Tag Archives: permissions

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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Filed under All That Remains, Notes from the Author

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

To be honest, Kindle publishing really isn’t that hard if you’ve created a print book for CreateSpace. In fact, the next step after you submit your CreateSpace version is an option to create a Kindle version. CreateSpace uses the text you uploaded for them to create a Kindle version, and if you’ve already created a book cover for SmashWords, you can use that same book cover for the Kindle.

Truth be told, though, it would probably be best to re-format the text block once again for the Kindle, basing your file on the SmashWords version.

Why?

If you’re like me, you added blank pages and section dividers to your CreateSpace book to make it more aesthetically pleasing. This is great for a print book. On an eReader, though, it just makes blank screens that your reader has to page through.

By basing your Kindle version on the CreateSpace version, you just have to change your ISBN, remove the SmashWords edition statement, and perhaps re-do your Table of Contents if changing any of that information shifted things around too much. It really is quite simple.

So my suggestion is this: when CreateSpace asks if you want to create a Kindle version, choose the option that says you already have one. Then go to KDP Direct and upload it yourself.

I had actually uploaded my Kindle version to KDP Direct before I decided to make a print version available. I just wanted the convenience for people to be able to download my eBook directly from the Kindle Store if they wanted to, without having to go through SmashWords and sideload it. After I finished my CreateSpace version, though, I had a little problem with credit for the cover art (I covered this in a previous entry) and had to change some of the text to credit the correct photographer. So I had to upload corrected versions of both the Kindle version and the SmashWords edition.

Uploading corrections is not difficult, but it does start the whole process over again while you wait for the corrected version to be released to all of your distribution channels in SmashWords. I actually “unpublished” (or removed the book from distribution) on KDP Direct and CreateSpace, although that might have been a bit extreme. Until I had the rights issues sorted out over the cover, though, I didn’t want any more copies being sold.

But everything worked out in the end. The rights were sorted out, the corrected text was accepted and put into distribution.

Now it was time to promote it.

Next: Promoting your book and living to tell about it…

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Filed under Notes from the Author, Welcome to Newtonberg

When I Get Home

…and I am.

So before my little sojourn interrupted me, I was talking about the book cover, right? Right.

I had found the photo I wanted and received permission to use it.  The original photo looked like this:

Original photo for book cover.

I absolutely loved this image, but I wanted a painting.  Using the free program FotoSketcher, I could convert it to look like one.  But there was another issue.

You see those signs and awnings?  I didn’t want those.  For one thing, there could be rights issues with those businesses.  For another, I didn’t want to pinpoint Newtonberg.  Since this photo is of a street scene in Sonoma County, California, and Newtonberg is in Texas, I didn’t want anything to identify it.  So the first thing I had to do was to blur those out.

Using TwistedBrush Pro Studio, I blurred out the words and other identifying marks.  This doesn’t look very good on a regular photo, but since I was going to convert it to a painting, that would obscure things.

Photo with text blurred

(Side note: TwistedBrush Pro Studio is not normally free, but an older version was one of the GiveAway of The Day programs at the time I was working on this, so my version was.  I can highly recommend GAOTD if you don’t already get their e-mails.)

Now I was ready to convert the image to a painting.  FotoSketcher couldn’t be easier to use.  I simply opened the program and chose the image.  Once the photo was opened, it asked me for parameters.

As I looked at my options, I decided I actually liked the way the sketch looked better than I liked the painting options.  So I chose “Oil Pastel Sketch (color)” from the drop-down menu and played with the settings until I liked what I saw in the preview box.  I did not add a texture at this point, since I was going to run the finished picture through it again to add a final texture to everything.

Then I clicked the “Draw!” button and waited.  Less than five minutes later, I had something like this:

FotoSketcher result

Now I was ready to add the title and author.

Next: PhotoScape…

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Filed under Notes from the Author, Welcome to Newtonberg

Here, There, and Everywhere

So, I needed a cover for my eBook.

SmashWords specified that in order to be listed in their Premium catalog, and to be listed in iTunes, the cover had to be at least 1400 pixels wide.  Amazon recommended at least 2500 pixels tall.  I set the goal for my beginning image to be at least 1600 x 2560, to maintain a pleasing image that wasn’t too narrow.  But where to begin?

Well, I knew I couldn’t afford to commission a cover image from anyone I knew.  I had no money, and I wasn’t about to ask my friends to do it for free.

I could, however, find a photo online.  I knew that I needed to find a picture that was either copyright free or royalty free.  Or, I could simply ask.  No harm in asking, and after I finished converting the image into the way I thought my cover should look, it wouldn’t be the original photo anymore.  It would be derivative art; so all I really needed was the photographer’s permission.

If I could find the appropriate image to start with, I had access to several free image editing programs that I knew I could use to create what I wanted. (Yes, I did say “free.”  I told you I was cheap.)

