Book Design Basics? A Place to Get You Started

I have read lots on book design over the last few months, but today I felt out of sorts and needed a refresher because I’m in the middle of formatting a book for print. When I typed in my search terms, I ended up at several different places, until I found this one and settled in. The site is full of good information on book design and typography, and I enjoyed reading it immensely.

Here’s the link again:

I loved the articles I read, and I feel like I picked up a lot of good information.

Showing Up, Drive, and Doing the Work

Oops, I realized I had an error in the link but it’s fixed now!

The link takes you to a very specific point in the YouTube edition of the Self Publishing Podcast. (Fun podcast. Watch out for vulgar language if that bothers you.)

I love this section. I’ve listened to it several times because they are so right about drive and having a work ethic—doing the work. It’s the thing I’ve been working on with myself, trying to improve my consistency and getting my butt into the chair and typing more.

The Reaching of an Elusive Goal; Cue Disaster Music

Clarification: After putting a new post up where I talk about writing Novel #6, I skimmed my posts and came across this. This IS Novel #6, but that’s if you count one of the titles that I specifically exclude from the count in the newer post. So, to make this easier, let’s just say this is really Novel #5.

I’m thinking about writing up a series of posts about my books. Since I can’t give away anything about the book itself because it might lead to questions about my pseudonyms or genres I write in (which might also give away my pseudonyms) I’m just going to number the books and stories with a simple numbering system. If you look to the sidebar, you’ll see I have “Accomplishments” listed and I have the numbers of published books and stories I’ve done to date. (This is on the Progress page now.)

I’m currently writing novel #6. Now, the problem is that I got all the way to the end and then just hit a wall. I love the book. But I’m tired of the book. I want it to be done. I have a couple of thousand words left on it, tops, and I have spent the last week and a half working insanely hard to avoid writing those couple thousand words. (DONE! Yea, yea, yea!)

Novel 6 is a good story. I have a little tiny bit of fear related to the story that might be part of the problem but I find it hard to believe that’s the real issue because I’ve had that fear before. I still published my other books.

I’ve also realized perfectionism is messing with my head, but not about the things you might think. No book is ever going to be perfect, and I know that, but I don’t care. Me, writing on a perfect schedule, every day, hitting the goals I set for myself? That’s the problem. I keep searching for answers, and as a friend told me, I seem to be hoping to find someone who can tell me what the perfect system is, the perfect schedule. I’m looking for the best, most efficient way to work, and that search is doing me a whole lot more harm than good.

How that all relates to the writing of novel 6?

I reached my ideal of 1000 words an hour writing 2 days before I hit the wall. I hated it, hated the pressure and the rush, and the absolute certainty that I could do it but that I didn’t want to do it. So now I know that I write at about 600 words an hour because I want to, not because I can’t write faster.

I realized the next day I didn’t want to write. The thought of putting myself into a chair and trying to write 1000 an hour was too much work, felt too hard, too intense. I don’t like that kind of intensity. So now, even though I’ve given myself permission to forego that push for 1000 words an hour for the time being, I still don’t want to write. I stole all my joy and made myself think of writing as work, and I haven’t yet been able to let that thought go.

When I do, I’m sure I’ll be back at it, writing the couple thousand words I need to finish novel 6.

Until then, I’m going to make lunch and trim my fingernails. It’s a ritual. As long as my nails touch the keyboard, I can’t concentrate on anything else. Since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about my nails since I started typing, I know it’s time. :)

More than 1,000 words an hour? Longed for, reached, hated it

So, I spent a lot of time getting myself to the point of writing 1,000 words an hour. I longed for the days when I could easily associate 1 hour of writing time to 1,000 words. It makes math super easy when I’m trying to figure out how much longer I have on a book. I can guarantee 15–30 minutes downtime for every 1 hour I spend writing … so calculations are easy.

The problem is, the writing for those days read the same as my long-running 600 words an hour average, but the joy I got from writing the words decreased significantly. I felt an unaccountable level of pressure as I typed out every word, forcing myself to keep typing when I would have taken a break and let my fingers rest on the keys. I think the writing was the same, but the process was completely unnatural for me.

I write in bursts: I sit, think, my mind wanders, and then I type, type, type, and then I do the same thing all over again. Catch my wind, so to speak.

Was I just experiencing the natural phase of fatigue and pain as my metaphorical writing muscles stretch and burn before they strengthen? I have no idea. I’m not sure I want to find out. I actually found myself avoiding writing in the days following those 1,000 words an hour days, because I didn’t want to have to work that hard again.

Sigh. I think I need to push through though. I think of my family and friends working at their jobs and I imagine they’re not going to be that sympathetic to me not being able to keep my fingers moving at a rate of 16.6 words per minute. In fact, they might laugh at me.*

My typing speed is around 66–78 words a minute so if I were typing up a dictated report in a different kind of job, the 16.6 words per minute rate implies I’d be spending 13 minutes at my normal typing speed to write those 1000 words and do that 1 hour’s worth of work. Then I’d sit in the break room or surf the internet the other 47 minutes.

I definitely have to strengthen those muscles. It’s idiocy to settle for 600 words an hour. I just need more practice getting to 1,000 so it becomes as easy as the 600 has.**

*I’d laugh at me.

**Update: Failure with this goal has plagued me for most of the year! I wonder if I have what it takes to ever write more than 500–600 words an hour. :(