This week I wanted to go over a little more of the practical end of book publishing. This time I am going to go over my choices for one of the earliest tools that is needed in preparing a book for publication, The Style Guide.
First lets discuss what the Style Guide is. Not all books are set up the same, but the Publisher needs to make choices about how you are going to do certain things in a book, Font, margins, spacing, indents, how numbers are presented, how chapters are numbered and broken up. All of these are choices that need to be made in order to determine how the book will look. And as a self-publisher what you feel will be the easiest way for your reader to understand your work. I am going to go over not only my choices for some of the most important things in a style guide, but I will also compare them to four of my favorite authors from their works. The four books I am going to reference to are 1. Stephen King ‘Four Past Midnight’, 2. Robert B Parker ‘Double Play’, 3. Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars Novel ‘Dark Force Rising’ and 4. Harlen Coben ‘Hold Tight’. All fours books are the hardcover editions. Is this a definitive list of everything. No it is not, but this will give you a good idea about the things that the publisher has to think about.
First choice: Font. I am not going to try to verify the exact font used in each of the books mention. I will point out that all four of them use a serif font. So while personally I use Comic San Serif 10 point for most of the first draft or outline work I do, for my novel I have been working with Dark Courier 11 point.
Second choice: Margins. All four books use a standard 7/8 inch margin. So I will be matching that in my book.
Third choice: Spacing. Here we start to see some differences in the published works and I will hazard a guess to the reasons. Both King and Zahn’s book have single line spacing. This makes sense based on the fact that both writer styles lean heavy on large paragraph of descriptions and exposition. Parker and Coben both use a one and a half line spacing. Both of them lean heavily on short descriptions and dialogue, and the broader line spacing and lighter pages makes for faster reading. With the amount of dialogue that I have found myself using in my book I am going to work with a one and half line spacing on my final manuscript.
Forth choice: Indents. All of the books I have mentioned use a 1/8 of an inch indent, except Zahn who uses a 1/4 inch indent. For my purposes I will be using a 1/4 inch indent. Because I find it easier to read with the more distinct difference in starting the paragraph.
Fifth choice: Numbering. lets just go over the choices I have made in the use of numbers in this blog. you will notice if you look back that any number that is part of a sentence has been typed out, also the numbering for the choices were typed out, but when I numbered the books I used the numerals. Also my measurements for the fonts and margins used numerals. Since most of the numbers in my book will be in the sentence structure of narration or dialogue I will be writing them out in words.
Sixth choice: Chapter numbering and breaks. King uses only three-line spacing followed by the number of the chapter written out preceded by the word chapter. Parker has the numeral by itself one-third of the way down the page and then starts the
first paragraph another third of the page down. Zahn has the word chapter with the numeral beneath it and starts the first paragraph one-third of the way down the page. Coben has the number and starts the paragraph one-third of the way down the page. I will be setting it up with two inches down the page the word chapter with the written number in Dark Courier 22 point, the line beneath it would be the name of the chapter in Dark Courier 16 point. both centered on the page. skip three lines and begin chapter.
From all of these examples you can see that a lot of the small details that you never think about when reading a book have to be taken into consideration when you are publishing a book.