Tag Archives: step-by-step

Blender 2.8 for Absolute Beginners [1]

There are a lot of excellent video tutorials out there, but…none of them allow you watch in slow motion. That means you have to stop, rewind, play, rinse and repeat, until you see that one, teeny thing that a beginner doesn’t know and the presenter takes for granted.

As an absolute beginner myself, I’m writing this series of posts to save other absolute beginners from the hours of frustration and research that went into learning the teeny things everyone else takes for granted. Each post will be step-by-step with screenshots, and I welcome comments that point out things I’ve missed or taken for granted. So, let’s begin!

What is Blender 2.8?

Blender 2.8 is open source, 3D graphics software.

Translation: Blender 2.8 is a free app that produces models of ‘things’ that can be viewed from all angles – i.e. in 3D.

Where can you download Blender 2.8?

You can download the app from here:

https://www.blender.org/download/releases/2-80/

As with all software downloaded from the internet, you should save the file to your computer and scan it with your anti-virus software before installing it.

Getting Started

Once Blender 2.8 is installed, this is what you will see:

The colourful bit in the middle is like a temporary shortcut menu. Common functions are on the left, and recently used files are on the right. Left click on the dark grey grid in the background to make it disappear.

You will now be looking at the Layout workspace. It contains all the tools and options you will need to create and edit a 3D model. As a beginner, this is where you will spend most of your time.

Before starting to explore the workspace, however, I need to address the elephant in the room – Blender keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Most software programs allow the use of keyboard shortcuts – e.g. Ctrl C for Copy and Ctrl V for Paste [in Microsoft Office programs] – but these shortcuts are an added extra for those who already know the software and want to work faster. In Blender, this process is reversed – i.e. shortcuts first and menus second.

Even as recently as Blender version 2.79, the menus were all over the place, and learning how to find functions in them required as much memory as learning how to use the shortcuts themselves. I started with 2.79. It was hard, very hard.

Enter Blender 2.8. The core functions remain the same, but the interface and the menu system have been rationalized from the ground up, making the learning process much easier. Navigation functions are grouped together as are the creating and editing functions you will use the most. Better still, when you can’t find/remember a less used function, there is a fairly logical and consistent way of finding it. And finally, if all else fails, you can press F3 on the keyboard and search for the function by name.

I had to smile as I wrote about F3. Search is a core function in any software, yet even in 2.8, it’s accessed by a keyboard shortcut and requires you to remember which key it is hidden behind! Blender 2.8 may have emancipated the menu, but shortcuts are still more…equal. 🙂

Irony aside, there is a compelling reason why the experts use the Blender shortcuts; they’d go insane selecting millions of small, repetitive functions from the menus! And you will too.

To give you a simple example, you can use this navigation key to zoom in and out of your model:

Left click the zoom icon [circled in red] and hold the mouse button down as you move the mouse towards you or away from you. Moving the mouse towards you zooms the scene out – i.e. it gets further away. Moving the mouse away from you zooms the scene in – i.e. it gets closer to you.

Or you could simply use the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom in and out.

So which keyboard shortcuts should you learn off by heart?

Opinions will differ, but I found the navigation ones a must:

Zoom in and out

Move the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom in or out.

Free move around the scene

This allows you to view the scene from all angles. Hold down the scroll wheel on the mouse as you move the mouse around. [The pundits talk about holding down the 3rd mouse button, but if you’re like me and don’t have one, holding down the scroll wheel works just as well.]

Move the object in the scene
  1. Click the object to select it.
  2. Press ‘G’ on the keyboard [‘G’ for ‘grab’].
  3. Do NOT click the object again [this is not like the click-and-drag you are used to]. Simply move the mouse and the object will follow like a dog on a leash.
  4. When the object reaches its new location, left click the mouse to lock it in place. [If you want to move the object again, you will have to press the G key again.]
Move the object in just one direction

To understand this shortcut, imagine that you have positioned an object in just the right place and you don’t want to accidentally mess it up. But…it could do with being just a tiny bit higher [or lower or left or right or backwards or forwards]. How do you make that small adjustment without messing it all up?

