3.16.2006

Bound for...something

Greetings Miss Snark,

I've been a loyal Snarkling for a full month now! :-) However, your blog is helping me procrastinate all too easily when I should be writing. :-(

I have a borderline nitwit question, but I'll let you be the judge of that. I would like to waste money turning my novel manuscript into a nice, clean "reading copy" similar to what you'd get at a POD house, but for internal use only. Like an ARC, I'd put Not For Sale on it. The purpose would be to have a book I could share with trusted friends and colleagues whose opinions I respect, without having to send out a bunch of unwieldy, loosely bound manuscript pages. And yes it's purely psychological, but it would be useful for me to see the novel in a novel-like format. Of course, I don't intend to send this "reading copy" to an agent or publisher, unless they requested it over the other, more traditional format. (NEVER send this even if you think they're asking for it...they're not)

But my concern is this: would this constitute a publishing event that could in any way jeopardize the rights I hope to sell to a publisher? As long as I don't try to sell the reading copy, am I in the clear?



You're fine. Number the copies and when you sell the novel and become rich and famous, the value of those "prepublished versions" sold at Sothebys will keep us all in champagne for years to come.

And never, ever send a bound reading copy to an agent. If you don't know why, you can ask, but think about it for a second, ok ten seconds, and you'll figure it out.

11 comments:

LJCohen said...

I did something similar for a few beta readers through lulupress. (though I had it printed on 8 1/2 x 11 and spiral bound for their convenience) It ended up being cheaper for me to have lulu print the copies and ship them to me than it would have been going through my local staples or copy shop.

Since these were only private copies, sold only to me, this is not considered publication. Just think of it as a remote copyshop.

Anonymous said...

Most friends and critiquers find binding to be a big bonus, but comb binding is sufficient for that purpose. Anything up to nearly 600 pages can be comb-bound, with a clear cover and opaque back, at your friendly neighborhood Kinko's. (You can do up to 1200 pages if you double-side copy first...but if you find yourself in that position, you might need counseling.)

Agents and editors hate any kind of binding twelve ways from Sunday. They like to be able to cart around little sections, to be able to Xerox(R) bits and toss them at trusted associates, etc. If they hate you, they like to make paper airplanes and see how far they can fly. Above all, they--unlike us normal humans--are used to reading loose pages, and you should give them what they are used to. We mortals can't read unbound pages in bed or the bath, but the pros can do so while riding roller coasters.

Anonymous said...

I've done that for my own copy so I could easily carry it around while traveling, and for a couple of friends for comment. I am only doing this for myself, not for agents or publishers. If you don't want a traditional binding, here's a really inexpensive way to do it.

If you have access to a printer that imposes, you can print two pages per side and print double sided. Let the print drive re-size the page and print it on regular letter size paper. Use a font that's easy to read at half size. I like Verdana 12 pt. and use at least a 1½ line spacing. It's also quite readable using the double line spacing of the original MS and Courier 12 pt. If you don't have access to a printer that will impose the pages, then print one side with two pages per sheet (layout of 2 up). After everything is printed, you'll have to cut it down the middle and put the pages together in the correct order. You can then bring it to a Staples, Kinko's, Office Max, etc. and have them GBC bind it. At the end you'll have an 8½ X 5½ inch book. The thickest GBC plastic ring is 1 inch. It has cost me less than $2/book because I've supplied everything but the binding and the assembly. Also, if you don't want to do all the work, you can bring it to any of these places and have them print and assemble it for you.

I've also done this with all the documents I've retrieved online. Its a great way to put notes together instead of having a bunch of loose papers.

Anonymous said...

Blue Squirrel's Click book software makes printing book format wonderfully easy. At least until the @%^%$$ printer messes up half way through a group of pages and you have to reprint.

yossarian said...

"Anything up to nearly 600 pages can be comb-bound, with a clear cover and opaque back, at your friendly neighborhood Kinko's."

I've done this exact thing. It's easy and not much more expensive than making an ordinary copy.

Alternatively, for nosy friends who want to read (and for my own sake) I've just stapled each chapter and kept the whole shebang in a box.

J. Carson Black said...

Thanks for all the tips re. printing and binding a manuscript that is easy to read.

My problem has always been that by the time there are galleys from my publisher (sometimes bound, sometimes not), the window of opportunity to get blurbs from authors is almost closed. I would love to get my ms. out early and give authors a nice time frame to read my book, but I always thought that sending a big, loose, unbound manuscript would be a real imposition for them.

I'd like to ask Miss Snark if it would be appropriate to offer to send blurbing (or potentially blurbing) authors a book bound in this manner?

matt said...

I did that about a year ago through CafePress. Front cover and inside say "Personal Copy" and "4th Draft" or something like that. It's a lot easier than carrying a huge three ring binder around and it gives the boost to the old ego.

Anonymous said...

"I like Verdana 12 pt."

If a friend asked me to comment on her book and handed me a manuscript printed in a sans-serif font, I would say, "Sorry, no can do" as nicely as possible. They're fine for headlines and advertisements, but not for hundreds of pages of text.

Anonymous said...

"I like Verdana 12 pt."

If a friend asked me to comment on her book and handed me a manuscript printed in a sans-serif font, I would say, "Sorry, no can do" as nicely as possible. They're fine for headlines and advertisements, but not for hundreds of pages of text.


That's why font is a four letter word. I find Times New Roman hard to read. I guess, font is in the eye of the beholder. ;-)

This discussion on fonts reminds me of a factoid I learned about English appliances. Until the English standarized on wall sockets, you'd have to buy the appliance without a plug and then buy the plug you needed for your socket configuration separately and wire it yourself. :o__O

anon-y-mouse

ZeeZee said...

"My problem has always been that by the time there are galleys from my publisher (sometimes bound, sometimes not), the window of opportunity to get blurbs from authors is almost closed. I would love to get my ms. out early and give authors a nice time frame to read my book, but I always thought that sending a big, loose, unbound manuscript would be a real imposition for them."

Me too - and what a great idea. I would like to second this question, O Almightly Snark.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have sent the last draft of my novel to my agent in a lulu.com bound format -- it would have cost me $16 instead of the $40 it did to send the unbound manuscript.

I knew that (a) it would take upwards of 2-3 weeks for Canada Post and the US Mail to donkey-cart it to her via regular mail (i.e. by donkey-cart), (b) even sending by priority post meant it would take 10 days for the MS to reach her, and (c) no matter how polished I think the MS is, she's still going to ask for just a few more changes.

Sigh.