Tag Archives: POD

Vokhtah – cover reveal and an excerpt

First and foremost, the cover!

The blurb on the back cover hasn’t scaled properly, but that’s okay as the image used for the actual print cover will be the right size. The width of the spine will be adjusted as well, once I’ve got the trim size/page count finalised. Other than those small changes, the cover is done. 🙂

Oddly enough, the thing that gave me the most trouble with the cover was the red dwarf sun. Even as a binary, it will never look that big, but I had to take liberties with the size in order to make the image tell a graphical ‘story’. Getting the colour and ‘haze’ to look okay was hard too. Overall though, I am really, really pleased. I wanted something that looked more obviously sci-fi, and I think I got it. I also wanted the figure to be ‘brooding’ without giving too much away. The one thing I will say is that the figure is not wearing a cloak. 😀

And now for that excerpt. I rarely post excerpts because they rarely work well divorced from their context, but…well, I really like this scene. -shrug- To provide a little bit of context, the Yellow is the most powerful Healer in the Guild of Healers, and it’s also one of the bad guys. 🙂

The Yellow

“Forgiveness Honoured,” the young healer said as it skidded to a halt a respectful distance from the Yellow Councillor. “Traders confirming Messenger looking like Blue leaving with last caravan two circuits ago.”

The stocky, powerfully built iVokh standing over by the table continued studying the deep blue gem in its hand for a moment longer before turning to face the young healer.

“And Junior of Needlepoint?”

The question sounded casual, almost to the point of disinterest, however the young healer knew its master too well to ever mistake self-control for indifference.

“Junior being too… mmm…sick to leave with caravan,” it said carefully. “Triad estimating not being fit to travel for five, maybe six more circuits.”

* * *

The Yellow’s expression did not change, however there was a slight jerkiness to its movements as it dropped the gem, and its chain, into a pouch. It pulled the drawstring tight with a vicious snap of its wrists.

It had known the Master’s ridiculous story had to be true from the moment it had seen the Blue’s gem, lying abandoned on the table. But still, it had hoped. Now that hope was gone.

The Blue had made fools of them all by doing the unthinkable, and by now it had a two day head start. However it would soon discover that it was not the only one capable of doing the unexpected.

Turning towards the Master Timekeeper, who stood silently wringing its hands by the wall, the Yellow flicked its fingers in dismissal and waited in stony silence as the Master shuffled out backwards. The fool would have to be given a suitable reward for its incompetence, but for now it could wait; there were more pressing matters to deal with.

Throwing the pouch at the feet of the young healer, the Yellow said, “Taking that to Blue faction and then returning to Traders. Informing Quartermaster that Council needing special escort for Junior. Caravan must leaving at first-light on the morrow.”

“But Honoured—” the young healer began. Its cilia locked shut a moment after the words were out, but of course by then the damage was done.

“S’so?” the Yellow asked, its voice deceptively mild.

“N-nothing, Honoured…”

“Perhaps thinking needing authorisation, mmm?” the Yellow asked, knowing full well that was not what its assistant had been thinking at all.

The young healer blanched, making the finger-length scar beneath its left eye stand out even more. Nevertheless, its shoulders remained straight as it gave a silent nod.

The Yellow narrowed its eyes as it dropped a small yellow shard onto the sand at its feet. Authorisation. And a lesson in humility.

The young healer bent and slowly reached for the gem. The tips of its fingers were just curling around the shard when the Yellow’s foot descended on its hand.

“Being grateful for reminder,” the Yellow said in a genial tone as it ground the healer’s hand into the sand.

* * *

Crouched at the Yellow’s feet, the young healer knew better than to move, or make a sound, however it could not stop the sheen of sweat that suddenly broke out all over its body.

Only after the Yellow finally raised its foot and strode from the cavern, did the young healer release the keen of pain it had been holding back.

As it rose, cradling its bruised fingers against its chest, it spat on the ground where the Yellow’s feet had been. Then it fumbled the gem shard into the tiny bag it wore around its neck, gathered up the pouch and left at a quick trot.

