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.
Longfellow

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

Page-Setup-Header-Footer

Page-Setup-Header-Footer

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: https://moonrox.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/format-your-book-for-createspace/

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

Formatting your manuscript for paperback publication – Part I

Paperback Books

Paperback Books

Formatting your manuscript for paperback publication with CreateSpace (CS) is a completely different project from formatting it for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

You can save yourself a lot of work by approaching paperback publication correctly. I tackled both projects without much forethought and it created a ton of extra work for me. I just sat down and started typing my manuscript. I should have formatted MS Word first before I typed a single letter. This would have saved me hours of work later in reformatting the manuscript to get it correct.

In addition, I formatted my manuscript for Kindle first in order to get it up and published. Then I used that draft to work in CreateSpace. Big mistake. The formatting for KDP is completely different, more complicated in some ways. Many of the formatting steps required for electronic publishing are unnecessary for a paperback. In fact, they get in the way, as I was to discover.

Upon completion of your manuscript, including copy editing and proofreading, the first thing you need to do is to make a copy and label it so you can easily identify on which version you are working. This is extremely important. Keep the original untouched, make a copy, and then work on that copy so that you always have the original to go back to should you make mistakes and need to start over.

OK, onto formatting your manuscript for paperback.

Create an account on CS and follow the instructions provided. Here is a great link that tells you all about what is required:  https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/InteriorPDF.jsp

First, you provide the title of your work. Next, you will require an ISBN. If you do not have your own (see previous post here for information on ISBNs), Amazon will provide one for you. As you complete each step, the little red circle adjacent to it will change to a green check-mark indicating that it has been properly completed. Each time you return to CS and log in, you need only to click on your book title to be taken to the next step.

Then, select the size of the book desired. I selected 6”x9” because it is common, a convenient size to carry about, and offers the widest distribution options. If your book has illustrations or pictures, you must allow for “bleed” to determine the exact trim size (click on the link for more information.) Next, select the interior type and paper color. Using colors in the book’s interior becomes prohibitively expensive. For that reason, I eliminated the color from several images I have in my work, and I am printing in B&W.

So far, so simple.

Divide your manuscript into three parts: the front matter, the body, and the back matter. This is a good idea, since each part can be formatted differently. For example, for the front matter (everything that comes before page one), the pagination can be eliminated completely, or a different font such as small roman numerals can be used. The copyright page, in particular, can require several different size fonts and, in some instances, italics.

In MS Word in the Page Layout pane, select the size of the book desired. The same tab also controls the margin settings (click here for more information on margins.) When a book is bound, the area in the center is known as the gutter. The gutter margins vary depending on the thickness of the book, the more pages, the larger the gutter margin needs to be. This is important for the dimensions  of the book cover. That is for another post.

For the body file, I choose to use page numbers centered in the footer. For the header, I choose to use different headers for odd and even pages. For odd pages, those on the right, I am using the chapter number and chapter title, and for even pages, I am using only the book title.

The use of chapter numbers and titles in the header requires that each chapter, i.e. section, be formatted separately. Originally, I had separated my chapters using page breaks. When it came time to include running headings I had to change each page break to a section break. Here’s a link to an explanation of the differences between the two. This was a major adjustments I had to make, one that took me hours to correct.

Highlight the header by double-clicking on the space above the page text. This will open the “Design” pane. In it, you will find a check box for different odd and even pages, so you can have different headings on alternate pages. From this pane, you can also insert page numbers at either the top or bottom, left, right, or centered, as you desire. You will also note a “link to previous” option in the navigation tab. This is crucial. It will light up, tying sections together. In order to change headings from one chapter to the next, this link must be turned off manually for each chapter.

This is as far as I’ve gotten. I am continuing to format my paperback and will keep you updated on my progress. Meanwhile, here are some cool links that may help:

https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1482

https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/InteriorPDF.jsp

If you open these links, you’ll find additional information available from the CS forums. I hope this helps.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

On Creativity

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov

Approximately two weeks ago, Arthur Obermayer, a friend of Isaac Asimov, published an essay by Asimov entitled On Creativity. The essay, as described by Obermayer, was in response to an invitation Asimov had received to participate in a government think-tank concerning nuclear weapons.