The answer is by constraining [locking] movement to either the X, Y or Z axis:

Unlike the graphs you probably learnt as a child, in 3D, up and down is known as the ‘Z’ axis. In Blender, the Z axis is shown in blue, the X in red and the Y in green. The orientation of ‘X’ and ‘Y’ will depend upon how you are viewing the object. In the example shown below, I want to move the object to the right:

As you can see from the screenshot, left and right are on the X axis [the red line on the grid]. To move the object precisely to the right:

  1. Click the object to select it.
  2. Press ‘G’ [for ‘grab’] followed by ‘X’ [for the X axis]
  3. Move the mouse to the right.
  4. Left click the mouse button to lock the object in place.

If you want to move the object up or down, the shortcut is ‘G’ and ‘Z’. In the screenshot above, moving the object backwards and forwards would be ‘G’ and ‘Y’.

If you want to use the menus you will have to start by opening the toolbar on the left. To do this, point the mouse at the right edge of the toolbar. When the mouse pointer changes to a double headed white arrow, click-hold-and-drag to the right:

Keep dragging until the toolbar is open and shows the label for each icon. Click the ‘Move’ option as shown:

You should now see a kind of 3D compass in the middle of the object. Click-hold-and-drag the blue arrow to move the object up or down on the Z axis. Click-hold-and-drag the red and green arrows to move the object in the direction of the lines on the grid [red for X, green for Y].

I admit I found the whole  X,Y and Z spatial awareness thing a bit hard at first but, as with most things, the more I had to move objects around, the easier it all became. And as I learned more advanced processes, I realised that X, Y and Z are absolutely fundamental to using Blender. I suspect they’re fundamental to learning any 3D software.

Ultimately, you will learn the shortcuts that make your life and work easier. For me, one shortcut I simply couldn’t live without is Ctrl Z. It’s standard for ‘Undo’ and will save you millions of clicks as you work in Blender.

Undo

Hold the Ctrl key down while you press the letter Z. This will undo the last thing you did. You can repeat Ctrl Z up to about 30 times, or until you run out of steps to undo.

Alternately, you can click ‘Undo’ on the Edit menu [top left of the screen]:

I’ll finish this first post off with a beginners tutorial that was quite good. It takes you through the basics of navigating the viewport using both the navigation icons and the keyboard shortcuts that go with them. The ‘viewport’ is just the name given to the dark grey grid.

Whether you use the menus or the shortcut keys, I hope you have fun and enjoy the learning process.

cheers

Meeks


How to disable Quick Access in Windows 10

I have to use Windows 10 when I’m teaching, and I’ve found that the new Quick Access option in File Explorer is confusing the hell out of my students.

Quick Access is like the old ‘Recent Places’ in Windows 7, except that in Windows 7, you control whether you see those recently accessed files and folders or not. In Windows 10, the ‘Quick Access’ function displays recent places by default, and they always appear at the top of the navigation tree. Essentially they are duplicating some of the files and folders shown under ‘This PC’, making my students wonder:

  • Which version of a file or folder should they use?
  • And if they do use the handy Quick Access area, why doesn’t it show ALL of their files and folders?
  • Have those other files and folders been lost?

For beginners, this duplication only leads to confusion and makes understanding how to save and retrieve their work even harder. For this reason, I told them to ignore Quick Access and go straight to ‘This PC’.

Why? Because only in ‘This PC’ will you find all the files and folders stored on your computer.

Sadly, it’s hard to ignore Quick Access when it’s the first thing you see and you have to scroll way down the screen before you can even see ‘This PC’. To solve this problem, I went searching for a way to tame Quick Access without requiring the powers of a super geek to do it. And here it is:

Step 1

Open File Explorer.

