The Sequel: 1st Proof in Hand!

It just arrived! The first print proof of 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel.

front cover
back cover
side by side comparison of The Sequel to The Book
back cover comparison
comparison of the spines
interior of The Sequel
One of the three appendices (“Resources”)

Except for the annoying “Not for Resale” banner blazoned around the cover (of which, why in the world would I want to sell a proof copy with flaws in it?!?!?!?), I think it came out quite well. I had trouble with cover color on my first book, but this one looks much better.

Two things need to be done.

  1. Compare the first and second volumes to see if there’s anything I need to do to look more like a series. At first glance, the cover fonts look different, even though I thought they were the same. I’ll have to look into that.
  2. Go through the proof page by page, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word by word, image by image, and look for errors or anything that needs improving.

After that, I’ll make the corrections in the files, upload the revisions, and order a second proof. Because the first proof looks so promising, I hopefully will only need to do this twice! Or at least I hope so.

Bundles and Series

Bundles and series are two publishing devices for eBooks that seem to work well for both readers and authors. I’m just starting to branch out in both directions.

A bundle (also called a box set or omnibus) is a collection of short related works. These are usually priced more economically than the individual volumes making them a good buy for someone who likes a particular author and the subject they are writing on.

goat_bundle1When I published the first volumes of my The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos, it was fellow homestead author and blogger Anna Hess who suggested that I bundle them when I’d written enough. The other day I realized I’d done just that. I have five goat related how-tos on offer, enough to bundle and offer at a 4-for-3 price.

There is only one set of front and back matter, with the individual eBooks treated as sections. I combined the photos from the four eBook covers to create a new cover, but I still kept my overall series look.

One question authors ask is whether to include their bundle as another volume in the series. I decided against that because it isn’t a separate volume, but a combination of volumes. My solution was to call it a new series, “The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos Bundled Editions.” Not particularly clever, but a search engine will bring up both options so I think it’s a good one!

My other project is to create a series of eBooks from Critter Tales. A series is just that, a long work broken down into shorter segments. Oftentimes the first eBook of the series is sharply discounted or even free. This gives readers a chance to sample a new author. If they like what they read, they are likely to be willing to buy the rest of the series. Or in my case, they can simply buy the tales for the critters they are interested in. I’m tentatively calling my series “Critter Tales Series.”

concerning_critters_cover350x233Critter Tales lends itself well to this idea, because the sets of tales focus on one type of critter each and can make stand-alone reading. Pictured on the right is the cover idea I have.

I think cover design is important, and this is similar enough to the paperback so as to offer instant recognition. eBook covers are a different ratio than paperback covers, so that allowed me to adapt the cover images and highlight the one pertaining to the subject.

“Concerning Critters” is the title of the paperback’s introduction, so it will be my free offering to the reading community. The various sets of tales will be priced according to length.

This project is rather slow going at the moment, because eBooks require a different setup than print. This means I need to create a fluid file for uploading, and photos make this more challenging than text-only documents. My goal is to have it all done and released well before Christmas.

7th Proof = Cover Success

What a relief to open my package from CreateSpace yesterday. I almost didn’t want to. But I did and was so happy to have finally figured my cover file out.

If I had it to do over, I’d say that I would not choose such a complex cover for a first book. I did learn a lot about both Scribus and Gimp, I will say that. These last several I built in Gimp, saved as jpegs, and then loaded in Scribus 1.5 to export as a PDF/X-1 file to upload to CreateSpace.

The proof has been approved and the next step is to set my book up on Amazon. Then I’m going to try the same process with Lightning Source, for expanded distribution. At this point, I’m glad I started with CreateSpace. Proofs plus shipping cost me about $7.50 each, as opposed to LSI, which I believer is about $30 per proof. I’d be in the poorhouse if I’d had all these problems with them!

I know there will be different guidelines, however, but hopefully I can manage these without problems.




