What’s got 2 eyes, 7 legs…?

And is set to splash its way all across your e-reader? Tedrick!

That’s right, everyone’s favourite octopus detective is due for release tomorrow, 1st of June!

TedrickGritswellMicro

OMG! I’ll be holding my own little celebration, but I can’t celebrate for too long, no sir. There are too many things to do. I’m still getting AMS to play ball, and then there’s the hardcopy to finalise, and distributions. Man, it almost makes me wish I had multiple limbs! Sorry, Ted, I know you’re still smarting about your missing arm.

You can find Tedrick Gritswell of Borobo Reef at the Amazon store here, for the price of a cup of coffee. And once I’ve passed the required number of days, I’ll publish to Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Google Play. Or you can download the mobi or pdf and import that into your reader – I’ve heard that works.

Thanks for sticking with me on this ride. I’ll continue with the hardcopy KDP journey in a day or two, once I’ve shaken off the darkwater hangover.Mini Jeztyr Logo

KDP – The Cover

In the previous post, I spoke about how to get the cover to play ball. By downloading the template you will save yourself a lot of trouble, but how does one use it?

GIMP

I like GIMP. A lot. I know there are other graphics programs that do a lot of stuff easily but GIMP has just been my go-to and probably always will be. Hats off to the developers.

Anyway, to use the template, open it in GIMP.

GimpTemplate.png

You’ll notice on the right hand side there’s the “Layers” pane. I added my front, spine and rear layers underneath. By adjusting the transparency of the top-most layer (the template) I can see how I fit in the guidelines at any time:

GimpTemplateTrans.JPG

To turn off the top layer altogether, when I’m working on things directly, click the eyeball next to the layer. Also use this for when you’re exporting your final image.

Note the rear: I’ve kept the blurb clear of the barcode area because KDP, like Lulu, will automatically stick a barcode on that spot. Can you change it? No. Why not? Because it’s a standard spot and there’s really no reason to have it customisable. It’s like software engineering, really. Yes, it probably could be customisable, and we could put a whole lot of man-hours to getting the darn thing to be on the other side, or rotated, or put on the top, or the spine. We could do that, yes. Or – OR – we could not, and recognise that it’s not really an issue and state very simply that that’s where the barcode goes and apply the developers to better, more important tasks.

Sorry. One of the most annoying phrases as an engineer I hear is, “Can we make it customisable?” Rant over. Moving right along. Where was I?

Ah, yes, the template. So you’ll see, straight away, that the eBook cover is not going to work. It doesn’t have a spine. It doesn’t have a rear. You’ll need to knock those up. I used a picture of Eel Grove for the rear, because it’s a dark image and sits well against the light blurb.

For the spine, I whipped up an underwater theme, graduating from the light to waves to the dark reef-bed. The text had to be rotated to run down the spine, and I added a slight drop-shadow to help with the contrast.

When it was all done and I was chuffed with how it looked, I exported it. KDP wants it as a PDF. Gimpy can do this, no sweat, but the resulting PDF file is 17 MB. For you spring chickens, that ain’t such a thing, but I remember the time when our harddrive was 40MB all up, and the speed of a modem of 1200 bps.

Anyhow, I uploaded it to KDP and sat back.

Boom!

Oh. Poop. What have I done? The preview window on the KDP form looks… terrible. It’s like it’s.. it’s… it’s the tiniest bit on the bottom of the spine.

OhNo.jpg

That’s what it looked like.

What has gone wrong? I’ll tell you. There’s a thing called DPI, or Dots Per Inch. Don’t worry too much about the details, but when I saved the image to PDF, it saved the data in a rather stretched format.

Back to Gimpy-boy (Yes, I call it Gimpy-boy):

Resolution.PNG

Open up the Print Resolution dialog and the mystery is revealed. See that width / height? That’s because, translating pixels to ‘dots’ on a page means that I’ve made my picture stupidly large. Aha!

I adjusted the X and Y resolution from 72 DPI to 300 DPI and the width and height went to 9.25″ x 12.88″.

ResolutionFix.PNG

But the book is only 6 x 9, right? Yes, true, but we’re working off the template and we need to include trim and all of that. Anyway, 9.25″ is hella closer than 38″! Phew!

OK, so export to PDF again, re-upload and cross all digits and tentacles…Mini Jeztyr Logo

KDP – The Juicy Bits

In the previous post I told you how I decided to try out KDP’s Create Space for the paperback version of Tedrick Gritswell.

In this episode, I’ll walk you through the uploading of the manuscript because it needs some examination, then start on the cover.

The Manuscript

Once I had the physical output determined:

Format.png

I formatted my table of contents and added in the ISBN as per Lulu’s instructions – it’s a simple enough template to follow, and I’m not about to deviate. Then I uploaded it.

