Since I decided to publish I Town on my own, I’ve found myself journeying down a strange new road with as many twists and turns and dips and bumps as the writing process itself can have. Most recently I came up against the challenge of the signature. The signature has nothing to do with how I’m going to autograph those first copies when they finally arrive. It’s about the offset printing process as done on 24×36 sheets of paper, which are cut and folded into sets of pages. I learned about the signature when I started looking into doing a picture book for kids. Those books have only a few words, 250-500, and are all about the signature.
As I understand the process, picture books are printed eight pages to the sheet, four on each side. The total page count, including the title page, copy page, back matter, and story will be a multiple of eight. Thirty-two is the standard. I had this in my head as I was doing the page layout and came up with 376 pages after doing some tightening. (It was actually a bit more crowded than I would have liked.) Then it occurred to me that a 6×9 novel wouldn’t be laid out on a 24×36 sheet the same way a big picture book for kids would be. I was looking at a 32 page signature, and, wouldn’t you know it, 32 is not an equal division of 376. I needed to add eight pages back into my layout. At first I figured that wouldn’t be a problem since my layout was so crowded, but when I had relaxed my per page word count a little by pushing in my margins and added the few buffer pages I wanted here and there, I was still three pages short. I didn’t mind the idea of have a pair of blank pages at the back–lots of books do that–but three just didn’t feel right. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that extra page.
All the members of my editorial board have encouraged me to include images to help explain the setting. Ages ago I had drafted a map showing the relationship of the three regions of Trintico, so a grabbed it, added some detail and showed it to “the Board”. They rejected it, saying that it didn’t show enough of Induction Town and gave away too much about the other books. So I went back to the drawing board. I came up with a detailed plan of Induction Town that ended up impacting the text in some subtle ways. So, yes, I had to redo the ebook files again, for the umpteenth time.
Thanks to the critical guidance of my editorial staff, here is the image that will be opposite the title page in the paperback, which will hopefully be available early next month. And, thanks to its imposition on the text, I included it in the redo of the ebook.