Tag Archives: print-on-demand

How-to guide is now free!

Good morning all. πŸ™‚ It’s 6:57am here in lovely Melbourne, and I just realised I forgot to post about the freebie here on WordPress. So….

‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ is now free on Amazon:

https://preview.tinyurl.com/y8fl4bks

The promotion ends at midnight US time and about 5pm-ish Australian time.

For those who have never tried any of my how-to’s, all my guides are pitched at the true beginner and include step-by-step instructions, with examples for the ‘why?’ and pictures for the ‘how?’.

If this appeals to you, please download the ebook version while it’s free. This ebook can be read on Kindle Fire tablets or on the free Kindle reading app for tablets, pc, mac and phone.

cheers

Meeks


Authors – were you satisfied with the quality of IngramSpark printing [in Australia]?

In the world of self-publishing, and small press publishing, CreateSpace, KDP and Lulu all offer printed proofs at cost price. These printed proofs equate to quality control. As the author, you get to check your own work and the quality of the printer’s product before approving the book for sale.

I learned the value of printed proofs with the paperback version of Vokhtah. Onscreen, the cover looked fantastic. Once it was printed, [by Lulu and KDP] I discovered that the cover was so dark, most of the fine detail was lost.

The reason for this discrepancy is that computer screens use RGB colour mode – i.e. digital colour – while printers use CMYK, and the two are not exactly the same. Added to that, the calibration of the computer screen may be off, all of which can result in a pretty dreadful end product. But I would not have known about those problems if I had not seen real, physical, printed proofs of Vokhtah.

IngramSpark, however, does not offer printed proofs. As I discovered today, I can order printed copies at cost, but only after approving my book[s]. And guess what? After I approve a book, any changes, any changes at all, will cost me $25 AUD a pop.

To highlight the enormity of this…’policy’ by IngramSpark, Vokhtah would have cost me a minimum of $75 in review fees, just to get the cover printed properly.

Do other Indies take pot luck with IngramSpark? Or do they fork out review fees without protest? Or is this one reason why most Indies use CreateSpace, KDP and Lulu to print their books?

Having tried all three, I was hoping that IngramSpark Australia would save me a boatload of money on shipping costs. Now, I’m not sure what to do.

Should I use CreateSpace or KDP to get the covers right and then print with IngramSpark?

I could, but that would still be a gamble as there’s no guarantee the IngramSpark POD facilities produce an equivalent product.

Has anybody out there had experience with IngramSpark Australia, in terms of quality? Would you recomment them?

If you can share your experiences in the poll below, I’d really appreciate it as I hate the thought of buying something sight unseen. 😦


Were you satisfied with the quality of the paperback printed by IngramSpark Australia?
(polls)

Meeks


Barcodes for Indie Authors – updated June 6, 2018

I’m assuming that any Indies reading this post will have gone through the same frustrations that I did, so I’ll jump straight into the how-to part of the post. Once that’s done, I’ll talk about barcodes in general and discuss why you might want one. Let’s do it!

There are only TWO things you need to create your own, free barcode:

  1. an ISBN for your book
  2. a free online barcode generator

In Canada you can get an ISBN for free. In the US and Australia, you can buy an ISBN from a company called Bowker. The web address for the Australian company is:

https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/

If you want to know where to buy an ISBN for your own country, go to the website of the International ISBN Agency:

https://www.isbn-international.org/agencies

You should be looking at a screen like this:

Click the small down arrow [circled in red] to display a drop down list of countries. Scroll down to your country and click it. You should now see a detailed contact screen for the ISBN agency in your country. In the example shown below, I clicked on ‘United Kingdom and Ireland’:

Once you have your ISBN, you can go to the following website to use the free, barcode generator [you do not have to register first]:

https://www.bookow.com/index.php

On the Home page, select ‘Free ISBN-13 Bookland Barcode Generator’ as shown below:

You should now be looking at a page like this:

  1. From the top of the page, type in your 13 digit ISBN, including the hyphens [or cut and paste it in].
  2. Next, type 90000 in the Price textbox. This ensures that the scanner checks the bookshop’s own database for pricing.
  3. Type your email address, twice.
  4. Click inside the ‘Consent to email’ checkbox.
  5. Leave the DPI at the default [300].
  6. Now you have a choice of getting the barcode as a PDF file or as a PNG file. I find the PNG file easier to work with but the choice is yours. Either way you’ll end up with a picture of the barcode that’s been generated from your ISBN.
  7. Save the barcode to your computer.
  8. Insert the barcode into the back page of your book cover graphic.

Done. πŸ™‚

Now for some of the explanatory stuff. Firstly, there are basically two kinds of barcodes [gross over simplification but work with me]. The first is for ‘things’ such as soap, toothpaste, butter etc. To get barcodes for these products, you have to register with GS1. This process is quite involved, but luckily it does not apply to books. πŸ™‚

Books are covered by a completely different barcode that requires only an ISBN and a second, smaller code that simply tells the bookshop scanner where to look for the pricing information. If you want to get technical about it, this is a Bookland EAN-13 + 5-digit add-on type barcode. The one I created for my print book of Vokhtah looks like this:

The ISBN is displayed [in writing] twice, once at the top and once at the bottom. The 90000 barcode is added to the right of the main barcode.

Now, why would you need a barcode?

If you are using Print-On-Demand [POD] via CreateSpace or Amazon KDP, you will not have to worry about a barcode at all. If you get a free ISBN from either company, they will automatically generate a barcode from that ISBN and insert it into the cover for you. If you use your own, private ISBN, CreateSpace and Amazon KDP will also generate a barcode and insert it into the cover for you. But. Not all POD printers provide free ISBNs or barcodes, so if your chosen printer says you have to provide your own barcode, you now know how to do it…for FREE! Well, except for the ISBN but you have to pay for that anyway.Β  πŸ™‚

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

 

 

 

 

 


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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜€

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

 


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. πŸ˜‰

cheers

Meeks

 


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