These programs are:

  1. FotoSketcher (http://www.fotosketcher.com): To allow me to convert the original photograph to a sketch, a painting, a drawing, or any number of other artistic styles.  It would also allow me to add a “canvas overlay” effect at the end to really make the whole thing look like a real painting.
  2. PhotoScape (http://www.photoscape.org): For adding text, shadows, etc.
  3. GIMP (http://www.gimp.org): For everything else, including the final cover layout for the print book (but more on that later).

(I could probably have done all of the image manipulation in GIMP if I had taken the time to learn the program better, but I was already comfortable with FotoSketcher and PhotoScape, so things went quicker for me, even though I used several programs.  To keep the image quality from downgrading too badly, I saved each stage as either a PNG or TIFF file [depending on which format the program supported] until the final step, when I exported the completed cover as an uncompressed JPEG.)

I had the software, I just needed the image.  Like almost everyone else, my first thought was to try Google.  Google Images, however, doesn’t allow you to search by a specific size.  Limiting results to “Large” says that the width has to be at least 1776 pixels, which is good, but that the height can be as little as 810 pixels. It doesn’t allow you to specify the orientation of the picture; in this case, I absolutely wanted a portrait orientation.

Bing Image search allows you to limit the results more, including the orientation, size, and result type.  So I started there.

This part took the longest, just scrolling through the results, trying to find what I wanted.  I tried dozens of search terms in various combinations.  I even switched back to Google Images anyway, regardless of their search engines limitations. Finally tried searching Flickr as well, using their search engine to limit the results by Creative Commons license terms.  If I could find a picture where the photographer has already spelled out that derivative works could be made from it, then I was a step closer to finishing my book cover.

After all of that, I ended up with three possibilities.  I e-mailed the Websites where all three photos appeared, asking permission to use the photo and explaining what I wanted to do with it.

Finally, I got a response.  The response came from a different e-mail address than where I’d mailed the request.  Apparently the Website I’d e-mailed forwarded my request to the original photographer. (This was one of the reasons for the permissions issue I mentioned in my last blog entry.)

At any rate, the photographer gave me his blessing, and it was time to begin.

Next: Converting the original photo using FotoSketcher…

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Filed under Notes from the Author, Welcome to Newtonberg

Fixing a Hole

This blog entry was supposed to be about creating the book cover.

That was fully my intention.  I was going to lead you through the process of how I found the picture that eventually became my book cover, how I obtained permission to use it, and converted and edited it using free software.

But I ran into a snag. I thought it would be a good idea to show you the original photograph so you could compare it to the finished version.  And that’s when the trouble started.

You see, I actually asked permission from three different people about using three different photographs.  I received permission to use this one:

The photo I got permission to use...

Unfortunately, I used this one by mistake:

...the photo I used.

Now, here’s the dilemma: at this point, I’ve already published the eBook in a variety of formats, and I have already approved the final version of the printed book at CreateSpace.  I have in my possession a proof of the book with a photo credit to the person responsible for the first photo even though that’s not his photograph.

What do I do?  The temptation is there to just ignore the problem.  After all, this is a little book.  I doubt anyone besides my family and friends will ever read it.  The likelihood of the photographer finding out about it is relatively slim.

But I can’t do that.  Copyright law and my own conscience compel me to correct the problem, even if it means that I have to start all over again with the book cover.  The book waited over 20 years to see the light of day.  Another few weeks to straighten out this permissions issue is a drop in the bucket.

So it was that I found myself making a phone call to California at about noon yesterday to try to get permission to continue using the second photo.  If the permission is not granted, I will have to completely redesign the cover.  If they grant permission, all I have to do is make a few changes to the text to credit the correct person.

In the meantime, I pull the book from distribution.  I don’t want any more copies sold until the credit for the original photo is correct.

Thankfully, the photographer was very polite about the whole situation.  I explained the confusion and how the issue came about.  She asked me a few questions about the book and whether there were potential issues with the shops depicted in the original photo (more on that in another blog entry).  I e-mailed her a copy of the completed cover and after a few hours, she sent me back an e-mail granting permission to use the photo and letting me know how the credit should read.  This morning I have uploaded corrected versions of the text to KDP, CreateSpace and SmashWords. I am awaiting review at all of the sites before the book is available again.

The lesson in all of this?  Firstly, be extremely careful that you only use the images you have permission to use.  The second photographer would have been perfectly within her rights to tell me no.  It’s entirely my fault, and I am very blessed that she did not ask for compensation for the copies of the eBook I’ve already sold using her photo.

Secondly, I was once again reminded that there are indeed people out there who are willing to share their talents with you for the sake of art.  While I don’t claim to be an artist, I am very proud of the book cover.  The fact that the photographer allowed me to continue using it shows that she is proud of it, too.

Lastly, even making a minor text change is a pain in the butt this late in the game.  Make sure everything is indeed kosher rights-wise before signing off on a final version.

Next: Designing the cover… (And this time, I mean it!)

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Filed under Notes from the Author, Welcome to Newtonberg