Tag Archives: book design

It’s Me…

It’s been a long time since I wrote, but it’s been a very productive time.

I finished the final edits and layouts of Back to Newtonberg and submitted them to CreateSpace. I am happy with the digital proofs for both the regular and large print editions, so I ordered print versions last weekend and I’m expecting them either tomorrow or Friday.

Also, CreateSpace has changed for the better — it is now FREE to put your book into expanded distribution (it used to cost $25). So now ALL print editions of my books — both regular and large print — will be available from all major retailers.

I have the eBook version mostly ready — I just have to go back and add italics, underlines and boldface.  When that’s done, it will be ready to submit to SmashWords.

Once I sign off on the print editions and get the SmashWords version approved (and the corresponding KDP version for Kindle), I’ll be restructuring the pricing on the previous books. I won’t reveal my plans now, but I will be making the announcement soon.

All in all, it’s been a long trip to get Back to Newtonberg ready for you, but I’ve enjoyed it.

I hope you do, too.

Next time, I promise not to take so long to post.

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The Best of You

…Or, “Self-publishing, Mariachi-style”

I’ve been (re-)reading Robert Rodriguez’s books Rebel Without a Crew and RoadRacers: the Making of a Degenerate Hot Rod Flick. This must be my third or fourth time through Rebel and my second through RoadRacers, and it finally struck me: self-publishing is actually doing what Robert Rodriguez did, but with the printed format instead of films.

Let me explain: Robert Rodriguez made his first movie, El Mariachi, for $7,000. He was the entire crew. He conceived it, wrote it, shot it, edited it, and managed to get one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood to sell it to Columbia Pictures — even though that was not his original plan.

Well, the concept, writing, shooting and editing were, but he never planned on the movie being released theatrically. His original plan was to shoot three movies directly for the Mexican home video market, make all his mistakes there, and then show up in Hollywood ready to take on a “real” movie.

Self-publishing is doing the same thing. We are conceiving, writing, editing, formatting, and submitting our works to be published; either in eBook or print form, or possibly both. We ARE the crew. We’re learning as we go, and we’re saving a ton of money. And then, maybe… MAYBE… an agent or publisher will notice us and give us our big break.

Or not. Either way, the stories get out there for people to read, right?

In his books, Rodriguez talks about shooting “Mariachi-style.” This means taking inventory of your assets and working from there. When he wrote El Mariachi, he knew he had access to certain places for filming, specific guns, which type of camera. He knew his limitations and worked within them. Anything else would have cost more money.

With self-publishing, you do the same thing. If you have access to a computer with Microsoft Word, that’s great. You don’t have to pay extra. If not, use one of the free programs that are compatible with Word.

Need help formatting? Decide on your book’s size before you start, then download the free template for it from CreateSpace or Lulu or wherever you choose to publish.

If you’re designing your own cover, this means either utilizing your own artistic talent or that of someone you know who will work with you at a substantial discount — or better yet, free. In my case, it means going out with my sister and nephew to take pictures, then deciding which one fits my idea for the book cover.

One of the things I’ve talked about on this blog is free software, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My first two books were written using Microsoft Office. For my third, I’ve swapped over to Atlantis, which is portable and free so I can use it on any Windows-based computer with a USB port that I have access to. I will still do my final layout in Word — but that will also be free, because I already have it. If my computer isn’t working, I can do it at the public library.

The photo editing software I use is free (and a lot of it is also portable). Between FotoSketcher, PhotoScape, and GIMP, I’ve got it covered. I use doPDF to create the final cover art and book file for CreateSpace.

The one place I fall down in Mariachi-style publishing is in self-publicity. While Robert Rodriguez is a master of putting himself out there, I’m still not at that point. I know that if I want to be more successful I’ll have to get over it. Or get over myself. Whichever it takes.

All I know is that I’m having fun. And if writing isn’t fun, you’re not doing it for the right reasons.

(Oh, by the way — that’s a Foo Fighters reference in the title.)

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What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?

(Blog entry title courtesy of The Monkees.)

