Friday, February 20, 2009

Definitions for the Perplexed: Cast-off

Let us begin at the beginning.
Well, actually, let us begin somewhere in the middle.

When the designer has the text and the art for a book (or just the text, if there will be no important art presence), she goes into her fancy design software and lays out the text and the illustration together in approximately the way it will appear in the book.

I say "approximately" because she isn't going to spend a bunch of time finessing the details--this is just the cast-off (or prelim layouts). In a longer book, she won't do more than a few pages.

Then she'll show this to the editor, so that they can make some decisions together: what typeface will suit the book's mood and function best? How are the illustrations or chapter heads going to be treated? Do they like this little ornament on the page edge, or would this one be better? etc. Different book, different questions.

Authors and illustrators often won't see a cast-off, and in some books' cases, a cast-off doesn't happen. In those cases, the designer goes straight to galleys.

4 comments:

eluper said...

In the case of both of my books, my editor has been kind enough to show me the cast-off. It didn't even have the proper text in there, just a jumble of latin and english words. Either way, it was great to take in the vibe my book would have when it hits shelves.

I'm not sure it's important to EVERY author, but with the long expanses of time that go by from edits to publication, it's comforting to see that people are actually working on (and giving serious thought to) my stuff!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This is very helpful.

Nancy Coffelt said...

I'm curious. How many different font types do editors consider for Y/A novels? I'm always excited to see what my editor has chosen for my picture books - the fonts add so much to the book - but I'd never considered fonts for my first novel out this fall.

Especially since I've been staring at Times New Roman for months during revisions....

Anonymous said...

I like Nancy's question.

Fonts affect my response to a book a great deal. I've stopped reading certain books because their fonts were so thick and heavy that I found myself more and more annoyed.

How many fonts gets tried out? Does the author ever get a say in at least what type of font gets used? I hate Century Gothic, for instance, and if I see it in a YA book, I simply will not buy the book.

Are you allowed to say, "Excuse me, I've spent a year and a half of my life on this book, can I have a less ugly-ass font?"