Tag Archives: Print on Demand

wooHOO! New Book Posted on Amazon

Wow! It was like giving birth…with a LONG labor. But finally the “Publish” button has been clicked for How I Lost 30 Pounds in 4 Months. It’s not available yet, but as soon as I have a link, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, just covet this fan-freaking-tastic cover art:

F&B cookbook coverThis is the wrap-around for the print version. It still needs a bar code, but since I may not sell it on Amazon at all (the plan is to use it to help with fund-raising for my fave cause), I decided to hold off for awhile on spending extra money on that detail.

I have to say, I’ve never had such a difficult experience with a project like this. The PoD version went together fine and uploaded happily to the printer of choice. I used a Book Design Templates choice called “Pulp,” which is specifically designed to save on the number of pages and also switch-hits between e-book publication and print layout. Compared with the “Focus” design I’d used for Slave Labor, the effect in page proofs was disappointing: in print, “Focus” is much more polished and handsome. Easily solved, though: I just pasted it from “Pulp” into “Focus,” did a few adjustments, and re-uploaded.

“A few adjustments” turned into a long, time-sucking slog. Probably worth it, though. In a review of the PDFs as the printer’s software received them, the new format looks very handsome.

But the e-book conversion…oh gawd. I thought I was gunna DIE. NOTHING that I did would make it work to upload to Amazon.

It did upload once. But then I needed to make some corrections, and after that… Bleyagh!!!! The main problem was it wouldn’t upload the TofC. And wouldn’t. And wouldn’t. And wouldn’t. And wouldn’t…

Word, which my associate editor and I justly call “Wyrd” (the Old English cognate for modern English “weird”), came up with every glitch it could contrive. Several of these required me to comb through all 363 pages several times removing bugs and fixing copy. It was BRAIN-BANGING tedious.

I’m pretty sure the main reason was the complexity of the book’s organization. It starts with four chapters on the diet strategy. Then it presents about 125 recipes, organized in 14 sections. So we had chapters, then sections, then chapters (i.e., the recipe titles) within the sections.

So I’ve spent a fair amount of today and of the past two or three days groaning in front of a computer and ripping at my hair.

Finally, Tracy Atkins of Book Design Templates came to my rescue. Tracy thinks it’s my version of Wyrd — 2008, the buggiest version Microsoft every produced, wouldncha know — and suggests I should pay the price to connect with Wyrd online.

I’ve resisted this, because

a) I hate, loathe, and despise the effing “Ribbon”;
b) Signing up for Wyrd represents ANOTHER monthly drain on my checking account, which I do not welcome by any means whatsoever; and
c) I welcome yet another goddamn learning curve even less than I welcome yet another monthly budget drain.

In a draftig way, I uploaded the content of a short novel and thought it worked  just fine. But no. On second look, I see it ALSO didn’t upload the TofC links.

So obviously, I’m going to have to find a way to get an updated version of Wyrd. And that’s going to be a hassle of the ongoing variety.

But I must say, I am utterly hassled out right this minute. I’ve wasted three full days on this shit, during which I’ve written all of about four paragraphs in the current Bobbi & the Biker series.

You know, if I had wanted to do book production, I would have gotten a degree in graphic arts, not in English. I would have made myself unemployable with an MFA in design, dammit, not with a Ph.D. in late Renaissance and Early Jacobean literature and history!!!!!

Claro que I am not a creature of the endlessly dystopic 21st Century.

Producing a PDF for a Printer

Okay, so using a preformatted Word template, I did the page layout for Slave Labor, which just now exists solely in e-book form. By way of learning how to do it, I want to present the thing to a print-on-demand outfit, of which there happens to be one here in lovely uptown Phoenix.

Normally, when you prepare page layouts for a printer, your PDFs have to include what is called crop marks, which show the printer where the edge of the printed document will be, based on your book or brochure’s trim size. They look like this:

cropmarks-02Word has no function that will allow you to make these. So, a PDF created with Word’s “Save as PDF” command does not now and never will have crop marks.

