Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

How I Will Do 100 Paperbacks?

Figured I Would Lay It Out Here…

…since the Smith’s Stories: Make 100 Paperbacks Kickstarter campaign is just a few days away from ending and getting close to its second stretch goal. At that end point I get to start the process of making 100 paperbacks and I have had a couple people ask me how I am going to do all that.

So I figured right here, right now, I would lay it all out. Maybe help a few of you on the process.

Of course, to do 100 paperbacks of short stories, I need 100 short stories. Actually, that is not a problem. I have about 60 unpublished stories I wrote this last 18 months that have not been anywhere, and I have a few hundred more that have only seen the light of day in Smith’s Monthly.

Plus I might even do some more short story writing this spring and have even more completely unpublished stories in the group. Time will tell on that since I have the novel challenge I am focused on.


Part One...

Redesign of the Smith’s Monthly web page and redoing the covers of dates issues of Smith’s Monthly where we have changed the book series covers but never gone back and changed the Smith’s Monthly covers. Over a dozen of them have to be redone.

Doing this part will allow me to finally start putting up free stories of the week, something I have been planning for a couple years now and just never got to. And then use what I learned there to finally upgrade this web site.

Part Two…

New iMac with second screen. Got it, set up, and ready to go. That was a $2,000 plus expense.

Part Three...

New Adobe Suite…. I need InDesign and Photoshop to start, and the problem is that I have to sort-of relearn both of these programs because the ones I have used for years I loaded from a disk. So this will be a learning curve for a few months. I have and Google to help me, plus Allyson at WMG Publishing. But I will try to do most of the learning on my own (with swearing I am sure). This will cost under a $100 per month for the Adobe Suite, but that adds up.


First off, I had to come up with a brand for all the short stories, and it was Allyson who helped me fine tune the idea of coming off the Smith’s Monthly brand with Smith’s Stories. And she did the first two electronic covers with that brand from two older stories.

So first thing I will do is set up an InDesign template for the paperbacks at the 5 x 8 trim size with the front and back covers and spine area. From the template I will be able to build all the covers.

Finding the art will be the time-sink after the templates are set up.

For the interiors I might need Vellum (another expense) but I like laying out things in InDesign and short stories are easy because they are so short. So I might stick with InDesign for the paperback layouts. We shall see.

I will work with WMG Publishing on my front matter and back sales matter for each book, getting all that set in general templates that I can add in easily in each book.

The first five books will take a lot of time because of the learning curves, but after that I should be able to lay out a short story in paperback in less than thirty minutes, not counting finding the art. Maybe less.


Since I work with WMG Publishing and they know all the fun of loading books, we have decided that I will send them ten books at a time paced over about six months or so. That way they can schedule them.

They will do all the loading of both the paperback and the electronic copy of the short story.

I will be responsible for loading it to my redesigned web site and for doing the blogs about the process here.

I will also be responsible for putting new issues of Smith’s Monthly together with the new stories included and get that back on pace in the spring.

WMG Publishing will be responsible for the shipping of books and of getting all the Kickstarter book rewards out. I will be responsible for taking care of all the workshop rewards.

So that’s the basics of how this crazy idea will work. If I didn’t have WMG Publishing and all their experience with loading and the sales channels, this would take me a lot longer to do. As it is, I expect I will have all the books done by October and have the three big collections done as well. Allyson will be doing those three covers and WMG will be doing the layout. I can manage a short story, not 33 of them in the same book. (grin)

More than likely a lot more trivia than what you wanted.

Take a look at the Smith’s Stories: Make 100 Paperbacks to see how it is all going and exactly what I am doing.



  • Vera Soroka

    Most interesting. I know you use InDesign for Smith’s Monthly. Do you know if Vellum would do a magazine layout? Or would you say InDesign would be better?
    Look forward to you doing all this and seeing how it all goes.

    • dwsmith

      Vellum is only basic design. It could not handle the complex magazine design at all. That is what inDesign is made for, actually.

  • Harvey Stanbrough

    Good plan, Dean. As one alternative to InDesign and Adobe, you (or others) might check out Their new Affinity software looks promising. I’ve been using their older “legacy” PagePlus products for years. I found them more user friendly and more intuitive than Adobe. Plus they’re ridiculously inexpensive. Just a thought. Of course, Ford or Chevy, y’gotta go with what you’re comfortable with.

    • Andi Winter

      Another fan of Affinity here. I used Photoshop for years, but when Adobe went cloud/subscription-only, I went looking for alternatives that wouldn’t break the bank. I tried GIMP, but it hurt my head (and couldn’t easily handle CMYK or Photoshop files). I came across Affinity last year, and their Photo software is amazing. Handles CMYK, Photoshop files (including all the layers), and even has abilities that Photoshop lacks. Even better: it’s a one-time fee software that is yours — no subscriptions — and only $50.

      They have their InDesign alternative in beta, which I haven’t played with yet. But given what I’ve experienced with Photo and Designer (their Illustrator alternative), I would expect it to be a strong competitor.

  • DS Butler

    I love Vellum and I’ve just downloaded Procreate on my iPad Pro. Time will tell if I can use that for cover design, but my subscription to photoshop is only £10 a month and I do find it easy to use.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Will check out Affinity, thanks! (My pre-loaded Adobe programs will die when I change computers eventually.) ANOTHER RESOURCE: for photo-manipulation and illustration, if you already happen to have an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, an app called Procreate is like Photoshop Light (layers, tools, brushes… the whole shebang), except you draw directly on the screen. I find that a lot easier than using Intuos. It won’t do typography, I export that into my MacBook and use their Preview to insert author name and title, which does a good job for my basic needs. Procreate is cheap 🙂

  • Danielle Williams

    For the shoe-stringiest of budgets (and for those who have the time and inclination to teach themselves new software), I think Scribus is a great book layout tool–free and open-source. I did a full-length novel with it last year (despite having next to zero Indesign experience) starting with templates and tutorials (linked in my name link here) and am using it now to do my shorts in paperback. My last short (which was admittedly *very* short) only took an evening to build, including the cover (which I had a template for).
    * * *
    Dean, when you are formatting for paper, what aspect do you find takes up most of your time? For the long novel, I found myself making sure the gaps between words wasn’t too big (tracking, in typographer’s parlance) but I’m curious about your workflow.

    • dwsmith

      Widows and orphans kill me in time, plus gullies in the print and gaps between words. And in my two-column format in Smith’s Monthly, the hyphenation is a time killer.

      But I get very quick at it after doing it for so many years. And with laying out these short stories, if I stick to inDesign to do them, it will take me less than a few minutes to check all that since they are so short.

      I also spend time on lead-ins to chapter starts. I don’t do drop caps, too much of a pain, but I do lead-ins to section and chapter starts.