Author Topic: Short chapters producing too much white space  (Read 361 times)

Paul Gr

Short chapters producing too much white space
« on: July 02, 2021, 05:03:01 PM »
Firstly, it's been a while since I visited the forum, but it's good to be back.
My WIP has short chapters which produce a lot of white space between them. Obvously this isn't a problem with the e-book format, I can just make them flow, but the problem is I'm creating a print version.
Probably the most obvious solution is to write longer chapters so that they almost fill up a page, and create less white space.
Another solution might be to use a larger typeface, but realistically 12 point is about as large as I can use.
I'm guessing, and this really is a guess, that lots of white spaces between chapters are irritating for readers.
It's also less cost effective than filling the entire page, because I'm paying to have these white spaces 'printed.'
I might be paying to have a 300 page book printed of which only about maybe 80% is actual text.
 

alhawke

Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2021, 05:10:28 PM »
Can you create some chapter breaks instead? I've had multiple chapter breaks on one page before.

Of course, this depends on genre and what you're writing. Poetry has tons of space per page in some books. What genre is it?

I also remember in the back of my head some books with chapters separated by space instead of full pages. You might be able to pull this off with sci-fi as a sub-chapter, for instance. My mind is thinking The Martian as an example here, but honestly I'm not certain.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2021, 05:18:46 PM »
What comes to mind is for the print version, where 2 chapters will fit on a single page, remove the heading style from the second chapter, and convert it to just a big bold word. Without the second chapter tag, it should just print it on there.

Unless it's non-fiction with meaningful chapter headings, you don't need the TOC at all, so just use it for marking what starts on a new page.

I was playing around with D2D the other day on one of my really big NF books, and with the ToC, everything started on a new page. Without it, everything flowed using all the page space. Interesting test.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.


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Lynn

Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2021, 09:53:05 PM »
I remember reading some Tom Clancy books back in the day that didn't start new chapters on a new page. Something like that is probably necessary to keep costs in check when chapters are really short.
Don't rush me.
 

alhawke

Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2021, 12:30:56 AM »
Also to add, you can shrink down the font size with paperbacks to help with the economy of paper space. And the margins. Putting together a paperback can be a weird art. It's yet another thing we do with a learning curve that has nothing to do with writing.
 

Vijaya

Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2021, 02:35:16 AM »
I think the best option is to start the next chapter on the same page as the previous one ends. Also play with spacing in between the lines. 1.15 or 1.2 makes it easier to read esp. if you will go with a smaller font. Good luck!


Author of over 100 books and magazine pieces, primarily for children
Vijaya Bodach | Personal Blog | Bodach Books
 

RPatton

Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2021, 05:26:02 AM »
Also to add, you can shrink down the font size with paperbacks to help with the economy of paper space. And the margins. Putting together a paperback can be a weird art. It's yet another thing we do with a learning curve that has nothing to do with writing.

Don't touch the margins, shifting down the font size by half a point is good, but white space is actually good in print books.

Firstly, it's been a while since I visited the forum, but it's good to be back.
My WIP has short chapters which produce a lot of white space between them. Obvously this isn't a problem with the e-book format, I can just make them flow, but the problem is I'm creating a print version.
Probably the most obvious solution is to write longer chapters so that they almost fill up a page, and create less white space.
Another solution might be to use a larger typeface, but realistically 12 point is about as large as I can use.
I'm guessing, and this really is a guess, that lots of white spaces between chapters are irritating for readers.
It's also less cost effective than filling the entire page, because I'm paying to have these white spaces 'printed.'
I might be paying to have a 300 page book printed of which only about maybe 80% is actual text.
 

White space is good for print and here's the thing when  it comes to cost. Unless you are doing a pocket paperback and using offset printing, trades can cost up to $22 or $24 without people being too upset.

There are some good ways to cut down on the print length, and minimize the effect of shorter chapters. The easiest way is not starting each chapter on the right facing page. There is no rule or convention about that, despite what most indies claim. Check out any book in a bookstore or library and just as many (if not more) start on both facing pages. The almost as easy way is to shrink your trim size down. Yes, this will increase the pages, but it will decrease the white space. Again, despite what everyone claims 6x9 is not the traditional size, it's closer to the 5 1/4" x 8" for trades. Finally, changing the typeface can make a huge impact. There are some typefaces better suited for some genres (I wouldn't use Sabon in a thriller) but moreover, there are some typefaces that are designed to be space efficient. Baskerville is good for that, but you want the right Baskerville and there are a lot of version out there. Gandhi Serif is a free typeface that does well at smaller point sizes (8-10), which would conserve some space.

People need places to put their thumbs when the read a book, so you want to have decent margins on the outside and bottom. You can scrimp a little on the top, but then shrink down the font size of the running head.

If you're really struggling, drop me a PM and I can see if I can help you with more specifics.
 

Paul Gr

Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2021, 04:47:57 PM »
Thanks for responding, everyone, lots of very useful suggestions, I'll try them all.
A bit more information.
I'm using the Kindle paperback template to set up the pages, after specifying the number of pages and book size.
Whatever Kindle specified, margins etc., I did.
A bit sheep-like, not really my way of doing things, but at least it gives me a few clues.
Outputting as a PDF is a bigger challenge, it looks as if you have to output the content and cover as two different PDFs, but I'm getting there.
If anyone else is struggling, WPS can output doc x to PDF, and Calibre and Sumatra are also useful.


















 



RPatton

Re: Short chapters producing too much white space
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2021, 02:35:58 AM »
Thanks for responding, everyone, lots of very useful suggestions, I'll try them all.
A bit more information.
I'm using the Kindle paperback template to set up the pages, after specifying the number of pages and book size.
Whatever Kindle specified, margins etc., I did.
A bit sheep-like, not really my way of doing things, but at least it gives me a few clues.
Outputting as a PDF is a bigger challenge, it looks as if you have to output the content and cover as two different PDFs, but I'm getting there.
If anyone else is struggling, WPS can output doc x to PDF, and Calibre and Sumatra are also useful.

Yep, the interior and cover are two separate PDFs because they are printed separately and have different requirements.

There are a few good interior templates available for free (I can't remember the site off the top of my head, but I think it's Derek someone) and I trust his margins more than I trust Amazon's. (It also helps that he actually has education and experience with book design).

If you use the template provided by Amazon for the interior, definitely get a printed proof because you might find the inside margins are too tight considering the binding of print on demand printers.