On a different, but related note, you might be interested in this amazing article about Iron Age jewellery:

http://www.blog.poppyporter.co.uk/wordpress/2018/05/08/the-celtic-torc-how-iconic-iron-age-treasure-is-beginning-to-weave-its-magic-into-my-jewellery/

[My thanks to Dawn of Dawn Gill Designs for the link to that amazing article]

Even if you don’t have time to read the whole article, have a look at this:

Electrum torc with ornamented terminals. The torc is made from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread is 1.9mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make 8 separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds. The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes. The terminals are ornamented with embossed ridges, contrasting with areas filled by chased 'basket-work'.

That, my friends, is the Snettisham Great Torc, and it was made about 2000 years ago! Just goes to show what so-called primitive people can achieve. It also confirms that it would be possible for the iVokh, despite their low level of technology, to craft the kind of jewellery I’ve written into the story.

That may sound like nit-picking, but I believe that authenticity in the little things makes the big things easier to believe. And let’s face, I’m asking people to believe in flying, psychopathic aliens that happen to be hermaphrodites! lol I need all the help I can get. 😀

cheers

Meeks


#KDP Cover Creator – in words and pictures

After reviewing the Amazon KDP print-on-demand process, and finding it wanting, I thought I’d better provide a guide to the Cover Creator do’s and don’ts.

To begin…

If you have already published an ebook with KDP:

  1. Log in to KDP
  2. Go to your Bookshelf
  3. Find the ebook for which you want to create a paperback version and click ‘+ Create Paperback’

If you have not published with KDP before but have an ordinary Amazon account, go to the website:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

And sign in with your Amazon ID and Password. If you don’t have an Amazon account, click the big, yellow ‘Sign Up’ button and follow the registration instructions.

Once you’ve logged in to KDP, click the ‘+ Paperback’ button as shown below:

To work…

You should now be looking at the first page of the paperback setup screen. New authors will need to fill in the required details before they click ‘Save and Continue’ at the bottom of the screen. Existing authors will find the details already filled in using the details from the ebook.

Page 2 of the setup contains more questions, and down near the bottom half of the page you’ll find the Cover Creator option:

Click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button if you want to use the app to create a cover for your book.

[Note: if you already have a cover, you can upload it by clicking the ‘Upload a cover you already have…’ radio button instead. Covers must be in PDF format and they must be the appropriate size for whichever trim size you have chosen – i.e. for the physical dimensions of your book, including the spine]

You should now be looking at the ‘How to Use Cover Creator’ window:

This is essentially just an overview of the process. Click the ‘Continue’ button.

Next, you will be asked to choose a background picture for your cover. You have three options – use a free, KDP image, use your own image or skip this step:

Point at the options to see a description of that option. If you want to use your own image, click ‘From My Computer’ and select the appropriate file to use in the templates. If you’re not ready to select an image yet, click ‘Skip This Step’. You will be prompted later to select an image for the cover. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be using the free images from the KDP gallery.

From Image Gallery…

The images in the KDP gallery are organised in categories. When you select one of the main categories listed on the left hand side of the window, the sub-categories will display on the right hand side. In the example shown below, the main category selected is ‘Backgrounds’:

Clicking one of the sub-categories will take you to the actual images. In the example shown below, I clicked on one of the images from the ‘Abstract’ sub-category:

Alternatively, I could have typed a keyword into the search box to narrow down my search.

Once you find the image you want, click the orange ‘Use this Image’ button.

Cover Creator inserts the chosen image into all of the available templates and displays them for you to choose the one you like the best:

Click the left and right direction arrows to see all the available templates [11]. When you find one you like, click it.

You should now be looking at the ‘Quick Tutorial’:

This is just a simple overlay that explains the purpose of the buttons, icons and guidelines. Click the ‘Dismiss’ button to get rid of the overlay.

