The Quality of the Merchandise

Forgot to mention yesterday about the quality of the print of the books that arrived.

I’ll start with Tedrick. I got Tedrick Gritswell of Borobo Reef and Tedrick Gritswell Makes Waves delivered so I can give a final check to the quality of the print. I have to say, I’m impressed. The stock used was a cream paper, nice and easy on the eyeballs, with a good sized font and proper looking margins.

I’m always concerned with the gutter, to make sure that when the book is opened, the words don’t get lost somewhere down in the spine. The guidelines of the KDP template help out there a lot and they point out, quite clearly, if words are going to be squished in the gutter.

The margins, too, are spacious and roomy, enough for fingers to hold without getting in the way. Where the print falls down, in my opinion, is on the cover. I’ve noticed a distinct difference with the brightness of the colours on the monitor versus those on print. The books seem to have their colours muted somewhat, like the ‘volume got turned down’.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the same image, it’s not altered at all, but the realisation into the physical world leaves a little something back in the digital world. I’m sure there’s a term for this.

The Adaptation book is a whopper. It’s printed on white paper with 9.5 point font, 0.5 points below the recommended minimum. That was the absolute largest I could use without blowing the pages out past the maximum of 800. I also used a custom font that squished the words up a fraction more. Each chapter title also uses a custom font to match the title cover.

This was a bit annoying because it means embedding the font into the final PDF. If I didn’t do that, the font would default to something else, and I’d gain an extra few pages and push past the limit. Embedded the font ain’t so bad – it makes the PDF larger, of course, but that makes it longer upload.

The cover came out better than I expected. The charcoal of the carbon-fibre comes up good against the cyan and orange. The back holds a likeness of yours truly in a little circle. The print quality is nice and the matt cover has a definite feel to it.

The only thing that annoys me is the slim margins and small font size. I would have preferred to go to, say, a thousand pages with a thicker margin and 11 point font but, unfortunately, the Laws of Physics only extend so far.

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!

Lulu – Printing Requirements

You’ve got your eBook up and ready to be made into a print book. Bully for you! This is exciting stuff. You’ve done all the hard yards, now it’s just the tedious (but important) yards.

Lulu insists that, if you’re going to distribute your books, you follow some rules. These rules are fair, not outlandish or anything, but it can cause you some grief if you’re not sure what’s what. So take your time, go through this as a guide (not complete, but, hey, it’s a start), and be thorough: digital format allows you to update mistakes quickly. Printed format is quite unforgiving.

I use Open Office to write my books, mainly because I’m used to the interface. If you use a different word processor, the steps should be similar, although I doubt they’d be exactly the same. Maybe same but different.

Lulu uses PDFs as they content, but will also accept Microsoft Word docs and raw .txt files. In any case, I export to PDF before uploading.

Size, Format and Fonts

With eBooks, you write, and that’s that. The formatting is (mostly) up to the device upon which the viewer is reading. Sure, you can set the font and make this a heading and that bold, but readers can override your setting and change everything to Comic Sans (which is evil) if they’re feeling frisky, increase the line spacing, decrease the lines per page, etc.

A printed book, last time I checked, doesn’t have this luxury. So you now need to take off your writing hat, and put on your type-setting hat. Don’t worry, you’ll get through this.

Firstly, choose your book size (see eBook to Hardcopy – Lulu). Sounds obvious, right? Well, there’s more to it than just that.

What kind of book do you have? A novella? A tome? If it’s a light read, you might consider a pocketbook format. If it’s meaty, perhaps you’d like the A5 size. The larger the book, the more expensive it is to print per page, but remember that larger pages hold more words, and therefore each page is less expensive but, and here’s a rule: Don’t let the cost guide you. Rather let the book have what it needs.

What’s your target audience? Children? Teenager? Adult? Older-adult. This can give you a hint as to the size of your type, the spacing and the font type. Larger fonts for children and teenagers, maybe very fine fonts for epics and war stories. The size and type will affect the page count but, again, don’t let the number of pages lead you: choose what’s best for your audience and stick to that.

Now, the font. Pick up a book from your bookshelf. What’s the font? Serif or sans-serif? Does it have the little ‘flickety bits’ on each letter, or is are the characters straight lines? It’s a matter of preference, but I like to read books in serif fonts, and I’ve got my Kobo set to this, only because I find I can read easier and faster. Eh, up to you.

A Worked Example

Let’s start with Jolimont Street Ghost. It was an eBook, published with Smashwords, and I needed to make it into a paperback. When writing, I had everything as ‘default’, thus:

JolimontSW

See how everything just runs together, including the copyright and the Dedication? All the front matter is rammed onto the one page.

We’ll have to change that.

OK, like the rest of Paranormology, I opted for a pocketbook, it’s 10.79cm x 17.46 or 4.25″ x 6.88″. OK, so I set the first page and default page size to this. This is under Page styles (see below).

JolimontFirstPage

Front Matter

The first port of call is your front matter. Your eBook can’t just be printed out any old how, it needs, among a host of other things, to have a proper title page. That’s right, a page dedicated solely to the title, subtitle, series number and author(s).

Hit CTRL+Enter to make a page break under my title. I then click on the page with the title and set it to being a ‘First Page’. That is, I nominate that page’s type as a ‘First Page’. I then edit the margins to give me a 2cm clearance on each side. For a larger book, this isn’t so pronounced.

For the rest of the book, or ‘Default’ pages, I set the margin to 1cm. I’ve found this give a good clearance of the text from the spine – I have read a book once where I needed to practically breaking the binding to read the words next to the spine – and a comfortable reading margin from the book edges. Don’t worry about the little grey margin line, that won’t print out.

Set your font to ‘Title’, set your sub-title, series and author fonts to something a bit smaller. Put them centred. Job done.

Bummer. Lunch is almost over. Stay tuned, I need to get some more screen shots. Coming up, we’ll cover the rest of the front matter, including the copyright, ISBN and table of contents. After that I’ll show you how to add in page numbering, chapter titles on pages, tables of contents and images, and also what to look for when you finally hit the ‘go’ button.

Right now, though, I’ve got to get back to writing code.Mini Jeztyr Logo