Things I had mercifully forgotten about preparing a book for publication

The Libra book is probably sufficiently revised to get out to the early readers, so they can rip it to shreds! So now I have to prepare the print layout. Just having the occasional flashback to all the LibreOffice tricks I had blanked out of my memory from last time.

Pick a version. LibreOffice’s text layout has changed very slightly between versions — my 2017 layout file for Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain is no longer laid out quite correctly. This is a word processor, not a page layout program. So pick a version and stick to it — I’m doing the layout on the netbook in LibreOffice 6.4.

Putting a heading on the endnotes: Drop the whole book text into a section, Right click, go to Edit Section, click on Options, go to Footnotes/Endnotes, tick “Collect at end of section.” Fiddle with page breaks and so on until the layout behaves.

Indexing: The help pages are not clear. So this is what you do:

  • For a single entry that doesn’t have subtopics: just put the text for the index entry in “Entry”.
  • For an entry that has a subtopic: put the index entry in “1st key” and the subtopic in “Entry”.
  • The program will helpfully autofill in fields you probably don’t want it to — always check!

The shortcut key in Word to add an index entry is Shift-Alt-X. This isn’t configured by default in LibreOffice, but it’s easy enough to configure if you can work out the dialogue box under Tools→Customise.

If you’ve done your chapter headings properly (as style “Heading 1”) and want your Index listed in the Table of Contents, then right-click on your index, go to Edit Index, go to Styles, select Title on the left and Heading 1 on the right, and click the “<“. Right-click on your Table of Contents to update it, and the Index should be listed correctly.

Indexing a book is tedious as hell and takes forever. There probably isn’t a cure for this.

At least I don’t have any images in this one. (Yet.)

The book’s on track for Monday 2 November — still waiting on final artwork. Everything else is progressing well.

I’ve sent another copy of the draft text to Libra and Novi, in a good faith effort to resolve any serious content problems before publication and not after. If you’re at Libra or Novi, please pass word to whoever monitors the press emails. Cheers!

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2 Comments on “Things I had mercifully forgotten about preparing a book for publication”

  1. Last time I did something book-like, I actually used LaTeX, this pushes a lot of the things you’re describing here to “text entry time” (the chapter and sub-chapter headings come for basically free, the index definitely doesn’t, and I would probably have to go look up how it’s done, but you basically annotate the words that should be in the index, and what they (if anything different) should use as the index key).

    But, as almost always, whatever tool you’re comfortable with is the right tool.

    1. There’s no way I could have done the actual writing in LaTeX. TOC comes for free in LO if you’re using your styles properly, indexing is just a long, slow and tedious process no matter how you do it.

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