While the overlay is helpful, it completely ignores the most basic elements of the screen – i.e. how to enter your own blurb on the back cover!

When you dismiss the tutorial overlay, this is what you will see:

The triangular orange alerts are there to tell you how to replace the nonsense text with real text. Point to an alert to see a description of what it’s about. Generally, to replace the nonsense text, simply click in the relevant paragraph. This will clear all text and allow you to type, or copy/paste, the correct text onto the cover.

Easy, right? Not quite. For reasons I can’t fathom, the default font size for the paragraphs is not the same as the text shown. For example, the font for the author bio is huge, so before you type in the blurb, you have to set the font style and size via the editing bar as shown below:

Click the small down arrow to display the list of available fonts. Click a font to select it.

Next, click the small down arrow next to ‘Auto Fit’ and select a font size because…auto fit doesn’t work and the font is still huge. As far as I could tell, selecting the size of the font is a case of trial and error. The alignment options seem to work, as do the font colour and drop shadow options, but no matter what I tried, the Bold and Italic options remained greyed out.

Once you have all the back cover text entered properly, click on the ‘Author Photo’ icon. You will see two options – ‘From My Computer’ and ‘Skip This Step’:

Down the very bottom, in tiny blue letters, you should also see a link to the ‘KDP image guidelines’. -grinds teeth- Clearly this screen has been re-used without adjusting for context. Clicking this link does provide some very important information about cover images – i.e. if you choose to use your own image – but it provides absolutely nothing about the Author Photo. Luckily, Cover Creator resizes the Author Photo to fit automatically.

But… All photos are not equal. First I tried a photo of 527 x 532 pixels, and it worked perfectly. Then I tried a much smaller one – 157 x 202 pixels. Cover Creator inserted it into the available space but came back with a problem. It thought the photo was less than 300 DPI. Actually, both photos were 300 DPI so the size had clearly triggered some glitch.

For your information, the following photo size seems to work well:

500 x 500 pixels or

1.667 x 1.667 inches or

42.33 x 42.33 millimeters

With the blurb and Author Photo taken care of, it’s time to edit the rest of the template. First up are the template colours. Click the paintbrush tab beneath your cover:

This will display an editing bar:

The options on the left allow you to select each colour individually from a pallet of colours. The options on the right are colour sets that work well together. If you are choosing your colours individually, be very careful that the background and font colour are a good contrast to each other. If they are too similar, the text will be very hard to read.

The next tab is the layout tab:

Clicking this tab displays a selection of preset layouts:

And finally, there’s the font tab:

This option is for Title, Sub-title [if you want one] and Author Name. It provides a series of font ‘sets’:

Click the left and right arrows to see all the sets, and try them out. Click one to select it.

[Note: I’m not sure if the fonts were all very similar or I’m just going blind, but they all looked the same the me. Of course, this might be a display glitch…]

If you want to insert a sub-title, you have to click around the cover until the sub-title text box suddenly appears. Kind of lame. Type in your sub-title.

Although finding the sub-title is not intuitive at all, one nice feature is that you can select any piece of text – e.g. Title, Sub-title, Blurb, Spine etc – and change its colour using the Text Colour option on the editing bar:

 

You can also change the font and font size, which makes me wonder why you’d bother with a Text tab in the first place. -shrug-

When you’ve finished tweaking the cover, click the ‘Preview’ button and sit back while the system puts the finished preview together. Depending on how big the cover files are, this can take a while.

If you’re satisfied with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button at the bottom of the preview screen:

The cover file will be saved automatically, and you can continue with the rest of the setup for your print book.

I hope this helps,

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


Tips & Tricks for CreateSpace

The following tips can all be found on Twitter, but I thought people might want to see them all in one place. A few are for Aussie authors only and are shown in green.

