Unrelated Topics: Mysterious Pages and Genre-Hopping

Oh, my stars, I have been having the WORST time with a Word file. It’s driving me nuts.

I try to be really picky about my books. I want them to look as professional as possible, in everything from font to design. Truly? I don’t know the first thing about book design. But I know what a book looks like when I hold it in my hands, and that’s what I want MY books to look like.

I’ve published two books in hardcover and so far, both of them look pretty darn good. But Moon Over Donamorgh… what the hell is Word trying to do to me?

I set the front pages to print so that certain material is on the right-hand page. Dedications, list of other books, and of course, the first page of chapter 1, should all be on the right-hand page. If necessary, this might mean inserting a blank page before or after to make the file print correctly.

It’s always worked before (ahem… for my other books – all two of them)

I’ve set up the front pages for Donamorgh the same way I’ve always done. But when I save it to .pdf, lo and behold, there are extra blank pages inserted. These blank pages don’t exist in the Word document. I’ve been going crazy! I’ve done everything I can think of, including crying for help.

I think… think… that I’ve got it fixed, by blunt force. I have to wait to upload the new file to Createspace, then wait to see if it works the way it’s supposed to. Holy cow, people, this is not supposed to be so damn hard. But right now, there exists on my hard drive, a pdf file with all the information on the correct page. This makes me happy, but I don’t dance until I know for sure it will work.

Which brings me to another issue. Not formatting. Marketing.

I advertise myself as a science fiction AND fantasy writer. Despite the fact that bookstores lump these together, they really are separate genres. Some people who like SF do not like fantasy. The opposite is also true.

It is, therefore, unusual to find an author who publishes BOTH genres under the same name. It wouldn’t surprise me to know that many authors write both genres, because an awful lot of people like both of them. Um… like me.

I like them both.

I write both. So far, you’ve only seen the science fiction, as evidenced by the two books of the Time Travel Journals series. But Moon Over Donamorgh is fantasy. And I’m putting it out under the same name (MY name) as the SF.

I believe a great many publishers / agents / critics will frown at this. And for all I know, they are correct to do so. I may irritate people who now expect science fiction when they see my name. I may miss fantasy readers for the same reason.

But honestly, it’s still pretty early in my publishing career. I think you folks can keep up just fine. So I’m publishing both under the same name, and we’ll see what happens. And for the record, I’ve also written a paranormal romance that I just might publish under my name, too.

Why not just publish different genres under different names? Believe me, I asked myself that question. Aside from the added frustration inherent in using more than one name, my reason came down to one thing:

I want several books to come up when you plug my name into searches.

That’s it. Marketing, plain and simple.

Publishing is a numbers game, and self-publishing is a murderous numbers game. My books don’t show up automatically in thousands of bookstores across the country. They are completely dependent on people who buy online (even for the hardcovers), and on you lovely people telling your friends about them.

The game works best when an author has several books. So I don’t want to waste my name in SF by using a different name on a fantasy book, and having to essentially start all over to get the “new” name out there.

I might be wrong. Won’t be the first time. But speaking purely as a Reader of Books, I think I’m pretty savvy when shopping for books. I read the book description and I also read a few pages at the beginning, before I decide to buy a book. If it’s an author I recognize, I don’t freak out if the book is not exactly like their other books. If I like one thing they wrote, chances are I’ll like another thing. Even if one was SF and the other fantasy.

I have the same faith and respect for  people who read my books. Y’all ain’t dumb folks. If I tell you Donamorgh is fantasy, and you don’t LIKE fantasy, then you might not buy the book. Or you might be so enamored of my story-telling, that you decide to take a chance. If you do, I hope you love it.

Hey, it could happen.

If you read it, and it’s still just “fantasy”  and bores you silly – I’m sorry. But you and I both know your eyes were wide open when you bought it. It’s always a good idea to read the first chapter or so to see if a story piques your interest. I think you should always do this. It’s one reason I post the first chapters of my books on my web page. It’s why Amazon and Smashwords let you download or look at a sample.

Or why you browse in bookstores.

So I invite you to hang in there with me. I will continue to publish in both genres, along with my fling with paranormal romance. That’s sort of fantasy, anyway. Witches, werewolves, elves, and magic.

Along with time travel and space colonization, what else do you need?







10 thoughts on “Unrelated Topics: Mysterious Pages and Genre-Hopping”

  1. The only thing I would do with a different name is erotica, which I did do with a pen name lol! But I’m good with using my name for some of my other genre hopping. Neverlove is YA paranormal. The works I have in progress are different genres and I’ll probably go with my name unless someone else pitches a fit lol!

  2. Interesting article. I’ve wrestled with Word for a friend and found it was in the section vs. page breaks if I understand your problem. Anyway, I’m an aspiring SF author just out looking for advice. Looks like I found some.

    1. Tom, you’re right that a page break will fix the problem, but then the header/footers get messed up. The section breaks are essential to keep the headers in order. The thing is, I’ve done this with two other books. Why is it a problem all of a sudden? The mystery continues…

      1. Pagination changes with page breaks but not section breaks. Get the pages right first, then fix the numbering. Check the ‘link to previous’ to make sure your pages either continue or don’t.

        Yeah, I’m a Word dork.

  3. Boy, do I feel your pain! The formatting stuff can be a real headache. I don’t feel comfortable delegating book design to someone else because I always end up doing final edits when I’m formatting…so there’s always some pain.

    You noted, as does C. J. Lyon, that the best marketing is to have several books available. I’ve struggled with this part, having spent a lot of time on a difficult book — so I’ve backed off of it yet again to finish an easier one. I think it’s worth the effort, but each book, as you well know, has its own timing.

    Funny, I don’t think about genre much when choosing books to read. I look for a story that sounds interesting, and I don’t really care what label gets attached to it. I know already that when I get a Marlene Dotterer book, I’m going to get a solid effort.

    1. Thanks, Nadine!

      I’ll admit, I look at genre first, when I’m deciding what to read. Or rather, what NOT to read. For instance, I’m not touching horror, I don’t care how good the story is. I probably won’t touch a western, although historical fiction is usually fine, even if it takes place in 19th century America. Go figure.

      But I agree with you – any book can be worth the read, no matter the genre. The story’s the thing, right?

  4. Donald Westlake wrote sci fi and comic crime novels under the same name, and probably a lot of other stuff. Asimov wrote whatever he pleased. As long as the description of the book is clear, readers will be able to figure out whether they want to give it a shot or not.

  5. I formatted my first book using Word (2000) and was able to get the right breaks by using section break and starting the new section on the next page. Don’t use page breaks, as you noticed, the header and footers won’t be right for the first page of a chapter. However, Word isn’t efficient and I discovered that my books are considerably more pages than desktop publishing yields for the same font, page size, and margins. I don’t know why that happened, but that’s how it worked out. I couldn’t afford Adobe Indesign, the premier desktop publishing software, so I asked around and found Serif Page Plus, which, without discounts costs about $100. I also use it to publish the Ricardian Register (quarterly for the Richard III Society, American Branch). I’m the current editor. X6 is the current version of Page Plus.

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