Isaac Asimov, besides being a prolific writer, had a PhD in biochemistry, was a professor at Boston University, a member of Mensa, and was widely considered one of the intellectuals of his time. As the author of hundreds of books, mostly science fiction, he came to realized early on that the secrecy of the think-tank might interfere with his ability to express himself freely. Consequently, he left the group, contributing this essay on creativity upon his departure. It is brief, and I recommend that you read it in its entirety in order to appreciate his take on creativity.

As a brief summary, he posits that the process of creativity is the same, regardless of the discipline, art or science, and that it is, indeed, an elusive, ethereal entity even to those “self-assured eccentrics” who create.

“To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself,” he went on to add.

Azimov’s thought is that creativity requires isolation, but that it can be enhanced by select groups of no more than five individuals, specialist in their own fields, coming together in casual, jovial, non-combative atmospheres such as around a dining room table, or in a restaurant. He does not mention the use of wine, but from my experiences, a bottle (or two) of a good Chardonnay or Cabernet can help to loosen tongues and inhibitions. In vino veritas.

He did feel that a leader was necessary to guide the group, but that the leader must be, of necessity, non-threatening, and that he/she should guide the group discussions using “shrewd questionings.”

As a writer, I found the essay fascinating. We writers are, by nature, creative individuals with varying degrees of talent. I agree with Asimov, in that I, too, demand isolation when I write, an isolation that is not understood even by those I love, who look at me quizzically, shaking their heads as they (finally) depart to allow me to work.

However, when not actually engaged in the process of banging on a keyboard, I do cherish the company of other artists – not necessarily just writers. Artists, from animators and architects, to painters and poets, from musicians and magicians to woodworkers and writers, all seem driven by the same demanding muscular muses.

My experience with  Asimov-like group-gathering goes something like this. The conversations among the artists usually start slowly and hesitantly, until someone makes a statement that grabs the attention of the group. At that point, the pace of the conversation picks up, until, soon, polite as intentions might be, interruptions become inevitable. Cross-talk is heard by everyone in the group, even as they are engaged in discussions of their own, but, inevitably, the bantering of the entire group solidifies around a single topic. Everyone is listening intently to everyone else’s ideas.

Then there comes silence, each participant lost in the depths of his/her own mind, crunching the ideas of the others, bouncing them against their own. Usually, everyone’s chin winds up on their chest, eyes mere slits, the creative juices overflowing.

The briefest of polite goodbyes barely register, and then, alone once again, the fingers cannot fly across the keys fast enough to keep up with the roaring avalanche of thoughts, trying to organize Pollock- paint-drops into patterns, scattered, loose, hither and yon, breathing as rapidly as the mind, flashing fingers too slow to keep up, until, until…exhaustion.

A rise from the chair, a deep breath, meandering into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, unaware of familiar surroundings, sparks of thoughts still shooting off in all directions, hurrying back to the keys, sips of hot coffee scalding the lips because the new ideas will not be denied.

But…words come slower now, thankfully – but not so thankfully, because the rush was so delightfully intense. The words become more deliberate, still genuine, but not as scattered, as the pace continues to slow, until you sit back for another sip of that coffee – now cold.

Finally, fully under control, you sit back down to read what you have written, amazed at the prose, its sheer poetry, laughing at some convoluted, incoherent contrivances. You lean back, smile contentedly, and go to bed.

But sleep does not end the madness. Over the soundest of snores, the mind untwists those convoluted contrivances into smooth, ironed sentences with just a touch of the starch of common sense where needed.

First thing in the morning, you fix what the mind discovered while asleep, and, thus, the first of way-too-many rewrites begins. You are, after all, a writer.

Einstein said, “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution just comes to you and you know not how or from where.”

Your thoughts?FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Piracy is never romantic, Jack Sparrow be damned

Not so Jolly Roger

Not so Jolly Roger

Piracy, banditry, or any other self-serving tag line you want to apply to thieves in the act of burglarizing intellectual property (IP) is never romantic, or audacious, or heroic, Jack Sparrow with his bandanna, earrings and self-effacing grin be damned.