Step 2

Click the File button [or tab] on the File Explorer toolbar as shown:

Step 3

You should now see a menu of options. Click ‘Change Folder and search options’ as shown:

 

Step 4

You should now be looking at a popup menu of Folder options. The first option on the General tab is ‘Open File Explorer to:’ Quick access’. To change this option, click the small arrow next to ‘Quick access’ as shown:

Step 5

You should now be looking at the two available options – Quick access and This PC. Click the option for ‘This PC’ as shown:

Now, File Explorer will automatically go down to ‘This PC’ whenever you open it.

But…

Quick Access is still there, and it’s still saving a ‘history’ of every folder you’ve opened and every file you’ve created or edited. In other words, the confusion continues.

Step 6

To stop Quick Access from continuing to duplicate your movements, you’ll have to stop it from saving that history. With Folder options still open, go down to ‘Privacy’ and untick the two options shown there:

 

Step 7

File Explorer will no longer track what you do on your computer, but your past movements are still there, in Quick Access. To clear everything out of Quick Access you have to clear out the history as shown below:

Once you click the ‘OK’ button, all of the File Explorer history will be gone from Quick Access, and it won’t come back!

There doesn’t appear to be any way of getting rid of the Quick Access option entirely, but at least now it won’t duplicate every thing you do on your computer, and you will be in control of what you see on File Explorer. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Lefties – how to adjust the mouse buttons in Windows 10

I wrote up a quick how-to for a student of mine and thought it might be useful for other left handers out there.

Step 1

Click the START button [circled in red] to display the Start Menu. On the Start Menu, click ‘Settings’[shown in green] :

Step 2

With the Settings dialog box displayed, click ‘Devices’ [shown in green] :

Step 3

With the Devices dialog box displayed, click ‘Mouse & touchpad’ [shown in green]:

Step 4

With the ‘Mouse & touchpad’ dialog box displayed, click ‘Left’.

The option for ‘Right’ will now be displayed.

Click ‘Right’ as shown:

Left handers should now be able to mouse click using the index finger of their left hand and the right button of the mouse. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Celebrate Nanowrimo 2018 with a free how-to ebook

Here in Australia it’s December 1 already, so Nanowrimo is over for another year. I didn’t even come close to winning Nano this year, but my heartfelt congratulations to all those who did. 50,000 words in 30 days is a great accomplishment, so well done. 🙂

For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, Nano is still in its final hours, and I imagine a lot of you will be furiously writing to catch that November 30 deadline. I congratulate all of you as well. No one can ever take this achievement away from you, but memories fade, so I suggest that you print the page that contains your 50,000th word and frame it. I did that with my first Nano; the word was ‘gut’. Not exactly poetic but hey…-shrug-

And finally, a word for those who didn’t make it. I know you’re probably feeling pretty disappointed at the moment, but you have to remember that winning Nano is not the end, it’s just the beginning. Your writing doesn’t have to end on November 30. Use what you started as the jumping off point for the story you’ll write all through 2019.

Win or lose, this next bit is for everyone. When your Nano story is polished to perfection, you will probably want to publish it. If you decide to self-publish your work, you will have a number of options:

  1. publish as an ebook
  2. publish as a paperback
  3. publish as both an ebook and a paperback

If you decide to go with options 2 and 3, then I can help. ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing‘ is my step-by-step guide to publishing a paperback with KDP. In it you will find information about trim sizes, bleed, PDFs, formatting, Amazon distribution, royalties and heaps more. Each step is illustrated with screenshots and examples, close to 150 of them so even complete beginners can follow the instructions.

To celebrate the end of Nano 2018, I’ve made the ebook version of ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ free for one day on December 1, 2018. [Click the link to be taken to the Amazon page or click the image of the book on the sidebar].

Due to timezone differences, the guide will become free on Amazon at about 6:00 pm, Australian Eastern time. For Northern Hemisphere writers, it will be free from midnight.

