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Posts Tagged ‘book formatter’

Front Cover (eek!)

Back Cover

Spine

First Page

Chapter 1

Random Page

I can’t believe it. This day has come. I saw the small book-sized package on my front step and I couldn’t remember what book I’d ordered. Upon opening it I could hardly breathe…

my proof had arrived!

It was such a strange surreal moment. As if something you had only imagined had materialized right before your eyes by some white magic. As if you wanted something so badly that it wished its way into the world.

Now, that’s not obviously what happened since I have been toiling away trying to bring this book to life –revising, beta-ing, work-shopping, editing, copyediting, formatting, and uploading, but it suddenly felt like it just appeared out of no-where on my front step.

I’d heard on other self-published writer’s blogs that you shouldn’t expect a bookstore quality version in print, that they have bleeds, pages askew, smudges, shiny thin covers and poorer quality paper, but I was incredibly impressed.

The 5.5″ x 8.5″ size feels wonderful with its hearty 280 pages. Yes, the cover’s shiny, but I thought it looks like many of the shiny covered Grisham/Patterson novels in my bookshelf. The cream paper is a perfect thickness and all of the print was smudge-less and straight. My mother was with me when I opened it and both of our jaws dropped with how professional it looked and felt. It was only when my husband saw it that he pointed out one flaw — the cut was slightly narrower at the top than at the bottom. Of course, now it’s all I can see, but if that’s the only thing that’s not perfect than I can live with that since it doesn’t interfere with reading. I don’t think it’s something I can tell Create Space to correct, but I’m going to get another proof to see if the same thing happens.

All in all, this little bound book made the biggest smile spread across my face. Everything looked fantastic inside, the formatter and cover artist did a terrific job. I passed it proudly around to my large family and they all couldn’t believe how great it looked. Watching them all thumbing through it, inspecting it, and smirking (many of them doubted that I would see this through) was priceless.

I realized that this is a huge milestone. I’ve already achieved something that not many people do. Whatever happens after this won’t take away from the fact that I set out to bring this story to life and I’ve done it –through countless distractions, agent rejections, self-teaching, and self-doubt –I’ve accomplished a life’s goal and that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

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Ahhhhhh! I nice big mug of hot chocolate to wake me up from my night of two-hour interruptions and some time to write my blog. I think it’s time to update everyone on my self-publishing progress.

I really didn’t know much about book formatting. I even searched for online articles on how to work with a book formatter and what I needed to know but couldn’t find any. All I found was articles on formatting your own book. Luckily, I asked the amazing David Gaughran (my self-publishing guru) who he recommended and he gave me two names: one he said had a few months backlog and another who didn’t.

So I contacted the formatter without the backlog and I honestly didn’t even know what to say. I started by asking if now was a good time to have my book formatted and that I was looking for all the ebook files (epub, mobi, and smashwords) and a print version. He said that the ebook files are very similar but a print version was a whole other beast. I asked him for quotes for both and was happily surprised when I saw that it was only going to cost me $300 for all the files. Create Space starts at $295 for book formatting services and I’m sure I would get much better service and results from this highly recommended formatter. I’ve also found quotes for over $600 for the same services online.

After I jumped at this fantastic deal I was expecting much more hand-holding throughout the process. I’m sure this book formatter is used to working with seasoned self-publishers and I expected him to walk me through all the choices he was making and thought he’d ask me style questions but he just went right to work after asking me the size of the book and keywords I wanted to use. He got back to me after a few days with a problem. Since my book is incredibly complex with the same characters reincarnating into many lives I felt that a graph that kept track of each character’s past was needed. Unfortunately it seems that charts and graphs do not transfer well into epub and mobi formats. He said he’d try to fix it the best he could but wished I would just remove them. I told him to try and I’m sure he struggled with this for at least a week.

I received the epub file and the mobi file and had no idea how to open them. I’m sure he’s never gotten a reply asking for instructions on how I can view the files, but he sent me a few links on how to download the necessary readers. Well, I’d love to say I figured this out immediately, but it actually took me a whole day to figure out how to install these applications (I am grammatically and technologically challenged). Anyway after struggling to view these a huge smile came over my face as I opened my book. I couldn’t believe how real it looked and I went through it page by page to check whatever I could. I found a few things to change (lone sentences and issues with the graph). He explained to me that you couldn’t control the flow of the ebooks so that lone sentences could not be corrected but he said he would work on the graph again.

I was interested in using a chapter vignette (the little graphic an author uses at the beginning of each chapter). I had no idea how I got one though. I searched for one online but there were no sites that sold chapter vignettes so I figured I would have to ask my graphic designer to come up with one. She never made one before but she would give it a try for me and working with her delayed my formatter even more since he needed to wait on this before completing the ebooks.

Once I had the vignette the formatter requested it be done a certain size and I sent it off only to hear I sent the wrong one. So I sent the right file and a week or two went by, I had the baby, and still no news from the formatter. Finally after a week I decided to send a reminder email to him and he wrote back that he sent off the files weeks ago, even sent a follow-up email, and to check my spam since it might have gone there. Sure enough, it was sitting in my spam folder and I felt like there was no end to the miscommunication that was occurring between us. Once I opened up the files the vignettes looked great, the overall book was professional, and even though the graphs were not exactly how I wanted, it was good enough for the reader to understand. I only had a few small fixes like the Acknowledgements page was not on its own and the vignettes were on a separate page instead of right above the chapters. He made the changes and sent it off and began working on the smashwords file. He returned that by the end of the night and then he finished the print version by the next day. I thought everything looked great and he caught that I went from Chapter 5 to Chapter 7, completely skipping Chapter 6. I would have definitely missed that and he saved me much embarrassment.