Recently, Julie Andresen started a discussion on Google+ entitled “What are your thoughts on content piracy?” She got over thirty comments with opinions varying from “piracy is great,” to one advocating a personally administered penalty of “trans-anal evisceration.” Most of the heat came from a handful of the respondents, who purported to be listening but obviously were not hearing one another.

Ms. Andresen started her discussion by including a reasoned post, entitled The Question of Piracy by David Amerland in which Google stresses the major, and oft repeated, argument for piracy, namely, “Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply,” which, of course, is really no argument at all. It attempts to justify lawlessness by blaming inefficiency. With this reasoning, any time your mail is late you could go down to the Post Office to raid their coffers.

Here are some of the (slightly paraphrased, intent intact) arguments  in favor of piracy from that post. No names have been attributed to prevent author embarrassment:

  • Piracy is great. People who don’t want to pay for a book get to read it regardless and the author gets their work read and maybe some exposure. It’s a win-win. If that wasn’t the case, they’d have never read it, anyway, so…
  • It does not cost the creator much and provides him/her with exposure. Plus the more the public gets to know an author because of exposure to his/her work, the more personal the connection to that person becomes and the less likely they are to pirate his/her work.
  • While piracy may be against the law, there is insufficient data to prove it damages anyone.
  • Buying second hand anything  (like books or DVDs, etc.) is basically the same as piracy. None of that money goes to the creator or developer/publisher when you buy pre-owned.
  • Those who are against piracy, regardless of their reasoning, need to understand that their objections are practically irrelevant. They are not going to stop people from copying music, movies, books, or whatever. The market has changed, they must adjust.
  • Piracy is necessary. The copyright laws have been subverted by the media conglomerates in order to tie it up so that future generations won’t have access to it.
  • The industry is doing it to itself by charging too much.
  • You are presuming that you have the right to the buyer’s money. You don’t. Copying your work doesn’t actually deprive you of anything that you’re actually entitled to. If someone steals your car, you don’t have a car. If someone copies the bits and bytes of your story, you still have your story
  • Have you ever repeated a joke that you heard somewhere? What about the poor comedian you ripped off?
  • The default assumption against piracy is that every item downloaded is a retail loss. That’s nonsense. In the real world, people have limited budgets, and their entertainment budgets are realistically going to be smallest portion of their overall budget. Therefore, just because someone downloaded your book or movie or song doesn’t mean that they were going to give you money for it
  • I’d rather deal with pirates than the corporate looters of the publishing industry
  • There have been plagiarism laws on the books for decades and infringement laws as well. Enforcement has always been the problem and with global markets just a click away, the issues become more intractable. When the cost of defense is more than the loss, the only victories are Pyrrhic
  • Intellectual monopoly protections almost always hinge on Marxist notions of the labor theory of value. “I worked hard on this, so I must receive the benefit from it!”
  • I hope, for the sake of intellectual consistency if nothing else, you don’t use any elements from the public domain or the common cultural history of mankind. Since you evidently think that so-called intellectual property is identical to real, physical property, I can’t see how you can abide a time and statute-limited-definition of that property right.
  • The people who would pirate your material wouldn’t have bought your book anyway.

Notice that there is no real logic here. One excuse is offered after another, including some upside down interpretation of Marxism.

The main argument of this warped mentality is that if I want it, but it is unavailable for whatever reason, I will take it. This is akin to the argument that someone wearing a gold chain on a NYC subway deserves to be robbed, or that if a woman dresses provocatively and I desire her, I can rape her.

Their secondary argument is that piracy always has been and always will be, so I might as well participate.

And there is no shame.

