Terror from a Box

I stated Thursday that the realization hit, “This is really happening,” in regards to publishing The Adventure.

That realization was both happy (Yay, I made it this far!) and terrifying.

This post is the terrifying and how I’m dealing with it. =)

The updated proof arrived in the mail last Thursday. Eager child that I am, I heard the mailman drop the book against the door, and I ran to fetch it…

After tearing into the packaging, I held the book up and stared at it. A lump formed deep in my throat. Although the quality of the cover was better than the first copy, it still turned out blurry, amateurish looking. They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but we all know it’s human nature to do so.

Panic warred in me like nervous butterflies turned into pterodactyls trying to escape. Painful in its intensity.

Two options opened before me.

Slump to the floor and have a good cry or figure out what went wrong, again. The former, trust me, tempted me with welcoming arms. But motion has always been my weapon in dealing with things. My brain, in its crazy moments, must know something is being done to fix whatever bothers it.

House is dirty, I have to clean. I’ve had an argument, how do I fix it? What do I say or do to make things right? Book cover turned out blurry, figure out why…and figure it out fast.

Contacting customer support with CreateSpace can be time consuming. So I shot off an email asking for help and then I turned to Google because any reply from CS can take 24 hours.

Then, when I’ve exhausted my brain to the point that it’s tied in knots, I pull in my Calvary. Namely, my husband. He comes to these problems with the idea that I’ve tried everything obvious and thus he has to think outside of the box.

This works well because he thinks completely sidewise to the way I think. We may have the same goal, but it’s almost a guarantee that we’ll reach it in completely different ways.

Finally, after much squabbling, which is our usual way of processing things, we figured out it all comes back to that pesky thing called PPI or DPI (Pixels per inch).

Quick technical explanation. When using Illustrator, you have to make sure it does not downgrade the PPI to 72 when you create a new image. It does this by default, thus downgrading the quality of any image you’ve made. For publishing, CreateSpace recommends 300 PPI. You can imagine the difference. Check out below what I’m talking about.

The fix for this required me going back and recreating all of the images on the cover at the higher quality. time consuming but maybe good for my brain since motion helps me.

First Proof:

 

 

 

Updated Proof:

 

 

 

Updated…This image is a print of the PDF off my own printer. The quality, along with the glossy finish, will be better from CreateSpace. New Proof shipped yesterday, so we’ll know if the quality is, in fact, up to snuff, by the end of the week.

Hopefully from these you can see the difference in print quality but even if you can’t, maybe due to my poor photo taking, I promise the actual quality on the book is better. So in creating a cover, watch out for PPI. It’s a sneaky little detail that’ll put holes in everything if you let it slip past your guard.

Blessings,

Jennifer

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HA! KDP Figured

Formatting, formatting, formatting… This post deals with the difference between formatting for a physical book in CreateSpace and formatting for the digital copy in KDP. There may be a bit of ranting. You have been warned.

You design a book for CreateSpace, picturing the physical copy in your hand. There’s a helpful, little option in CS that offers The Adventure Proofto publish the book to Kindle for you using the design from CS. Simple, awesome, great!

Word of advice if anyone is considering self-pubishing with Amazon CS: DO NOT USE THIS OPTION!

Originally, I figured this would be a simple, straightforward way of getting a digital version of The Adventure setup, but then I dug into some of the forums for more details. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, on the forum said not to use it. They advised going directly to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) instead of using CS for the formatting.

Am I ever glad I caught this before publishing the Kindle Version. Here’s why:

  1. Even Kindle does not recommend using PDF for their publishing. (PDF is CS’s recommendation for the hard copy). When I tried this to see what would happen, it shoved the title page, the table of contents, and the copyright page onto the same screen. Eeek. Not pretty.
  2. Kindle does not use page numbers. Think about that for a second. There are no pages in a Kindle book. You can change the size of the font for easier reading, thus pages change depending on who is reading and what device you’re using. Imagine my panic when I realized this. For a regular book, this isn’t such a big deal as long as you use page breaks between your chapters. For an Adventure book, where I need to direct readers where to go depending on their choices, this is disastrous. Thank heavens for hyperlinks. I added hyperlinks instead of using page numbers. Now it looks all pretty like and might be even easier to navigate than a physical book. (Kindle readers, let me know what you think after reading the book. I’d love your feedback!)
  3. Images…um yeah, images within the text shove the text to the next line. This creates a giant space where the text should be. This is again because you can change the size of the font in a reader and the image may or may not line up with the text you originally aligned it with. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t an easy fix for this. So instead, I put all in-text images directly in the middle of the text like I planned it that way. (Cause I did, right?!) In the preview option, this actually turned out looking pretty sharp. Again, feedback from readers is always appreciated. =)

Anyway, thanks for listening to my quasi rant about formatting. Although I rant and rave about such things, figuring all this out is a love/hate relationship for me. Seeing the finished product is totally worth it, loved all the more for the challenge it is to figure out.

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. The Kindle version is one of the backing rewards for the Kickstarter. Check it out here!

Why It’s Good Writing is Detail Oriented

(Update: The Adventure Kickstarter hit 100% funding this last weekend! It’s still open until October 30th if you wanted to support the project. Anything above and beyond the original goal will go to book donations to school libraries after the Rewards costs.)

A well crafted story carries the reader through, connecting dots in the story, without the reader even seeing the small sign posts that guide them along.

The effort to make such reading so smooth requires an attention to detail that has to be learned. Sure, you can start out with an aptitude for this, but if you’re writing a story of any length, ultimately you have to learn tricks that help you keep track of all your sign posts/details.

Now, I have to tip my hat to people who design books for a living. I thought writing stories was detail oriented…um, designing books is even more so.

Perhaps my view is skewed because I’ve dealt with everything from making sure there are no plot holes, which is technically a part of editing (trust me, when I found a disappearing torch in one of The Adventure stories, my brain about exploded), to margins of the book, cover format, line spacing, text size, page breaks, image formatting…This list is endless.

Here’s one example.

Both The Adventure proof and the journal proof showed up and had blurry covers. Yuck. It about breaks my heart to see such aSpine of the Adventurer's Journal cover.  You can see the issue best on the Journal’s spine here.

Turns out, this issue was because the images weren’t saved at 300 ppi (pixels per inch). Now, I’m no designer. My understanding of Photoshop consists of one high school class (and we won’t even think about how long ago that was) and my digging into it in the last several months to figure out The Adventure. I understand ppi now…I didn’t when I started.

Just goes to show, there’s a reason people go to school for such things…and there’s a reason it takes time, lots of time, to produce your own book.

The Adventure and the Adventurer’s Journal are now updated and the new proofs on the way. I’m fairly confident the blurry issue has been fixed. (The disappearing torch has been rectified as well, don’t worry.)

Needless to say, my attention to detail training in writing has definitely paid off as I dig into producing The Adventure. Thank heavens!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Check out The Adventure Kickstarter!

Mental Shift

Mental Shift Blog Post

Writing’s a solitary activity. As Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed.”

That’s the initial process, at least. Close out the world and let the story reign. But then the book’s written and it either sits alone and unshared, or the writer must crack the door open.

With trembling fingers, she opens the door a bare inch and the feedback comes rolling in. Good, bad, ugly, tear worthy, but then, as before, the writer either sits on the feedback, letting it fester, or the writer continues forward, opening the door an inch wider.

On down the path the writer goes until she looks back and realizes, the door’s no longer on its hinges and the story can’t be shoved into the privacy of her room even if she wanted it to be.

This is the publishing process.

The scary, thrill filled process that takes a story from its initial secluded setting to something that can be enjoyed for years to come. Writing may be solitary, but publishing is not. And I’m coming to realize it shouldn’t be.

My stubborn side wants to resist, wants to insist that I, the writer, can do it all by my lonesome self. The world does not work that way, however. It’s an interconnected muddle of human activity that can be both intimidating and fulfilling.

As I’ve dug into the ins-and-outs of publishing so far, I’m coming to cherish the muddle. There are connections I didn’t even realize I had, connections that span more years than I care to calculate, that are now coming into play. People are insanely generous. They want to help, and my stubborn internal idiot needs to step aside, humble itself, and continue asking those people for their amazing talents.

In a nutshell, that’s how I’ve found my editor, both illustrators, the amazing woman who is working on my book trailer and so many other people.

Going from the solitary writer, drinking her coffee in her writing cave, to the socially connected Independant-publisher is a difficult shift, especially for a self proclaimed introvert. But as with all my dreams so far, I cannot achieve them on my own. And it’s wholly more satisfying to share the journey with others.

Share the journey, the adventure, no matter what your dreams are. What adventures have you experienced lately?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Join Me in the Adventure?

Join Me in the Adventure blog post

I’M BACK! Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to shout.

It’s crazy how fast time flies! Especially when you set yourself a goal that you really want to achieve.

To recap:

This year involves The Adventure to Achieve a Life-Long Dream. In other words, my goal is to publish a book. Thus, why I’ve not been posting. I’ve been figuring out why it TAKES SO LONG to produce a beautiful book. A traditionally published book can take 18 to 24 months to hit the shelves.

With self publishing, or Independant publishing, this can move a lot faster…but to do it well, you have to slow down to learn the ins and outs because there are a lot of details involved. (Once I learn all the shenanigans, things should run more smoothly). But to give you an idea of my process so far, I feel like a Jack Russell puppy chasing a group of squirrels.

Now…

It’s starting to come together to the point that I can see the finished product emerging from the flying fur. MY EXCITEMENT KNOWS NO BOUNDS! (Oops, sorry, there’s the shouting again.)

If you’d like to join me, I’d love to share this adventure with you. For progress details, check out The Adventure Page.

Otherwise, I’ll be posting stuff as I learn it in the coming days. Hope to see you around =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

(P.S. The book’s titled The Adventure.)