This is how I became an author – Part III


eBooks and paperbacks

As mentioned in the last post, I had hoped to finish this recap of the series “So you want to become an author…” in two parts but there was still so much more to tell that I needed to include Part III of “This is how I became an author.”

My book had been published both as a Kindle eBook (KDP) and as a paperback with CreateSpace (CS), but if I expected it to be available to all readers, I needed to consider the other platforms out there that Amazon did not cover – Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, and others. That meant that I had to find another publisher/distributor that catered to those markets.

Two of the major players are Smashwords(SW) and Draft2Digital (D2D). Arguments for both held some sway, but I decided on SW, because it promised to cover all devices, and all screen sizes. Alas, this required yet another go at formatting, and this one was as intense as KDP. Therefore, it was nose-to-the-grindstone once again, and, finally, after overcoming some SW shortcomings, I was able to publish on the remaining platforms – though it did take some weeks for the process to be completed.

Interspersed with all of the above, some other discussions needed attention.

  • Rejection was one of those topics – about how much rejection sucks. We all go through it, and it does suck, but we soldier on.
  • Another issue was copyright. When I got serious about publishing, I realized that I had to change the title of my work. I did this strictly for marketing purposes. I had copyrighted my manuscript years ago, but the title change meant that I may or may not need to protect that new title. Consequently, I had to learn about the intricacies of copyright law. Did a title change require an addendum to the original copyright? The answer was ambiguous, but I decided to err on the side of safety, and I sent in the necessary paperwork – and check. Read the post “To copyright or not to copyright” for horror stories of what can happen if you do not register your copyright. Is a registered copyright really necessary? The answer is that it is not, but it is HIGHLY recommended. (See the referenced post.)
  • A personal concern was that I decided to use a different font just for the title. This meant more lessons in finding, using, and, particularly, embedding fonts (see Part II of this 3 part recap for problems I encountered with the embedding process.)

These detours offered some relief by breaking up the unrelenting formatting procedures. I might have chosen to disregard these issues, but they were important enough to me to address. Besides, looking into copyright issues relieved some piracy concerns (see the “Jack Sparrow be damned” post), and embedding the new font provided a welcomed funky new look for the book title.

Another sidebar bears mentioning here. It is the blog post entitled “On Creativity”, and it was sparked by an essay Isaac Asimov wrote called “How do people get new ideas?” I urge all artists to read Asimov’s ideas. Creativity is a shy, elusive creature. Down uncounted burrows we search – and, sometimes, we find.

After completing all of the above, I was now a published author, with eBooks available on all devices, and a paperback from Amazon of which I am righteously proud. The links to these various editions are on the sidebar of this post, just beneath the image of the book cover.

The steps outlined in the three parts of this post are how I became an author. I hope these explanations help you accomplish your goals, and you too become the author you always dreamed of becoming.

Now, finally, we get a chance to rest on our laurels.

No way! Getting published was the EASY PART. Now comes marketing. So far, the only one who knows about your book is you – and the few friends and relatives you’ve informed.

How do you tell the rest of the world?

Marketing, that’s how.

Marketing is a whole new world unto itself. There are scholars with PhDs whose lives are dedicated to nothing but marketing, and now we have to tackle that too. Ugg!

DO NOT DISPAIR! We can do this and we will.

This post ends the series “So you want to be an author…” I have already started my marketing plan, so the next series will follow that plan step by step just as this series followed getting published. Stay tuned.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

This is how I became an author – Part II

Holding the paperback edition of your book in your hand

Holding the paperback edition of your book in your hands

We left off “This is how I became an author…” last time with the understanding that the hard work, the formatting, lay ahead. This step by step explanation of my process will sometimes include the titles of the posts that contain more in depth details if you want to go back to learn more.

The manuscript was finished. It had been copy edited and proofread. It was now ready to be published, and I would become an author.

I am unsure whether publishing a paperback or an eBook first would have made a difference, but I choose to publish the eBook. I decided to use Amazon because of its dominance in the marketplace, and because its eBook reader, Kindle, is one of the more popular electronic reading platforms. This required a Kindle (KDP) format.

