Of Crickets and Ants

In Atlas, Broken, Henry comes across a cricket in his backyard, chirruping merrily at the moon.

The next day, he finds it savagely gutted by ants.

I’m not an expert when it comes to the life-cycle of crickets. Where I live, they come out every Spring, all shiny and black, and chirp like mad throughout Summer.

During Summer you can look in the cracks in the clay soil and find them poking their glossy, black heads out, twitching their antennae, leaping and scurrying away with a purpose. Chirp! Chirp! Their song is full of energy and promise. It’s a chorus of hope, a medley without a beginning and without an end, just one, constant beat. Chirp! Chirp!

And then, as autumn sets in, you hear their tune change. They sing their sorrowful song, their lives are nearly spent. Crrr… Crrr… The grass hides little black bodies, shuffling around aimlessly, hiding when one approaches, silencing their song temporarily until they feel safe once again. Crrr. Crrr.

The cold creeps in. More and more one finds the shells of crickets crumpled on the ground. A mess of brown and black limbs, they have been trodden on, or they simply gave up scurrying. The ants are ruthless, cutting them to bits, dragging all of the smaller pieces back to their nests, leaving the chunky husk to be blown about or crushed underfoot.

After a couple of days there’s nothing left as a reminder. No marking stone, no stain, nothing. The rain has washed away anything the wind has left behind. It might as well be that the cricket never existed at all.

Cricket

If we look at Henry in the light of the Cricket, is there any wonder that he has such empathy for his little companion?Mini Jeztyr Logo

Easter Eggs -Triumphs and Failures

Running with the purple and gold theme, I made up a few more eggs and painted them blue, graduating to white at the bottom. Then came the white vine squiggles, with round balls on the ends of white flicks.

Finally, the balls were filled with white, gold and rose gold, just to mix things up again. Gloss up with several coats of polyurethane and we’re ready for Easter.

Easter Eggs 2016 the rest.jpg

Almost.

There are two big rules that go with making Easter Eggs.

  1. Always make more eggs than you will need and
  2. Never let little boys with curious fingers anywhere near your eggs otherwise:

BrokenEgg.jpg

This guy was only three coats of gloss away from finished! Oh, the humanity!Mini Jeztyr Logo

Easter Eggs – 2016

Easter caught me by surprise this year. Had grand plans to have everything prepped and ready, then I looked down for a second. Boom! It’s the 21st of March. How did that happen without anyone noticing?

The theme this year: Colours. Purple and gold, white and black. I also made some blue eggs, just to mix it up a little. There are a few ‘experimental’ designs, good to keep in the back of my mind for another time. I settled on the white, organic lines with gold bubble-fruit.

PurpleAndGoldEggs.jpg

And, because it’s Easter, I’ve also made a couple of Golgotha eggs. It’s a sunset scene, with the hillock and the three crosses set against the outskirts of the City. There’s a bit of gold mixed in the sky there, doesn’t come up in the photo too well.

GolgothaDetail.jpg

For more, check out my egg-blowing page.

Happy Easter everyone!Mini Jeztyr Logo

Lulu – Approval & GlobalREACH

After you’ve made your project, pushed up your manuscript and made up your cover, your book is pretty much ready to distribute. If you’ve selected the option to have Lulu push your book for you, then there’s just two things left to do.

GlobalREACH

Like Smashwords, Lulu can be an aggregator, taking the pain out of submitting your work through the various channels. Smashwords has a bazillion (last count, anyway) eBook distributors (minus Google Play and Amazon). Lulu has fewer, but, as far as print books go, there are two important ones: Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

It’s one of those trade-off situations: They take a cut of the price of the book and, in return they take the hard work out of submitting, pricing, updating, etc. Personally, I want to spend more time writing, and less time chasing up the various distributors, so this option is for me.

Opting into the GlobalREACH program is as easy as pressing the button that says, “Activate GlobalREACH”. Well, it’s not that easy.

Approval

Sure, any old shmuck can join up, but because we’re no longer dealing with just you, Lulu and Mr. Magoo, the third parties have certain requirements that need to be met. Remember how we needed the table of contents to be correct, and the page numbers in the right spots, and Copyright and ISBN to be valid, and the cover to be up to scratch?

Remember that?

This is why we went through all of that, because, if you follow Lulu’s rules, there won’t be any issues with the third parties. Still, you need to do one last thing:

Order a copy of your own book.

