The Right Tools for the Job

As a writer, I know the tools for my job:  my computer, notebooks, red pens, writing reference books, informational podcasts, etc.  I carry these tools in my writer’s tool belt, and I look for new and better tools so that I gain skill in my craft. I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily need the Snap On tools, but a nice Craftsman makes my life easier. In other words, I may choose to read a book rather than pay for a workshop, or vice versa, depending on the situation. I’m looking for the best value, but I will not sacrifice quality to save a few dollars.

Now I’m  learning how to apply this philosophy to book production.

I’ve been getting bids from printers for Patchwork and Ornament. P&O is a different animal from my first book, one with a color interior (we are adding 30-35 color images to go with the text).

Unexpectedly, paper selection has become a Big Deal. We need something more opaque than what comes with a black-and-white book. I must decide between a matte and gloss finish. And, curiously, the paper used most often for color is thinner, so I need paper that will give me enough spine width so that people won’t think the book is absurdly overpriced.

I went back to the printer I wanted to use and asked for a different paper, one with the qualities I wanted but a lower page per inch.  They balked.  Turns out they don’t stock a lot of different papers, so if I work with them, I am stuck with a paper I don’t want. My rep and I found ourselves at an impasse, and her response to my concerns was to keep steering me toward that which I have rejected.

Tools…paper is an important tool to the job of book production. And, while I am at times accused of being a bit of a control freak, I know what I want, and since I am investing thousands of dollars of family funds to do the job, I feel like I need the tools that will work for me.

In the meantime, I contacted another printer that I found in various resources for small publishers. I saw a book that they had printed, one filled with vivid, clear color images and cool paper. I looked at their website and found a massive paper selection, including the number of pages per inch. This got my attention.

When the rep called me, I felt like I was working with a  real guide. We explored a number of options. She offered to send a paper sample book. She made suggestions. She is providing me with a number of different quotes with a variety of scenarios so I can decide what I want to do.

I haven’t seen the quotes yet, but I will tell you this: this company is simply better equipped to do what I need done. Many companies advertise that they do color printing, but this experience feels like I’ve moved from a plumber’s apprentice to a master plumber. The other company has a great reputation, and I hope to use them on some black and white projects that I’m working on for the future…but for Patchwork and Ornament, it was a matter of finding the right tools for the job.

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