He let me know that the smashwords file may not upload since they usually wanted font size 18 or smaller but he preferred to use some font 24. If I could sneak it by the overall product would look better and he would fix it for later if it didn’t upload.

Happy with my files, I sent off his paypal invoice and I’m now looking into all I’ll need to complete publishing with Create Space, Smashwords, Nook, and others. Oh I hope they are basic enough for me to figure out on my own. Now I’m off to give my graphic designer the page number of the print version so she can create my printed cover. I can’t wait until I can send for my proof!

All in all, this did take about a month to finish but I have a feeling this usually takes him a few days. He did say that I contacted him at a super busy time (I think he was releasing his own book at the moment) and I definitely delayed it myself by not knowing how to view the files, insisting on using the graphs, waiting on the vignettes, and not checking my spam folder. I do highly recommend this formatter though, he really knows how to deliver an extremely professional product and is familiar with the ins and outs of the self-publishing world. If you’re looking for a fantastic formatter email me privately and I will give you his name and if you learn from all my delays he will most likely have your files back to you within days.

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(If I was here I would get a lot of writing done)

Okay, I actually had to reread my post that listed all I needed to do before I launched on 11-11-11 and I noticed I left out one step: after the book is formatted I need to pay for a proof. I have to save time for that since I might need to tweak a few things. Also fellow blogger, Holly Grant was so kind to remind me to create a separate bank account in my company name and obtain a tax ID number. So I will have to add that to the list as well. Other than that, everything looks to be included there and just wanted to give everyone an update to where I am now.

~My superstar editor returned the second look through and she went back over every single word. In two weeks! How does she do that? She reiterated some things that I decided against (causing me to ultimately change them) and noticed things she overlooked with all the red all over the page. So my question is, do I need to send this out to a copy editor? I’m shocked with how meticulous my editor has been and with the second edit I feel like this MS is in great shape. But I want this MS to be a perfect as it possibly can and if traditional publishers send their novels through editors and copy editors I probably should too. I wonder if there will be style suggestions that will only confuse me more but the copy editor just might see things the editor missed as she was dealing with the whole mess I sent her originally. Well, I guess we’ll see, I’m sending it off to the copy editor today.

~I’ve contacted my cover designer and asked what I will need to create the POD cover and it seems I will need the page number to measure the spine correctly. So that means I will have to wait until the book formatter has finished before I create the cover. I also have to decide if I want to put my author pic on the back (ugh I hate pictures!) and a little bio (ugh I hate bios even more!).

~I did purchase ten ISBN numbers for this book and all my future books and something feels so great about looking at all the numbers that will one day be my published creations.

~I asked my book formatter if I could send him the almost finished MS just so that he could get a head start on the quote for all ebook formats and POD. If for some reason he is too high for me I want to have some time to find another recommended one. Hopefully the quote will come back within reason since this guy was recommended by a highly respected self-pubber.

~I’m still deciding whether or not I should include the first chapter of my sequel at the back of the first of the series. I posted it up on kindle boards and members brought up so many factors I hadn’t considered. The major issue may be that it’s not that beneficial to include a teaser sample until the sequel is available. A great point, but if I could release the second a couple months behind the first then that could be great hype for the second book; longer than two months, well it might get forgotten about and then I can’t make releasing the sample on my website a big deal. So I sent out the first chapter to be edited anyway and I can use this time to decide what I should do.

~I will contact an attorney relative (they come in handy) to help create an LLC for my publishing house (it sounds like a big deal but it’s not). That way I can publish under that name and if I’m ever famous (psish!) and sued, I will be protected.

~All the while my faithful beta has been reading my sequel and I’ve been making revisions whenever I receive feedback. I can’t forget that this sequel needs to come out as close as possible to the first novel’s launch date. Oh I wish I had a crystal ball for this.

So it looks like I’m making good progress and the baby doesn’t seem to be on its way out just yet, so maybe I can get most of this done before B-day.

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Now that I’m thinking about sending my MS out to the book formatter I’m seriously contemplating if I want go with the POD option. The book formatter’s informed me that the ebooks are fairly simple but the POD formatting is a “whole other beast”. The ebook price is a set fee but he will need to look over the needs of my novel in order to figure out a price. So of course I’m thinking about the necessity of POD and the truth is I doubt that I will sell many more expensive print copies. Most individuals will take a chance on a self-publisher for 99 cents but not $16 for a print copy.

But when I think about only having digital copies and never seeing that physical copy, I feel like it won’t feel real until I hold it in my hands. Is that worth all that extra money and time?

I may buy extra author’s copies and visit local book stores to see if they will consign it. I also noticed that many book reviewers require physical copies sent to them so I would need them for that. Plus, when I was walking on a packed beach and spying on what everyone was reading, I saw most still preferred print. Is it good to have that available even if it won’t be the majority of my sales?

How much will I pay to have that copy on my shelf?

Well, I guess I’ll find out soon.

Oh and on a side note, I just wanted to mention that I put a sample reading up now that my editor handed my MS back. I do have a prologue prior to this that explains where this first chapter begins but I hope you all enjoy it!

 

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