  • Research indicated that the “nuclear option” should be the first step in producing a clean professional product. A quick review of that post on my blog outlines the steps involved, and provides links for more extensive explanations of what is involved. Using the nuclear option is a big deal. It is not mind-boggling. It just involves numerous steps.
  • My manuscript contains six images. The use of images introduces a whole other level of complexity. Images may have to be manipulated, cropped, rotated, flipped, etc, and they need a resolution of 300 dpi to meet KDP requirements. This was a multistep, complicated process. I used GIMP for this, a free program similar to Photoshop.
  • Somewhere along the way, I learned about the Snipping Tool, and that was an invaluable find.
  • When it came time to upload my manuscript onto Kindle, I discovered that some of the information I was reading was wrong. In order to upload files to Kindle you need zip files. The procedures outlined were incorrect. Eventually, by trial and error, I was able to figure out the correct method (see post), using separate zip files for both the text and the images.

That did it and, voila, I was published, albeit in an eBook, but published nonetheless.

Next step – publish the paperback.

After the difficulties formatting the eBook, I thought the process for the paperback would be a cakewalk. After all, what you see, is what you get, right? Not so fast.

  • First, the physical properties of the book need to be specified: the size of the book (I choose 6×9), paper color, cover finish, margins/gutter, bleed, etc. The size change, in particular, and the margin delineations alter the structure of the book. With fewer words on a page, more pages are created, and the chapters begin and end on different pages than they did on the usual 8 ½ 11 display. This also changes chapter endings so I needed to watch for widows or orphans.
  • While the formatting for a paperback is simpler, sometimes MS Word decides to misbehave. I encountered poltergeists. I could hear them giggling quietly as they scrambled my pagination, and inserted blank pages where none were desired. A shout-out to fellow writers on LinkedIn provided the necessary fumigation solution (see post). I still believe poltergeists inhabit MS Word.
  • My manuscript was now ready to be uploaded to CreateSpace (CS), Amazon’s paperback publishing wing. Once again, the procedure was supposed to be simple, but now I got a case of the hiccups – embedded font and image resolution hiccups. The CS Interior Reviewer (IR) indicated that these hiccups were errors. I chanced that they were not, and published anyway. I purchased a proof ($5) just to make sure that the book read properly, was free of typos, and then I waited.

The galley proof came about a week later (“My book galley is here”).  The hiccups were not errors. I had been right. The IR failed to recognize that the font had been embedded properly, and that the image resolutions were, in fact, 300 dpi.

However, the proof was not perfect. I had introduced errors into my pristine manuscript during my preparations for publication that necessitated tweaking (“Let it be”). I made those corrections and sent for another proof. It contained a stupid mistake (a table of contents, TOC, problem caused by the change in book size mentioned above). I made the TOC corrections, ordered another proof, and waited once again.

Finally, my paperback arrived. Yea! This time it was “perfect,” and I could hold it in my hand and I did. Now I really was an author.

An aside here: Our manuscripts are never perfect. There are posting after posting about the recurring problem of typos, even after numerous editings and proofreadings – even by professionals. Each fresh edition eliminates a few more.

I thought I would be able to finish this summary in just two parts, but it has become obvious that is not possible without this post becoming way too long. I’ll have to finish up in the next time. Stay tuned.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

This is how I became an author

Another writer - not an author

Another writer – not an author

This is how I became an author.

I now have a paperback book published with Amazon, along with a Kindle edition. In addition, my book is available on all other devices through Smashwords.

I am an author, and if I can do it so can you.

If you have been following this blog, you will remember that I began this series of posts called “So you want to be an author…” back in March of 2014, although I had started building my website a year earlier. In total, I have been at this for about two years, not counting the time it took me to finish my first draft. That was actually a matter of years in and of itself.

I had no idea what I was doing when I first started writing, other than that I wanted to be an author. Being an author, I had defined, was being published and getting paid for it.

Here is a recap of the posts on my blog that recounts, step by step, how I did it:

  • It all started with a discussion about creativity, the soul of writing, followed by an encouragement to write – just write, and write some more. Put aside all distractions. Make time to write and then do just that – write.
  • The next step was probably the hardest – rewriting. It’s the hardest because it’s so repetitive. Rewrite, then rewrite, and then rewrite again. Guess what comes after that? Yep, another rewrite.
  • Copy editing is a MUST once you’ve finished all those rewrites. When I say “a must,” I mean a must. We all need a professional at this point, not an uncle who writes a column for the local paper, not your old English teacher – a professional – someone to whom you pay money. This step cannot be skipped.
  • The following post was about research, about how we learn things we do not know through research. We are incredibly lucky to live in Google world. Research has never been easier. Can you imagine how previous generations had to do research? Trips to libraries, microfiche – remember microfiche? No such thing as hyperlinks back then. We’ve got it easy. Research, research, research. There are lots of dead ends, and no shortcuts. Research!
  • Websites. This is really all about marketing, the first step in marketing our books. With 3000+ books published every day, getting noticed is no easy task. A website is the mandatory (IMHO) first step – a combination website/blog that is all about our books and us. We are the brand. Our books are our products. Websites expose both brand and product to the www, whole wide world, or, as it is more commonly known, the world wide web.
  • Register your domain name, select a web hosting service (remember research?), and then start building your website. Follow the step-by-step instructions that I followed and you can build one too. It’s actually fun.
  • The next step is difficult. It’s not difficult because you have to be super smart, or follow a whole bunch of convoluted instructions. No, it’s difficult because it’s boring. It’s called proofreading. You’ve written and rewritten your manuscript so many times you can probably recite whole sections by heart, but you still need it proofread, and you’ll need to hire someone to proofread it for you. The problem is that you have read your work so often that you’ve gone word-blind. You can no longer see your own mistakes. This step is not as critical as copy editing, so you can get that uncle or English teacher to proofread it – if they are diligent.

Now we are getting closer to publishing, but with whom do you publish? Amazon is the 800 lb gorilla in the publishing business, and is, consequently, probably the best bet. They publish both Kindle and paperback editions, and they dominate the market.

  • If you choose Amazon, or any of the other Print On Demand (POD) companies, they will put their own imprint on your work as your publisher unless you form your own publishing company. Forming your own company sets you apart from all the rest of the multitudes out there who are also trying to get noticed – but it is expensive. It is not the setting up of a publishing company that is expensive. That is pretty simple. It is the purchase of your own ISBNs that is costly.
  • International Standard Boon Numbers (ISBN) are 13 digit numbers that are internationally recognized identifiers of individual editions of books. They are required for all hardcover and paperback editions of books, and for eBooks in certain situations, e.g. Apple requires an ISBN for its versions of its eBooks. ISBNs are expensive, a single number costs $125, while 10 go for $295. Barcodes are separate and run $25 a piece.

Next is the hardest part in the getting published process. It involves three separate, and quite involved, formatting procedures, one for Kindle, one for paperbacks, and another for eBooks other than Kindle.

I took a vacation at this point. I needed one. My brothers and I took a five-day, 1000-mile motorcycle trip to the Adirondacks. It was a good time for a break, and now is a good time for one too. Stay tuned.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Smashwords has major shortcomings

It's hard to ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room

It’s hard to ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room

Smashwords has major shortcomings.

After plowing through their 100+ page manual (The Smashwords Style Guide), and following, exactly, each of its instructions, I submitted my newly formatted work for its review process and waited for their reply.

Smashwords says that they will reply within 24 hours, and they did. They informed me that my work had failed their tests, and that I needed to correct the nine errors listed.

OK. No problem. I had made some mistakes, and I needed to correct them.

The errors are displayed by clicking a link on Smashwords’ dashboard page. The problem is that the list is written in a language that not even the NSA can decipher. This is a major shortcoming.

Smashwords provides another link to a page that, they say, explains the meanings of the error codes, but that page only adds to the confusion. It has no apparent connection to the specific error messages listed. I continued searching throughout their website for answers, but I found nothing to explain how to correct my errors – another shortcoming.

I can follow instructions. I have been doing just that throughout this whole series of blog posts (“So you want to be an author…”) The instructions provided by Smashwords fall far short of what is needed for us “do-it-yourselfers.”

The only relief they offered was a list of freelance formatters for hire. This “solution” displeased me. One of the reasons I had chosen Smashwords in the first place was to learn their processes for myself.

But, I bit the bullet and hired one of the formatters they recommended. He was thorough and provided the necessary modifications within a day or so. The price was $49 dollars – not extravagant, just galling.

As part of the deal, I requested that they please provide me with an explanation of my errors, and how they corrected them. They denied my request because, they said, it was too involved to do so. The formatter did tell me that at least some of the problems stemmed from my use of word play that was not compatible within the Smashwords regime.

Once my work was fixed and returned to me, I followed their instructions and “published” it.

My work is now in a queue pending review. Smashwords warns that this process can take up to a week, after which there is another wait while Apple conducts its own review. All told, it appears that it can take up to anywhere from two to three weeks before a work is ready for sale. Draft2Digital says it will publish immediately – and they will format your book for you.

So, why did I choose Smashwords? A momentary lapse of sanity, perhaps?

Turns out that I may not have had a real choice in the matter anyway.

