Stumpy Makes a Return

I took some time off work yesterday and today. I had some things around the house that needed doing. The fireplace, for one, needed painting. The original coating was faded and buffed and rust spots were appearing. Some sandpaper, mineral turpentine, a paint brush and a tin of pot-belly black high temp paint solved that problem.

Now the house smells like turps, but that’s not the point. The point is that I knuckled down, got the job done, the fireplace looks a treat and I’m ready for winter.

I also needed to replace a strip of quad in the bathroom because it got left out during the renovations. Some stain, some gloss, cut it to size, stuck it on the wall, job done. And the lawn needed mowing – got that out of the way. Oh, the doorbell dinger needed to be replaced – done. The winder in the bedroom is failing – turns out I can’t fix that without replacing the box, so I’ll have to leave that to another day (and someone else).

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with some time to actually do what I want to do, which is finish off the sequel to Tedrick Gritswell. That’s right, folks, our favourite little spud from Borobo Reef is back in business and he’ll soon be peeking out from a bookshelf near you!

The Second Draft is complete. I’ve put my poor little printer through its paces (took a while to get the drivers and get it working) and it dutifully churned out 100 odd pages of words for me to read through and correct. Now I’ve got to go get another red pen. I kind of killed my last one. Time for a trip to Officeworks. After that, more editing and corrections and then onto the final.

In the meantime, I’m having a break. I’ve got to get onto the front cover, after all. I had decided this time around to do the cover first, but that idea got lost along with everything else that came at me this year, but don’t you worry, I’ll get out the tablet, crack open my Corel Draw and reacquaint myself with just how to apply a virtual paint to a virtual canvas.

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 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.

Mini Jeztyr Logo

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.

Mini Jeztyr Logo

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

Borobo Reef – Nearly There!

Tedrick has come a long way. I had the 20th of April marked down as the cut-off for the second draft and I’m chuffed to say that I’ve hit it! I’d pop a champagne but instead I’ve popped a few vertebrate, and I’m well behind on a whole bunch of other things, like making Joey a petrol station.

Heck, I only just made the Easter eggs in time this year (actually, I’m down by four. Sorry.)

But phooey to that! I’m just glad that I’m actually ahead of the game for once.

Sweet. When’s it out, Jez?

The final draft is deadlined for May 10th, so expect the release to be around mid-May. There’s a metric tonne of things that need to be done in the meantime. Now, I know I’ve drummed up Smashwords a lot, and don’t get me wrong, I’m going to be using them again but… and it’s a big but…

But I’m going to try out Amazon KDP. There, I said it. I don’t approve of their policies, I’m not a fan of the whole ‘thou shalt not’ that they brandish with a big stick, but they do offer some interesting services for independent authors.

It’s going to be one of those ‘suck it and see’ things. As for the hard-copy, I’m going to give Lulu a miss and try Amazon’s services directly. Again, not entirely convinced, but if I don’t it a shot, I’ll never know for sure.

Fret not, you non .mobi guys. Once the clearing period for the KDP thing has past – something like 100 days – I’ll be pushing it out on all other platforms.

What about the Front Cover?

Yeah, that’s been put to one side for a tick. The due date for that is May 1st so there’s no rush to get that done.

OK, OK, I’ll give you the work in progress:

TedrickGritswell13I’ve got the font sorted – pretty happy about that, and I’m getting advice from one Mr. Whiteread regarding the colouring, font weight and other factors. On top of that, Mister Gritswell got some suckers and more shading, although I think we need some shells and grit and some more crud in the water.

Ah, there I go again, getting caught up in the front cover when I’m supposed to be printing out the darn draft and wearing out my red pen. I can’t afford to get complacent.

On that note…Mini Jeztyr Logo goodnight!

Borobo Reef

I had planned to have finished the first draft of the next book by the 30th of March. To this end, I pulled out all the stops. I was writing day and night, lunch time, after dinner, before going to bed and even while sleeping.

All that hard work paid off – I did it! Not only did I hit my target, I managed to get it done days earlier than anticipated. That, like, never happens. And it’s got me worried.

Why worry?

You see, getting something done quickly is great, unless it’s done so hastily that stuff goes missing or gets overlooked or gets done sloppily.

I’m not really worried, not like that. It’s more that I’m going to stay on my toes during the second draft, keeping an eye out for anything glaringly obvious.

When’s that due? Glad you asked. 25th of April is the deadline for that. So I’m going at that hammer and tongs, right?
Wrong.

The Cover

Instead of going straight into the second draft, I’m going to let my reading / writing brain have a rest and get cracking on the cover. That’s right, rather than put the cover off until the end, I’m going to use the down time to do some creative drawing.

My Wacom pad has been lonely.

TedrickCombine.jpg

So I started with a sketch of an octopus, the protagonist of my story, a spud named Tedrick Gritswell. After some scruffy sketches, I used the watercolour to get some feel for how he would look, and once that got somewhere close to what I was after, I added a layer and dropped in a background.

Corel Painter has some neat features like layering, lighting and texturing so I mucked about with that so see what I could use. After all, my spud ain’t smooth, he’s got skin. Plus there’s shading to be done and depth of field and all of that.

At the time of writing, I’m still working on the coral cliffs in the background and getting some rocks and shells and other plants in there, along with cleaning up the water and adding some details, but here tis:Tedrick6.jpg

I’ll keep at it for the next few days while I chill out my brain, you know, maybe get out and make a petrol station for Joey like he’s been bugging me. Fresh air and exercise, that’s what I need.

If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

Huh? Why is he missing an arm? I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait until the book is out to find out.Mini Jeztyr Logo