Now, here are some of the arguments against piracy:

  • It robs the creator of his just dues
  • My concern isn’t piracy by an individual who wants to read, watch, or listen.  My concern are those who pirate with the intent to make money for themselves and/or their business concern from the pirated works
  • Piracy sucks, and people who do it should let me take money out of their pockets. It’s exactly the same thing
  • People pirate because they can get away with it. It has nothing to do with how much or how little something costs, or whether or not they “like” it
  • If I can’t get paid for what I do, why bother doing it? I have to eat, too. I have to pay bills. It takes months of hard work to create a book that must then be edited and proofed and formatted and a nice cover slapped on it. This stuff isn’t free. It’s asinine to say pirating is okay. Pirates steal from creative people. They’re taking the bread out of our mouths
  • Take enough of our work without compensation and pretty soon there will be nothing to steal
  • No one has the right to suggest that the IP creator should just bite the bullet and let his/her work go for free. We do NOT live in either a communist nor a socialist nor a fascist world…at least not yet.  IP anarchists be damned.
  • Copyright infringement is theft by any other name.
  • I am the creator.  My work is mine to monopolize.
  • At least pirates, thieves and scam artists are honest in their intent: “We will make as much from you and/or your stuff as we can get away with stealing.  IP abolitionists are off the cliff all the way around – beyond all rational mind,

I am not neutral. I believe in the ownership of intellectual property. I know how much work it takes to produce a product. If time is money, than all the time an artist takes to produce a work of art puts a value on that work. The popularity of the work determines how much people are willing to pay for it.

In no case is it free.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

To copyright or not to copyright, that is the question

To be or not to be That is the question

To be or not to be
That is the question

To copyright or not to copyright, that is the question, but it should not be a question. To copyright is the only answer.

My post, Book Titles, Fonts and Copyright Changes, created a heady discussion about copyright problems, international and domestic, to a degree I had not anticipated, one that requires a continuing dialogue.

The Berne Convention of 1886 set forth basic international law regarding copyright, recognizing the copyrights of works of authors of all nations, in the same way that it recognizes the copyrights of its own citizens. It also required automatic, strong minimum standards while prohibiting mandatory registration. This means that your work is protected from the moment it is committed to some form of visual or audio copy.

The laws for copyrighting vary from country to country. In America, registration is made through the US Copyright Office. In Canada, you can register your work at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. In the UK and AU, copyright is considered an “automatic right.” In New Zeeland, no registration is required, or even possible, other than that provided by the Berne Convention. Generally speaking, those governments that require/provide copyright services, charge fees of varying amounts depending on the service offered.

The date of copyright becomes important when there are conflicting claims of ownership. Once registered, as in places like the U.S. and Canada, the date becomes fixed. In places like UK, AU, and NZ a date can be established by sending a copy of the work to the applicable national library.

It is also a good idea to affix the copyright symbol ©, the year, your name and boilerplate copy such as, “ Except as provided by the Copyright Act no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in and for or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.” The wording varies, so use whatever satisfies your paranoia.

There are also differences about what excerpts are allowed between “fair use” (US), e.g. commentary, research, criticism, parody, news, teaching, archiving and scholarship and “fair dealing” (UK), e.g. research, review, criticism, news, and parody. Generally, U.S. policies are a bit more stringent. Also, in the US, in the case of lawsuits, only registered works can collect damages and attorney’s fees.

The length of copyright also varies by country. In the US, a copyright is good for 70 after the author’s death. In the UK, it is good for 50 years after death.

The Myth of the Poor Man’s Copyright

For a more complete examination of the Poor Man’s Copyright click on the link above. It is a terrific, straightforward discussion of this subject, generously provided by Jonathan Bailey on his blog, Plagiarism Today.

In short, the Poor Man’s Copyright is the idea that you can write a book, compose a song, draw a picture, etc, seal it in an envelope, and send it to yourself with the assumption that the date on the envelope will prove that its contents were mailed on such and such a date, thereby protecting the author.

No such luck- for several reasons:

  • There is no proof as to who created the work inside.
  • Envelopes can be steamed open.
  • You cannot sue in federal courts. Since the work in question was never registered nationally, any lawsuit becomes a local issue, subject to only local damages.

Read Mr. Bailey’s article for even more convincing arguments.

P.S. Do not be deceived by faux-government agencies offering to do the copyright-work for you. It is simple enough to do yourself. Trust me. I did it and so can you.

Danger still lurks!

