Yes, I admit it, I wear glasses, and yes they do fog up when I’m wearing a mask, so I thought this method looked promising. I haven’t tried it, yet, so I’d love some feedback:
Yes, I admit it, I wear glasses, and yes they do fog up when I’m wearing a mask, so I thought this method looked promising. I haven’t tried it, yet, so I’d love some feedback:
How do I know? This is a screenshot from the download site for the progress bar. It shows what the plugin looks like after it’s installed:
For newer bloggers, that’s the old Admin. Dashboard. With WordPress.com you cannot add anything to the Dashboard menu. Nothing. Zip. Rien. Therefore, the screenshot must be of the WordPress.org dashboard. And that means us Freebloggers can’t use the progress bar. -cries quietly-
While looking for something else entirely, I discovered a WordPress widget called ‘Gallery’. And voila! There it is on the sidebar to the right. The images are a little small, but it’s nice to be able to do something useful with all those faces!
And the gallery provides a nice introduction to the price change for the Innerscape Omnibus. In line with most other bundles on Amazon, I’ve raised the price to $5.99. This price point makes it slightly cheaper than buying each book separately, and it allows me to do ‘specials’ every now and then without having to do an exclusive via KDP.
And finally a word about the widget I was actually looking for – a word count progress bar: https://abtoolz.alanpetersen.com/wip-progress-bar/
The instructions mention that you can get this app via the WordPress widgets. That’s not quite right. It is not available on the free, WordPress.com widget page. I assume it will be available to the paid WordPress.org sites. If someone could check that out for me I’d be eternally grateful!
Still on the progress bar, there is a manual way of inserting it into your blog but I haven’t tried it out yet. If I get it to work, I’ll post a mini how-to about it. Alternately, if someone out there gets it to work, please post some instructions, preferably with pictures so we can all start using it!
Ahem, and the reason I want that progress bar is because, as Robert Chazz Chute says:
‘The meters really get me amped and moving. I don’t want to see a static progress bar and measurement gives me a sense of momentum. That which cannot be measured will not be improved.’https://chazzwrites.com/2020/07/13/two-simple-tools-that-work-for-writers/
Like Robert, I’m all betwixt and between at the moment. Once I sit down and start writing, I’m okay, but getting myself to that point has never been this hard before. I know what’s causing at least part of the problem – that miserable virus – but knowing and ignoring are two very different things. So, I’m hoping a progress bar will give me that little bit of extra incentive to ignore the outside world and escape into Vokhtah again.
Okay, I feel as if I’ve been productive enough. Time for some lunch. Cheers!
The following how-to uses the WordPress interface [as at July, 2020], not the old Admin. Dashboard. When you’re done, you’ll end up with a small, slideshow of images that can be quite effective at catching the eye of casual visitors.
You will need at least one sidebar in your theme – i.e. a visible area next to or below the spot at which your blog posts normally appear. I have two sidebars on my theme and they both appear to the right of the blog post area:
My particular theme also allows me to have a ‘footer’ bar, and this is where I’m going to put my slideshow.
Next, you will need to have images to place in your slideshow. Yes, obvious, I know, but you will need to:
Once all the images have been uploaded* to your media library, you’re ready to begin:
As mentioned earlier, my particular theme has three such areas and they look like this:
Finally, select the area in which you want your gallery [Widget] to appear. For me it was ‘Footer Widget Area’.
You should now see a button for ‘+ Add a Widget’. Click it to be taken to a list of available widgets [listed in alphabetical order]:
Scroll down the list until you reach ‘Gallery’. Select it. You should now see the gallery widget, ready for you to use:
Type a title for your gallery [because you can have more than one], and then click the ‘Add Images’ area as shown above [big red arrow].
You should now see the images in your Media Library. Unfortunately, there is no helpful message to tell you what to do next. A simple ‘Select an image’ would have been so helpful…ahem.
Click the first image you want to include in your gallery. Don’t worry about the order because you can change that later.
On the right of the library of images you will now see a box for adding information about the image you have chosen. Type in the title and…
DO. NOT. CLICK. ‘Add a New Gallery’ ! ! ! This is not how you complete the selection of your first image! ! !