Not only is this a good idea in general, it lets Lulu know that you’ve received the book as if you were a customer and, therefore, are viewing the final product AS THE CUSTOMER. Think about it: If you bought a book online and, when you received it, things were out of whack, you’d be kinda miffed, right? Who would you blame? The author? The publisher? The printer? The Distributor? Well, let’s not get the audience off-side, eh, and instead make sure that everything is tickety-boo before pushing it out.

This is your last chance to make sure that your book is EXACTLY how you want it.

OK, so there’s money involved, because you’ve got time on the press, but, from another viewpoint, you’re not handing over $10k for a first run of a thousand books, you’re spending $20 to make sure your book is ready. It’s a worthwhile investment.

You can wait until Lulu has free shipping offers, or 30% books, or whatever, if that helps. A little thing that annoys me about having it printed and sent is that the printers are just down the road in Port Melbourne. They send it, via Toll, in Port Melbourne to my office in, you guessed it, Port Melbourne. Can’t I just go and, you know, pick it up from the press when it’s done? Nope.

Eh. Whatever.

Once you’ve received your book, check it over, each page, double check the table of contents, the ISBN (must match inside and out), the spelling of the titles, the colours and position of the cover, etc.

If you’re not happy, don’t approve it.

After any changes, you make a ‘revision’ in Lulu. Once you’re convinced you’ve nailed it, you’ll need to order a copy of that revision, and verify that it’s correct.

If you are happy, go back to Lulu and click ‘Approve’. It’s that easy. If you skipped to this bit, I’m going to print the last sentence again, just for good measure.

If you’re not happy, don’t approve.

If you need to make changes after you’ve approved it, that’s still ok, but you’ll need to understand that the third parties won’t be too happy if they’ve cranked out a run of a thousand for their hungry audiences, only to be told that the run was a dud.

Lulu allows you to make revisions at any time, so pump the brakes, make yourself a cup of tea and take the opportunity to get it right. It’s exciting, because you’re *this* close to having your book sitting on a physical shelf.

Don’t stuff it up now.Mini Jeztyr Logo

Lulu – Cover Uploading

Left you hanging on the uploading of the manuscript. My apologies. Had to get foreign character printing fixed on Epson printers. Long story, don’t ask.

The Cover

This is where your hard work shaping the cover will pay off. You’ve made the front and the back cover, in the correct dimensions, so all that’s left to do is upload those two images.

CoverDesign.PNG

Here, you’ll find Lulu’s cover creator. It’s fairly intuitive, although a tad clunky. Hey, it does the job. You’ll see that there are a few features, like Background and Themes. Ignore them if you have your title and author in the cover image. They’re good if you haven’t included these, and are just uploading a background image in the cover.

But you have, right? Cool. So, on the right pane, there’s the “Add Images” button in orange? Click it. Find your pictures and upload.

UploadPictures.PNGIf your network connection is anything like mine, go and have a coffee while you wait. The maximum file size is 10MB, so if you’ve trimmed your pics to the right size, they’ll be good to go. OnceĀ  they’ve uploaded, click Done and they’ll appear on the sidebar. This is a picture of a rather cool bird in the Melbourne Zoo.

And this is where the prefill gets ugly. If you’ve put your title as part of the image, click on the text box with your title and author and delete the text in the fields.

DragCovers.jpg

I don’t think you can delete the fields entirely, unless you go to Themes and pick ‘image only’, but I don’t bother. Clearing the text suffices.

Notice, too, that the barcode of the ISBN is already overlaid (The one in the picture is not a real ISBN). That’s where it’s going to live, so if your back cover ain’t right, fix it and re-upload.

Tidy up and Blurb it up!

Clearing the text in the front page text boxes is fine, but you’ll still have those camera images hanging around. Don’t worry about them. They are there if you’ve picked a theme that has multiple picture areas. Anyway, they won’t show up in the final cut. If they really bug you, click on the Theme tab and choose a front page theme with no picture inserts.

LuluBlurb.jpg

On the back cover (on the left), you’ve got a ready made text box. Use this for your blurb if you haven’t included it in the image, otherwise leave the field blank.

Click on the ‘Preview’ button on the bottom right, and you’ll be taken to the preview screen.

Cover Preview.JPGNot bad, not bad. The little dashed lines are the ‘trim‘ lines, so anything outside of them will be lost. Remember that. Note that this still isn’t the finished product. If you’re happy with the overall job, hit “Make Print-Ready Cover”. This will transfer all of the information into one big PDF, and you’ll get to review that in the next step.