OK, you’ve done the right thing and copyrighted your book with the US Copyright Office. Now, you are protected.

So I thought, too, until I read Vivian Greene’s comments on the post mentioned above.

First off, some nations that are signatories of the Berne Convention do not always honor their commitment. China is notorious for the theft of proprietary secrets.

Ms. Greene has had her work published in five countries, using her photo, for which she has received not a penny.

But it is not just in other countries. Here in the good, ole USA, companies have used Ms. Greene’s quotes on merchandise in stores as famous as Target, Wal-Mart, Nordstrom’s, and Whole Foods.

Here is her YouTube video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG-pZ-wzXxU. If this doesn’t scare any hesitancy out of you, nothing will.

But even copyrights cannot protect us completely.

Need we be reminded of Napster? There are those “out there” who believe that books and music should be free. They pass along the work of others because they enjoy what they read or hear, and “feel” that others should enjoy it too – without having to pay for it, of course. They give it away for free!

Why is there so little respect for the WORK of those of us who toil to create?

Protect yourself as best you can. Copyright your work!FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Uploading your manuscript to Kindle

My published eBook

My published eBook

Uploading your manuscript to Kindle sounds like a simple process and it should be. However, if there are images in your manuscript there are extra steps involved that can cause problems.

As reported in a previous post, I used the nuclear option to format my manuscript and it worked just fine. However, I did not know how to proceed from there. So, I consulted Amazon’s KDP instructions and purchased Building Your Book for Kindle . I had been searching YouTube and elsewhere on the web with only limited success before I decided to download this book to my own Kindle. It proved to be just what I needed, a step by step walk-through from tips for formatting before you write, through front matter, Table of Contents, book cover, converting your manuscript to HTML, all the way through publishing and making changes after publishing. Plus, it was free.

I’m no genius, but I can follow instructions and all was going gangbusters until…I came to the chapter entitled “Converting Your Manuscript to HTML.”

This chapter led me through all the necessary steps up to the section “Books with Images: Creating a zipped file of your book contents.” This section contains five steps. Step 3, however, contains a CRITICAL ERROR. It states “Right click on the HTML file, scroll over ‘Send to’ and on the menu that appears, click ‘Compressed (zipped) folder.” This is incorrect.

Perhaps, it is my lock-step brain that enables me to follow directions that caused me unnecessary trouble, but trouble I got, two days worth of trouble.

It turns out that the proper procedure is to create a new folder for locking the images with the text in a zipped file. You can create the folder wherever you choose. I put it on my desktop. You then convert your manuscript to HTML by saving it as “Web Page, Filtered.” This automatically produces TWO files in the folder you just created. One file contains all your images  and the other is an HTML file of your book.

Now, instead of right clicking on the HTML file, as indicated in step 3, right click on THE FOLDER YOU CREATED and send it to the “compressed (zipped) folder.” This solved the problem, and I was able to upload the images with the text.

The author also goes on to advise that you can simply open the zipped file and edit changes in the HTML file by opening it with Microsoft Word. Attempting to open the zipped file caused my computer to shut down and warn me not to open it again. So, because of these instructions I spent hours researching zipping and unzipping files. I was so exasperated I learned nothing. That will have to be a lesson for another day.

In order to edit the mistakes I found when I previewed my book in KDP, it was necessary for me to open a new copy of my manuscript, to once again convert it to HTML, zip it and upload the new edition.

I needed to do this several times, but I finally got it right and uploaded text and images.

These problems caused a plummeting descent in my self-confidence. This is never good, especially when you get to be my age. Self-confidence has already begun its slow erosion with the accumulation of silly mistakes that I now make too often, forgetting why I entered a room in the first place, and the lack of ease in learning new tasks. As my wife says, “If I have to learn something new, something old has to drop out of the back of my head”

I will give the author of the book in question the benefit of the doubt and chalk the mistakes up to changes in the methods Amazon employs uploading images, and in my inability to learn how to properly use zipped files.

Happily, I uploaded the corrected version of my manuscript and published it.

I am now a published author. Check it out on Amazon. Cool huh! A published author. I am sitting here, typing this, infused with the warm feeling of accomplishment. This has been a long time in coming but I finally did it. Yea!