Okay, I’m really going to get grumpy here with the WordPress developers. Not giving any clues as to where bloggers are supposed to go next is just asking for trouble. Most people are not mind readers. Really poor design.
To complete the selection of the first image and go on to select a second image…just click another image. Yes, I know, about as intuitive as a kick to the head.
Continuing clicking images until you have selected all the images you want to place in your slideshow. At this point, mine looked like this:
Down the bottom of the screenshot you can see the six images I chose. The bit on the right shows details for the last image I chose. I added a title for clarity, but you will get a chance to add a caption later. Last but not least, there is the blue ‘Create a new gallery’ button. Now you can click it.
The next screen will be the ‘Edit Gallery’ page. Here you can re-order the sequence of images by dragging and dropping them into the correct position. You can also add captions to each image and change the size of the image [Thumbnail is the default]:
I only added two captions to these images, but I did move the image for The Vintage Egg to the end of the list.
When I was happy with the sequence of images, I clicked the small down arrow next to ‘Type’ to show the available display options [the default is Thumbnail Grid]. Down the bottom of the list is ‘Slideshow’. Click it and then click the blue ‘Insert gallery’ button as shown.
Almost done! You should now be looking at a preview screen. As my gallery is in the footer, I had to scroll all the way to the bottom to see it working:
If the preview doesn’t work as expected, click the ‘Edit Gallery’ button to the left of the preview. If everything does work as expected, click ‘Done’ [to save the gallery].
Finally, click ‘Save Changes’ to save the whole lot.
To exit from the customize area, click either the back button or the ‘X’ button [to the left of Save Changes].
Apologies for making this such a long how-to, but I wanted it to be suitable for even the newest blogger. And some of the interface was down right murky.
p.s. this post was created using the block editor. To get the * asterisks down the bottom to show as asterisks [instead of automatically beginning a bullet point list], I had to press the spacebar a couple of times. Apparently this ‘told’ the block editor that I wanted to stay in the paragraph block. -rolls eyes-
* Please contact me in Comments if you need help getting to this step.
** Widgets are small ‘apps’ that you can insert into your blog to make it work the way you want it to. Widgets can include anything from images and buttons to galleries and links. Widgets can only be placed in certain areas of your blog. Those areas will depend upon the type of theme you chose when you first created your blog.
That’s what I said to myself at 8am this morning when I turned my desktop computer on, and it promptly turned itself off again.
Actually, if I’m to be completely honest, I said quite a few things, most of which only had four letters, but let’s not get too precious about it. I was panicked, and my second thought was…how on earth would I live without the internet? And my writing? And my music? Oh god…and no ESO?
Then I thought to touch the top of the computer, near where the CPU is located. It was warm. It should not have been warm, not after less than a minute of being switched on.
And this is when the baby geek in me stepped up and said, “Dust.”
Baby Geek was right. There was dust all over the top of the computer. Not surprising really, considering that it sits on the floor, surrounded by small, hairy beasts:
Those two small beasts, plus Harry, another small feline beast, share the office with me, and they all shed. And if that wasn’t enough, my window faces north. When it was open over the summer, it let in a lot of smoke and dust, all of which would have been sucked into the desktop via the fans [internal] designed to keep it cool.
For those who don’t know, the average desktop computer is air cooled. Mine has two large fans located under those grills, which circulate air inside the box. I also have a small fan that sits on top of the CPU [the brain of the computer] and two more that sit on top of the GPU [graphics processing unit or video card]. Those two units are the most critical components of a pc, and if they overheat, the computer will automatically shut down.
I knew all this, but I still wondered, would this be the time when it wasn’t the pc overheating? If it was something more serious, how would I get it fixed?
After fortifying myself with a second cup of coffee, I set up the vacuum cleaner and my paint brushes and got to work. For those who are interested, this is a post I wrote some time ago about how to safely clean the inside of a desktop computer. If any of you are in the same predicament, please read the post carefully. You do NOT want to just stick the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner inside the guts of a pc. That would be a very, very bad idea!
To cut a long story short, I cleaned the computer, and it started up like a dream. Now, it’s purring away as if it had never tried to give me heart failure. Beast…
I hope your start to the day was better than mine. Have fun and stay well. 🙂
I haven’t written any how-to’s on how to create an ebook because I assumed there were countless how-to’s out there already. I was both right and wrong; there are lots of people providing helpful information about text-based ebooks such as novels, but there are not that many devoted to graphics heavy ebooks.
