Publishing/editing (for POD) advice sought?

Subject: Publishing/editing (for POD) advice sought?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Technical Writing Plus <doc-x -at- earthlink -dot- net>
Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2009 13:12:17 -0400

Jim Jones wondered: <<... I am editing and copyediting a book for a
technical writer. I need some advice about the screenshot
illustrations. For example, the author will be using a P-O-D publisher-
should the screenshots be linked to, embedded, or should they be
included in another 'include file'?>>

How to prepare your files depends entirely on how the publisher works.
Lulu, for example, requires a single PDF file for the cover and
another for the contents, and everything must be included in those two
files. Other publishers may work differently. For example, some
commercial printers that I've worked with requested that the graphics
files be provided separate from the text so that they could massage
them for optimal print quality on their printing equipment. Always ask
the specific publisher how they want you to proceed.

Personally, I'd distrust any publisher that accepted linked files from
a word processor, since these cause enormous numbers of platforms when
you move the project from one computer to another; properly encoded
links will be relative to the document (so that no matter where you
move the project folder, the links will remain valid), but I've had so
many problems with this in files sent by clients that I'm not
optimistic about using linked files. DTP software such as InDesign
does a much better job of keeping track of linked files, and includes
a "package for printing" feature that gathers all the required files
into a single, reliable grouping that you can send to a pre-press
bureau or printer with no worries.

<<This book is being prepared in OOo. It is not currently utilizing
the Master Documents feature, but I might recommend that as well, as I
learn about it. I understand that Master Documents can be a nightmare
with MS Word but Master Documents in Open Office are not as difficult
or cumbersome.>>

The problem is not that Word Master Documents are difficult or
cumbersome: it's that they frequently (some would say "inevitably")
corrupt the documents, causing major data recovery problems. Avoid
them in Word; there are many alternatives.

<<Also - and perhaps more listmembers would be able to opine on this:
Number of screenshot illustrations. Would one screenshot every 350
words be about right?>>

The "right" number of screenshots is the number that you need to use
to clearly explain things. There is no meaningful ratio per X words
that you should look for. Use a screenshot when it explains something
better than text alone; don't use it for eye candy unless the book is
so text-heavy that visual relief is required to keep people reading.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
Effective Onscreen Editing:


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