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How To Get a Better Book from Your Publisher

(by Christina of Middle Island Press and The Red Salon)


It’s true that not all publishers are perfect. That’s where each author comes in and does his/her part to shape this malleable wave of publishing companies, and it’s clear to me that authors don’t spend enough time making requests and/or suggestions for improvement by the marginal quality of much of what is newly in print – not the words, mind you, but in the physical product, the books. If I (as both a publisher and a poet with words in print) were to offer five quick suggestions for getting better books from your publisher, they would be:

1) If you don’t see it, ask for it. This applies to fonts, margins, paper type, everything. In some cases, publishers hire printers and might not be able to offer more without a price, so results might be more successful (and financially reasonable) with micro-publishers that do their own printing.

2) Communicate your vision with utmost clarity. While mind-images never translate perfectly from one person to another, poets of all people should be able to paint a clear picture for a publisher, right? Nevertheless, expect some disparities unless you are highly telepathic or create your own concrete example to send to the publisher as a reference.

3) Trust your publisher. This applies in general but particularly applies if your vision is vague and you are open to suggestions. The publisher likely enjoys the design process most of all, so be patient and see what they come up with.

4) Don’t just sweep. Scrub! Rewind to manuscripts. I cannot stress enough that no editor is perfect. I have found blatant errors in work that has been run by at least three people. If you don’t want typos in your book, then it’s best not to have them in your manuscript, so send it to a literary friend for further “scrubbing” before sending it to the publisher.

Last but not least…

5) Respect the publisher’s schedule. We get busy. Our minds get clouded in a swirl of must-dos. Work always looks cleaner when it is not rushed as though the product on a factory assembly line, and it is more likely to showcase “designer’s marks” and other such elements of unique presentation.

So not all publishers are perfect (so sorry for them) but authors can do their part to improve the process from manuscript submission to printing and beyond, and therein improve the overall quality of books. Whose words are worth it?



Middle Island Press is one of America’s best poetry chapbook publishers.

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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in News & Reviews

 

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Middle Island Press Progress Note

Hello, Poets;

I have been juggling a few projects between Middle Island Press and editing for My Sweet Robert and musing on The Red Salon. At this moment, I find myself literally “between printers” but we expect to be back in business and fully functional soon.

My thanks to those of you (you know who you are!) who have been most patient and understanding as I manage multiple tasks and work my way around minor bumps and roadblocks.

All is well.

Best,

Christina
Publisher at Middle Island Press

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in News & Reviews

 

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Poetry Chapbook Publishing: 5 More Tips on How to Make Perfect Chapbooks (Part 3 of 3)

(by Christina)

For those who missed my previous ten tips, click on article 2 of 3 after reading this one.

I’ll conclude at fifteen tips (lest I give my competitors too many of my trade secrets and I like the number 15) but for those of you who insist on self-publishing, I hope that my suggestions help you along your journey toward chapbook perfection for the sake of your perfect words.

1) Begin with clean hands and a clean surface. (Wait! I already said this.) I cannot stress it enough: wash your hands with non-oily soap and be certain that there is no fuzz on a cloth-covered table, or no dust or ink residue on wood and other such surfaces. You don’t want your product to look like it was made in a dingy factory.

2) Vertical spacing is important. It sounds like common sense and it’s all a matter of preference, but you don’t want more space between your title and the top edge than you have at the bottom, and you don’t want your title floating away from the text, and you don’t want your page numbers to take center stage. Study a few quality books with your eyes and note what you like.

3) Watch page numbers as you collate and fold. Be in the present tense. Even perfect chapbook-makers can get a page turned the wrong direction or have the same two pages printed twice on one sheet of paper (etc.), so make a habit of watching carefully. The wrong page in the wrong place is a nightmare that I expect to never see again.

4) Make friends with your stapler and cutter. It takes time to learn exactly where the staples will land and how to “roll” the chapbook on the saddle to get it perfect, and it takes time to learn the nuances of your cutter. When you learn these things, your comfort will result in accurate speed.

