Tuesday 21 June 2011

Burning Oil: Treading Paths

A bit of a report on progress...

I sat up very late last night, or rather this morning, working over what would once be called galleys of the new book, Paths of Exile. Later in the morning- at about half past five, ready to sign a pact with the devil in exchange for a few hour's sleep, I gave up the unequal fight, rolled out of bed and sat down at the computer again.

I can spend inordinate amounts of time adjusting what seem like tiny elements  in the book's layout, interior design and typography.

You would probably say that you didn't notice that there were three returns before a chapter heading and one after- and that is exactly what I am aiming for! For the interior design of the book, my aim is to make the reading experience as easy and seamless as possible. In my long phone conversations and email exchanges with the author, we find that our aim is the same.

My choice is a classic type face in a point size which makes it easy to read without squinting, but doesn't leave you thinking you’ve picked up a large print edition, or a children's book by mistake. This is so that you don't notice the typeface or layout- you just read the story. The book has to be of a size and thickness that "feels" right, and doesn't make you think you're reading a text book. You shouldn't notice whether it's big or small. So the design parameters are the opposite of those for the cover: we want you to notice that! 

We have been much complimented on the cover of Moon in Leo, and I think the cover of Paths of Exile will be just as alluring- but very different. It is a collaborative effort between me, Kate and author Carla Nayland who has supplied the photo, the hand embroidered dragon and a runic quotation. I have done a lot of the early work, finding fonts, exploring colours and putting together a series of "thumbnails", but designer Kate will be the one who gets it right.

I should now be addressing the issues I scribbled on my notepad before my abortive attempts to get some sleep: "widows and orphans" and the above mentioned returns before and after chapter headings.  So instead, I'm writing a blog post! (How I love displacement activity!) However I hope it will be of interest to readers to get a glimpse of what goes into the work of a micro publisher: basically exactly the same as goes into the work of any publisher. The difference is only in scale, and at Trifolium Books, there are just three of us. Mostly, it's me- so I am Jill of all trades.

I'd better get back to my widows and orphans. But I'll make a cup of coffee first!


  1. I empathise! I spent a lot of time writing and editing catalogues in the past and it's just the same. Aiming to make the content king and the layout invisible! It's a skill.

    Now... back to those poor motherless lines...

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one writing a blog when I should really be getting on with something else.
    Or, in this case, writing comments in someone else's blog, etc. - I'll show ya some displacement activity!!