PRINTING Tips 4 Absolute Beginners

  1. Print-On-Demand is new tech that allows books to be printed one at a time instead of in hundreds.
  2. Print-On-Demand means authors don’t have to buy 100’s of their own print books.
  3. 3 biggest Print-On-Demand printers are CreateSpace [Amazon], Lulu and IngramSpark.
  4. Print-On-Demand works with standard trim sizes only. For table of trim sizes see : https://www.createspace.com/Special/Pop/book_trimsizes-pagecount.html
  5. Trim size = physical size of book after pages glued inside cover & trimmed.
  6. Page size templates for all trim sizes can be found on CreateSpace forums: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323
  7. Convert Word A4 pages to trim size pages via the Word Page Setup dialog box.
  8. ISBN = 13 digit no. that identifies your book worldwide.
  9. Buy your own ISBN or accept the free one offered by CreateSpace.
  10. In Oz you can buy ISBN from Thorpe-Bowker or accept free one from CreateSpace.
  11. As a rule of thumb, print, ebook & audiobooks all need their own ISBN unless you publish via Amazon.
  12. Books printed via CreateSpace are listed on Amazon automatically.
  13. To publish Kindle ebooks go to: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
  14. Amazon supplies ebooks with ASIN identifiers so ISBN not strictly necessary.
  15. If you want to ‘go wide’ & sell with other retailers as well as Amazon, your own ISBN is a must.
  16. CreateSpace will not accept Word documents. It accepts only PDF files.
  17. File/Export completed Word doc. to PDF. Then upload that PDF to CreateSpace. 
  18. With CreateSpace, royalty = List Price – Print costs.
  19. With CreateSpace, Print costs= Sales Channel % + Fixed Charges + Per Page Charge.
  20. With CreateSpace, Standard sales channel % = 40% of List Price, Expanded sales channel % = 60%. 
  21. Spine of cover = trim size & no. of pages. See: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do 
  22. Total page no. of book = pages AFTER conversion to chosen trim size [not A4 Word pages].
  23. Amazon deducts 30% withholding tax from each sale. Aussies can claim exemption to reduce tax to 5%.
  24. Withholding tax exemption: US TIN = Australian Tax File No.
  25. Aussie authors must deposit 1 copy of each published book with the National Library of Australia: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit
  26. Aussie authors must also deposit 1 copy of each published book with their state library: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit/australia-wide
  27. For Legal Deposit FAQ see:https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit-faq

I hope these tips provide some quick help if you’re stuck, or still trying to make sense of all the information out there on printing with CreateSpace.

And now for the obligatory book promotion:

If you want to print a ‘simple’ novel and need step-by-step help, you can buy my book – ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ – on Amazon. The book comes in an expensive, full-colour paperback OR in a very inexpensive, full-colour ebook:

Clicking the image will take you to my Amazon Author Central page as the Look Inside feature isn’t working.

The only Another problem with the ebook version is that it will only work on the Kindle Fire tablets or via the Kindle app [on other tablets and pcs].

After all the feedback I received on the colour screenshots vs the grayscale screenshots, I made the decision to stick with colour. But only the Fires have colour so…Sorry. 😦

Okay, the ‘How to…Novel’ contains literally everything you need to know about:

  • Preparing your novel in Word
  • Converting it to a PDF
  • Uploading that PDF to CreateSpace

That said, I’ve cut all extraneous options out to avoid confusing first-time Indies, but I did include some appendices at the back specifically for Australian authors. This one really is for absolute beginners.

But not everyone wants to print/publish a novel. Some people might want to publish a memoir full of family photos, or maybe a cookbook full of their favourite recipes. Unfortunately, non-fiction is a trickier beast than the ‘simple’ novel.

For non-fiction you will need:

  • A Table of Contents,
  • Captions for the photos/pictures
  • A Table of Figures for the captions,
  • An Index to make finding information easier
  • And possibly Headers for the main sections, to make ‘browsing’ easier.

All these high end functions can to be done in Microsoft Word [if you are using Word] but they’re not exactly easy as I discovered when I first began working on these ‘How-to’s’. So the second book – ‘How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace’ – is full of screenshots and examples [over 150] that walk not-so-expert Word users through all the trickier stuff:

Again, the Look Inside isn’t working so I’ve directed the image to take you to my Author page on Amazon.

