I’ve used the same general layout for the Paranormology series – Two thirds picture at the top, one third writing at the bottom. The top is of the haunted building. The bottom contains the title and author upon a close up of some of the material making up the structure.
The Smashwords guidelines specify a minimum width of 1400 pixels, with a height greater than the width. I use 1400 x 2278. For the lower section, I’ve chosen a piece of wall with some cracks and flaking paint:
After that, I’ll add in the title and the author, along with a flourish to separate the two. I used the font Augustus because it was narrow and crisp. I’ve made a duplicate of the writing layer to have a slight coloured rim around the lettering.
Now that’s alright by itself, but the brickwork needed to be contrasted a tad more with the writing, so I added a glow to it, reduced the contrast and added in a purple and yellow wash. I then put a shroud on the outside and bordering the two images, to give it a slightly darker look.
I threw in some faint plasma for a swirling, mystic look and finally added some snow at the bottom panel to tie it all in. The result:
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:
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).
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.
Publishing Jolimont Street Ghost should have been a ‘crack a beer and take a week or two off moment’. After all, the hard stuff is done. Writing and editing and proofing and all of that stuff. Done. Front cover and page dimensions and blank space checks. Done. Converting and publishing and getting it approved. Done.
Then comes the next part, the bit you really, really wish you could forget about. Jolimont Street Ghost was pushed up in digital format (a little early, but let’s not dwell) and, thanks to Smashwords’ awesome Channel system, it gets distributed to a lot of major players like iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, along with newer ones like Scribd and Overdrive and Txtr.
Is there a glaring omission to this list? Amazon? One needs to do that oneself. That’s not a failing of Smashwords, rather that’s an annoying fact of Amazon. I won’t go into my usual rant, suffice to say it takes a bit more work to take what you’ve already done and distribute it elsewhere. Google Play? Same deal.
So to distribute it via the ‘other guys’, it’s a matter of copy-pasting a lot of the meta-data, title, series, author, ISBN, etc. and going through the motions on their sites, uploading in the correct formats – epub, png and pdf for Google, mobi and jpg for Amazon – and then submitting for their scrutinisation.
The genre issue is a funny one. Seems everyone has their own way of doing it and, while there appear to be standards, not everyone uses them.
For example, with Paranormology, I believe it sits somewhere in a “Ghost” genre, rather than “Horror”, but that isn’t always available at all distributors. OK, so “Science Fiction” is too broad, “Paranormal” exists in one standard but not another. Sheesh! At this point it’s a best-effort approach, near enough is good enough, move on.
Tags. This is another point that has me confuddled and bewused. Some distributors like single words, others like phrases, some have unlimited tags, others a maximum. Don’t put the title in the tag, but try to keep tags similar to books of the same type… Yeah, again, I hit the Sheesh! button and give it a best effort once more.
Of course. This is just what needs to be done to get it up and out. After that, you need to download it all again in the various formats, to make sure the formatting ain’t up the wall. You see, converting your manuscript to ePub and Mobi and PDF and RTF can leave weird spacings or blank pages or dropped fonts, all of which looks unprofessional and is distracting to the reader.
My advice is to follow the Smashwords’ submission guidelines. Their converter is very decent and works like a charm so long as you stick to the guidelines. Sure, you can always re-submit if you need to but, trust me, you don’t want to.
After all, there’s a headless beer slowly getting warmer over there…