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.
After doing all the setup and tweaking and uploading and tweaking again, I got to the point where I could actually submit the book for publishing.
As I’ve already explained, while CreateSpace does allow Author copies, Amazon does not. No big deal, let’s just order the damn book already and make sure it looks as it should.
Postage to Australia is a bit on the hefty side so I ordered a couple of copies, clicked on the PayPal button, forked over the cash and sat back.
Not that long, it turns out. The estimate was about three to four weeks, but the book arrived in two. I’m guessing they err on the side of caution, and it’s a bit of a bonus when you get that big, fat package in the mail and you know what it is, even though it’s early. Oh, the excitement!
So how did it go? Did it work out? See for yourself:
Ta-da! Not bad, not bad. I quite like the matte texture of the cover. That’s a nice option. I’m used to a glossy one, but I think the feel comes out alright although the darks are very dark indeed. It’s always the way – how things appear on the screen is not a true indication of how they’ll come out when printed, and that’s true of every book I’ve printed.
You can see this more clearly on the rear, where there’s a lot of dark:
And the positioning of the ISBN comes out trumps as well. Chuffed with that. The spine looks like this:
It doesn’t come up too clearly in the shot, but the front bleeds about a millimeter or two onto the spine. Nothing drastic, but it does demonstrate that you cannot have absolutes in your printing – always assume that the cover might shift a little this way or that, and don’t stick anything sensitive onto the edges.
Yup, that’s cool. I like the choice of cream over blanch white, it feels better and the print isn’t so hard on the eyeballs. I’m glad I fiddled with the margins so much. You can see that the distance fro the spine to the text is comfortable, not squished into the binding, and the distance from the outer to the edge is also comfortable.
The ISBN and front matter is all good. I don’t mind the table of contents, that’s fine. There is an extra page or two at the back (not shown here) with “Made in the USA, San Bernadino, CA.” Which is interesting. I think Lulu out-sources its printing to be closer to the point of delivery, whereas – guessing here and please correct me if I’m wrong – Amazon would have its own presses.
In future, I might consider putting page numbers at the bottom, leaving the chapter heading at the top. We’ll see.
So that’s that! The process is similar in many ways to how Lulu does things, with certain differences involved, mostly around the uploading and proofing side of things. KDP is not heavily restrictive in the way it does things and there are some smarts that help you out along the way.
Last post I uploaded the front cover to the KDP creator. I had blundered in that the DPI or dots per inch setting was at a default of 72, rather than the required 300. Changing the DPI to 300, re-exporting to PDF and then uploading resulted in the following:
Check through the list on the right. The markup within the table of contents was removed, without affecting the table, so that’s fine. Also, it asks you double check the Author, ISBN and Title. Good idea. Do that. Character for character.
Hey, there’s even a 3D view:
Woohoo! Looks pretty good. The automatic whatsit that Amazon has going stopped complaining about the size of the PDF since it now closely matched the dimensions of the book itself.
You can look through the pages, and I would strongly encourage you to. Why? Because the PDF you uploaded will not be what gets used. Observe:
If you look closely, the border closer to the spine is greater than the border against the edge. I used a 1cm border in the PDF, Amazon has automatically added in an extra padding on the spine. This is a good thing, since it will mean the words aren’t squished into the paper-fold.
I can’t guarantee it, but after playing with it for a bit (doing a few uploads to get it ‘just right’), I think that the engine is smart enough to recognise page changes and update the table of contents accordingly. Even so, check that each chapter in the TOC matches the actual page for the Chapter. It’s a small task that will save you having to apologise to your readers for a dodgy TOC.
Once I was happy with it, I hit the ‘Approve’ button. Click
So life is grand, right? I’ve uploaded the manuscript, I’ve uploaded the front cover as a PDF, it’s looking pretty much how I want it, all I need to do now is order a proof.
What’s a Proof?
Electronic eBooks are cool because, hey, what you see is what you get. You can pop your ePub or PDF or mobi file onto your favourite reader and have a look-see to make sure it’s all fine and dandy like cotton candy. Of course, different readers with different dimensions will display things differently, but you can rest easily knowing that the software does a best effort to make stuff look and read properly.
Not so with printed books. Paper ain’t that advanced.
And while PDFs are fantastic for viewing something as a bunch of pages, the conversion to a hardcopy means extra padding on the inside of each page, a few extra pages added for the actual printing house and physical constraints applied because of the thickness of paper, the stock used, etc.
In other words, once you’ve done all the work uploading your masterpiece, you need to order a proof to make sure that it – it being the actual book what gets pumped out by the presses and will land into the laps of your audience – looks and feels and even smells like you want it.
Yes, smells. There actually is a difference in smells between books. I’m not sure if it’s the cover or the paper or a combination or just something in the manufacturing process, but there certainly is a smell associated with a new book.
Lulu strongly encourages ordering a proof. They will not allow you to use Global Reach without you having ordered and actually looked at a copy of your book. For this, they will let you order it at cost price.
I personally make a habit of buying at least two so I can keep one and give one away as a present.
What about Amazon? No. You cannot purchase a proof, even though you own the book.
Let me clarify: There is no facility for ordering a proof at cost price. You will pay the full price of your book.
But… but I made the damn thing!
I know, I know. Believe me, I know. It’s yours. You did it. You made it. Why do you have to sell it to yourself?
It turns out Create Space, by itself, does allow author copies. And while Amazon uses Create Space to manage your hardcopies, it does not allow you to purchase author copies.
So what happens if you wanted to print off, say, 1,000 copies and distribute them yourself in a vanity-publishing style venture? You’re up for either ordering the 1,000 copies at full price or temporarily discounting the book to cost, ordering, then raising the price back up. Either way, it’s ugly.
This is a two-sided story. Personally I believe that author copies should be allowed, and encouraged, and even enforced like Lulu does. I can see, though, that purchasing your own book at full price does affect the ranking of the book, and rightly so. A purchase is a purchase, regardless of who made the original purchase.
And before you ask, no, I’m not an expert on how Amazon does the rankings. I’m sure it’s time based and it’s also categorically based – that is, you have different rankings for different categories – but as for how the numbers get calcumalated, I can only say that more sales -> better rank.
Also, depending on the royalty rate, you’ll get some of the money you spent back. Icky, I know, but maybe it’s Amazon’s way of avoiding rank-diddling by someone with a hefty cashroll. Eh. Dunno.
So, after all of that, I picked up my credit card, and ordered my own book. You won’t believe what happened next!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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):
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″.
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…
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.
Once I had the physical output determined:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m going to stick to this format, because it works. Speaking of 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:
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:
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.
So far, we’re in similar waters, so that’s helpful. Upload to the KDP and let it do its thing.
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.
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:
Work on the cover (woot!) some more. That’s not the final iteration.
Fix up some grammatical and spelling errors.
Make a few last minute additions and subtractions.
Rev up the marketing engine and concentrate on that properly.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If 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. Once 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.
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.
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.
Not 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.