Well, wasn’t that fun? I will argue that Lulu’s uploading mechanism is much cleaner and easier – you feel ‘safe’ as you go along. I will also argue that Amazon’s engine is quite advanced and did a lot of processing to make sure that my manuscript fit into its guidelines.

We can see some different approaches here: To be approved for GlobalReach, the onus is on you to make sure your book is in the right format, has the right dimensions, has the right ISBN and author and copyright, has the right pagination and table of contents. There are good resources of how to go about that, including my previous posts, so it’s not such a bad thing. It also means that you, as the publisher, are responsible for getting it right and they make sure you purchase a proof for you to check over before you can set your book free to the world.

KDP, on the other hand, takes a different approach. You upload your manuscript and it gets processed by a bunch of verifiers and validators, custom engines that grab your PDF by their dog-eared corners and shake them about, making sure its up to standard. Not that you’ll see what’s going on, but it does give prompts.

When mine came out the other end, there were many errors that were picked up, including the size of the document. The cool thing was, the engine did its best to modify my manuscript to conform to the required dimensions because, yup, I’d forgotten to set the dimensions of my page before exporting to PDF!

Why does this matter? Because by changing the size, I change the layout and flow, and the pages will, as a result, not be the same. And it seemed to get that. I’d like to try it again just to be sure, but I’m pretty sure it actually updated the page numbers and the table of contents for me. So a big tick here for Amazon on that front.

It makes sense, if you think about it. If they had to manually review all of the manuscripts coming up for quality and design issues, it would take about a day before someone hit the ‘F-It’ key and got a programmer to knock up an engine to weed out the most obvious issues before they reached a human. Nice.

Where it falls a little flat, though, is when I revised my manuscript, changed the dimensions to 6″ by 9″ and re-exported. The Auto-whatsit decided to over compensate and the inside margins of the book were too big. It took many iterations of trial and error to get it ‘just right’, which I did in the end. I think.

And that’s the other killer – currently KDP doesn’t offer the ability to purchase a proof at publishing prices. Lulu insists upon ordering one to make sure the end product is exactly what it needs to be, but there is no such facility on KDP. So I had to order my proofs as a normal purchase.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the cover.

The Cover

Similar to Lulu, KDP gives you the option to DIY or to use their templates. I’ve found the templates fairly straight forward, but this time around I wanted to try the DIY approach.

To do this you can download a PDF or PNG with the dimensions of the front, spine and rear cover. Depending on the size of your book, you’ll get a different file, but the idea is that you have the width and height, along with a spine whose size depends on the number of pages and the paper weight. Mine looks like this (PDF): 6x9_Cream_270

As you can see, it’s broken into parts. You’ve got the front cover on the right, the rear on the left – which includes space for the ISBN barcode – and the spine itself.Print area.PNG

Do you have to make your own barcode or include it as part of the rear-image? No, not at all. It will be auto-generated when you upload it. More on that later.

The important thing to notice here is the whole loosey-goosey nature of the cover. You have red areas, black dotted lines and broad white areas. Why not just a rectangle? Because books are imprecise. The stock is not the same from place to place. They are produced on whopping great big machines with whirling parts and clampy bits and things that go brrrrrrp! and each of those processes has tolerances.

When ordering proofs of my other books, I’ve noticed that, depending on where they are printed, the colour, cut, folding and finish is different. As such, you will need to allow for the guidelines they’ve given you. Yes, there is a good chance that anything in the red-zone before the black line will be visible, but don’t count on it. If it’s important, keep it in the white zone.

Also worth noting: If you’re a stickler for having things dead-centre, then prepare to pull your hair out. That buffer and trim at the right means that you will need to compensate your centreline on the front cover to be a squigion to the left. The same rule applies for the vertical direction. Don’t assume that you can grab your eBook version and slap it on the top.

Be prepared to fiddle, is all I’m saying. After you upload, examine the finished product carefully because it won’t be exactly as you had it.

Is that all? No, not really. There’s a fair bit more to go, actually. More in the next post.

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Hardcopy with KDP

In the interest of comparison with Lulu, I’m going to be documenting my experience with Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space for making the hardcopy version of my book.

The ISBN

Thankfully, Amazon supplies ISBNs. If you’re curious about how the whole ISBN thing works, have a read. I’m not about to go forking out big bucks for a number, so I’ll get a free one, thank you very much.

ISBN.png

Tick the box and away you go. The ISBN is issues and it’s supposed to go… where? Good question. Thankfully, my experience with Lulu shows that it needs to be on the second page, after the title page, of your book, under the copyright notice.

For more information on ISBN, copyright and table of contents, check out this post.

