Thursday, July 28, 2011

Got it Covered? I thought I did…

I really like my cover. I designed it myself with a Shutter stock image on PowerPoint. It worked great for digital. For print, it did not. (Read about my cover design, here.)
Being an ambitious DIYer, I determined I could handle the print cover. Just like my digital to print manuscript experience, my digital to print cover experience was plagued with issues. It was complete trial and error and error and error.
Like any good indie, I did my research. I got a cover template. I did my best to absorb info about spines (so Greek to the mathematically impaired girl). I spent a couple of hours laying out my cover and I uploaded to Createspace.

I thought I did a pretty good job until CS kicked it back to me:
Files for THE HALO CHRONICLES: T..., require your attention
The cover file does not meet our submission requirements for the reason(s) listed below.

The cover file contains live elements that may be trimmed during the production process. Please make sure that all text appears .375" away from the outer edges. Additionally, all elements you wish to appear on the cover, such as text and graphics, need to appear within the live graphics area. Only background that can be cut off should extend through the bleed area.

The spine text is too large for the page count. We recommend reducing the font size and centering the spine text so there is at least .0625" of room on either side. Otherwise, the spine text may wrap to the front or back cover.

Additionally, we have noted the concerns listed below. You may choose to move forward with the below issues as-is; however, we wanted to bring them to your attention.

The cover file contains transparency  which will be manually flattened during our processing and may cause a color shift.

The cover file contains images that range from 70 to 93 DPI, which may appear blurry and pixelated in print. For optimal printing, we recommend all images be at least 300 DPI.

So I tried again. I Googled how to flatten the file. I downloaded higher res images. I tweaked my layout, said a prayer, and uploaded.
Files for THE HALO CHRONICLES: T..., require your attention

The cover file contains images at 92 DPI, which may appear blurry and pixelated in print. For optimal printing, we recommend all images be at least 300 DPI.

Better but I still had image issues. It was one of those moments where I grudgingly admitted, “This is why people don’t do cover design on PowerPoint.” I’d spent a lot of time on my cover and still wasn’t getting the results I needed. I was behind schedule, out of my design depth and knew that I needed a professional. Problematic, since I had no budget.
One of my chapter mates, Jennette Marie Powell, is going indie in August with Time’s Enemy, a time travel romance. When she showed me her great cover, she’d mentioned her design background.

So, I approached her for help. I might have begged and pleaded a bit. Now’s the part where I give Jennette my UNDYING THANKS! She quickly fixed my resolution issues and I finally had a cover that CS accepted.
Here’s the digital eBook (my) version:

Here’s the professional print version (Jennette had to make some minor tweaks, mostly in font):

Again a HUGE THANKS to Jennette for rescuing my cover!
Jennette Marie Powell
Author of Time's Enemy, American time-travel romance, coming in August, 2011 | TwitterFacebook
Conclusion: My most important take-away is even if I want to design my own cover, I need to collaborate with a design expert for set up. For the next book, I will not hesitate to work with a professional.

Also, I appreciated CreateSpace rejecting what would be a substandard cover with very specific feedback –for free. J

Mood: Grateful
Related topics: A Cover is a Promise
Next steps: Working on revisions for DOON
Your turn: Do you like to design your own covers?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Self-Pub Journey to Date - My blog version of a clip show

Next week I'll be wrapping up my journey to publication with my final post on process. Then we'll get into the results. Sales, royalties, and such...

Indie Curious? Self Publishing Made Easy: step by step from manuscript to eBook

Edward Cullen has nothing to do with my cover: Designing my digital cover

Digital to Print - Do the math or suffer the consequences: from eBook formatted to Print

POD Part 1 - The Screwup: Why print formatting was harder than I thought.

Got it Covered? I thought I did... How my cover held up my print process

Coming soon: Numbers don't lie

And for fun (in case you didn't see) Lucas-schmookas! I wrote Star Wars: The first book I wrote

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Digital to Print - Do the math or suffer the consequences!

If you have been following my journey, you may have picked up that Print on Demand formatting is giving me FITS. L I expected this process to be simpler than digital formatting. It so wasn’t. It didn’t help that I neglected my due diligence in thoroughly researching the POD process. I spent a lot of time comparing Print on Demand providers (see here), but not the formatting and cover processes.
Here’s my digital manuscript to POD print ready manuscript step by step process:

Step 1 Make a Create Space account
            Create Space give you step by step tasks to follow. Easy Peasy—mostly…
Step 2 Choose a Trim Size
·         Standard sizes range from 5 x 8 to 6 x 9. Most of the YAs and POD books I have are either 5.06 x 7.81 or 5.25 x 8. If you have a book or two you like around the house, measure their sizes.

·         Also choose white or cream paper.
Step 3 Do the math or suffer the consequences
·         I am sooo not a math girl. So figuring out gutter and outside margins made my brain bleed. You see, they are off center, and right side pages have opposite gutters than left.

·         So, I opted to use a preformatted template. Here’s where my lack of math hurt me. I tried many templates and no matter what I tried (Create Space; Lulu; or other) the results were wonky. Crazy headers and footers; ghost lines impossible to remove; and other strange formatting junk. I worried that it was my manuscript, but I tried other manuscripts and even format stripped wordpad documents with the same results. My best results were with these particular CS templates, but even then I had to do some ghetto formatting to make it work (i.e. stripping page breaks and hitting the return like 20 times to create faux page breaks to remedy inconsistent headers.

·         Here’s what I did. I took my Smashwords perfected digital manuscript and deleted “Smashwords” copyright. I mirrored the copyrights of printed books I have.

·         Then I cut and pasted into the CS template for the size book I wanted. I chose 6x9 and although I considered downsizing, the amount of template trauma I experienced dissuaded me from making changes once I had a print ready PDF.

·         Then I “fixed” wonky formatting, crazy header spacing. I added odd/even headers with book title on one side and my name on the other. I added page numbers at the bottom. (You have to format both odd and even page numbers and select “link to previous” EXCEPT on page one.

·         Once your manuscript looks right (keep in mind you may have to ghetto format to get spacing and other thing) save it as a PDF.

·         Review your PDF to ensure continuity of formatting, headers, and footers.
      ·         Mine the Create Space community for answers and general problem solving.
You now have an Internal PDF - half of what you need for POD print copies of your book. The other half is a cover PDF. Next week I will dissect the flaws of my digital to print cover.
Conclusion: POD formatting is harder than it ought to be. If only there were a perfect template out there. *sigh*
Mood: Perseverant
Related topics: To read my POD provider posting click here.
Next steps: Waiting for cover fix… In deep revision on another project.
Your turn: Have you had better success with POD formatting templates? Please share! Also ask any questions you might have. J