Edit: Book is here and now for sale
My Daughter was overwhelmed, please consider purchasing a copy and make her day : )
I had an idea. I thought it would be nice to have a book version of our dog and frog story.
My plan is to get it done and to present it to my daughter for Christmas. It is now the end of October, so that does not leave much time to do it. I want to keep it a secret until then, so I am writing this offline and will post it to the blog later.
I researched several different POD [print on demand] publishing companies. It came down to LULU and Createspace. Createspace is what I settled on. I have done a lot of business with Amazon both as a consumer and a seller, and I like the way they do business.
Setting up an account was rather easy. In minutes I had my acct set up and the book started. Now came the choices. I knew it would be a picture book, so that part was easy. I also knew it must be full color as a picture book without color it would probably be boring to children. My idea is to use the artwork I already created for the cartoon and use it in the book as well. Then I will have a book version and a DVD version. I suspect my daughter will be overwhelmed with joy when I hand the book to her. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you hold your work in a completed form. I plan on doing the proof and presenting her with that. Then if there is any changes she wants to make she will be able to do it and have design control over the book.
I am a little apprehensive, as it is a whole new world that I know very little about. But that has never stopped me before, so it is full speed ahead.
One of the first terms I was confronted with was bleed. The question was, do you want your book to bleed? Now at first it seems like maybe a cruel joke or something. What is meant by bleed? Well bleed is a term used in the publishing industry to describe the manner in which images and text are put on the paper and cover of a book. All book covers bleed. Simply put bleed means to go to the very end of the paper or cover. So if your image bleeds, it will go all the way to the edge of the paper and there is no margin. All covers bleed because the image or color always goes to the end of the page. The interior content of your book may bleed or may not bleed, it is a choice that must be made. Books like novels, dictionaries, and some story books usually do not bleed. Picture books may or may not depending on the look you are looking for. Many picture books bleed, so I have decided that my artwork and images will bleed. Text can not bleed, so it has to stay within margins.
Now I may have decided differently if I knew what was coming. I kind of felt like the Indiana Jones movie where one chooses the cup and the wise aged man says “he chose poorly” I did not know choosing to bleed was going to put me on a forty five hour journey that almost ended the project before I got started. Anyway, I downloaded a template that was supposed to help get me started. The template looked good and it seemed like it would work, however it was not set up for a book that would bleed. So I tried to do it in Word, I tried to set it up in Openoffice. I just could not get it to work right. So I spent three very long days trying to figure it out. Searching forums, watching videos, reading websites. It does not seem that anyone has made a template that I could find that would work for a children’s picture book. Turns out that word and open office will do it [if you know how to operate the programs] however word processors were not really made to design a book. It is kind of like using a hack saw or circular saw. Both will do the job, but sometimes the effort is just not worth it. I was trying to use a hacksaw where I should have used a circular saw.
Then the breakthrough came. I had a trial version of Adobe Indesign, it is made for this purpose. However, it is rather expensive. I could not see paying this kind of money for a program that I did not even know if I could use. Another thing that bugs me about Adobe, it seems most of their programs they make the text and icons so small that I can hardly see them. They should have some kind of adjustment that does not require you to reset your resolution. Maybe they do and I just can not find it. Anyway, that is another story for another time.
The breakthrough came when I found Scribus. Scribus has to be one of the best kept secrets on the Internet. It is a powerful publishing program that is easy to learn. I was able to set up in minutes what I had labored for three days trying to accomplish. Some programs just seem to click. You know , the buttons are where you expect they would be. If not, they are easy to locate after a little search. Scribus fits this wonderfully. After using a word processor all my life, Scribus was quite a bit different. But the tutorials were able to walk you through and get the job done. I love a program that helps you to achieve something fast, so you do not get discouraged and stop using it. And the best thing about Scribus. It is a FREE open source program. I am so glad I found it.
Well the book is coming along pretty good now. I am up to 31 pages. Having the artwork mostly done helps to make it roll a long pretty fast since it is a children’s story book. Scribus makes it a breeze. It really helps using a program that was designed for publishing. I was wondering if I would have a hard time getting together 24 pages which is the minimum that you can have with Createspace, however that is not going to be a problem. My page output was double of yesterday. I should be able to finish what I have the artwork done for in another day. Then it will be drawing the missing artwork and putting the rest of the story together.
I made a cover for the book using the cover creator on Createspace, however I lost it when I wanted to start from scratch. They give you a warning that the other version would be lost, however my finger was just too fast. They should have a way to design several versions, so you could look and compare them. I think I will just design my own in Scribus, then I will have complete control of the design. Then I could make several designs and pick which one I like the best. I am not sure if that will upload with the book or separate. Most likely it will be two separate files one for the book and one for the cover However I will know more when I get to that point and do some research.
I am glad I stuck with it. The first few days of this project was very discouraging. However, once I made it through that it is going a long very well now. I am sure there will be other issues to deal with, especially once I submit it. Will my margins be right? What did I miss? I will soon know.
Well I got the book mostly done now. Putting it together in Scribus was pretty straight forward once you learn a few of the basics. I saved it as a PDF, and sent it to www.robinleadesigns.com for editing. If you need some editing done or website work, they are very reasonable and will be able to help you out. After I sent it over and received it back, I was very surprised in all the stuff I overlooked. I guess it is true, you should not edit your own work. You are just too close to the creative side of things that technical stuff gets overlooked. I made the corrections and sent it back, so we will see how that goes.
