I've been spending many, many hours exploring layout software. Everyone says "Don't use Microsoft Word for print layout, it's a word processor, it sucks for layout." So I looked at Adobe InDesign ($252/year, seriously?), and Affinity Publisher, which is much, much cheaper but can still do professional-quality layouts.
I spent a lot of time with it, and can actually make some pretty nice mockups now.
But I still fight with it to do things I have already figured out how to do with Word.
Then, gods help me, I went down the LaTeX rabbit hole. There is something appealing about slinging markup, old-school style, like Donald Knuth intended. None of this newfangled WYSIWYG stuff!
LaTeX (built on TeX) was created in the 1970s and it's widely used in academia (most PhD dissertations are laid out with LaTeX). Some people swear by it for everything, and there are even extensions for designing books, including novels. It's pure and powerful and you can, in theory do anything because TeX is a goddamn Turing-complete language but it's as user-friendly as code written in the 1970s by a computer genius and while it's not hard to get a nice, clean, professional layout, it's not intended to imitate a specific design. I spent many, many hours experimenting with different front-ends and print engines (because LaTeX does not play nicely with modern fonts because who the fuck needs a font that didn't exist in 1978, right?) and I still couldn't get it to do things I had already figured out how to do in Word.
So, I looked at the reasons people say that Word sucks for layout, and most of them either don't apply to me (it's definitely terrible if you are doing original book designs, with fancy graphics and the like), or else the things people say are really hard and fiddly to do in Word... I have already figured out how to do.
So for now, I'm sticking with Word. When I get my POD copies back, we'll see how I did.
My original cover artist had to bail, but the new cover artist has already shown me a b&w sketch, and allowed me to make a few corrections, and wow, it's going to look nice.
I got some help from several people with my POD layout and aside from the cover, Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle is almost ready for printing. Except for one thing.
As you may recall, Alexandra's father sends her a letter at the end of AQATTC. And while the normal convention is to represent handwriting with italics, I am following the Harry Potter convention and using signature fonts for each character.
Finding the right font for Abraham Thorn's "broad, powerful strokes" has been vexing. I am not a designer. I have tried many, many fonts, and none look quite right.
So, here is a screenshot of the candidates I have narrowed down to (probably). And I am asking you, dear readers, to tell me me which one you think looks like Abe's handwriting.
I am not necessarily going to pick the one with the most votes. I'm still open to private input, and I may find yet another, better candidate. But I suspect most of you (or all of you put together) have a better sense of typographic aesthetics than I do.
Which font do you think looks best for Abraham Thorn's handwriting?