Battle Rattle and Other Stories built with iStudio Publisher

The work on Battle Rattle and Other Stories continues, as it will continue once this book is done and shipped because there is always another sentence. But I am taking a break to share a bit of awesomeness for anyone looking for an affordable layout program for a Mac. 

There was a learning curve with the layout process since I never used Indesign or Quark or any other programs that dealt with layout during any of the periods when I worked on Mid American Review or Third Coast. All I did was read submissions and argue about what stories I did and did not want to see in the magazines.

I briefly attempted to use Quark to build the layout for the book Finn Fetches Numbers, the first kid's book I drew and wrote (specifically for my daughter's first birthday), but there were a ton of things that I didn't have time to learn before the free trial was up. And back then I hadn't planned on ever doing another layout on my own anyway. So the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on a program to build a single book layout seemed insane. (I can't say I've never spent a stupid amount of money on things I've only used once, but I'm a dad now, and I need to be smarter about the things I choose to be stupid about.)

Here you can see the riveting conclusion to Finny's long day of fetching numbers. I was pretty limited in what I could do with the layout because I built the book using Pint Size Productions web-based layout software. But it still turned out great because Shannon loves it. A brief note is that I love this board book's quality. Pint Size Productions is worth checking out if you are interested in making a board book for someone. Perhaps I'll do a longer post about how I did this one if there's enough demand. Pint Size Productions Page.

Here you can see the riveting conclusion to Finny's long day of fetching numbers. I was pretty limited in what I could do with the layout because I built the book using Pint Size Productions web-based layout software. But it still turned out great because Shannon loves it. A brief note is that I love this board book's quality. Pint Size Productions is worth checking out if you are interested in making a board book for someone. Perhaps I'll do a longer post about how I did this one if there's enough demand. Pint Size Productions Page.

So while working on the cover with my good friend and graphic artist Eric Smallwood on the cover for Battle Rattle and Other Stories, I realized there were a number of things that I couldn't figure out how to do within Pages. It's possible that those things are doable in Pages and it's possible they are doable in Microsoft Word, but I am not buying Word because I have grown extremely fond of Pages over the last five years of my MacBook Pro's life, and I googled the heck out of the internet looking for ways to do what I wanted to do in Pages and came up with answers to tons of questions that were not questions I needed answered. In short, I knew what I wanted to do, and I figured that if I wanted a professional layout so that my book looked as good as it deserved to look, I would have to get a layout program. What I did not want to do was spend hundreds of dollars. I searched for a program that wasn't hundreds of dollars and I found this one: iStudio Publisher.

You can see here that the chapter heading is too low on the page and that there are no headers and the page numbers are bottom center. I wanted none of these things. So the "after pictures that I'll post when the second round of proofs arrive will show the difference that iStudio Publisher made. Also, the Gatling gun has a fascinating history, and the A-10 is the coolest plane in existence.

You can see here that the chapter heading is too low on the page and that there are no headers and the page numbers are bottom center. I wanted none of these things. So the "after pictures that I'll post when the second round of proofs arrive will show the difference that iStudio Publisher made. Also, the Gatling gun has a fascinating history, and the A-10 is the coolest plane in existence.

I had a number of issues getting the document into iStudio Publisher, but that was because I am a millennial, and I never read directions. I was a kid who played video games without ever cracking open an instruction booklet and died countless times as a result. But after I emailed support (and was answered after just a few hours), I was able to do exactly what I wanted, and learned just how easy it was. 

This is just a screenshot of the program at work. You can see the headers are different on left-hand and right-hand pages (something I couldn't figure out in Pages), and I placed the page numbers in the outside corners, leaving the bottom open so thumbs can get all over the bottom without covering up words on the page..

This is just a screenshot of the program at work. You can see the headers are different on left-hand and right-hand pages (something I couldn't figure out in Pages), and I placed the page numbers in the outside corners, leaving the bottom open so thumbs can get all over the bottom without covering up words on the page..

I'm working on a longer and more detailed post about how to set up a 6x9 book layout with iStudio Publisher that will go up at a later date. But for now, I just had to make it known that there is a layout program for Mac that costs $17.99. There are a few other programs that are powerful and way cheaper than the Adobe stuff as well, and I am sure that some "power users: out in the world would be able to note differences in the programs that one might need if she were an AP wire photographer or an artist for Pixar, but I am neither of those things. I needed to change a few minor things, and once I did and realized the potential I had for making other adjustments to the book that improved its look and readability, I felt even better about the money I spent on iStudio Publisher.

So if you are looking for an alternative to one of the more expensive layout programs out there and you use a Mac, then check out iStudio Publisher. I don't think you'll be disappointed.