Fonts: Well I learned a lesson with fonts today. I thought a font was a font. You know, you chose which one you want to use and use it. Well it turns out, many fonts are copyrighted. Which means, some you have to get permission to use. Some you even have to pay for. Can you believe that? You have to pay to use their font. I guess it makes sense, I just never thought about it much. Well my first draft was done with a font that was not embeddable, which means I could not use it for Createspace. I had to choose another font, but I did not want to have to retype everything with a different font. I knew there must be an easy way to do it. Well it turns out you can use paragraph styles in Scribus. You set the style, then apply it to each paragraph. Once done you can just make changes to the style and it will update your document. So the key here is to set a style at the beginning of your document, which will make it easier to make changes later. Anyway, I will never look at fonts the same again.
I made two versions of the book cover today. One using createspace’s cover creator, the other I used their template in Photoshop.
I like the one I made better as it has more color. I am a little worried on the font I chose as it looks like it may be hard to read. I may design a few more covers and then get some input on what people think.
This whole process would be so much easier if I did not have to learn all these new programs. I have not done much with Photoshop before. It is rather irritating that Adobe does not make it so you can change the menu sizes in Photoshop. On a HD screen, the menu buttons are impossible to read. I know I can bring the resolution down and get bigger icons that way, but it seems like a very poor solution to a problem that should not exist. Once I learn the program it will not be as hard as I will be able to recognize the icons, but at this point it makes the learning curve much harder.
It is now 11-13-2011
Well I finished the cover and the winner is?
I changed the font type and color to match the front more closely. I also re-worded several of the paragraphs to make them read easier. I uploaded that today to Createspace and it looks like it was ok as they accepted it. The first time I tried to up load it they said it was too big. You can only have 40 MB cover and mine was 68 MB. I was trying to load up a Photoshop pdf that had not been flattened. To flatten it , you just go to layers, then click the flatten button. Please be advised to save a copy before you flatten it. If you don’t you will not be able to make changes if there is a mistake as flattening removes the layers so you can not edit the text. So first save it as a PSD file, then Once you do that, save another copy as a high quality jpg, then save that as a pdf. Once I did that my size went down to about 6MB, quite a difference.
I also made some final changes to the interior of the book. Some of the font did not line up like I wanted it to, so I made the changes. I uploaded that today as well. Now I have to wait until they check it out. They said it could take up to 48 hrs. In the mean time I set up the sales channels. I did not sign up for the pro plan yet, as I wanted to get the proof first and then decide. The book ended up with 49 pages. It ended up with more pages then I had planned however, it does have pictures on every page. Most picture books are about 38 pages, so this will be a little bigger than most.
Well I got the review back in less than 12 hours.
I was holding my breath as I thought for sure I probably had something formatted wrong or something. However, today they sent me an email saying the review went good and I could order a proof copy. They only review for printability and nothing else. I am so happy it went through.
There was one problem though, they said my interior contained layers.
“The interior file contains transparency. Transparency will be manually flattened during our processing and may cause a color shift.”
They said they will manually flatten it, but it may cause color shift. Since I am not trying to match up anything, I am thinking it will not be an issue. Evidently when I saved it to PNG, it brings the transparency layers too. I could have went back and flattened it all and re-did all 50 pages, however I would rather take a chance on the color shift. Maybe I will not have to do that.
I ordered expedited shipping, so it is supposed to be here on Thursday, wow that is pretty fast.
So I made it to the proof copy. Once I get the proof, we can make changes if needed. Once the proof is approved, we can put it for sale on the multiple channels. So it looks like it will be no problem getting done before Christmas, which was my plan.
About 2 hrs after I ordered the proof, I received an email saying it was shipped. They do not mess around. I did not expect it to be that fast. I am rather excited about holding it in my hands and looking through the pages.
Well the day the proof was supposed to be here came and past, yet no book. I tried to find a tracking number, but it seems they do not give them out. I thought that was rather odd as Amazon always gives out tracking numbers, and they generally are right on target for the delivery day. Sometimes they are even a day earlier.
Anyway, I did receive the proof the day after it was supposed to arrive. Now I am not sure if they delayed or the post office did. I am leaning towards the post office, but who knows. The main thing is, IT IS HERE!
My first impression was, Wow. You can go through all the hoops and look at the project day and and day out for a few months, but holding it in your hand there is just a special feeling that goes with that. My wife cried, I was rather choked up myself. Until you hold it in your hand it is only a thought, a dream or an idea. Once you hold it in your hand it becomes real, and there is just a special feeling with that. Kind of like when you tear off a roof and put new shingles on. The long hard process is over when the last shingle goes up and you stand back with amazement at a job well done. Many of the roofs I have done [more than I care to remember] I took a picture of the final shingle to capture that moment forever.
My first impression was, wow I put this together and it looked so good. I was rather impressed. Did I mention , wow? The color shift was not noticeable on most items and the few that it was did not really matter. I did notice the font was off 1/8 inch on one side. The words kind of went down hill. At first I thought it was something I did, but after inspecting it further I see that the cut was off on the book. Meaning it was cut 1/8 inch out of square. It was not a very big deal, took me about an hour to see it. I could order another proof, but I suspect there may be a few changes when my daughter sees it. So over all I was very impressed.
I want to personally thank Robin Lea Designs for the editing and creative input, also Bre for always being willing to “come look at this, what do you think?” This project would not have been possible without their input. Also, my very special wife, who always tells me to “go for it” when I have an idea and is always there for support. I love you Babe.