Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, October 09, 2004


So I didn't post in here on a Friday. Deal with it.

Actually, the reason was because I was doing the same thing I've been wrestling with all week: Working out the kinks in a poetry book I have decided to self-publish. One would think I would be happy admitting this but, let me tell you, creating the documents and formatting them according to publication specs is NOT a day in the park. Seriously. I've spent all week playing e-mail tag with a printer because I decided to get the bright idea of using a cool, unique font for my book. I wanted to use this font because the book IS a horror poetry book AND it is being re-released in time for Halloween. I love the font (and the printer thought it was "awesome") but I'm ready to bid it adieu.

So many advocates of self-publishing have hammered it into my head: "Don't get cute with font." The rule is to either use Courier New or Arial font for your book. But I just have to be different. I just have to make life harder. Ugh.

The font I used for my poetry book is one I downloaded for free off of a site (you'll find that link in my book when it's out -- or on Google, if you know what words to enter). I immediately fell for it and promptly asked its creator for permission to use it (you will find his name with his link) (but you'll have to get his e-mail address yourself because I just don't toss those out to just anyone). Securing this, I set to work using it for the layout of my book. Problem 1 was in SEEING the dang font when it was at size 12. It was way too tiny, even for my bad eyesight. It started to appear visible at size 18, but I wasn't sure if what I saw on the screen would equal what I see on printed paper. I ended up having to use it at size 22. THEN I run into problem 2: The font does not cover quotation marks or apostrophes, though it seems to have no problem with semi-colons!! Ugh. I couldn't figure out how to solve this so I e-mailed my font guy to see what to do. He said he didn't create it for those particular punctuation marks so I had to use the next best thing. I was ready to scream, "How am I supposed to find out which one THAT is when I've got over 3 dozen fonts to choose from???" But, I didn't. I just said "OK, thanks" and started with a basic font. Arial Narrow seemed to work okay and it LOOKED okay so I went with it. That solved, I encountered Problem 3: Fitting the poems onto one page, no matter how long they were. Now, this problem was one I ended up wasting time over but I'll explain why later. What I did was change around some sizes. While the title was size 18, the font was size 16. The spaces between stanzas got shortened, too. Lines got cut off and stanzas ended up being put together. (I hated doing this, because it ruined the poem.) BUT later on, my Very Helpful Printer fixed the problem. Actually, she fixed the whole manuscript. She put it into a PDF document to show me exactly how we could get this font to work and how I didn't need to worry about putting the poems onto one page because she, as printer, would be able to recognize what went where in case a stanza from a poem ran on to the next page. (I am NOT a formatting wiz!! Which is why I tried to keep each poem on one page.)

I am happy to report that this Awesome Font will still be used for this book. (I was NOT looking forward to telling my font guy "sorry, changed my mind" because he seemed really happy about his font being used for a book). It looks really cool. I have YET to hold the printed proofs in my hands to see it in print, but so far, it looks just fine. I know the person I dedicated this book to will like it, too.

But, to say the least, from now on, I'm using good ol' Courier New or Arial for fonts in my books. Unless SOMEBODY ELSE has the patience and tech know-how to do the job for me.


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