This is what the guide looks like on the Kindle Fire 6:

 

Because the ebook is in colour, and fixed format [so the layout of each page is controlled], you will only be able to use it on the following devices:

If you need the free Kindle Reading app., you can get it from here:

Clicking that link will open the following popup:

From this popup, you can select the device on which you want to use the app. I’ve only done it for the PC, but I think it should be fairly easy for all devices.

So there you have it, my free guide to printing your finished Nano Novel. Even if you don’t intend to publish for some time, download the guide now and save yourself some money. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 

 


2 free days for the KDP how-to books

I should probably stretch these promotions out but…meh, let’s have some fun. 🙂

Okay, from October 23 to 24 [2 days], the ebook version of How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and How to Print Non-Fiction with Kindle Direct Publishing will be free on Amazon:

The difference between the two books is that the How to…Novel is pitched at absolute beginners while the How to Non-Fiction is for self-publishers who have to deal with lots of graphics. Oh and the How to Non-Fiction has a new Index of Links at the very back. You can find it by looking at the bottom of the Table of Contents.

If you’re just interested in the KDP side of the equation, both books cover the same information. This includes three appendices that contain information specifically for Aussie authors.

Both how-to books are in colour and fixed layout:

Although you can pinch-and-zoom with fixed format ebooks, you can’t change the font size to suit your comfort zone. That’s why I made the font size 24. On my Kindle Fire, that size is like a normal size 12 font in a paperback. I also made the pictures as ‘visible’ as possible so you wouldn’t have to keep zooming in and out all the time. I haven’t tried either book on a phone so if anyone gives it a try I’d love to know how well [or badly] it works.

Fixed format ebooks can only be read on one of the Kindle Fires or via the free Kindle app.  You can get the app. for a variety of devices at this web address:

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

The free promotion should start at midnight tomorrow for the Northern hemisphere. For us Aussies, it will begin at about 6 pm tomorrow.  I genuinely hope lots of people download the books, and I would really, really appreciate the odd review. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


How to work with images in Word 2016 (Part 1)

Strictly speaking, Word is a wordprocessor not a graphics application. Neverthelss, it does offer a small, but functional range of tools for do-it-yourselfers. So whether you’re an Indie creating a cookbook of favourite recipes, a student putting together a thesis, or simply someone with a report to write that includes a lot of graphics, this series of posts is for you.

Changing Word defaults

As mentioned in the introduction, Word is primarily a wordprocessor. More importantly, it is a wordprocessor for business applications, so it automatically reduces image quality in order to provide the best overall result for business documents. To control the quality of the images in your document, you have to change two of the Word defaults: image compression and image resolution. Both of these settings can be found in File/Options.

To begin, open your manuscript in Word and click the blue File tab on the Ribbon.

Select ‘Options’ from the navigation pane on the left:

Word now displays the Options dialog box:

  1. Click Advanced to display the Advanced options on the right hand side of the dialog box. Scroll down until you see ‘Image Size and Quality’.
  2. Tick the box next to ‘Do not compress images in file’.
  3. Next, click the small arrow next to ‘Default resolution’. This will display a drop down list.
  4. Select the option for ‘High Fidelity’ as shown in the screenshot above.
  5. Click the OK button to exit the Options dialog box.

Now, when you add an image to your document, you will be in control of the quality of the image.

Inserting an image

If you are working with images, chances are you already know how to insert an image into a Word document. Still, it doesn’t hurt to cover the basics so this is how you place an image in a document.

Click the cursor at the location where you want the image to go [roughly].

Click Insert on the Ribbon and select the ‘Picture’ option:

Note: the ‘Picture’ option is for images saved to your computer. ‘Online Pictures’ allows you to search the internet for pictures and paste them directly into your document. Quite apart from copyright issues, ‘Online Pictures’ is not a good option because you can’t control the size or quality of the image you import into your document.

Locate the required image on your computer and select it.

Word will automatically resize large images to fit the space available. It will also place the image ‘In Line with Text’. This is the default ‘Wrap Text’ setting, and it will ‘lock’ the image to the text at that location.