To make them, you need to create the PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

I happen to have a copy of Acrobat Pro on my handy-dandy MacBook, but the dear Apple folks rendered it nonfunctional with one of their endless effing updates. So it’s useless.

In response to Apple’s decision to invalidate an entire suite of software used by millions of graphic artists, most of whom own Macintosh hardware because said software works a lot better on a Mac than in Windows, Adobe moved its programs into the cloud.

You can still buy a copy of Acrobat Pro: $445. Or you can subscribe to it, to the tune of $15 a month.

This presents a problem or two or three…

1. Honestly. I don’t want to buy an expensive piece of software or commit to a year-long subscription unless I know I’m going to use it regularly and a lot. We’re still in the sandbox stage with this self-publishing adventure. I don’t know if or when the enterprise will show any sign of life. If it doesn’t return $445 (so far Slave Labor has netted a grandiose $9), buying it will cost my shirt.

2. Some printers do not require crop marks. I don’t know which do and which don’t, and I don’t want to approach the outfit I hope to work with until I have something to approach them with. Finished camera-ready PDFs.

3. At $15/month, the free-standing version would pay for itself in 30 months. Clearly, if my scheme to build a publishing empire quickly comes to naught (as most entrepreneurial schemes do), then I’d be better off to subscribe to the Acrobat’s cloud version. But… What if the self-publishing scheme works? Then a monthly subscription will soon add up to a huge waste of money. If the plan flies, I’ll need to software in-house, not off on someone else’s servers.

What it boils down to is, at this point,

a) one would be crazy to subscribe to Acrobat Pro; and
b) one would be crazy to buy Acrobat Pro.

We might call that the horns of a dilemma.

Since I’ll need to emit about eight or ten books, all of which are sitting in a queue waiting to be published, before I can know whether the plan is going to work, and because only three of them need to appear in hard copy very soon, we need a way around this dilemma.

Someone, somewhere must have Acrobat Pro and be willing to hire out for the tiny job of opening a Word file, clicking on two boxes in Acrobat’s “settings,” converting the file to PDF, and saving the result to disk.

So when I was over in the East Camelback district a day ago, I dropped by a FedEx office where my little editorial company does fairly regular business.

Sure, they said. They’d be happy to that conversion. Ten bucks a pop.

Well. That would be better than Adobe’s $15/month subscription if I crank out no more than one bookoid a month.

But right now we have not only the proposed PoD version of Slave Labor, we have How I lost 30 Pounds in Four Months, which is ready to go in e-book format and also should be produced in hard copy, and we have 18 serialized “books” generated from the FireRider novel, all of which in theory could be offered either as e-books or in hard copy. Plus once all the serials go online, I could in theory offer a “collector’s edition” of FireRider, publishing everything in one expensive volume.

I could easily put these things out at the rate of one a week, which is precisely what I intend to do.

At ten bucks a hit, I’d be better off to subscribe to Acrobat. And if the other novel in hand comes into being very soon, then I might as well buy the damn program.

So I called my honored graphic designer and whined about this state of affairs. He said he could make the conversions — no problem. And we discussed converting his cover design for the originally planned full-length FireRider into covers for each of 18 serials. He doesn’t seem to think it’ll be very hard, but…when I reached him yesterday he was knee-deep in another client’s project. So how soon we’ll get that under way remains to be seen.

He also said, though, that most printers demand crop lines only if the pages contain bleeds. If it’s all copy, the way most novels are, crop lines may not be necessary at all.

Amateur publishers across the Web report variously that some PoD publishers won’t look at your project unless you’ve generated PDFs with crop lines, and some will take PDFs without them.

 At any rate… It appears that if you can find someone to use Acrobat Pro to create your PDFs for a minimal amount — $5 per document or less — it would be cost-effective to hire the job out. At $10 per document: maybe not so much.