Here (thanks to Greg Strandberg – one of our fellow contributors) are three links with comments by professionals on their experiences with Smashwords:

The common thread in these pieces is that the authors are unhappy with Smashwords slow responses to the number of books sold and the profits those sales generated. This is a reasonable objection since it makes linking marketing efforts with resultant sales more difficult to correlate.

I have just been informed that my book has been approved and it is now available in all formats except Apple’s. Yea!. It took them less time than they said it might for the completion of their review process.

Also on a positive note is their customer service. Contrary to what I read elsewhere, I found their customer service quite responsive. I sent them several emails about problems reviewing my manuscript with their EPUB checking tool, and I received almost immediate responses. They were very attentive to my specifics, and offered quick and ready solutions.

My main reason for using Smashwords has been realized. My book is now available on all reading devices (via epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, & html), on all screen sizes, and it will soon be available on Apple.

Given these results, I am satisfied with Smashwords in spite of their shortcomings. Like Amazon, they are the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, and it’s hard to ignore the benefits of their size, dominance, and connections in the marketplace. I only wish that their procedures had been less involved. I would have liked to have known what my specific errors were, and the methods used to correct them.

Live and learn. It could have been worse.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Smashwords vs. Draft2Digital

Some decisions are more difficult than others

Some decisions are more difficult than others

Smashwords vs. Draft2Digital is a dilemma facing authors who have already published their works with Amazon, both as an eBook with Kindle, and as a paperback with CreateSpace.

Both Smashwords (SW) and Draft2Digital (D2D) are book publishing and distribution platforms that supply major markets not covered by Amazon, namely, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

Smashwords is the larger of the two, offering a wider range of distribution options. It publishes in EPUB, Mobi, PDF, LRF, and PDB, as well as other lesser known formats. This makes your book available on B&N Nook, Sony Reader, Apple iBoostore/iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, and others.

Draft2Digital is the new kid on the block with somewhat more limited distribution options – at least for now. D2D does cover the major markets (B&N, Apple, Kobo), and it has one MAJOR advantage over SW. It will accept manuscripts in any Word format (doc or doc.x, RTF, or even EPUP), and convert them into eBooks in a matter of minutes.

Smashwords, on the other hand, requires extensive manuscript reformatting to make it compatible with its “Meatgrinder” – their term for the program they use to convert manuscripts into eBooks.

Smashwords touts that because of all the different formats it utilizes, it creates eBooks for all handheld devices, iPhones, iPads, Androids, etc – and all screen sizes. That sold me, and I chose Smashwords over Draft2Digital.

Having already used the “nuclear option” (see a previous post) to prepare my manuscript, I shrugged off the Meatgrinder requirements as well within my capabilities, and I was anxious to learn new formatting techniques.

Big mistake – not the learning part, but underestimating the requirements part.

Smashwords requires that Word.doc files must be prepared by following the instructions EXACTLY as per their Smashwords Style Guide, a 100+ page manual. The manual warns up front that the process is involved, but states that there are lots of pictures and all it takes is patience. Yeah, patience and a jar of antacids!

If you recall, the nuclear option requires converting your Word doc.x file into a Word doc file by saving it to Notepad. This removes all formatting, including italics, bold, and underlining.

AN ASIDE HERE:  If I had to do this part over, I would first make a spare copy (or 2 or 3), and then color code each style differently – red for bold, green for italics, blue for underlining (for example.) When it came time to reformat, this would eliminate searching the original document for each style because they would now be more visible.

Without going into too much detail as to what is required by the SW Style Guide, here are the major steps necessary in converting a manuscript:

  • All nuclear option fixes (tabs, indents, paragraph styles, punctuation, etc) must be done with SW as well.
  • Centering, bolding, the use of italics, font size and style, and line spacing are all accomplished by using the “Styles” pane – only – not by using the usual Word commands. Each section that is formatted differently will require a different style. Create these styles by using the Styles pane. Open the drop-down menu from which you can modify as many new styles as needed.
  • There are special tips for poetry, cookbooks, footnotes, endnotes, etc.
  • “NEVER, NEVER use tabs or space bars for anything!” Quote – unquote.
  • Do not justify the text.
  • The SW guide is so insistent on following their instructions exactly that I changed my line spacing from 1.15 to 1.5.
  • There are pages in the manual with instructions on hyperlinks and images for those interested.

And then there are the instructions for NCX and the table of contents (TOC). This was the one part of the instruction that I enjoyed. It taught me how to construct a navigable TOC.

