Done with the Rough Cut, Time To Map the Book
After I found the 140+ pages, I discovered that Phil actually had 6 more months of archives. What a bonus!
So I now sit with close to 170 pages — sorted into 5 categories. Those 5 categories will soon become 7 or 8 book chapters. That will happen when we’ve reviewed the larger ones to break them into more readable chunks.
The next step is to plan how the pages map out.
We’re actually going to make a bookmap.
No Bound Book Has 666 Pages
You may never have thought about it, but it’s a fact:
You can’t have a page 1 without a page 2.
Every sheet of paper has a front and a back.
That’s the first reason that page counts matter. Paper is tangible.
There are some things that paper won’t do.
It’s also a fact that:
No bound book has 666 pages.
Why No Bound Book Has 666 Pages
Books are made from large rolls or large sheets of paper that get folded in a certain way. When they are folded, they are called “signatures.”
Most books are made of 16-page or 32-page signatures. This picture shows a 16-page signature unfolded. The small numbers inidicate the page number in the book. [The image is owned by and linked to prepress.com — where you could find out more about book building and printing than most folks would ever need to know.]
The smallest signature is 4 pages — 666 divided into 4-page signatures would be 166 and 1/2 signatures. That means 2 pages couldn’t be bound in with the rest. Even at that very small, very expensive signature size, it wouldn’t work. You couldn’t traditionally bind a 666-page book. The book would have to be 664 or 668 pages.
Oh, were you thinking something else?
A Quick Look at Using a Bookmap
Because books are “imposed” onto signatures, we’re going to map Phil’s book out using a bookmap. A bookmap lets us get the big picture of the book on paper, where we can play with it.
Using a bookmap is like filling in a blank book. If we were making an 8-page book it would map out like this.
Notice how an 8-page book really has only 6 pages for text. See that the first page is a right-hand page. Setting up the bookmap this way helps everyone to remember which pages are 2-page spreads (facing pages) and which are front-to-back pages. That can be important when we want to keep certain copy together visually.
Using a bookmap will help us get a sense of the size and scope and the progression of the book. We’ll see how many pages our content will probably need and how many pages we need to fill out a signature. By mapping the book before we start, we’ll be able to plan for useful and relevant content on every page — we’ll avoid the blank pages we sometimes see at the end of books. We’ll deliver more value to our readers. Bookmaps make for better books.
A Free Bookmap for You
In the meantime, if you want to play with a bookmap of your own. Here’s a 32-page expandable bookmap for you. Use more than one to make bookmap for a book as long as you like. If you end on the first box of any line, you will always have an 8-page signature.
Click on the image to enlarge and print it.
HINT: using the smallest sticky notes to move ideas around the bookmap is much easier than writing and erasing them.
Today, an editor friend and I will meet with Phil in Milwaukee. We’ll be sorting through the pages in categories to begin to layout the bookmap for Phil’s new book.
I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
If you’d like Liz to help you find or make a book from your archives, click on the Work with Liz!! page in the sidebar.
Bookcraft 2.0: Find a Book in Your Archives the Way a Publisher Would
Bookcraft 2.0 Archive Mining: How to Get From Working Book Title to Rough Cut Content
Bookcraft 2.0 Why Read the Date Archives Not the Categories?
Bookcraft 2.0: How Many Words Does It Take to Make a Book?
Good morning Liz!
Liz, this is totally fascinating. I can’t wait until I get caught up on my various site-infrastructure issues so that I can delve more deeply into this series (and show it to my friend the professional author)
I have no idea if my archives hold enough of value at this point. But just studying the process of evaluating it and following all the steps you’ve shared sounds like it would be an incredible education.
And might help give focus and unity to my day-to-day posts.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us. Really, this is one of the most interesting series I’ve read.
ME Strauss says
Good morning to you,too!
Yeah, one of the best parts of publishing is that there was never a chance that I’d ever be bored. Every book is slightly different in how it is made and every topic is different in what it needs to cover it.
Thanks for your words of support. I need them. It’s hard not to go on and on forever about this stuff. I feel like an old lady talking about her grandkids. 🙂
John Stalcup says
Its neat that you bring up such a topic to the public, but there are exceptions to what you’ve described.
Printing is not always done in 4, 8, 16, or 32 page chunks. If accordion or roll-folding is used, you can as easily work with 6, 10, 12, 14, 18, 20, etc page sections as well. The only real limitation, is that every page has 2 sides, so all page counts are multiples of 2.
What you’ve described is certainly the most common way of working with the paper, but it is not the only way.
ME Strauss says
Welcome. True. very true, thank you for bringing that up. There are so many options today. We can’t possibly talk about all of them. You’re right. The only hard fact is that every front has a back. 🙂
For the sake of this series, I decided to stick with the traditional and most common forms. So I made a choice to ride where the biggest traffic goes. It’s by no means the only road worthy of exploring, but as a teacher I’ve found that for most folks it’s easier to judge the rest, if they know one way well first.
Feel free to join in with the exceptions as we go along. That would fun and I’d love the benefit your insights as well. 🙂
It’s nice to see some people still have some optimism about book publishing.
I just got thoroughly depressed reading Bob Bly’s “adios to publishing” post over at
ann michael says
You’re reminding me of the days when I had to tour printing facilities. Your descriptions are great. Now everyone reading has to imagine watching these sheets roll off a 4 color press (if you have the cash for color!) and get folded, stacked, bound and covered. It’s really cool to watch.
Chris Cree says
Liz, I keep reading this series in wonder, shaking my head with a big old smile and my eyes wide like a kid feeding some of those vending machine pellets to the giraffes at the zoo. “I didn’t know his tongue would be so long! Or so purple!”
I keep hearing my self say out loud, “Huh. I didn’t know that.”
Thanks for sharing this process with us!
ME Strauss says
Ah! Heck, there’s at least two weeks left for making great books yet! 🙂
No one will ever totally replace the feel or the navigation of a book in a person’s hands. The bad books will go away . . . Maybe that’s what depresses some folks. Who can say? 🙂
ME Strauss says
I’m right there with you!
Ugh! I just saw some editor make a change on a four-color plate . . . darn how I hate that!
ME Strauss says
Why would you know that?!! If you did, I couldn’t tell you and make you surprised with bright eyes and wonder!
Books are as cool as erector sets and legos.