My third novel, Efraim’s Eye, has finally been released for printing.  (The editing process took entirely too long, and too much effort from the ‘independent professional’ but not very competent, editor, the publisher and me.)

(As of 24 September 2012, Efraim’s Eye has been published.)

The printing stage involves the preparation of front and back covers, the assignment of an ISBN number, the pricing of the book, and the final layout of the manuscript for printing.

My publisher will provide two cover designs for me to choose between.  With my first novel, Fishing in Foreign Seas, I knew exactly what I wanted for a cover design: a girl fishing in a somewhat mysterious sea.  Since I wasn’t particularly happy with the first design, I had an artist prepare scene to my specifications, and while the design was OK, the style of it wasn’t right for a book cover.  I selected the publisher’s second design, which you can see on my website  For the second novel, Sin & Contrition, I asked the publisher’s graphic designer to prepare a graphic suggestive of the title.  The result was the statue of a fallen angel, and most people find it rather striking.  (You can see for yourself on my website.)  For Efraim’s Eye, I’ll probably propose a graphic based on the London Eye.  (Efraim’s Eye is a thriller about a lone terrorist with a plan to destroy the London Eye, killing all 800 riders.)

The back cover is easier.  There is a photograph of a portrait of the author, a brief bio (that can be repeated) and a short synopsis.  There is also the ISBN number which is assigned by the publisher, and which includes some encoded data.  Since 2007, the ISBN has been 13 digits long.  The first three digits identify the industry (987 denotes the book publishing industry), the next two digits identify the language, the following four digits identify the publisher, the next three are assigned to the book’s title, and the last digit is a check sum.  I’ll be talking about the pricing of the book in a later blog.

Before it is printed, the manuscript has to be laid out in separate pages.  A table of contents is added.  Foot notes, if any must be paginated or grouped at the end of the book.  Illustrations, if any, must be inserted.  References, glossaries and appendices, etc, – if any – must be paginated.  For me, a key task at this stage is to check that the right fonts are being used.  In the editing process, the entire manuscript is converted to Times New Roman, while I use Lucida Calligraphy where the language is not English – Arabic – in the case of Efraim’s Eye.

Finally, the book is released for actual printing and binding.  My publisher uses printing on demand, which depends on the use of digital technology, and in which a book can be printed at a fixed cost per copy, regardless of the size of the order.  The cost per copy will be higher than with traditional offset printing, but printing on demand has several advantages over offset printing:

  • for small runs, it is more cost effective than offset printing
  • set up time is shorter
  • inventories can be lower and less costly
  • waste is greatly reduced

The publisher will send me a single copy of the book for final sign off.  That is always an exciting, landmark event!

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