NCX stands for Navigation Control file for XML  and is used for navigation within an eBook by creating a hyperlinked TOC. The basic steps, in order, are:

  • Type the TOC.
  • Bookmark each chapter heading.
  • Hyperlink each chapter heading to the TOC.
  • Bookmark the TOC title itself
  • Hyperlink each actual chapter heading back to the TOC.
  • Test your work.

Do not use the automatic Word TOC generator, as this will introduce errors. It is not compatible with the Meatgrinder.

The SW Style Guide also has specific instructions for the Title Page, Copyright Page, and for any blurbs that are to be included. Follow their instructions or you will introduce errors unacceptable to SW.

Needless to say, there are involved instructions for book covers as well.

The worst is over. Yea! Breathe a sigh of relief.

The manuscript is now ready to be uploaded. This is the easy part. On the SW Publish Page, click on the “Publish” tab and simply follow the instructions.

* If the manuscript has images, remember to uncheck the “Plain Text” box.

An email will be generated, and a notification will be posted on your SW dashboard that the manuscript is being checked for errors by the SW Autovetting Program.

Smashwords also recommends checking your work for EPUB compliance by downloading the free Adobe Digital Editions reader software.

Wait, with fingers crossed, for the results, which should be available within 24 hours.

I am waiting.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Once the editing is complete, let it be.


Have you been their?

Have you been their?

Once the editing is complete, let it be. – if you can. Mistakes are like gremlins. They love to show up just to wreak havoc regardless of all attempts to keep them out.

♪Mistakes? ♪I’ve made a few, and then again a few need to be mentioned♪

After receiving my paperback proof, I found several proofreading mistakes that I had overlooked while reading my manuscript off the computer screen. As mentioned in the previous blog post, we read our works so many times we get word blinded, and are no longer able to see even obvious errors.

So, it was with wide-eyed shock that while reading my book galley I found a paragraph that I had actually repeated twice. Correcting it was an easy fix, along with the insertion of two missing words that “suddenly” showed up.

This ease of repair emboldened me to go ahead and change a clumsy sentence here and there, sentences I had recognized as not quite right, but which I had chosen to ignore because of the press of the entire project. Now was my chance to fix those pesky little errors. So I did.

This is where we ended the last blog – I was awaiting my second proof, just in case I had made another foolish mistake. I was confident that my fix was impeccable, but not confident enough for me to just publish as it was without another read through. I know myself. I sometimes overlook the obvious. I had been ultra careful, so a mistake was unlikely. Still…

My caution was not misplaced. I had made a major mistake in my rewrite. By eliminating that repeated paragraph, I had changed the length of the chapter by a page. No big deal right? Oh yes it is! It changed the table of contents (TOC). The mistake was early in the work, chapter 4, so the pagination of every chapter after that was wrong. I simply forgot to update the TOC – a simple two key stroke updating procedure.

I had been diligent in checking the endings of each chapter for orphans and widows, but not diligent enough in checking the overall structure of the book, in particular the TOC. This meant another manuscript submission to Createspace. Live and learn.

A language junkie’s confession here.

While correcting those clumsy sentences, I simply could not help myself. I wound up adding a word, even a sentence here and there. Next thing I knew, I started tinkering with this and that passage until the sudden recognition of my addiction smacked me in the forehead and forced me to go cold turkey. I double-checked the few changes I had made and then double-checked them again, and then I SAVED my work and sent the damn thing off as it was. If I didn’t I would have been “fixing” this work until I died and never have written anything new.

So take it from a veteran in the combat of never knowing when to leave good enough alone. Eventually we must.

Of course, I had to order another proof just to be on the safe side.

Oh yeah, and as I was looking over a previous edition of my work I noticed a paragraph that would have been better placed had it been moved onto the following page. So I…

No, no I didn’t I let it go and walked away – but I did look back over my shoulder once.

BTW, out of the corner of my eye I also picked up a lack of quotation marks on one of those clumsy sentences I had “repaired.” So much for tinkering. Once the editing process is complete, let it be!

There was even a mistake in this blog I just found. Will it never end?FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

My book galley is here! My book galley is here!

The Riddle of Riddles front cover

The Riddle of Riddles book galley cover

My book galley is here! My book galley is here!

I cannot tell you how exciting it was to receive the hard brown cardboard box containing my paperback book galley. I was expecting it, of course, but it came two days late, and I was chomping at the bit waiting for it to arrive.

The packaging was great. A simple pull-tab released the proof into my waiting hands, and there it was.

