, for help and suggestions.

The formatting process is taking a bit longer than expected. I attempted to do all of the work in the word processing programs which I am most familiar with: Pages, Open Office, and Libre Office. The first is an Apple program which replaced Apple Works years ago.
1 The other two are open source versions of Microsoft Office.2

Normally I have no problems with any of these programs, but unfortunately this was not the case this time.

One really annoying issue which kept arising happened when I made changes in Pages, exported the document as a Word file, then opened it in Open Office to see how it looked. OO would crash every time. When I tried to open it in Libre Office I would lose all of the formatting which I had just worked so hard on.

What followed was a headache inducing series of tasks involving a lot of cutting and pasting or just working in OO to begin with.

The next problem came with pagination. I had to include a whole lot of blank space in order for the document to look correct when it was printed as a book. This involved some kind of sketchy text manipulation to make sure that each story started on an odd (right) page. It just didn’t seem like I was doing pagination correctly.

The reason for this was that I wasn’t. I read some self-publishing blogs, some blogs by professional editors and designers. This is what one does when one can’t do any more formatting, but still can’t fall asleep. All of the material I read confirmed what I had already figured out. I was doing this, if not wrong, at least in the most difficult way possible.

What I was doing was using these programs for something which they were ultimately not designed for. There were things that I wanted in the finished book (like the author’s name on the left page header and the title of the story in the right) which involved a whole lot of ridiculous work arounds.

So I decided to do what I probably should have done from the start, use a program designed to do what I was trying to do.

Enter InDesign.

I had an older version of the Adobe Creative Suite which I had played around with but never used in any meaningful way. The problem was it was on my old laptop which is extremely slow. My solution was to download a free trial of the new InDesign for the Creative Cloud service and try that.

Many years ago a fellow author and magazine publisher said that InDesign really was the best way to go when working on layouts for large print projects. Plus, it had the font I wanted to work in. Other people had warned me about the steep learning curve. Fortunately there are a number of InDesign tutorials all over YouTube. I spent the better part of an afternoon watching these and taking notes. Then I pulled up InDesign and gave it a whirl.

This! This is what I should have been doing all along!

After two stories I had my rhythm down. The hardest part was trying to get everything to line up properly, and that was a function of my eyeballs (solved easily by finding my reading glasses). There were still some headache inducing moments of wonky formatting, but I think I have all of these cleared up now.

So, the information that you have all actually been waiting for:

All of the stories are in InDesign as individual files. I still have to import a few pages of front material, but I want to give them a quick glance with the editor’s eye first (it’s the stuff that I wrote). Then I should be able to combine all of the files into one book format. Once that is done it is just a matter of uploading it to CreateSpace and SmashWords.

The brilliant and talented Sara Gale of
Exit57 Graphics is hard at work on the cover material. I feel bad because my brain just didn’t know how to convey the image that was in it. Fortunately for me, Sara did the thinking for me and hit the exact image.

Once I finish all of this it will be uploaded to CreateSpace and I will order a proof copy to make sure it all looks correct.



1 I forget which update it was, but after one of the OS updates, Apple Works no longer worked. This was, of course, an blatant attempt to drag those of us still using the old program into the new world of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote (which correlate roughly to Microsoft Office’s Word, Excel, and Powerpoint). I will admit that Pages is a fine program and usually operates perfectly for my needs. I’ve made some great presentations with Keynote. However, when the switch was first made I was in the Apple store complaining bitterly about how much I still missed Claris, Apple Works predecessor. This freaked out the salesperson a little.

2 I do attend
Penguicon every year, after all.