Rebuilding the Cover: I Think I’ve Got It!

My sixth proof arrived over the weekend. All of my tweaking had paid off, except, the text on the spine wasn’t centered. Yet, on the template, it was centered. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I reopened the cover file I made in Gimp. As I studied it, I realized that the bleed area on the front cover margin, was narrower than the rest. I checked the total file size in pixels, and compared it to the template I downloaded. My file was narrower by 15 pixels! In looking closely at the proof cover, I realized that if they printed the file from right to left, then the spine text would be off, just as it was. The only thing I can figure is that when I cropped one of the images on that front edge, I actually cropped the entire template layer.

So I’m rebuilding the cover, this time taking care with file size. I’ve learned that to resize images, I can use the “scale layer” tool, rather than crop. This is working very well. I’m using the old Gimp cover file as a guide for sizes and distances (with the aid of the grid), and it’s coming along fairly quickly. I can copy and paste text, so that helps as well.

I find myself wondering if I trust myself enough to approve it for print without ordering another proof! I’d hoped to have the book available my the first of November, now I’ll be lucky if it’s available the first week of December.

I’ve learned a lot, I will say that. I just have to trust that the care and attention to detail will be worth it in the end.

6th Proof Ordered

This morning I ordered the sixth proof for my book. It all boils down to what I think is an acceptable cover. Actually, I’m learning a lot.

The cover template includes a trim line (dotted) and bleed/trim variance area (pink).

template_trim&bleed Photos must extend over the trim line and cover the bleed area to ensure no white lines on the outside when the cover is printed.  The bleed area is 0.125 (1/8 inch) over the trim line. Inside the trim line another 0.125″ is allowed for trim variance. Printers keep the trim within those margins.

What I’m learning, is that 1/4 inch can make a huge difference in how the cover photos and text look, especially for a cover like mine with five photos. Even the same cover will look different if the trim is off a bit one way or another.

The challenge is to design a cover that doesn’t have these problems! I probably shouldn’t have started out with something so complex for my first book. But the cover design is in keeping with my blog, I think.

Hopefully, this is the last one! Hopefully, this one will be perfect, or at least acceptable. Of course, I’ve said that about all of them. I reckon I’ll just have to wait and see.


Cover Problems with CreateSpace

Oh dear, I’ve been having quite a time getting things just right. I received my third proof recently and the cover was terrible. Text and images had shifted and there was some overlapping of the logo. This cover was from the same file as the second proof; what had gone wrong?!?!?!?

I contacted CreateSpace immediately. They are always prompt with their replies. They looked into it but said they couldn’t verify that the last two proofs were printed from the same cover file. They corrected the worst image shift, but that left three more that made the cover look extremely amateurish.

Next, I turned to the CS Community Forum. Rather than try to summarize all the finer points, I’ll give you a link to the thread, here.

The bottom line is that even a PDF/X-1a file is editable. The text and images are not flattened when the file is created. It will be flattened by the printer and this may cause text, for example, to shift when it’s rasterized. Also  resizing the file if it isn’t the correct size.

The solution was to create the cover as an image in something like Gimp. This is then saved as a PDF and uploaded. It was interesting because when I opened the original cover file in Scribus, I discovered a band of white across the bottom, as though there had been errors with the PDF file which neither of my document viewers picked up on(?) As I examined it, I realized that if I had been given this file to print, I would have shifted things exactly as had been done on my proof.

The end result was that I started the file from scratch with Gimp and re-uploaded the cover file. I shouldn’t complain too much, because I ended up rechecking the interior as well. I’m still catching nit-picky errors of my own making! (Like spelling Fort Worth, Forth Worth).

There have been some huge learning curves in trying to create this book. Not the least of which has been learning the realities of printing something created on a digital device, i.e. my computer. Fortunately CreateSpace proofs are very reasonable ($7.50 for my size book including shipping). At least next time, I’ll have some experience under my belt so that things should go better.