song of the slums

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Making the Cover

Early Cover Ideas

First Version

Final Version

Designing the text

Cathy Larsen


Designing the Text


Talking of Song of the Slums, Cathy says, 'The editor was worried about the book being too long. As you [Richard] had a large amount of short numbered chapters I decided to flow them on using an inset number as a chapter marker, rather than the traditional style of starting each new chapter on a new page and having a Chapter title and chapter drop for the text.'

Here's the look of a chapter number, a really unusual and striking effect:

Cathy had to work the text to a certain number of pages. Because printing is done on larger paper sheets, a B size paperback book (like Song of the Slums) needs to come out as a multiple of 12, while a C size book needs to come out as a multiple of 16. Of course, you can have more or less material to fill out the endpapers (the pages before and after the actual text). Because Cathy saved space so successfully, we were able to include ad pages for Worldshaker and Liberator, and a piece on the writing ofthe novel.

For the lettering of titles and the chapter numbers, Cathy chose a lovely old-fashioned font called Algerian Condensed Standard. I borrowed it for the flyer for the launch at the Conflux convention, 2013 - here's a sample

As for the actual text, that's a whole further esoteric art . If you ever listen in to a conversation on layout between professionals, you'll be amazed at how much there is to think about in order to get the text looking right, and how passionate people can get about it. The mere name of certain fonts is enough to provoke World War III !

Here's Cathy talking about the art of a 'cast-off' - I'm sure it all makes perfect sense

"You do everything in multiples of baseline grids. The first thing I do is throw a grid through the whole text, set up master pages, margins and everything, running heads and folios, whatever other repeating elements I have. You have your chapter drop, you’ve usually got less text on that page, you have the title of the chapter, you might have an epigraph or little quote or something. You count an average of how many words in your chapter drop, then times it by the number of chapters, then subtract that number away from the total word count.Then you get an average of how many words there are in a full page and divide it into the balance. This gives you a rough number of total pages. Add your number of chapters to your number of full pages and there you have your estimated extent."

Er, yes, Cathy ... Let's end off with something that ordinary mortals can understand, namely, the start of the inside blurb with Cathy's cogs-and-fog artwork.



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