CopyrightISBN.png

I’m going to stick to this format, because it works. Speaking of format…

The Format

KDP doesn’t give you a visual guide for how the book will turn out. I guess it doesn’t really need to

The options chosen by default sound reasonable enough, but if you’re interested, like I was, in the other options, you can hover over the blue text and get hints. For the trim size, which is very important to get right, I needed to know what the book would look like in the end. Following the link in the hover-over, you get a table like this:

FormatDim.png

 

Whoa. Ok. Cool. You know what? Let’s just stick with 6″ x 9″ for now, yeah? If that’s the most popular, then why buck the trend?

Along with the dimensions, there’s also the paper type (cream, white) and the ink type (black, colour). I think I’ll go cream and black, please. One sugar. Ta.

Now, while we’re on the topic of formatting, I need to get the ebook manuscript and tidy it up, because, like Lulu, the upload to KDP recommends PDF. Makes sense. So, in OpenOffice, I need to set the page size and the margins:

PageFormat.png

Note the width and height are the same as those specified by KDP? Important point, that. I’ve also set the margin at 2cm to give a comfortable reading experience.

After this, I need to add in page numbers and chapters. I won’t reiterate that, since you can see how I did that here.

Finally, it needs to be exported to PDF.

So far, we’re in similar waters, so that’s helpful. Upload to the KDP and let it do its thing.Upload.png

Next comes the bit with the cover. Ooh, now with this, we can only upload a print-ready PDF. Lulu’s cover creator makes it pretty easy to do front, rear and spine, this might be a little more involved.

Stay tuned. I’ll fill you in on the next post.

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That Octopus is on his way!

I told you I’d do it! Tedrick Gritswell of Borobo Reef is up for pre-release.

What does that mean for you?

It means you can pre-order it so that, on 1st of June, 2017, it gets automatically added to your library and you get the honour of being the first spud to read it! It also means you can rest easy knowing that I’m going to use the next few weeks to spruce up the book, get the formatting down, all of that.

Here’s the link:

What does it mean for me?

It gives me a chance to slow down and take stock. The work doesn’t stop, though, you should know that by now. I need to:

  1. Work on the cover (woot!) some more. That’s not the final iteration.
  2. Fix up some grammatical and spelling errors.
  3. Make a few last minute additions and subtractions.
  4. Rev up the marketing engine and concentrate on that properly.
  5. Get this into a hard-copy version el-pronto.

I’ll keep you posted about how it all goes, including how the KDP uploading went. In the meantime, I’m going to take a break, have some lunch, maybe even head to Bunnings for a walk-around.

Haven’t done that in a good while.

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Editing – Ugh… Do I have to?

Who ever said that writing was glamorous? Not me, I can assure you. I can think of many words to describe it. Glamorous doesn’t make the list.

The writing bit is fun. You know, making up the story and getting all the words on the paper and building up characters, scenes and plots. That’s a hoot, but not glamorous. It’s fun, sticky and sugary, like eating dessert for an entree.

The marketing – promotions, adverts and posts – that’s all boring but essential, like steamed vegetables.

The worst part, for me at least, is editing. I’ve already read the damn book. I’ve worked over little details, scrubbed whole bits out, rammed other bits in, smooshed it, smoothed it, worked at it and sat on it. Then, after a period of recovery, I get to do it all over again.

And that’s just the second draft.

Rinse, repeat. Third draft. Oh brother. Looking down at the plate, you’ve got something in the realm of cold porridge, mixed with a spoonful of unsoaked lentils.

Ugh. Editing. Spoon by spoon, it’s a slog to get through, especially the third draft. It’s where I have to concentrate not only on grammar and spelling, but flow, repetition and any major flaws that are sitting there. Did Barnes come before or after I fought the Unome? Was Belvedere oblivious to Sassam’s plot? How much did Wyra blab to Coraline?

Yes, these should have been taken up in the Second Draft. Doesn’t mean they were. Consider it the last chance to nut all of that out before the galley is produced. I’ve had some assistance to this end in the form of my father grabbing a red pen and for this I am very, very grateful.

Of course, since he stole the red pen, I’ve been forced to use the green for my own amendments. I can live with that. Want to hear the good news? It’s all done. The hard-copy side of things, that is. Now comes the second part of the editing task: working back over the printed pages and translating the scribbles and scrawls, side-annotations and asterisks over to the electronic version.

This the is down-hill part of the task. Doesn’t mean it’s any less unpalatable, just that it takes less time.

What’s the date today? May 1st. Cool. In that case, I have reached the decision to put this book up for pre-release May 4th on Amazon’s KDP (the Kindle Direct Publishing thing), for an official release June 1st. That’s from a Thursday to a Thursday.

I’ll try my best to document the process. I’ve got Smashwords and Lulu down, but the KDP is still a bit of a foreign concept.Mini Jeztyr Logo