Wrap Text Settings

The ‘Wrap Text’ settings determine how the image will interact with the text. If you leave ‘In Line with Text’ as the setting, you will be able to change the size of the image, but you will not be able to move it.

There are two ways of changing the ‘Wrap Text’ settings of an image. The first is via the Ribbon. The second is via the small icon displayed next to the image.

Wrap Text via the Ribbon

Click an image to select it.

This will open the Picture Tools/Format menu:

The available ‘Wrap Text’ settings show ‘In Line with Text’ at the top of the list. Next to each setting is an icon that represents the function of that particular setting. The same icons are shown on the mini menu available next to each image.

The Wrap Text mini menu

When you select an image, it is displayed with ‘handles’ around the outside and a small icon to the right:

 

Click that icon to display the mini menu of ‘Wrap Text’ settings.

The mini menu displays the same icons as the ‘WrapText’ option on the Ribbon, but it does not label those icons so it’s only useful once you know what each icon represents.

 

The Wrap Text Icons

In Line with Text

This is the default option for each new image. It does not allow the image to move freely.

 

Square, Tight & Through

These three options make the text flow around the image on four sides. There are minor variations, but the image will look as if it’s ‘boxed’ in by the text.

Note: click-hold-and-drag the image to position it horizontally in the paragraph from the far left through to the far right.

Top & Bottom

This option pushes the text above and below the image, like bread in a ‘sandwich’.

Note: the image is locked to the paragraph that comes before it. If text is deleted above this paragraph, and there is not enough room for both paragraph and image to ‘move up’, neither will, resulting in a gap on the page. To fix: reduce the image size or change the text wrapping.

Behind Text

This option allows the image to become the background with the text sitting on top of it.

Note: the image can be hard to select if you need to do any editing.

In Front of Text

This option allows the image to float over the top of the text. It will also obscure any text beneath it.

To select any of the ‘Wrap Text’ options, simply click the icon that represents the setting you wish to use.

cheers

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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.  🙂

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

 

 

 

 

 


31 Self-publishing 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. Amazon KDP is now offering print as well.
  4. Lulu & IngramSpark have print facilities in Australia. Both are more expensive than CreateSpace or KDP but you save a lot in postage [and time].
  5. Aussie authors wanting to print with IngramSpark must have an ABN and pay a $53 setup fee for each book.
  6. Aussie authors wanting to get an ABN should read this how to first: https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/how-to-apply-for-an-abn-the-basics/
  7. 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
  8. Trim size = physical size of book after pages glued inside cover & trimmed.
  9. Page size templates for all trim sizes can be found on CreateSpace forums: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323
  10. Convert Word A4 pages to trim size pages via the Word Page Setup dialog box.
  11. ISBN = 13 digit no. that identifies your book worldwide.
  12. Buy your own ISBN or accept the free one offered by CreateSpace and KDP.
  13. Aussie authors can buy ISBNs from Thorpe-Bowker: https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/
  14. As a rule of thumb, print, ebook & audiobooks all need their own ISBN.
  15. Books printed via CreateSpace are listed on Amazon automatically.
  16. To publish Kindle ebooks go to: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
  17. Amazon supplies ebooks with ASIN identifiers so ISBN not strictly necessary.
  18. If you want to ‘go wide’ & sell with other retailers as well as Amazon, your own ISBN is a must.
  19. Most POD printers prefer PDF files but will accept Word files.
  20. Before converting from Word to PDF, ensure all Word fonts are embedded in the document. See:  https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/how-to-make-word-16-embed-all-your-fonts/
  21. File/Export completed Word doc. to PDF. Then upload that PDF to the POD printer of your choice. 
  22. With CreateSpace, royalty = List Price – Print costs.
  23. With CreateSpace, Print costs= Sales Channel % + Fixed Charges + Per Page Charge.
  24. With CreateSpace, Standard sales channel % = 40% of List Price, Expanded sales channel % = 60%. 
  25. Spine of cover = trim size & no. of pages. See: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do 
  26. Total page no. of book = pages AFTER conversion to chosen trim size [not A4 Word pages].
  27. Amazon deducts 30% withholding tax from each sale. Aussies can claim exemption to reduce tax to 5%.
  28. Withholding tax exemption: US TIN = Australian Tax File No.
  29. Aussie authors must deposit 1 copy of each published book with the National Library of Australia: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit
  30. Aussie authors must also deposit 1 copy of each published book with their state library: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit/australia-wide
  31. Aussie authors – for Legal Deposit FAQ see:https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit-faq

 

 

 


How to Modify Styles in Word 2016

The following excerpt is from my unpublished how-to called ‘How to print your book with Createspace, a step-by-step guide for Absolute Beginners’. The specific instructions are for the layout of a book, but you can change the settings to be appropriate for any document.

# # #

Word Styles

Styles contain pre-set groups of commands that determine how headings and paragraphs appear.

The most commonly used Word styles are found on the Home tab, in the Style gallery [as shown below]:

 

Even if you did not select any of the styles in the Style Gallery while writing your book, there is one style that you would have used without even being aware of it. That style is ‘Normal’.

Note: the only time the Normal Style is not used automatically in a Word document is when the document originated in another software program and was imported into Word. For example, the Windows program ‘Notepad’ creates documents in Rich Text Format. RTF documents can be opened in Word but the Normal style must be applied manually.

Every time you create a new document in Word, it automatically sets that document to the ‘Normal’ style settings. These include:

  • the default font [Calibri],
  • the font size [11],
  • the font colour [automatic – i.e. black],
  • the text alignment [left]
  • and a host of other less immediately visible options.

As part of the design process, you can modify some of these options for your book.

Modifying the ‘Normal’ style

In Word, the easiest way to modify an existing style is to right click on its name in the style gallery. This will cause a small menu to be displayed. On that menu is an option called ‘Modify’:

To change elements of the ‘Normal’ style in your document, right click ‘Normal’ in the Style gallery and select the ‘Modify’ option from the drop down list [as shown above].

You should now see the ‘Modify Style’ dialog box:

The first thing to note is the radio button down near the bottom left corner of the dialog box. The option ‘Only in this document’ is pre-selected to ensure that any changes made to the ‘Normal’ style of this document do not become standard for all  Word documents.

Editing the style name

Up near the top of the dialog box you will see the style name. Editing the name is not necessary, but it can be useful as a reminder that the style was changed.

To change the name of the style, simply click inside the Name text box and type in a new one.

Editing the font, size, colour and alignment

You can change the font and font size just as you would on the Home tab. Remember to also select the ‘Justify’ alignment option.

To change the colour of the font, click the small arrow next to the box that says ‘Automatic’ [as shown below]:

Click the colour of your choice or leave it as Automatic, i.e. black.

Editing the paragraph options

All of the less common stylistic functions are hidden behind the ‘Format’ button which is located on the bottom left hand side of the Modify Style window.

Click ‘Format’ and select the ‘Paragraph’ option from the menu:

The paragraph dialog box is now displayed:

As you can see from the screenshot, the alignment is already shown as ‘Justified’ because we set it in the first dialog box along with the font and font size.

Indentation – leave the Left and Right settings at zero, but under ‘Special’, click the small blue arrow [as shown above]. Now select the ‘First line’ option from the drop-down menu. For By: type or select an indent width for the first line of the paragraph.

Check the preview pane to see how the first line indent appears.

Spacing – ensure that ‘Before’ and ‘After’ are both set to zero. These numbers control the blank spaces inserted before and after each paragraph.

Finally, make sure that the ‘Line spacing’ is set to ‘Single’. When you are satisfied, click the ‘OK’ button.

If you are using Word 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016, any text already using the ‘Normal’ style will be automatically updated to the new settings..

In earlier versions of Word you may have to manually update the text using the modified style.

# # #

These same techniques can be used to edit any of the Word Styles, not just ‘Normal’.

cheers

Meeks


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