Writing Software

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Upon the advice of friends and colleagues, I have picked up a copy of Scrivener to write my stories. In my opinion it is worlds better than Word or Open Office. It really is software designed for writers, not just for people who want to put words to paper. It allows you to break down your story by chapter and to instantly jump to that chapter with a click of the mouse. Use a digital ‘cork board’ to arrange, and rearrange, your notes and thoughts. You can also create bios of your characters that are always readily available.

I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of this great piece of software, but it’s already been quite helpful to me. Maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

Long Bindings & Custom Stuff

September 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Every now and then I get a request for a custom device. I recently built a super-wide Fan Binder—with an 18-inch capacity—for a customer in Boston. While I was at it I built an extra one just to sell. I also built a similarly large one for a company in New York last year.

That’s the beauty of binding your own stuff—the sky’s the limit. These customers had clients who needed something no large firm could provide. This is where the little guy can step in. One of the custom jobs in New York—this sounds like a Mob hit—involved an architect. He wanted over-sized sheets of his work bound for a client, and was willing to pay a premium for the work that could lead to some big bucks for himself. He couldn’t find anyone else to do it for him, and this was in NEW FREAKIN’ YORK! Imagine the possibilities in your own smaller pond.

So maybe you can’t compete with online companies who produce standard-sized books with standard materials dirt cheap. But they can’t—or won’t—produce an 18-inch behemoth of a book for a client who only needs 5 copies.

You gots to go where the business is, and that, my friend, is customization.

The Tie-In

August 19, 2012 Leave a comment

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a bit fiction-centric here at The Binding Blog. But there are other great formats as well, and one of my favorites is the Tie-In. I’m not talking about the novel written from the screenplay who was written by three people and rewritten by half-a-dozen others. I’m talking about the other peripheral books produced regarding plays or movies or even other cultural events. I’m especially a sucker for ‘Making Of’ books. I own loads of these things—Pixar movies, the great Aardman stuff, Blue Sky Studios, and the list goes on. I just picked up a copy of the making of Paranorman.

But you don’t have to shoot a Hollywood feature to make one of these Tie-Ins. Make a book about a school play, or a fund-raiser (which can, in turn, be used to earn more funds for the cause), or a car wash put on by your senior class, or even an alternative year book with your own slant on the school year.

What I’m saying is there are all kinds of possibilities. Smart phones are great, as are Ipads and Kindles, but there is just something…impermanent about digital media. I know there are all sorts of back-up and storage options, but these things just aren’t physical. You want something you can hold in your hands, something people can huddle around and laugh at or admire.

You want a book. You know you do.

The Hardcover Binder is Go

August 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I had all but given up on the Hardcover Binder—it is a bit of a pain to build, and an even bigger one to ship. It’s like sending off a boxed landing field. But I’ve had a lot of interest in them lately and have begun to build them again. I’ve found the construction a bit easier with each one.

I have also made a few minor improvements that make it easier to use—it is slightly wider, has a shorter track to allow easier access to the cover material, and now has a strip of marking tape that works much better than the finicky stop on previous versions.

Soon you’ll be seeing these worked back into the rotation (I’ve already sold the ones I just made). Hopefully, the neighbors won’t mind if I store the inventory in their garage.

In Honor of Mother’s Day

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Happy mothers day! In honor of this blessed time, here are versions of a cover all are sure to recognize. And remember—A boy’s best friend is his mother.

Admiring Great Work

May 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes I just like to acknowledge the great ones. Sonya Sheats produces work that makes me green with envy. Typically, I don’t like unusual bindings as they tend to look gimmicky, amateurish, or are simply an excuse to overcharge for a book. But Sonya’s work is the exception. She works in leather, wood, and polycarbonate. I would take one of her classes if I lived with 500 miles of Massachusetts.

Covers Matter

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Selling a book to a publisher is hard enough. Getting people to actually read the damned thing is harder still. So why do so many publishers allow mediocre covers (or off-topic ones) to grace their books? It’s almost like they don’t have a stake in the success of the books they publish. Very strange. Is the entire publishing industry just a big tax write-off? I’ll sic some of my conspiracy nut friends on this.

I’m a very big fan of Larry Correia. He writes some kick-ass novels that involve tons of action, guns, humor, and, inevitably, something weird. This guy is on the verge of really hitting it big. But Baen, his publisher, has saddled him with some sub-standard covers for the first two of his Monster Hunter novels. It’s not that they’re terrible, but they’re not that great either. Maybe it’s because Baen is a Science Fiction/Fantasy publisher, and these books are neither in my opinion.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like the Fantasy genre. I think the main reason is the names, both places and characters. They just strike me as exceptionally…well, dorky. I don’t care why Scrimish McAlderberry is searching for the Magical Casting Stones of Everton. I just want him to be eaten by a dragon.

And that’s the frustrating thing about these covers—I NEVER would have picked up one of these based on the covers alone. I’ve even had a few friends give me grief about reading something that looks suspiciously Fantasy-y (or -ish or -like). Baen has done a rising star a grave disservice. Thankfully, Correia’s great reviews and talent have overcome Baen’s ineptitude. (I’ll talk about their crappy page layout another time).

The third cover is substantially better. It more accurately conveys the tone of the story. Maybe they’ve seen the light. In the good old days, these books would have been classified more correctly as Horror. But that genre has fallen out of favor with most of the major publishers. So sometimes you just have to take what they give you, I guess.

Unless you publish your own books, that is. The trouble with that is getting the word out that your book exists at all.

Ah, the monstrous conundrums.