There is was? No! Here it is! My first book, only a proof, a galley, but a book I could hold in my hands nonetheless.

It felt wonderful. I was filled with a sense of pride. The hard-won reality of what I had finally accomplished lay in my hands.

The cover is spectacular. The picture, the colors, the typography all add to the attractiveness of the book itself. However, the most sensual reward was the heft of the book in my hand. I flipped through the pages, raising and lowering the book in my hand, feeling its weight. Here it is! And it’s real.

I did get a rush when I published my eBook, and saw it listed on Amazon, but that feeling was minimal compared to how I felt holding a thing of substance – the book – in my hand.

An aside here about the cover. Because I do not draw, I hired a professional to do my book cover, and, unless you are an accomplished artist in that discipline, I recommend that you hire one as well.

As the author, I knew my story, and I had structured it a certain way to help get my message across. Consequently, I had a snapshot in mind for what the cover should look like. The story tells of a boy’s search for the answer to a riddle by looking in my book. That painted the idea for the cover in my mind – a boy sitting in a chair reading a book. We are looking over his left shoulder as he is reading and twin dragon-heads erupt from the pages of the book in his lap into his face.

I explained my idea to my designer. He did the rest, and I could not be happier with the results.

But, alas, the book is not perfect. I had gone through the editing and proofreading processes so many times, I thought I had found and corrected all errors. Such was not the case. As anyone who has gone through this process knows, after a certain number of readings your eyes go numb. You can no longer see the words you are reading. The brain is so familiar with the content is has read so many times before, that mistakes no longer register.

The good news is that, at least for me, once I picked up the actual book and started reading it, it took on a completely different persona. It was now a real book. I was no longer reading a manuscript off the computer. I was reading a book like any other book I’d read. This made all the difference.

Now as I was reading my book, even though the story was still the same, and the words were still the same, I was no longer word-blinded. The book seemed fresh, and I enjoyed reading it. In fact, numerous times I sat back in amazement, in wonderment at the beauty of what I had created. I had actually written these words, put together those sentiments. I amazed myself that it was that good. Please forgive the braggadocio, but that is exactly how I felt. Holy cow! I wrote that? Yes I did.

So, with these fresh eyes I reread my book. This time the errors became obvious, and embarrassing. I had to shake my head in disbelief that I had left out a necessary word, had left in a word that need to be removed, had actually repeated a whole paragraph twice without even noticing. This time the errors were a joy to correct. I was happy polishing my work of art.

Then off it went once more, back to Amazon. The temptation to bypass another proof was strong – just get it out there now that it was perfect, but I thought better of that idea and ordered another proof just to make sure.

I am awaiting the new proof. Stay tuned.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Uploading manuscripts onto CreateSpace

Can a spoonful of sugar cure the hiccups?

Can a spoonful of sugar cure the hiccups?

Although uploading manuscripts onto CreateSpace (CS) are major steps in the process of publishing paperbacks, the process is relatively simple. Convert the manuscript to PDF and then just upload it.

In the last blog, I described my battle with poltergeists, and while I was eventually able to banish them, I was left with a couple of hiccups.

Two minor issues remained – the hiccups – embedded fonts and image resolution. After uploading my manuscript, I launched the CS Interior Reviewer to view the results. The font that I had embedded was registering as not embedded, and the resolutions of images I had adjusted were showing up as not adjusted.

Here is the process I followed in attempts to solve these problems.

I had chosen to use a non-standard font for the title of my work. This font needed to be embedded in order to display correctly; otherwise, IR would replace it with a standard font. So, I embedded the font using these relatively simple procedures:

  • Click on the multicolored Office Button (top left).
  • Open “Word Options.”
  • Click on “Save” to open the customize documents pane. At the bottom, there is a section for embedding fonts.
  • Select “Embed fonts in file” and ensure that the two sub-boxes are NOT checked.
  • Click OK.

Simple as that.

The hiccup appeared after I embedded the font and uploaded the manuscript. The CS Interior Reviewer told me that it was not embedded. Huh? It shows up correctly on the Interior Reviewer (IR) display. What’s going on?

Using trial and error, I then uploaded a version of my manuscript in which I used the foreign font, but did not embed it, IR replaced the foreign font with a standard font as expected. Even though IR indicates that a properly embedded font is not embedded, it really is.

Therefore, I have decided to ignore the IR message.

