Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Appearance of Your Work

I've always been very picky about what my books looked like. That's inside; covers were a learning curve - I certainly made my mistakes with the first one. To date, the biggest issue I've had was keeping the fonts I like. I'll frequently use some sort of handwriting font in notes shown in the books.

My biggest hurdle in preserving my fonts is the Kindle edition, but I've come to accept that there's never going to be anything fancy there. That doesn't mean I don't try for the best appearance I can.

For my latest book - my ninth book - a number that still amazes me - I had an additional problem. I used star symbols to clue the gaps, and in a couple other spots. I really, really liked them. My story, after all, was a science fiction story. By the time kindle made the translation, they looked like some kind of Chinese writing. It was really quite bewildering.

My first effort was to try loading a pdf, though Kindle doesn't really like that. When that didn't work, my next option was to turn these symbols into small pictures. What a pain. Well, not really but still... I only have Paint, and Paint for MAC isn't as good as what I had on my PC, but it works well enough. It has a habit of quitting if I get to complicated with it, but with patience I can usually get it to do what I need it to do.

So - I was working my way through my manuscript, pasting in my little pictures, when I discovered another spot that needed like attention. Using Futhark font - font that looks like elven writing in Lord of the Rings - I used that font to identify the monsters in my book. It is a very angular, harsh, font - fitting, I thought, for how my monsters would see themselves. The point of needing to keep that font was that the subsequent name of my monsters evolved from how it looked translated into equivalent letters in our language. There was no way around it and keep that thread in tact. Of course, Kindle translated that font to Times which killed the whole thread entirely. I had to turn that into pictures too. Fortunately there was only three places where that was needed. The tricky part was cropping my image down tight enough to not cut off any part of a letter, and still not have the image take up too much space in the line of typing. That was a toughie. It's not perfect, but I don't think I can do any better.

My biggest problem with all this was that Word didn't always put my star symbols pictures where I wanted them. Most times they allowed a space under them (which I wanted), but sometimes they didn't - every time I tried to add that space, the picture would jump to the middle of the paragraph - I couldn't figure out why, and there was simply nothing I could do to change it. And of course Kindle picked up on that. So upon occasion, you'll see those stars sitting close to the next paragraph, whereas most of the time there's a space above and below them. Inconsistency annoys me no end, but not so much so when I can't fix it.

How much do you pay attention to the appearance of your books? Sometimes I wonder when I see all manner of formatting inconsistencies in the books I buy.



William Kendall said...

I can see that being a headache, and something I would have to deal with down the line, since I use stars to denote separations when I want to change POV.

Perhaps ~ will do.

Anna L. Walls said...

The stars on your keyboard will work just fine.