Located in Calgary, Alberta, and serving all of Canada, the Polished Publishing Group (PPG) is a top choice in Canadian book publishers when it comes to self publishing town history books or city history books. Here are PPG's recommendations to any municipality to help break down this monumental task into ten achievable steps:
1. Collecting Photos
Photographs are an essential part of any town history book, so communities should make sure to include as many good quality photos from throughout the years as possible. All colour photos should be submitted to the publisher in either .jpg (.jpeg) or .tif (.tiff) format, with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI, using the CMYK colour model. Black and white photos should also be submitted in either .jpg (.jpeg) or .tif (.tiff) format with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI; however, for best results, they should be saved as grayscale/monochrome images rather than CMYK. Each file should be given a unique name that makes it easily identifiable to the publisher's graphic artist who will be assigned to designing the book.
2. Writing a Town/City History Book
When it comes to writing a city history book, a professional ghostwriter can be hired to take care of it if there are no qualified writers on staff. Completed manuscripts should contain only basic formatting when they are submitted for publication:
• Times New Roman font, 11 pt. size
• Left-aligned text
• Entire document double-spaced
• Only hard returns in this document should be at the end of chapter titles and paragraphs
• Insert a page break at the end of each section and/or chapter
• Insert an additional page break where you want blank pages to appear
• Type "Insert image file name here" wherever you wish to see your electronic photo files inserted
• Italicize any words/phrases you wish to see italicized in the formatted version of your book
• Bold any words/phrases you wish to see bolded in the formatted version of your book
• Underline any words/phrases you wish to see underlined in the formatted version of your book
The reasons for formatting a manuscript in this way are discussed below.
3. Protecting Copyright
In Canada, authors own the copyright to their work as soon as they create it. There is no legal requirement to register it. Protecting copyright can be done in a very straightforward and cost-effective way. It's as simple as sealing a copy of the completed work in an envelope and mailing it back to the copyright owner via registered mail. When the date-stamped package is returned, it should be kept sealed and stored in a fireproof container. This simple step provides date-stamped proof of ownership.
4. Choosing a Professional Supportive Self-Publishing Company
It is best for companies to work with a professional supportive self-publishing house for a project such as this: first and foremost, supported self-publishing allows authors (in this case, the municipality) to maintain copyright ownership of the work while having a team of qualified editors, designers, indexers, and proofreaders at their disposal at all times; and, secondly, the publishing portion of the project can be completed in as little as six months from the time the written and photographic materials are submitted to the time the book is printed.
5. ISBN Numbers/Barcodes and Legal Deposits
"ISBN" stands for "International Standard Book Number." An ISBN number is a unique 13-digit identifier for each edition of a book that is obtained from Library and Archives Canada (LAC). For example, the trade paperback version of a book will have one ISBN number, and the eBook version will have another. An ISBN number and corresponding barcode is only required if the book will be sold commercially. A supportive self-publishing company can take care of this detail for clients. Books that are assigned an ISBN number should be submitted to Legal Deposit at LAC by the self-publisher (the municipality) upon publication.
A professional copy editor's job is to enhance a story as it is and offer helpful suggestions that may have been overlooked or not considered at all. A second set of eyes will catch those unobvious errors—such as transposed words and letters, punctuation issues, or improper word usage—that writers are simply blind to after reading the same thing over and over again (and that electronic spell checks sometimes miss).
A municipality's raw manuscript should be submitted to the supported self-publishing company in the format discussed in point 2. Writing a Town/City History Book. This clean format makes each paragraph easier to read and correct. The edited manuscript will then be returned to the municipality in the same raw format for final approval before being forwarded onto a graphic designer for professional formatting.
7. Interior and Cover Design
There is an obvious difference between covers created by human/mechanical template builders and the ones carefully crafted by experienced graphic designers. Professional Canadian publishers like PPG hire qualified designers to ensure the town history book is given the royal treatment it deserves.
8. Fact Checking and Indexing
Non-fiction readers expect to see an index at the back of a book. They also trust all the information contained within the book is accurate. Utilizing a publisher's professional fact checker will help to ensure all dates and facts are correct. Using their professional indexer will make certain the index is done right, too.
Municipalities should always request a hard proof of their history books rather than relying on an electronic proof alone as the pages of a book look very different on a computer screen compared to how they look in print. The publisher's professional proofreader will to do the following nine-point check of that hard proof before handing it over to the municipality for the final word:
• the front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct
• the back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct
• headers and footers are accurate and correct
• bad breaks are eliminated
• text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout
• margins and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct
• spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct
10. Printing Books
There are three primary printing options available to today's self-publishers depending on how many copies of their books they wish to print:
• Traditional offset printing: best price for 1000+ copies
• Modern digital printing: best price for 100 to 999 copies
• Print-on-demand (POD): best price for one to 99 copies
It is wise to contact several printers in your area to obtain quotes for 50, 250, 500, 1000, and 2000 copies. The unit price quoted per each quantity requested will be a good indicator of what type of press is being used and where the printer can be competitive. Municipalities should keep this information on hand until they've decided how many books they will need, and then choose the appropriate printer at that time. The right supportive self-publishing company can help point companies in the right direction if they require additional support in this area.