5) Consider unique finishing touches that make your chapbook “gifty.” It’s sort of like decorating a room. You can keep it simple and not challenge viewers’ expectations, or you can take bold chances and make striking impressions. And on that note, my husband and I are expanding our micro-publishing services to include chapbooks as Deluxe Edition gift books! Yes, small and simple is going deluxe with special touches that take chapbooks to a higher level. We’ll keep you posted here and at Middle Island Press.

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We at Middle Island Press are proud to be one of the best chapbook publishers on the Internet.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in News & Reviews

 

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Poetry Chapbook Publishing: 5 More Tips on How to Make Perfect Chapbooks

(by Christina)

Getting poetry published can be, quite literally, a hands-on experience for those who have time to acquaint themselves with the various elements that work together in chapbook-making, and for those who have the inclination to apply do-it-yourself projects. For the rest of the world, there are plenty of chapbook publishers on the Internet (and of course I recommend Middle Island Press).

Below are five tips for making perfect chapbooks. These five were preceded by another five (make that six) in my article, 5 Tips on How to Make Perfect Chapbooks.

1) It’s no place for sweaty palms. This can be a problem for those who are nervous or obsessive over what they are doing. With practice come speed, confidence, and the disappearance of sweaty hands. Until then (if it applies), keep a napkin on hand to press moisture from hands and fingers as necessary, or get up and wash your hands. If you do not, the result could otherwise be warped pages at the edges where they are handled.

2) Set your printer to the specific type of paper. If it knows what to expect, pages will be more likely to print perfectly straight. If you fold and staple firstly and then trim following cutting guides on the cover and it is not perfectly straight, then your entire book will look like a parallelogram instead of a perfect rectangle. Unacceptable.

3) Print at the highest possible quality. Particularly with covers and chapbooks with images or designs, it is important to print at the “best” or “maximum dpi” setting. You will then be much less likely to see faint lines running through your images, particularly in solid areas. Furthermore, commercial-grade printing should be standard when making chapbooks.

4) Press after stapling but before trimming. This is a necessity for perfect edges upon trimming. For pressing, I stack my chapbooks between large, clean hardcover books and then place a very heavy object squarely on top. If you don’t have a small anvil in your house, then a few bricks would do just fine.

5) Create custom margins for each page. Yes, it’s time consuming as many steps are, and while a consistent margin is…well…consistent, it also looks entirely unimpressive when dealing with anything other than justified margins for prose.

Still have sweaty palms? Getting poetry published need not be a stressful undertaking. Publish your poetry through Middle Island Press and let us take care of your words for you, quickly, kindly and perfectly.

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We at Middle Island Press are proud to be one of the best chapbook publishers on the Internet.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in News & Reviews

 

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Five Tips on How To Make Perfect Chapbooks

(by Christina Anne Taylor of Middle Island Press)

I share these tips for self-publishers as well as for competitors who need guidance on how to improve their craft for the good of all. Caughtcha!

1) Begin with clean hands and a clean surface. There is nothing more grotesque than seeing smudges on paper, be they from dirt or jelly donuts. I begin with a clean table cloth and clean hands washed with a standard bar of soap that will ensure no oily residue.

2) Fold no more than two sheets of paper at a time. It’s time-consuming but a crisp crease is important, and to fold too many is to increase the likelihood of ironing wrinkles into the pages. There is no undoing wrinkles except by reprinting pages.

3) Use top-quality staples in your saddle stapler. (You do have a saddle stapler, yes?) It sounds small, but get the “premium” staples, because there is no surer way to make a new book look instantly used than by pulling staples and restapling.

4) Use a heavy-duty paper cutter (you know, the ones that begin at $130). It’s a wise investment if many chapbooks will be made. It allows you to trim three or four books at a time without books sliding toward the blade, and without deep indentations on the top and bottom books as the cutter secures the stack.

5) Use top-quality paper. 16-lb copy paper encased in 65-lb cardstock looks as cheap as it is, so please do your words a favor by packaging them in a way that shows that your words deserve respect.

Okay, make that six tips. If you feel a bit intimidated or just don’t have the time, hire an experienced subsidy publisher to do it for you. It can cost less than all materials needed to begin.

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We at Middle Island Press are proud to be one of the best chapbook publishers on the Internet. We specialize in poetry.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in News & Reviews

 

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