This distinction was brought home to me when one of my blogging friends needed help with a picture book. He was trying to create an ebook with both pictures and carefully formatted text.
It can be done, but the digital technology we have at the moment is limited when it comes to integrating text and graphics.
Before I start on possible solutions, and/or workarounds, I want to explain what those limitations are, and why they cause problems with graphics heavy ebooks.
Ordinary ebooks are great with text but just barely okay with pictures. That’s because they’re not really ‘books’ at all. They’re more like rolls of toilet paper with words projected onto them. The story literally unrolls in an ebook.
This has significant advantages. For starters, as ereaders don’t care about the size or number of words shown on their screens, the reader can make those words as big, or small, as they please…for the whole ‘book’. I use this feature all the time because my eyesight ain’t what it used to be.
Unfortunately, the very flexibility of ebooks can create problems when it comes to adding pictures to the text. Pictures don’t ‘flow’ the way text does, so getting them to fit the screen requires that they be sized for the screen.
But which screen? There are dozens of different digital devices from smartphones to dedicated ereaders to tablets of various sizes. Making an image to fit one screen almost guarantees that it won’t quite fit another.
Another problem with pictures is that not all digital devices are in colour. Dedicated ereaders, such as ordinary Kindles and Paperwhites, only do grayscale.
To display a picture in colour, the digital device has to be some kind of tablet [like the Kindle Fire] or a mobile phone. So again, which device should you optimise for?
And finally, because of their ability to ‘flow’ the text, ebooks don’t do precise formatting. Unfortunately, graphics heavy books like memoirs, cookbooks, picture books etc, look best when the formatting is controlled and the pictures are in colour.
To work around this fundamental problem with ebook design, Amazon created a number of specialist programs:
I took a quick peek at Kindle Kids, and I couldn’t quite work out what it was doing [the manual approach]. I suspect it’s a lot easier if you use the PDF option and simply pour everything into the app in one go.
Of the three, Kindle Create is the one I find most useful. In its current iteration, it is actually two programs in one:
This version of Kindle Create allows you to include all the standard elements of a book as well as pictures, but all you can do with pictures is adjust the size, and sometimes the location. That’s it. You can make the image small, medium, large, or full, but you can only adjust the placement of small or medium images. Large and full images seem to be placed automatically and can’t be changed.
One nice thing is that Kindle Create automatically wraps the text around the image as shown below:
But again, only if the image is small or medium.
This does not constitute ‘total control’ over the way text and images display, but it’s not bad. More importantly, when I did a preview of the page, it seemed to display quite well on tablet, phone and Kindle devices.
Something I was not expecting was that the colour image was automatically changed to grayscale on a Kindle device:
Given that this option works with standard .doc or .docx documents, I was pleasantly surprised by how it put everything ‘together’.
For the sake of clarity, I’m going to call the second option of Kindle Create by its old name – Textbook Creator.
Textbook Creator doesn’t try to integrate text and pictures at all. It creates an ebook out of a sequence of pictures.
If you’re nodding your head and saying, “Ah, she’s talking about PDFs”, you’d be right.
To quote from one of my own how-to’s:
PDF stands for Portable Document Format. With PDF documents, each page is like a ‘snapshot’ of the original Word page. That’s why it’s called WSIWYG – what-you-see-is-what-you-get.
Basically, everything on the Word page becomes a composite ‘picture’ that cannot change. This is how you make sure that what appears on the screen of the digital device is exactly the same as what you originally created, including the positioning of both graphics and text.
It’s the difference between ‘some control’ and ‘total control’.
“But…PDFs can’t be edited.”
That would normally be true, if you were dealing with a PDF document as a whole. But Textbook Creator cuts the original PDF document into its component pages, and each one those pages can be swapped out, individually.
To make this a bit clearer, let’s say you have imported a 20 page PDF document into Textbook Creator. Then you discover that you made a small error on page 15.
Rather than redoing the whole, 20 page document, you can:
Okay, I admit the process is convoluted, but it does make working with PDFs a little less frustrating.