As with many things though, just knowing what to do is rarely enough. The step-by-step method used in both ‘How-to’s’ lays out the exact sequence in which tasks are to be done in order to avoid some of pitfalls that can crop up in Word. For example, did you know that the Word Index function automatically inserts a Continuous Section Break at the start of the Index [table]? Well, it does, and this Continuous section break can play merry hell with any manual section breaks you may have applied.

So ‘How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace’ is not for the faint-hearted, however it, too, is available in both print and ebook format on Amazon. The same caveat re the Kindle Fire applies to the ebook version of ‘How to…Non-Fiction’ as well.

Thanks for bearing with me. Normal transmission now resumes with a picture of the forest of tomato plants growing on my deck:

I’m preparing for an orgy of Passata making!

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Self-Publishing with IngramSpark…or not

IngramSpark, probably the biggest print-on-demand publisher, has a facility right here in Melbourne [Australia].

“Yay! I can get copies of my books printed locally to save a huge amount on postage!”

That was me yesterday. Today I have steam coming out of my ears because the only way I can use IngramSpark is as a Sole Trader – and that involves getting an ABN. Apparently, IngramSpark does not deal with lowly self-publishers who can’t pretend to be a business.

For those not familiar with the term, ABN stands for Australian Business Number. I used to have one, about 15 years ago when I ran a micro business teaching computer skills one-on-one. In fact, apparently I still have one lurking somewhere, inactive and unusable, but still in the ‘system’. Somewhere.

I could hunt down my old ABN, but I don’t even know where to start and, bureaucracy being what it is, the process could take hours or days out of my life. That’s a lot of effort to go to just for the privilege of printing a few copies of my book here in Australia, especially when the only benefit to me is a saving on postage [Ingram’s printing costs are a lot higher than CreateSpace but postage from the US is the real killer].

Oh, and did I mention that you have to pay IngramSpark $53 AUD for the privilege of using their distribution services, even if you don’t actually intend to use them to distribute your books? Yup, that’s part of the setup process.

So if you’re an Aussie self-publisher, my advice is to give IngramSpark a miss. Unless you already have an active ABN…

-sound of teeth grinding-

Does anyone out there know of a reasonable PoD company here in Melbourne? Maybe a home-grown one that doesn’t charge the earth?

Meeks


Printing Resources for Melbourne Indie Authors

My thanks to Michelle Lovi, David Prosser, and Suzanne Newnham for all the wonderful information they shared with me. Armed with this information, I went researching and found some resources that may be of use to others as well.

The following are by no means all the POD printers there are in Melbourne, but they are the ones that seemed to provide the best match to my needs.

In order of discovery:

Bookpod

http://www.bookpod.com.au/book_printing.html

This printer is based in Melbourne and requires a minimum 10 books.

Print on Demand

http://www.printondemand.net.au/content/books-manuals-reports-training-materials

This printer is based in South Melbourne. No info. on costs or shipping.

Blurb Australia?

http://au.blurb.com/lp/make-a-book?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Google_AU_Printing_NonBrand_DesktopTablet_Beta_G&utm_term=%2Bprint%20%2Bbooks&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-KLXxMr91QIVxgoqCh0zvAS0EAAYASAAEgJDBvD_BwE

This company rang a bell, but when I investigated further, I discovered that you have to use their own proprietary software and fonts. And they only seem to offer one trim size : 6 x 9

Shipping – Express only. Cost in AUD 14.99 [that was for shipping only; no idea what the print costs would be on top of that].

The shipping cost is pretty much the same as for CreateSpace so I was disappointed. 😦

IngramSpark

http://www.ingramspark.com/

IngramSpark have an Australian print facility but they do not have an Australian website [yet]. This was very confusing and I spent about half an hour following links all over the place, trying to find the Aussie site.