The other hiccup is that images used in CS need to have a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) not ppi (pixels per inch). Here is a link to an excellent website that explains the difference between dots and pixels. I was under the mistaken assumption that they are the same. They are not.

GIMP is a valuable image manipulation tool similar to Photo Shop, and it’s FREE! It does take some getting used to and the manual could use a search option, but it has a ton of useful tools, one of which enables changes to image resolution.

  • Open GIMP
  • Import the image. A simple method to do this is do copy the image. This places it on the clipboard.
  • In the GIMP menu, select “File-Create-From Clipboard.” This will open the image in GIMP.
  • Click on “Image” and then “Print Size.” This will bring up the “Set Image Print Resolution” dialogue box.
  • The X and Y resolutions can be changed independently or together. If you intend to keep the image aspect the same, make sure that the two chain links shown are linked together.
  • Set the resolution to the desired numbers, 300 ppi.
  • Click OK.

The image is now ready to export.

  • File
  • Export
  • Title the image
  • Select File Type (This is a small option in the lower left, just above the Help box.) JPEG saves the image as a picture.
  • Under the “Save in Folder,” save the image and it is saved in DPI and not PPI.

I stumbled on this wrinkle, and it was a fortuitous stumble. I read somewhere that, in some instances, there were four dots per pixel. Therefore, I increased the resolution in GIMP to 1200 ppi (4 x 300). This time, after changing the resolution as I had done many times before, I right clicked on the image properties and discovered that it was now displayed as 1200 dpi instead of ppi. Eureka! I then set the resolution of the images to the required 300 dpi.

That good ole trial and error, while terribly time-consuming, does occasionally find a way.

However, the IR tells me that the images are not 300 dpi even though they are. I choose to deal with this hiccup the same way I did with the embedded fonts problem – ignore it.

One purported cure for hiccups is a spoonful of sugar. Alas, if only that could be so easily applied here!FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Do poltergeists inhabit MS Word?

All houses wherein men have lived and died Are haunted houses. Through the open doors The harmless phantoms on their errands glide, With feet that make no sound upon the floors. Longfellow

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

Do poltergeists inhabit MS Word? I swear they must. Let me explain.

Last week, Roxanne Smolen bailed me out with her blog about formatting a paperback for CreateSpace (CS) and I was left with the simple task of converting my manuscript to PDF and uploading it on CS.

Easy peasy, right? Wrong.

Following instructions from various sources, I had divided the manuscript into three parts. For numbering the front matter, I chose to use small roman numerals as page numbers, to differentiate it from the main body text. I numbered the body text with the usual Arabic numbers starting with the number 1.

After recombining all three parts of the manuscript back into one whole, the poltergeists appeared.

The pagination was off. The front matter performed as expected, but in the main body, page 313 followed page 311. No matter what I did, I could not correct the problem. I tried forcing the number by creating a new section and then, by using the “Format page number” command, I selected page number 312. To no avail. Poof! Page number 313 magically appeared. Is it a poltergeist or just too many rewrites?

Exasperated, I moved onto the next step, which was converting the Word Document (doc.x) version to PDF. That was easy enough using Word 7, which enables the process through the “Save As” function.

Next was to return to my CS project and upload my newly converted PDF version. Everything was proceeding smoothly. I launched the “Interior Reviewer” to see how my book would look, not expecting the first upload to be perfect. I expected it to show me errors that I could then correct. That is exactly what it did.

A quick aside here. I mentioned the CS “Interior Reviewer” in a post two weeks ago. In that post, I said that I would not be using it because I was going to do the mechanical formatting work myself. That information was misleading. The Interior Reviewer has nothing to do with the mechanics of formatting. It shows what your book will look like once you are done with the CS procedures. I have brought that post up to date.

Back to poltergeists.

The Interior Reviewer alerted me to a different problem – blank pages. To avoid boring you with details, I needed to insert blank pages at various positions in my body text. I did this, but when I uploaded the converted PDF version I wound up with excess pages. That is unacceptable to CS. I tried everything I could think of to remove these excess pages. I eliminated all breaks and then carefully re-inserted them. Again to no avail.

The poltergeists were at it again. It was just like page 313. The manuscript seemed possessed with a mind all its own, or, maybe Word just went crazy, or…those damn poltergeists!

Dealing with orphans and widows created a different problem. I needed to eliminate or add text in order to ensure that each chapter did not end with a single word or partial sentence all alone on a page. After spending hard-earned money on a copy editor and proofreader to ensure my ms was up to par, I was loathe to mess with it, but I had to.