The text in the ebook created by Textbook Creator cannot be resized. You can pinch-and-zoom to see details at a larger size, but you cannot specify that the text in the entire ebook be at a certain size.
This means that the original document has to be designed in such a way that it will suit most readers and most ereaders.
In paperbacks, this is kind of standard, and expected, but not so in digital devices. Plus getting the document to fit can be rather tricky.
As mentioned before, there are a lot of different ereaders out there, and screen sizes are not the same either. Designing a document to fit all of them is a case of picking something ‘average’ and basing the sizing on that.
But what do I mean by ‘sizing’?
The easiest way to explain is to show you. The following is a preview of this post, in Textbook creator:
Can you see how tiny the text below the image is?
All I did was export a standard Word file to PDF and then import that PDF into Textbook Creator. The font size of the Word document is 12.
Now have a look at this preview. Same document but with a font size of 28:
To get the document to display like that, I had to radically change how the Word document was setup. Basicallly, I simulated the Kindle Fire screen in Word so that I could place text and images to their best advantage.
The following screenshots show my page setup in Word 16.
1. Paper size
The dimensions circled in orange create a page size that exactly fits the screen of my Kindle Fire 6.
Again, those margins are designed to make reading the Kindle Fire 6 screen visually ‘comfortable’ without wasting too much space.
Note: there are no settings selected in Layout. You need clean, minimal formatting in the original Word document. This includes not using things we normally take for granted, such as manual ‘spacing’.
For best results, you should always create styles – for the effects you must have – and use only those styles in the formatting.
Because Word is an old program, and Microsoft never throws anything away, it simply buries it under new code. This means that there is a lot of…[expletive deleted]…junk in Word that lurks in the background and can seriously mess with other programs that attempt to read/use Word documents. So keeping the document ‘clean’ is important.
But wait…there’s more. Remember how I said I’d changed the font size to 28? The next screenshot is of the Normal Style I created just for Kindle Fire 6 documents:
I can’t tell you why translating text from Word to a small digital device shrinks the text. All I know is that it does, and we have to manually compensate for it.
The other thing you might want to notice is that the alignment is set to ‘Justified’. Not only does it make the text look more professional, it also saves space on the screen.
To change the Normal Style on your own version of Word, right click on the style [on the Ribbon] and select ‘Modify’ from the drop down list of options [see here for step-by-step details]. That will get you to the Modify Style dialog box shown above.
Once the Modify dialog box is open, change the font size and alignment and then click ‘Save’.
We should now have a document that is optimised for an ebook.
Once the Word document is as perfect as we can make it, save the document as a Word file, and then Export it as a PDF.
Your book is now ready to import into Textbook Creator.
In my next post, I’ll talk about the Textbook Creator software.
Although it’s always preferable to edit images using dedicated graphics software, it’s often necessary to do minor edits once the images have been inserted into a Word document. This is especially true after the A4 Word document has been converted into the required paperback size [trim size].
In this post, we’ll look at basic image editing tasks you may have to perform in Word 16.
To select an image in Word 16, simply click it.
You should now see a frame and circular ‘handles’ around the outer edge of the image:
All of the handles will resize the image, but only the corner handles will keep it in proportion.
To decrease the size of the image, hover the mouse over one of the corner handles until the mouse pointer changes to a diagonal arrow.
Click-hold-and-drag the handle into the middle of the image.
To increase the size of the image, drag the corner handle away from the image.
Cropping allows you to cut away the unwanted parts of an image. This technique is particularly useful if you want to create a ‘close up’ of one particular detail, or when the details are too small to see clearly, but the image itself is already at the maximum size for your page.
To illustrate this point, have a look at the two screenshots below:
In the first screenshot, you can barely see the ‘Crop’ option. You certainly can’t see any details about it. In the second screenshot, only part of the Ribbon is visible, but the ‘Crop’ option is shown in ‘close-up’ and is easy to read.
First, click the image to select it.
This will cause the image frame to be displayed. It will also make the ‘Picture Tools’ tab available on the Ribbon.
If the tab is not open, click Format as shown below:
You should now see the ‘Crop’ option on the far right of the tab:
To crop the selected image, click the Crop icon [not the word or arrow] on the Ribbon.