In the end, I rang the Lightning Source phone number and the very nice voice at the other end explained that:

  • Lightning Source is for big print jobs
  • IngramSpark is for small to tiny print jobs
  • One account to bind them all
  • Printing processed according to actual, physical location – i.e. in Australia for Australian Indies.

So, to have your book printed in Australia [with IngramSpark], you have to setup an account via the international website [shown above]. Processing the print order is the same for everyone, everywhere, but if you’re in Australia, the printing and shipping will be done from /here/.

To check the shipping costs, click on the IngramSpark website, then click on Resources followed by Tools.

You will now see a whole range of tools available for selfpublishers – including templates and the shipping calculator. I had a little bit of trouble with the shipping calculator because it didn’t seem to like the page count of 370. -shrug- When I entered 380 instead, everything was fine. This is the info I entered for the calculator [the book is Nabatea]:

I have to say, the results made me very happy. 🙂

The shipping costs for 1 book gave this result:

The per book cost is almost double what the CreateSpace eStore would charge [buying at cost], however the shipping and handling work out to be more than 2/3 less. Thus, printing here works out to be quite a bit cheaper than shipping in 1 book from the US.

When I looked at 10 books, the savings were even greater:

The per book cost remains the same but so does the shipping! This means that each book costs only 44c to ship. Colour me laughing all the way to the bank. 😀

And finally, just out of curiosity, I looked up the cost of 100 books:

Clearly, the economies of scale just don’t stack up with POD as the reduction in per book cost was tiny. Nevertheless, it was heartening to see that the shipping costs worked out to be 25c per book.

So there you have it. The local copies of the Innerscape saga will be printed here in Australia, by IngramSpark. This will mean another learning curve for me, but even that has an upside as I’ll be able to publish a second how-to book titled “How to print your book [using Word and IngramSpark]”. lol

I may even offer workshops as well… Guess who’s going to be a very busy girl? -dance-

Hope this is of use to others out there.

cheers

Meeks

 


Pod accommodation – in India

I first read about capsule accommodation in the 1970s when the first one opened in Japan. The amenities were pretty basic and that memory informed the creation of ‘short term transit pods’ in Innerscape. But time moves on, and the humble, claustrophobic pod has become high tech, finding takers in some of the world’s largest, and not so large, cities.

If you follow the link below it will take you to an article about the new pod hostel that opened in Mumbai, India. The photos look quite amazing with push button everything:

https://scroll.in/magazine/834487/a-night-at-indias-first-capsule-hotel-shows-that-mumbais-space-crunch-is-now-a-hospitality-fad

The article also gives a nod to the ‘Tiny Homes’ movement which I’ve featured before. And just in case you thought this could not happen in your city, think again. Pod hostels have now sprung up in China, Iceland and…ta dah…Australia, amongst others. You can find some interesting titbits in the video clip right at the end of the article.

I’m still not sure if I’d be able to lock myself in and sleep in a pod, but I’d love to try one on for size…just for fun. Then, I’d traipse off to a nice big hotel room and thank my stars I can afford it. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Libraries as publishers?

The Windsor Public Library [in Canada] may be the first [?] library to create paperbacks for Indies, but I suspect it won’t be the last. And I’ll be at the head of the queue when my local library gets a POD machine!

Wondering what I’m talking about? Follow the link below to read about a very forward thinking library that is doing print-on-demand [POD] for it’s members:

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/news/with-10699-books-printed-windsor-librarys-self-publishing-machine-is-a-hit

And before anyone mentions the name ‘Createspace’, I know, we can all create POD versions of our books on Amazon. But…

  • while Createspace may be very reasonably priced, the postage to Australia is not,
  • and nothing beats the convenience of going to your local library and having a real person solve problems for you, in real time.

I don’t know when POD machines will come to libraries in Australia, but I for one can’t wait. Just think, if I managed to publish one book per year, I’d have Christmas presents solved for life. 😉

cheers

Meeks

 


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