A Photo Optimized Version for a Smaller File Size

When I wrote 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, I had no intention of making it anything other than a paperback. That meant all the photos were prepared for high-quality print. And that meant a very large file, which was slow to upload (or download). Eventually, I turned it into a print replica for Kindle, but even then, the file size was large.

This wasn’t a problem until I needed to send some PDF copies to folks in various parts of the world. Even though I optimized the PDF as much as I could in Scribus, it was still a large file. Believe it or not, not everyone has high-speed internet.

Lesson learned. For 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel, I decided to make a photo optimized version from the get-go. Not that I’m planning to release it as an eBook yet (maybe someday), but so that I can get it to reviewers before it’s ready to print.

To do this, I’m making copies of all the book’s photographs in a lower resolution. For print, photos must be 300 DPI (dots per inch) to produce a clear image. Most internet photos, on the other hand, are 72 DPI. This would make a blurry printed image, but it’s fine for digital viewing, and is creating a much smaller PDF file size. Then, because changing the resolution also changes the print size, I have to resize each photo before inserting it in the desktop publisher file.

How much of a difference does it make? For example, chapter one at 300 DPI is 11.5 MB. At 72 DPI, it’s 1.2 MB. That’s a big difference. The photos in the optimized version aren’t as crisp as the originals, but I think they’ll do.

I admit this is another time-consuming step, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Eventually, I’ll format The Sequel for eBook, but that will take awhile too because I’d like it to be available for ePub as well as Kindle.

Even so, I’m getting closer. After this, I can get started on the index.

In Praise of Beta Readers

Getting to the almost-final draft stage of a book always feels like an accomplishment. But that doesn’t mean the work is done. It just means that it’s ready for the next phase, that of making sure I’m communicating my thoughts and ideas in a clear and understandable way. That’s where beta readers are a tremendous help.

Since this book is a sequel to my first, one of my goals is that it read like the first. To make sure the tone and mood of the second book match so that the two fit together as if one book. Because of that, I asked folks who have read 5 Acres & A Dream The Book to have a read-through of its new sequel.

The feedback is starting to come in, and it is wonderfully helpful. My beta readers are catching things I missed and pointing out phrases and paragraphs that need clarification. This is exactly the help I was hoping for.

I’ve been collecting photographs for each chapter while they read. Then I’ll go back through the text and adjust it with the help of my beta readers’ suggestions. Then comes building the pages, one at a time! Step by step I’m getting there.

KDP Conversion Oddness

Anyone who’s used Smashwords “meatgrinder” understands the sense of trepidation one feels while awaiting the outcome of the document-to-eBook conversion process. This is the process of turning a .doc format into the various formats readable by eBook readers, such as mobi and epub. Because meatgrinder spits out a variety of formats, one encounters numerous error messages before finally getting it right! It all boils down to how the word processor document is formatted.

Amazon’s eBook publishing service (Kindle Direct Publishing) only converts to mobi, which is the Kindle format. Because it’s only that one format, success is much easier to obtain. If corrections need to be made, it’s usually small design issues and rarely a problem.

Until now. Until yesterday when I tried to upload my eBook-ready Critter Tales book file. There were major problems. This was especially puzzling because I had used KPD’s own software, Kindle Create.

The file looked perfect in the Kindle Create previewer.

In the KDP previewer, however, something was clearly wrong.

Images were missing as well. Of course, I immediately contacted KDP and they were very prompt with a reply. It’s been passed on to technical support and they promise to get back to me by Dec. 23rd.

So much for getting it out in time for a good holiday promotion. It could still make it for Christmas and Kwanzaa, but I’ll have missed Hanukkah plus any opportunity to build an enticing case to promote gift-buying sales.

Oh well. No one to blame; sometimes things just work out that way. I could have started this project earlier, but I don’t even blame myself for not doing that. I’ve been busy finishing up my sequel, and of the two projects that’s my priority. So while I’m awaiting word from KDP, I’ll get back to that.

Progress!

Final draft is almost done! Then comes editing, photos and captions, page design, and putting it all together: front matter, main text, and end matter. Creating an index is always a big job, but fun. Then cover design.

So I still have a ways to go, but getting all the words down and in order is the bulk of it. A huge job that makes an upcoming book more of a reality than a wish.

Files Uploaded, Now We Wait

I found Kindle Create a breeze to use and successfully created a textbook replica file of 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. Then I created a JPG cover file. I uploaded both files to KDP, reviewed the interior in the online previewer and clicked on “Publish.” Now it will be reviewed and hopefully should be live on Amazon within the next 72 hours.

From Paperback to eBook: 5 Acres & A Dream The Book

Five years ago when I published 5 Acres & A Dream The Book I didn’t give electronic publishing a thought. I wasn’t especially big on eBooks, because I like nothing better than the look and feel of a real live book in my hands. I like seeing books on my bookshelves. And I like knowing that the books I want to read and keep will be available, even if my electronic device is not.

Finally, out of curiosity I bought a Kindle. I found that I liked the convenience of being able to keep numerous books on a small, handheld device, especially fiction. Then I began to dabble with creating eBooks for my Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. I learned the differences in formatting and how to make a flowable book for eReaders. I didn’t find them very convenient for images and graphs, however. I couldn’t fathom the many homestead maps in 5 Acres & A Dream The Book being legible on a small electronic device; it was hard enough to see them on the pages of a 6×9 inch paperback.

The real show stopper, however, was the file size of both 5 Acres & A Dream The Book and Critter Tales. Both are photograph heavy (something my husband thought was important), so the interior book files are quite large. Too large for the maximum limits of most eBook producers. So the idea was moot even if I had wanted to take such a plunge.

Recently the idea has come to mind once again. While Smashwords still maintains a 10 MB maximum file size limit, Kindle Direct Publishing and Lulu and greatly increased theirs. So much so that my most optimized PDF version of both books is within the new limits.

Even with this new possibility there is a problem. Most eBook publishers prefer to convert .doc files. These are easy enough to make and upload, but for my paperback books I never created a ready-to-print .doc file. I created PDF/X files, which is the standard preferred by print publishers. To create a .doc (or .docx) file would mean starting from scratch! Honestly, I have too much on my plate to do that; I’d rather continue working on 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel.

The other day something at KDP caught my eye – Kindle Create. Kindle Create is a program which can convert PDF files into “Print Replica eBooks” for Kindle. It maintains the print book’s layout and formatting while converting it into a mobi file. That sounded like the perfect solution for me.

The “glitch” is that Kindle Create must be downloaded to use and is for Windows or Mac only. Since I use Xubuntu Linux, that is indeed a problem. But not an unsolvable one. More on that next time!