The next step is to publish the paperbound version and hold it in my hands. I have already begun the formatting process.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Book Titles, Fonts, and Copyright Changes

Garnished Gothic Style Font Letter "C"

Garnished Gothic Style Font
Letter “C”

Book titles are crucial, and fonts can be fun, but copyright changes are expensive.

I thought I had my book title down from almost the minute I finished my first draft, and I was happy with my choice, until I started reading about marketing.

Marketing, for those of us interested in establishing a name, or “brand” as it is often called, is even more crucial than the book title. A better way to put this would be that the book title can also be a crucial part of your marketing plan. If no one knows you are out there, no one will read your book, which is important even for those folks who write for the sheer enjoyment of the endeavor. They may not care about the financial rewards, but they do want to be read.

The original title of my book was A Noble Task. It reflected the book’s story, i.e. a boy’s task to solve a riddle, but it lacked pizzazz. It could easily get lost in the piles of books published every day.  I needed a title—and a book cover (more about that in a subsequent post)—that would grab the attention of readers looking for a YA fantasy. I also want the title to be able to be marketed in its own right. Therefore, I changed the title to The Riddle of Riddles.

This new title spoke more directly to the reader about the specificity of the task of my protagonist. Plus, I now had a subject, “riddles”, which I could exploit for marketing purposes, as opposed to a “task”, noble or not, which was too vanilla.

To that very purpose, I created a second website dedicated to just riddles, puzzles, logic problems, etc. This gave me a venue in which I could market riddles as well as my book, tying the two together.

Changing the title did cause me some concern. I had, of course, copyrighted the manuscript with the original title. After much thought, I decided that it would be best to register the new title change lest someone else, duplicitous, or just another creative mind at work, might find that particular title attractive. Registering just the title change with the copyright office was expensive, $130 dollars.

In preparation for publishing my manuscript, I thought some more pizzazz in the title font might be apropos, and fun. There are thousands of free fonts out there; a quick Google check will validate this. One common source for new fonts is dafont.com, but there are many others. A few allow you to view the text you will be using in the new font style right there on their website before you decide to download. This is a convenient option that should be more readily available.

Since the title of my book conjures up thoughts of other fantasies now in print, I looked for a font that would express that medieval, gothic, Celtic look. There were many, and I selected a few to try out before downloading. What you see is not always what you get. On these websites, the font name is written in the font type, but when you translate it onto your page, it doesn’t always look as anticipated. The size of the font, its slant, the space between letters, and other hairy appendages can quickly dissuade its use.

Once you decide on the font you want, simply click on “Download.” A dialog box will appear containing the font name with a TTF file type. Click on it and then click on “Extract All Files.” Browse in the next dialogue box to where you want the file stored and click “Extract.”

The next step is to place the new font into your computer along with all the other fonts. To do this, click on the Start button, “Computer,” and then click on the “C” drive. A dialogue box opens. Select “Windows” and then “Fonts.” This will open a list of all the fonts that are already installed on your computer, the ones you get on the drop-down menu when you are in Word and are deciding on the font type and size. Drag and drop your new font into the list you have just opened and you have it forever.

I am still experimenting with embedding fonts so that readers who do not have a specific font embedded in their computers can still see what the author of the piece intended. So far I have had limited success. I could not successfully transfer my title in Press Gutenberg font onto my blog. So I still have work to do. I will keep you informed as to my progress.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Manuscript Image Manipulation

Yin-Yang

Bisected Yin-Yang

As mentioned in the previous blog, manuscript image manipulation is not my strong suit, but the use of images is a necessary part of our business. At the very least, we need to know how to utilize the images we use for our book covers. For some authors, the use of images in the body of our works is also a necessity. I am one.

Amazon has certain rules for the insertion of images in both eBooks and paperbacks. This is some of what I have learned so far.

First off, do not copy and then paste images into your manuscript. Use the “Insert” command, and then the “Picture” option in the “Illustrations” pane of Windows. Place the cursor to the bottom left of where the picture is to be placed and then insert the image.

Sometimes, only the outline of part of a box will show, especially if the picture is being inserted between lines of text. If this happens, click on the image of the box you can see to ensure that it is highlighted. Then select the “Format” tab up top. In the “Arrange” pane find “Text Wrapping.” This option will present several choices of how you want your image displayed:  in front of the text, behind the text, in the middle of the text, with the text above and below, etc. Click on your choice and that should solve the problem.

In my case, the series of images I needed to insert were all part of a single image, the Yin-Yang symbol. This is where the snipping tool mentioned in the previous blog, along with the free photo editor program GIMP, became invaluable.

Segmented Example

Segmented Example

My task was to separate that symbol into three segments, align two segments side by side to create three separate images, each different, for insertion into my manuscript. Here is an example image of one of the three segments I needed to create.

I must confess that I have no training in the use of any photo-editing program, so the following is all seat-of-the-pants learning. There are probably methods that are easier and more direct than those I enlisted, but here is how I proceeded.

Creative Commons is a great source for free images. I selected a yin-yang image from CC, divided it into the segments I desired using Windows “Insert”, “Shapes” and selecting the line type I needed (straight). That is how I formed the bisected image at the top of this blog.

Then it was time to use GIMP to segment it. First, I copied the image, and then using “File” & “Create” I was able to transfer the image from the clipboard into GIMP. If you play around a bit with GIMP you can teach yourself how to manipulate your images. Under the “Image” tab is “Transform” which enables you to flip and rotate the image. The “Tools” tab opens several important options, two of which are “Paint” (which is similar to the paint tool in Windows), and “Transform Tools” which will crop and resize images among other options. Noodle around. GIMP allows you to discard any mistakes and begin again fresh.

To actually cut the segment you want out of a larger image, select the “Tool” option “Paths.” Click on “Paths” to outline the path you want the cursor to take. Then click on the spot where the clipped segment is to begin. That becomes your first “anchor point.” Move the cursor to your next point and you will see a straight line trailing from the cursor. Click on your next anchor point. For curved lines, select anchor points close together to draw the curve you want. The more points, the more accurate the curve. When you return your cursor to the starting point to close out your selected area, a small square anchor box will appear to tie it all together. See the example above.

Now click on “Select” and “From Path.” Follow me closely here. This is not difficult. It just involves a number of steps. Once you have made the “Select” and “From Path” choices, click on “Edit” and then “Copy.” Click “Edit” again & then “Paste As.” Slide over to the option “New Image” and click on that. Voila! The image you segmented appears on a checkerboard background.

Now don’t make the same mistake as I did. I assumed that the checkerboard background was transparent. It is not. If you save it as is, you save that background as well.

So, the next step is to hide that background. To do this you click on “Layer” and then “New Layer” which presents several options, from naming the layer to various fill types. Since I was inserting my image on a typical white page, I selected “Background” and hit OK which hid the image I had just created behind a white layer.

Stay with me. We are almost done and you will be proud of what you have accomplished. Even though there are a number of steps involved here, it is a simple follow-each-step process. I found that I needed to write down each step in this process so I could repeat my actions.

The next step is to click on “Layer” again and go down to the “Stack” option. Of the new options presented, select “Layer to Top.” This will result in the image you desire showing up on a white background. Now you can go to “File” to “Export To” the image under any name you choose as a PNG file to your Pictures folder.

I do not pretend to know what each option along this process is able, or not, to do. I used YouTube videos as teaching aids to enable me to accomplish the above. You can do the same, to complete whatever image criteria you desire.

With the new images I created, I was able to play with them even more, to crop, resize, accent areas, add text, etc. If you do intend to play around, I found that I needed to resize and place the images first before doing any accenting because once accented, if you move the image you lose the accents.

OK. We now have the images we want. And now the snipping tool!

Actuate the snipping tool, click on the “New” and select the “Rectangular Snip.” Copy the parts of the image you want to insert into your manuscript, release the mouse button, save your work, and you can now “Insert” your “Picture” wherever you need it to be.

Congratulations fellow image manipulator. Well done!FotoFlexer_Photo Quill