Which reminds me: If you’re not satisfied with the manuscript or the cover at any stage, even AFTER you’ve published, you can go back and change it. Just know that Lulu insists that you check your book carefully to make any necessary changes BEFORE you publish.

More on that in the next post.Mini Jeztyr Logo

Lulu – Uploading!

Hey! You’re on the home stretch! You’ve got everything in place, now you need to upload your bits and pieces. At this stage, you should have:

  1. A Lulu account set up
  2. A Project in Lulu for your book.
  3. Your converted manuscript in PDF
  4. An ISBN, blurb and other necessities and
  5. Your front and back covers

It’s not so bad when you look at it like that. Enough beating around the bush.

Upload Your Manuscript

If you haven’t made a project, that’s OK, do that now. Log into Lulu and click ‘New Paperback’ from your author page.

New Project.png

Put in your title – be very careful about the spelling – your name and hit Save & Continue. If you want to set it up for private viewing first, get it all sorted and then push it out, hit the Make Available only to Me. Clicking this option will skip the ISBN bit. If you decide to go public, you can add it in later.

If you click on Sell on Lulu, Amazon & Barnes and Noble, you’ll get to the ISBN page.

ISBN.PNG

It’s pretty straightforward. If you’ve got your own, use your own (But you cannot re-use an eBook ISBN, or a different format), or get a free one from Lulu, or don’t bother at all.

Once you’ve sorted that, copy down your ISBN and put it into your manuscript on the copyright page. Then export to PDF. On the next page, you’ll upload:

UploadManuscript.PNG

Hit Browse… choose your PDF or Doc. I prefer PDF, because it’s pretty much WYSIWYG. Don’t forget to click the ‘Upload’ button, or it won’t upload. You can upload as many parts of the book as you need, and these will appear in the bottom panel. If you do revisions, you’ll need to delete the old revision from here and replace it with the new revision.

Anyhow, once that’s done, click next: Lulu will convert your documents into a print ready PDF which you can view on the next screen

Conversion.PNG

Download the converted PDF, check it over, make sure the conversion process hasn’t altered anything drastically. You might find that an adjustment of margins

Then it’s time for your cover. And my lunch break is well and truly over, so I’ll have to put that in the next post.Mini Jeztyr Logo

 

 

 

Lulu – Back Cover & Spine

When you have finished converting your front cover, you need to slap your forehead and say, “Oh, right!”

Why?

Because, unlike eBooks, real books have a spine and a back cover.

Considerations

You’ve got three options when it comes to cover design. Firstly, you can make an image for your back cover, just like your front cover (my preference). You can also use a flat colour or pattern, which isn’t so terrible, really. Lastly, you can use Lulu’s advanced cover editor, which I haven’t had the pleasure of fiddling with yet, but from my understanding it’s a matter of you creating the entire wrap around cover, including spine and safety margins, as a PDF.

For simplicity, I’ll assume you’re making your own back cover image. If you’ve used the Lulu template for the front cover, keep it. The dimensions will be the same. As for the spine, you can set this to a constant colour in the Lulu cover editor afterwards.

Text, Blurb and ISBN

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Lulu will insert the ISBN on the back cover for you. That’s a big help, because you know that it will be to standard, it won’t be fudged up with JPG artefact or anti-aliased or anything.

The bad news is that you don’t really get a choice where it lives. For the most part, I don’t care, but you might if you’ve included a graphic in the lower right corner of, only to have it covered by a barcode. Also, it’s black and white with big numbers. That’s the way it has to be. My advice is to put any significant image away from the lower right, and you’ll be fine.

See here, this is the resulting PDF after pushing my bits through Lulu’s online editor (We’ll cover that later):

Lulu-Cover

For Jolimont, I’ve taken a zoomed shot of the front cover, lowered the brightness and increased the contrast, so that light text shows up nicely on top. For the spine colour, you can use the colour picker to sample a pixel, or you can type in the RGB colour code.

When it comes to writing a blurb, you don’t need to include this in your image. When you design your cover in Lulu’s online editor, you can have text boxes. Set the font, set the colour, set the alignment, and type away. This is useful in case you’re still teasing your blurb: You don’t want to have to upload a graphic for every minor change.

As for the spine text, Lulu gives you a spot for the title and the author, pre-filled. You only need to adjust the size and font to suit, and you’re good to go.

Lastly, you can insert the Lulu label on the spine (if it’s thick enough) and the Lulu book id on the back (next to the barcode) by clicking the check boxes in the Lulu editor.

So, really, all you need is the front cover image (check!), the back cover image (check!), and the rest you can do online.

If you need to have two tones in the spine, or your own font, or any of that, you’ll need to go with Lulu’s advanced PDF cover upload. Can’t help you there. When I get around to trying it, I’ll let you know how I go, but until then I’m sticking with the online editor.

Whew! What a ride! We’re almost there. After this it’s a matter of uploading all your bits, filling in the blanks and going with Lulu’s Global Reach program to do some of the heavy distribution for you, like getting your book to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.Mini Jeztyr Logo

Lulu – The Cover

Pushing the digital version of your book to hardcopy requires a revision of your front cover. You’ve knocked your cover up. You are pretty chuffed with it because, hey, everything is just as it should be.

Pixels are, after all, pixels.

Printing out a cover throws a couple of curve-balls. Two notables are colour and cut.

Cut!

Cut is the easiest to explain. When a book get made up from a printing press, there are a number of processes and physical factors that need to be accounted for. Pick up a book off your shelf, go on. See how the cover stock is different to what’s used inside the book? See how it’s glossy, whereas the pages are not? See how the pages perfectly line up with each other?

It’s not an accident. The machines that make up a book have various tolerances when assembling, and then the whole thing gets trimmed to perfection. Aah!

The trimming bit is where you need to be concerned. Your cover will have bits cut off. I’ll repeat that because it’s important:

Your cover will have bits cut off.

The top and bottom edges, and the edge opposite the spine, are ear marked for a bit of slice-and-dice action. Lulu gives you templates you can use:

Lulu-CoverTemplate.png

This one is for the PocketBook size, and as you can see, it has three distinct regions. The ‘Trim Area’, the ‘Safety Margin’ and the ‘Live Area’. If you use Gimp or Photoshop, add the template as a top-level layer so that you can see how your cover will end up:

Lulu-CoverWithTemplate.png

Notice that all words are within the safety margin – no one wants to have their title sliced off! And, before you ask, yes, I found this out the hard way. The margin of safety is there for a reason. Use it.

What’s not so obvious is that the centre of your image is now a wee bit to the left. Doesn’t sound bad, until you get your book and that ‘wee bit’ has turned into a ‘Hella lot’! Realign your words, shadows, etc to align to the ‘new’ centre, and save yourself a headache.

Colour

If something looks good one your screen, great, it will probably look good on someone else’s screen, too, unless they’ve got their colours all up the wazoo. You can’t help that. In contrast (pun somewhat intended), if I look at a book, and then hand it to you, the colours on the front page haven’t changed.

So it is important to get it right.

I can’t really show you the difference as it gets printed out here, because my camera isn’t really picking up the details, but I’ll show you what I did for Adaptation:

Lulu-Adaptation-Comparison.jpgOn the left is the digital edit, and on the right is the Lulu hardcopy edit. You’ll notice the words spacing and alignment has been adjusted for the margins of safety.

The colours are muted on the left, just the way I wanted them to be but, when it was printed, they appear especially dull. No good. So with the Lulu edit I upped the contrast, increased the saturation and use the auto ‘white balance’. The result is a more vivid cover, unsuitable for digital (I think) but comes out just right in hardcopy.Mini Jeztyr Logo

Lulu – Tidy up, Double Check and Export

We’ve been converting our digital eBook to hardcopy. From the get go, there have been changes, mostly around the front matter and the formatting. We’ve added a copyright page, a table of contents, added numbering, and it’s looking good.

What’s next?

Not a lot. You’re close to the end. But something is nagging at you, right? It can’t be that easy, can it?

It can. But, you’re right, something is nagging.

At this point, you’ll want to export your document to PDF. This is what’s used at Lulu to make the content. Groovy. Click on “File -> Export as PDF…” and you’ll get a dialog.

ExportPDF.png

See that little check box marked “PDF/A-1a”? Make sure it’s checked. Lulu’s engine will not appreciate it if it’s not checked. Then hit the Export button.

Job done!

Almost. Keep it cool. Because, even though you’ve exported it, you still need to check off all the things that need checking. This isn’t an exhaustive list, Lulu can give you details about the finer points, but here you go:

  1. Title page has the title, subtitle (if applicable), series (if applicable) and author(s), all with correct spelling (raises hand – guilty).
  2. For a series, be sure you’ve used the same format for numbers: If your other books are in roman numerals, continue that way.
  3. Copyright page, correct year, correct author.
  4. ISBN filled out on the copyright page – and it’s correct to the one you claimed for your print book (not recycled).
  5. Table of Contents looks correct, font is fine.
  6. Dedication, Foreword and/or Preface on separate pages.
  7. Each Chapter title in the same face / case / size.
  8. Chapter pages match up exactly with the table of contents.
  9. Page numbers are left on the left page and right on the right page.
  10. The Chapter banner for a page actually corresponds to the Chapter.
  11. Blank pages can arise after reformatting, that aren’t evident before hand.
  12. Afterword on a separate page.
  13. All images are displaying correctly.
  14. Margins, line spacing, header and footer are correct throughout.

If you need to make changes, go right ahead, but, and I’ll put this in bold and in caps and surround with asterisks and even put an exclamation mark at the end:

** UPDATE YOUR TABLE OF CONTENTS BEFORE ANY EXPORT! **

If you’re happy, put it as a file under ‘Final’ or ‘To Upload’, mark its date and send it to your Lulu project.Mini Jeztyr Logo

Lulu – Page Numbering & Chapters

If you have a table of contents, one of requirements is that the numbers of the chapters must match perfectly. However, there isn’t much point having a table of contents with page numbers if you don’t have page numbers.

Introducing: Page Numbers

This has got to be the fiddliest part of the whole exercise. Why? Because it involves headers and magical fields. There may be many ways to skin a cat, but this is how I do it. If you’ve got a better / easier / alternate way, feel free to let me know. Anything that makes life easier, right?

I put my page numbers in the header, top-left for left-hand pages and top-right for right-hand pages. You can put your page numbers at the bottom, in the footer, with pretty much the same process.

First, show the view as ‘Print Layout’. This will give you a clear idea of what is a left page, and what is a right. You should see, for example, that your first page, your Title page, is a right hand page.

Select “Insert -> Header -> Default”

InsertHeader.png

This will put a magical header at the top of every ‘default’ page. Because the Title page is a ‘First Page’, it doesn’t get this, which is a good thing because your Title Page must only have the title, the subtitle and author (no page numbers).

Numbering should start from your Copyright and ISBN page, and be consistent all the way through.

Get on with it…

Alright! Sheesh, I’m laying down the what and why and stuff. OK, so when you add your header, go to the page settings in ‘Format -> Page…’:

PageSettings.png

In the dialog. You’ll note that you can also adjust your headers and footer from here. You can also uncheck ‘same header left and right’.

SameContentHeader.png

Why? Because you won’t be having the same header left and right, that’s why.

Hit OK, close the dialog and, at the top of every page, you’ll have a grey rectangle. This is your header. If there’s a big, gangly space underneath, you can adjust the header size and spacing from the page formatting dialog. At this point, if you want ONLY your page number, then ignore the next bit about tables and skip down to the next bit.

Click inside the header, and insert a table 3 columns x 1 row. You may need to format the table to remove borders. Right click -> Table Properties -> Border – and set to blank border.

Now, click in the middle cell, and go to the menu “Insert -> Field -> Other”, or hit Ctrl + F2, and select the Chapter Name from the list. This will insert the current chapter for each page. Then click ‘centre align’ to make the chapter label centred. Do this for the right header as well.

Page Numbers, finally

Now click on the left header’s left cell (or just the left header if you aren’t using a table) and make sure it’s left aligned.

Go to “Insert” -> Field and choose the “Page Number” from here.

PageNumebr.png

Boom. All left pages are now numbered!

On the right header, click the right-most cell, and right align it. Insert the page number there and, boom! all right pages are numbered!

ChapterAndPage.png

It’s as easy as that. Now, because you’ve introduced a header, this can push out the contents of your pages, so the Table of Contents you created previously will no longer match. Right click on it and press ‘Update’ to realign the TOC with the pages.

If you want, you can stick your page numbers up the top, and your chapter title down the bottom, or both at the bottom. (Almost) Anything goes. Just be sure to align left page numbers to the left, and right page numbers to the right.

At this point, check that your Title page has no page numbering, that your TOC is correctly picking up the chapters and their respective pages. If it’s all good, you’re nearly there!Mini Jeztyr Logo