Now, not only was I changing the wording of my text, but I found that in the formatting process some text had been inadvertently eliminated. I have no idea how that happened. Could it have been improper keystrokes or an inappropriate carriage return? How many more mistakes may have been injected into my once pristine manuscript and by whom or what…?

Anybody else have poltergeist experiences?

My method of teaching myself is by trial and error. The repetitive nature of this process is not only boring, it  is time consuming. I am reminded of the old saw, which states that repeating a process expecting different results is insanity.

Welcome to the monkey house.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill


Formatting your manuscript for paperback publication – Part II



This post is Part II in the continuation of the steps necessary for formatting your manuscript for paperback publication.

After posting here last week, I ran into what seemed to be insoluble problems, serious enough that I began questioning my ability to ever solve them. With the timely intervention of another writer, I was able to solve those problems. Talk about serendipity! But, more about that in a bit. First, a brief recount of where we left off.

Last week we began by dividing the ms into three parts, the front matter, the body file, and the back matter so that we could format each separately. We then followed the CreateSpace (CS) instructions about title information, ISBN requirements and then dealt with the Interior formatting requirements of trim size, and paper color. We got far enough along to set the margins and page size, and had discussed headers and footers.

Then I encountered the problems mentioned.

I spent this past week trying to figure out how to use the headers and footers (page numbers) correctly, including eliminating all headers and footers on blank pages. Little by little, I started working my way toward a solution by learning the proper use of the “link to previous” button in the Navigation tab of the Design pane in MS Word. I used it to link and unlink the sections and chapters as necessary, but I was having trouble getting page numbers and running headers formatted properly.

Then, hallelujah, I got a comment on last week’s post from a fellow LinkedIn writer, Roxanne Smolen. In the comment, she included a link to a post from her blog, Roxanne’s Space, entitled Format Your Book for CreateSpace. Once I read Roxanne’s post, my wife was able to untie the straps on my straitjacket so I could go back to work without fear of hurting myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Roxanne!

Here is her link. This is all Roxanne Smolen:

I would love to publish the entire post because I think it is that important, but it is too long to include here. Roxanne takes us step by step through the entire process making it “easy peasy” (as she says.) It is easy. It just entails following a rather long list of procedures.

Here’s a brief outline, but, please, do yourself a favor and read Roxanne’s post. It is that important.

The post is divided into seven sections:

  1. Ready, Set, Go – in which she covers the basics of margins, etc (the stuff I covered last week) but in much more detail.
  2. Front Matter Matters – a five-step section dealing with some stuff (trim size, ISBN) I had discussed last week, but, again in more detail.
  3. Back Matters Too – This section reminded me to include an Author’s page – among other bits of advice.
  4. About Your Headers and Footers – This is the section that saved my sanity. It explains the necessary steps to take to ensure your running headers and pagination are correct. I had discovered the “Different Odd & Even Pages” box in the Options tab on the Design pane, but it had not yet crossed my mind to use it for pagination. As Roxanne explains it, you merely have to insert page numbers twice. Duh and eureka! She solved my formatting problems.

EXCEPT FOR ONE – (And this is just a personal preference) I find the header on the first page of some chapters to be repetitive and crowded. I chose to use the chapter number and chapter title (e.g. Chapter 1- Boredom) as the header on odd numbered pages, and only the book title itself on even numbered pages. My design has the odd page info aligned with the right margin and the title info aligned left. Consequently, there were occasions where a chapter begins on an odd numbered page that, by design, includes the chapter information. Crowded and repetitive as mentioned. I tried using that “Linked to previous” mechanism, but I cannot eliminate the header from only the first page of the problem chapter without eliminating them all. I tried using page breaks instead of section breaks to no avail. Perhaps, I am asking for too much, but others must have faced this problem too and come up with a solution. Any ideas out there?

  1. Kill Widows and Orphans – I do this manually.
  2. And Another Thing – In which the use of Drop Cap is discussed
  3. Easy Peasy – Covers converting your manuscript to PDF.

Thanks to Roxanne, my manuscript is ready to go. It did take some hours of work to iron out all my problems, some self-created, others not, but that sure beats a week in a straitjacket!

Before converting to PDF, I am giving my manuscript one last read-over. I have fussed with it so often that I want to make sure I haven’t messed up the content that I paid a copy editor so dearly to fix some many, many months ago.

This situation demonstrates the virtues of LinkedIn and Google+. There are fellow writers (in this case) out there willing to help. That is a good thing. Thank you all for your help.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill