Sunday, 17 March 2013

CreateSpace and Me - The War of Words (And Images)

Hi Guys,

Thought I'd update you on how things are going in my quest for world domination (err - literary success?) Well the big news is that as of today two of my books have been approved for publishing in paper, Maverick and Alien Caller. And a third book Thief is now in the process.

It has been an epic battle getting the books through this process, in part because of my own limitations in all things computer related. But there have been some other problems arise which I did think I might mention for any of you considering taking this route.

1) PDF - CreateSpace demands PDF documents (or so I thought, however experience has proven that it ain't necessarily so). So because I don't have Acrobat, and really don't want to shell out the readies for the programme I went online to get a PDF conveter. The first one I found was Word to PDF by Abdio, which cost me forty bucks. It didn't work, producing documents that were poorly formatted and with great big gaps in words here and there. Naturally I wasn't impressed, especially when I sent off an e-mail asking for either a fix or my money back and heard nothing back. That, despite their promise to get back to me within 24 hours, was over a week ago. So that's my first DON'T of the process.

However it leads to my first DO as well. Or actually two DO's. The first is that when I reached out for help I went to the CreateSpace Community and got answers within hours. Useful answers. And the second is the answer itself a print program called Do - PDF, which was free and has worked absolutely faultlessly.

2) File sizes - for those of you like me the files you need to upload are not small, and conversion to PDF just makes them larger. Much larger. Word files doubled in size. Graphics files trebled and more through the conversion process. And if any of you are on dial up like me, that's a major pain. Fifteen megs, the size of the one piece file I created to do the book, takes an hour or so to upload. And then, as if to help me pull my hair out, CreateSpace itself kept logging me out after an hour and not saving the uploads. By the fourth time I really was screaming at the computer and threatening it with bodily harm.

However, again there is a solution, it's called cover creator. Initially I tried using it and it fell over and I couldn't understand why. It also didn't seem to have the layout I wanted, which was essentially only a bair template for the front cover, back cover and spine, all of which I had already prepared. But a more detailed search revealed that as you go through the available formats there are other layouts, and one of them 'PALM' was perfect for my needs. Better yet,the file sizes were already reduced since I could cut down my single large graphic into two pieces and throw away the spine since it was included as part of the template. And they were reduced even further because Cover Creator does not require the files to be in PDF format. JPEGs are fine. The result, one fifteen meg upload became two uploads of around two and a bit megs, and no logging out.

So for me the next DO - is cover creator.

3) There are of course fishooks in even this, and the main one is graphic sizes. With my layout being for a six by nine inch book and the requirements for the graphic being three DPI, I figured that the correct graphics should be 2700 by 1800 pixels. Silly me!

In fact the correct size for a six by nine cover is six and a quarter inches by nine and a half. They do mention this, but foolishly I ignored it. The upshot of course was that my graphics were slightly too small, and I didn't realise it. So my next DO is read the instructions for graphic file sizes and plan accordingly.

The second fishook is not mine though, unless my eyesight is really that bad and I am going colour blind! So I went through the process uploade my undersized files and it told me they were undersized, 295 DPI instead of 300. But as you go through the process little buttons turn green as you complete each step, and those buttons did turn green. So I assumed the undersizing was of no matter.

Then of course you get to the end having uploaded and twittered around with everything, a process that might take an hour or so, and you hit the button that says submit cover for approval, and I clicked it with transcendant joy. Only to go directly to hell as my cover vanished and I was told by the programme that not all parts of the process had been completed and so it was start again. The message wouldn't even tell me which parts were incomplete and of course I had no clue. After all the seven buttons had seven green colours on them which said they were complete.

So I did it again - same result. It was about then I started to consider taking to the computer with an axe! However I digress.

It turned out after careful detailed study that in fact only five of the seven buttons were green. Two were yellow. Unfortunately green is actually greenish yellow in this programme while yellow is infact yellowish green. In short they look almost identical! I am so glad that these people did not have a hand in designing traffic lights!

After that however, somewhat balder than before and hoarse from screaming at an innocent computer, things went more smoothly. Which leads me to my last DO.

There is absolutely nothing like having a paper copy of your book in your hand, and that is an experience that no reader or tablet can give you. So my final DO.

DO absolutely get a proof copy of your book sent to you in the mail.

Cheers, Greg.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Maverick Going Paperback

Hi Guys,

Thought I'd let you know what I've been doing, which is mainly to start going through the process of converting Maverick now that its been edited, into a paperback through CreateSpace.

It has been an awesome process so far. Both brilliant to see the results as they come out, and frustrating as I have to wrap my head around all sorts of problems. All the things I never thought about as a simple ebook writer. For a start I'd never heard of things called bleed and gutters. (And now I almost wish I never had!)

I've chosen the size six by nine for the book since it's rather long. This is very slightly larger than a standard paperback of eight and a half by five, but when I did my first PDF conversion of the text it came out at 850 pages. In this new format it's only 550 pages, which makes a huge difference in price and the sheer size of the book.

Above you can see the first version of the cover, (reduced in size since I'm on dial up and the time to upload a four meg file is extraordinary - worse if the farmer across the way has his electric fence running!) I'm pleased with it, though will probably do some tweeking when the proof arrives in the mail. I'm a natural tweeker!

My plans for the coming weeks are to get the proof and finish the process for publishing Maverick, and also to put out Alien on the Kindle and then start the process of converting that to paper as well. Over the rest of the year most of my other novels should follow - though I may be bald by then.

Lastly a very bad fantasy joke: Did you hear the one about the wizard who turned his car into a garage?!

Cheers, Greg.