The image will now display the distinctive black, crop handles:
Point the mouse at one of the crop handles until it changes shape and looks like a smaller version of the crop handle:
Click-hold-and-drag the handle towards the middle of the image.
When you release the mouse button, the grey area visible in the background represents the area of the image that will be cropped:
To complete the crop process, click the Crop icon on the Ribbon again.
Once the image has been cropped, click it again and use the corner ‘handle’ to make the image bigger. This basically creates your ‘close-up’.
Depending on how you originally inserted your image into Word, changing the page setup of your document may mean that you also have to re-align the image on the page.
The first step is to click the image to select it.
Next, point the mouse at the image. When the mouse changes to a four-headed arrow, click-hold-and-drag the image to a new location:
If the image won’t move, it means that the default ‘Wrap Text’ setting – i.e. In-line with Text – is still in force. This setting locks the image to the text at its current location.
To ‘unlock’ the image, open ‘Format’ on the Picture Tools tab:
Next, click Wrap Text to display the menu of text wrapping options. In the example shown, ‘In Line with Text’ is the active wrap text setting. You can find detailed pictures and descriptions of the wrap text settings here.
To select one of the other Wrap Text options, click the icon next to it. Depending on which option you chose, you should now be able to move the image on the page.
Borders are not necessary, but if the image contains a lot of white space, a border can give the image more definition.
To place a border around an image, click the image to select it, then click Picture Border on the Ribbon as shown below:
A small, drop down menu of Picture Border options is displayed. These include Border colour, line thickness and line style:
Colour – click one of the colours on the palette to select that colour for the border.
No Outline – click to remove the border around the image.
More Outline Colors – Click to display extra colour palettes from which to choose the line colour of the Border.
Weight – click to display a menu of line thicknesses. Click one to select a different thickness for the Border.
Dashes – click to display a menu of line styles – e.g. dots and dashes etc. Click one to select a different line style for the Border.
In the next post we’ll look at creating captions for images.
I’ve just unpublished ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’.
It’s not the first book I’ve unpublished – I had to unpublish the two CreateSpace versions after CreateSpace ceased to exist. Nevertheless, hitting that ‘Unpublish’ button on KDP felt very odd, especially as I’m not sure whether I’ll ever republish in the same way again.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I unpublished the KDP how-to book because it was first published in 2018, and parts of it were now quite out-of-date. KDP only made a few changes, but Thorpe-Bowker [the agent for ISBNs in Australia], and the National Library of Australia, had both completely changed their websites. I would have to update much of the second and third parts of the how-to, and basically create a ‘second edition’ of the book.
Unfortunately, when you create a second edition of a book, you have to publish it with a new ISBN, and that costs money. Given that I haven’t earned a single cent from the how-to, it didn’t make sense to invest yet more money into a project that no body seemed to want.
Around about this point, I sat down and did some hard thinking.
Was the how-to bad? Was the Kindle Fire version too restrictive? Was the paperback too expensive?
Or could it be that people have grown used to finding information online? For free?
Given how much research I do online, for free, I could hardly fault others for doing the same thing. So I had to decide whether to keep flogging that poor dead horse, or move with the times. I chose to move with the times and publish the entire how-to, online, for free on my blog.
Was this a completely altruistic decision? Hah… -cough-
The truth is, self-publishing is hard. Making yourself visible on Amazon is hard. Selling your books and making money is next to impossible unless you’re:
I suck at the first three, but I am good at teaching people how to do things. At least half of all the people who visit my blog are there for one of my how-to posts. So if that’s my strength, how do I translate it into increased visibility for the rest of my work?
Honestly, by the time I got to that question, the answer was pretty obvious – the smart thing would be to self-publish the how-to on the blog and hope that increased exposure would lead to…something. -shrug-
I’m realistic enough to know that very few of the people who come for my how-to posts stay to chat, or buy my science fiction. But you have to work with what you have. Besides, I’ve put so much work into my how-to books I’m damned if I’ll let them sink into complete obscurity.
So, allow me to introduce you to the new, updated, 2020 edition of ‘How to print your novel with Kindle Direct Publishing. -points to sidebar on the right-
Clicking that image should take you to a Table of Contents which contains all the links to all the sections/chapters of the how-to. Alternatively, you can click the link below: