QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Discuss functionality of QuarkXPress 2017 (excluding Digital Publishing)
For Digital Publishing functionality please refer to forums in the "Digital Publishing" group.

Want to discuss with hundreds of fellow QuarkXPress fans and interact with the QuarkXPress team? Then join our Facebook Group please, where every day dozens of questions are being asked and answered: https://www.facebook.com/groups/quarkxpress/

QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby QuarkTest000 » 14 Jun 2017, 07:40

Hi,

I am a writer.

I write novels and essays, and lately I have submitted my first completed essay to a printer, to have a demo book to submit to publishers.

I have been using until now Word from the Microsoft Pack Office.

I was expecting the printing process to be nothing more but creating a user account, submitting the order details, sending the files, paying and that would be it. I receive my order a week later and here I go.

I have imagination, but never in my life I would have guessed what I was putting myself into here. The discussion with the printer has very quickly turned into a constant stream of nos, donts and complete non-sense. I have never dealt with topics into printing before and my understanding was that to print something, you press the button and you have it and end of story, exactly like you do with your home printer. I have no specific background into printing beyond opening Word, write a letter and print it. I do however have a background into programming, 2D/3D graphics, web design, technical support etc and am definitely not a beginner with computers, and I always thought "if I can do that, I can do stuff into printing with no problem". But I ended up facing a constant stream of technical terms and restrictions up to the point where I was under the impression to discover a completely new universe, with its own rules and logic. Absolutely nothing of it made any sense to me.

But I have managed to extract something out of those discussions that my mind could process: Word is the problem. Word is not designed for what I was trying to do.

And the printer guy then told me about QuarkXpress. He told me that that kind of software was actually much better for me for what I was trying to do.

I don't just write piles of text and send the whole bunch to print and could not care less about how it looks for the end-user, I like to spend a lot of time with the formatting, how each line looks and feels and makes sense in the whole page, to stress what I want to stress and to create the smoothest reading experience possible etc, and because of that I spend time with the fonts, margins, returns, spaces etc. And so far I have always been under the impression for years that Word was just the worldwide reference for the people like me.

But I am confused now. When I look at descriptions and screenshots of QuarkXpress, I clearly see a software for advertisers, for people writing magazines, newspapers etc. Not novels.

So I kindly ask for the opinions of the people here if QuarkXpress may be the tool I need, understanding that I write nothing but text, but that I like the highest level of control over the formatting of that text.

Thanking you for your attention and looking forward for the help that may help me getting out of that very annoying feeling of confusion.
QuarkTest000
 
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Jun 2017, 07:19

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby Matthias Guenther (Quark) » 14 Jun 2017, 07:53

Hi Test000,

you can create any printed or electronic material with QuarkXPress, advertisements, magazines, newspapers, brochures and also books. QuarkXPress' strength is in the layout, typography and design of communication material.

So if you care about creating a nice book, designing pages, stunning typography, yes, absolutely for you. If you just want to create content (text that is), then QuarkXPress is probably overkill.

QuarkXPress can import Word, so if you create your novel in Word, continue to do so, import the final Word file into QuarkXPress, make it look nice, export as PDF (for print or digital), as ePub, as native app, as HTML5 Publication etc.

You can use the 3-day or 30-day trial version to try it and even publish.

Here are two book that might be helpful (both in English):
http://amzn.eu/feVzmFA and
http://amzn.eu/0M7kDoq

Does that explain it?

Thanks
Matthias
Feel there should be more chatting, more tips, more user interaction?
Join us on Facebook, a forum-like group with over 2,000 QuarkXPress fans interacting:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/quarkxpress



Image
User avatar
Matthias Guenther (Quark)
Quarkian
Quarkian
 
Posts: 5163
Joined: 04 Jun 2004, 15:06
Location: http://bit.ly/QuarkHamburg

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby QuarkTest000 » 14 Jun 2017, 08:36

Wow,

quick, clear, plain and simple. Just the way I like it.

Thank you very much for your reply.

I will do that. My printer is driving me crazy and I need this to stop and to make more sense out of my time, so yes, if there is a free demo I can use to check how the formatting features work, I will take a look on it and see if that kind of software makes sense for what I am trying to do.
QuarkTest000
 
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Jun 2017, 07:19

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby max.peter » 14 Jun 2017, 09:28

Hello,

There are a lot of videoclips on Quark's YouTube channel, they are prsented in English so I guess they can help you a lot.
Just look here (subscribing the channel might be a good idea):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJDoQOgcaHmljrm2-hFdmw
Every day is a good day to learn something new.
User avatar
max.peter
 
Posts: 1520
Joined: 11 Sep 2010, 12:35
Location: Romania

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby QuarkTest000 » 14 Jun 2017, 09:53

Thank you very much for this tip.

Although I have no plan to make an extensive use of this software for graphics, I may want to perfectly master everything around the text and pages formatting process, so some tutorials may indeed be useful at some stage and prevent me some possible headaches.

I am first going to play a little bit around with the demo to confirm that it really can do what I need to do.
QuarkTest000
 
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Jun 2017, 07:19

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby Matthias Guenther (Quark) » 14 Jun 2017, 14:51

Maybe this is helpful too:
https://www.lynda.com/QuarkXPress-tutor ... 428-2.html

Thanks
Matthias
Feel there should be more chatting, more tips, more user interaction?
Join us on Facebook, a forum-like group with over 2,000 QuarkXPress fans interacting:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/quarkxpress



Image
User avatar
Matthias Guenther (Quark)
Quarkian
Quarkian
 
Posts: 5163
Joined: 04 Jun 2004, 15:06
Location: http://bit.ly/QuarkHamburg

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby QuarkTest000 » 14 Jun 2017, 16:37

Thank you very much for this tip.

Well, so far I have tried to use the 3 days trial of QuarkXpress 2017 for an hour, and I have to admit that I have a very bad feeling about it:

1) At some stage, I have the option to "create a book", which then asks me to set a filename. I enter a filename, and I have then the option to create chapters. Very good. I now have to enter new filenames for some reason, and then it reports "no file found" ==> that doesn't make any sense. At all.

2) the text settings window is incredibly challenging to find.

3) the page layout panel won't stop expanding over the whole height of the screen, covering up the other panels I have tried to setup (like style sheets, since it contains the text settings window I was looking for and which carefully does not appear by itself in the window menu for some reason). I have tried resizing it on and on, but it expands back again on and on, and won't stop covering the other useful windows by nothing else but a useless grey background. I have tried moving it a little bit away from the edges of the screen, resizing it again and again, finding somewhere some setting to disable that auto-resize feature : nothing. It just won't stop taking back all the right part of the screen with absolutely nothing else but an empty window, by hiding the other windows ==> that doesn't make any sense at all.

4) The page layout window displays the very first page, the number 1, on the right of what I understand is the spine (that vertical line across the whole page layout window, where all the pages are), with no page facing it (?), and with the outside margin inside and the inside margin outside. I have double-checked the format settings and tried to move the pages around the spine to make it more like what a real book is supposed to be, but for some reason, as far as I understand it the left pages are on the right and the right pages are on the left, and they won't move from there ==> that just doesn't make any sense.

All in all I am under the impression of dealing with a software that does its best to impress by dropping everywhere on the screen as many settings and functions as engineers could possibly think of, which wouldn't be too bad if the settings I need could be found among that mess without having to spend too much time searching for them and guessing for their names, but more importantly of a software that thinks it knows better, by deciding for me what I have to do, which wouldn't be too bad if it was doing it right, but it doesn't: so far it has been doing it wrong and more typically, it then denies it and passively prevents me from fixing it. I know from experience that this isn't the best start to do anything productive.

So, I don't know... I am no longer sure about the fuss... Maybe it is just me. I am in Europe here and it is 11PM and maybe I am just tired. I will give it another look tomorrow, but I now from experience than my first impression is unfortunately very usually right. But if I have to study like a NASA engineer just to have right pages layouts and formattings for absolutely nothing else but a book like all those that have been done for the last 15 centuries, I think that this is just a misunderstanding.
QuarkTest000
 
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Jun 2017, 07:19

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby MikeWenzloff » 14 Jun 2017, 17:50

You've thrown yourself into the deep end of the pool and learning to swim at that time can be frustrating.

I would recommend a couple things. One is to arrange the the palettes in Quark how you would want them and then to save that Palette Set (Window | Palette Sets | Save Palette Set As ...) so no matter how they may get moved, rearranged, opened, etc., you can always just use the same menu structure, but pick one of your named sets and QXP will put them back/away to the state the set was saved.

I use a few different arrangements depending upon what I am doing. And I have a few palettes that "float" over the document window portion of the screen but can be shut and restored because of these saved palette sets.

The palettes can be turned on/off by right-clicking over a set of palette headings. They can be individually dragged out into the workspace and when restored, will be where they were located when hidden/closed. And again, arrange them how you want and save the palette set.