I know that this entry was supposed to be about designing the book covers; but quite frankly, the process was exactly the same as last time. The only noteworthy change is that the new version of GIMP allows export to PDF, so I didn’t have to use a different program for that. So I decided not to write about that.

So onto something new.

Patience is something that I do not have in great abundance. I’ve been on pins and needles, waiting to announce that the book is available, but that announcement depends on one thing: the lyric rights to “All That Remains” by the Lost Dogs.

I submitted my request two weeks ago. According to the website of the music licensing company, the whole process could take as little “as a few days” if done electronically instead of by snail mail. Even by mail, it should only take four or five weeks. I e-mailed them after ten days, just a gentle little nudge asking if I’d done everything correctly and if I provided enough information.

So far, I’ve heard nothing.

Zero.

Zilch.

Radio silence.

So now, I’m at an impasse. I can continue to wait to hear from them, or I can give up and move on. I’ve considered re-instituting the poem I wrote originally, just in case I couldn’t get the rights to the lyrics. Now, however, I’m leaning toward just putting a couple of quotes at the beginning, like I did with Welcome to Newtonberg.

I know that this digital culture has spoiled me. We’ve all gotten so used to instant gratification that we turn into little Veruca Salts when we don’t get an immediate response (“I WANT IT NOW!”).

So I’ll give it another week. According to their own FAQ, three weeks should be more than sufficient for a response. If I haven’t heard anything by next Wednesday, I’ll go another route. No bad feelings, no regrets. It’s still a good song, it’s still out there, and my measly $20 contribution for the lyric rights is probably won’t be missed.

Next time: Hopefully, the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

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Here We Go (Again)

(Quadruple points for referencing Bowling for Soup, Lemonade Mouth, Demi Lovato and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince with one title!)

As I mentioned briefly in previous posts, I finished my second book, All That Remains, last month. As Stephen King suggests in On Writing, I set the book aside for awhile (although not as long as he suggests) to “disconnect” from it. Didn’t work — I managed to write four more scenes during that time that I incorporated into the text before I started editing it.

At any rate, I have now finished editing the book and have received feedback from four different readers who found a few additional errors I missed. All in all, their response to the story itself has been positive and I feel confident that I told the story I wanted to tell, as well as I could tell it.

To give a brief plot summary for those of you who are interested:

Librarian Mike Baldridge receives a letter and manuscript from a former Newtonberg resident. This document contains the story of a local family that Mike has been unable to trace for his town history. What follows is a story of family, friendship, and first love in post-World War II Newtonberg.

It’s historical fiction. It’s a love story. And as several of my readers have noted, you will need to keep the tissues close at hand.

So now that the book has been edited, here I am again, ready to publish. This time, though, I’ve set myself a task: I’m not just publishing one book. I’m essentially publishing three.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

A copy of Welcome to Newtonberg was added to the collection at the library where I work. After seeing that several of the people who checked it out were older women, I started to think that perhaps I was missing a market for the title. Maybe I should have published it in large print, so that older readers or readers with vision problems would have access to it. Sure, the eBook is essentially large print since you can adjust the font size, but not everyone has (or wants) eReaders.

After getting some additional feedback from other people, I decided that since it wouldn’t cost me much more to publish it that way, I would. And what’s more, I would publish my new book in all three formats, too: eBook, regular print, and large print.

The drawback? Since the large print version of each book will contain more pages than the original(s), I have to make three different book covers.

Next time: Remembering how I did it the first time, and doing it better…

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Filed under All That Remains, Notes from the Author, Welcome to Newtonberg

This One’s Mine

(Patti Rothberg song reference FTW!)

Coming this Fall to an online bookseller near you….

Book cover for ALL THAT REMAINS

Initial eBook cover design for All That Remains. Based on a photo taken by my sister, Wendy. (This will save me from having to go through the rights issue that I had on Welcome to Newtonberg. Well, that and also — it’s just a darn good picture. Perfectly captures the feel I was going for.)

Original photo was once again taken through FotoSketcher and then edited in PhotoScape. Total cost: a shake at Sonic while we were out taking pictures.

Next post will be after the first edit…

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Filed under All That Remains, Notes from the Author