Publication set up. The help system should be of aid here. But when you begin a publication, there is the Facing Pages option (which you will probably want to utilize) and there is the option to begin on the left, which you probably don't want for the first real chapter in a book. Depending upon the style of the book, subsequent chapters can also be set to start on the left or right. If there are not a lot of illustrations, I would recommend not using the Book feature. I prefer to keep my mostly text-based books in a single publication. Others prefer the Book feature. It's a preference issue.

Next I would recommend separating the writing (in Word or whatever word processor, even a simple text editor) from the layout (in QXP or whatever). It is easy to get hung up on the layout details when one is writing. Use the layout application for its best usage--the presentation of the writing/illustrating. Overall, this is faster than doing both tasks on long documents in a single application. It also avoids redoing more of the layout that was sweated over when the inevitable edits occur than otherwise can happen.

The writing can certainly be done in QXP, so I am not saying it cannot be nor should not be. But having worked on long documents for nearly 30 years, even when documenting our own software, separating those tasks can be more efficient.

Lastly, you will get stuck and perhaps achieve the equivalent of writer's block as regards the operation of a layout application such as QXP. Layout applications are not like other applications you may have used in the past and certainly are not like a word processor. They are made to combine and/or enhance various disciplines into a cohesive document. And it takes time to learn. There is no shortcut.

The good news is that there are these forums and the QuarkXPress closed Facebook group that you can join (the FB group does get more Q/A traffic than these forums do). We all do our best to help whenever/wherever we can. The FB group is usually the quickest means of this type of back and forth. The forum here is better for posting detailed answers with screen shots, etc., though. A few Quark personnel like Matthias pop in here, as do I, a few times a day though--and more often if there is an on-going question or issue.

Mike
MikeWenzloff
 
Posts: 1110
Joined: 05 Jun 2013, 12:55

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby QuarkTest000 » 15 Jun 2017, 09:25

Thank you very much for your time.

I was looking for a software where I could precisely do both the writing and the layout at the same place in the same time, since I like my content to remain as whole and clean as possible (no word ending on the next line, no sentence ending at the beginning of the next line, no chapter finishing at the beginning of the next page etc), and I was hoping that QuarkXpress would help me better than Word here, but I was misleaded. It is just too powerful for that. Having to spend time cleaning the workplace from the features I don't need and guessing the tools I do need is not going to help my productivity. I know it is just a matter of time to learn to use the tools, but I don't have that time. Nor the interest. Nor the budget.

I have also realized that the first page starting at the right of the spine actually makes sense. Since the software is mainly designed for designing magazines, newspapers, the first page is the actual front page, which makes sense here. But it does not for a book: the first page of a book is no page: it is the cover, and it is different from the text content.

I don't think I belong here. I don't want to waste any more of my time and yours, and I will stop this study here at the moment, and I thank you all for your support.
QuarkTest000
 
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Jun 2017, 07:19

Re: QuarkXpress for writing novels?

Postby MikeWenzloff » 15 Jun 2017, 10:26

No worries about time being "wasted" on my part.

I did mention the writing/editing can be done in QXP. And it can.

RE Covers: Even in Word, the first page isn't a cover. The cover is an entirely different beast from the interior. It is larger. It accounts for the interior page count via the spine section. The total dimensions of the cover cannot be determined until the interior has been compelted and the true page count is then known.

Now, this cover can actually be designed and kept in the same project file using a different "layout." I do this for slip covers and some hard back covers. Though depending upon the design and whether I am even the person responsible for these book parts, I may elect to do the design in another application. For the more simple covers where I am the person responsible for their design/layout, I do often keep them in the Q project using the different layout function. These layouts are tabs in the Q interface and can be switched to at anytime.

One can control widows/orphans in QXP, as well as loose lines, etc. QXP can run a check and take you to each suspect. This doesn't negate the need for human eyes and selective editing, though. That is always best for the last operations on a book--usually via several read-throughs with adjustments along the way.

There is a reason why QuarkXPress and InDesign are what the book publishing world uses by and large. How they work may not fit into your view. And for that reason, if Word works how you desire, then by all means use it. But you will need to learn how to do professional output PDFs from it in combination with Adobe Acrobat--but that process I fear is going to be another rabbit hole.

Which is one reason you should consider writing and "laying out" in Word, create the PDF of exactly how you desire the output, then hire someone to make it so in a professional layout application or, if they are savvy enough to force Acrobat to beat your PDF into submission, use it to convert that PDF into something the print service can utilize.

Best regards, Mike
MikeWenzloff
 
Posts: 1110
Joined: 05 Jun 2013, 12:55


Return to QuarkXPress 2017: General

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests