Recently, I was lucky to meet an amazing woman who also is an octogenarian. We got together to create a trade paperback for her son, whom I met at a writer’s class. He is now a pretty darn good muckety muck* on Amazon with his first eBook. But she wanted a real book—to hold in her hands, to share with her friends, to just have it.
So we got together and yakked it up and I said, “Oh, yeah, I know how to do all this….” Sure I did.
The process is a huge undertaking. No wonder writers pay other people a lot of money to do all this dithery stuff. We just want to write, really, and maybe put up a fairly good book in the end!!!
But alas, unless you want to stay on the sidelines—or the side of someone’s desk for a gazillion years, you have to learn all about direct publishing. So we went to Create Space and set up an account. The first part was easy – your name, the name of the book, getting an ISBN – they do that for you, which is nice. Then, we got to the interior design. OMG! So, here is what happened: First we had multiple conversion errors. OK, so I left it as and 8½” by 11” file. Then I resized it. Then I forgot to save it as a .pdf file. Then I forgot to embed the text (Whaaaa?). Sizing and gutters and embedded texts, OH MY!
The biggest thing I learned out of this: Never ever never never never never never never never never never never use the templates…. Do it all in Word: Set up your margins exactly as they specify and set it up on a blank page in Word or Open Office. And, don’t forget the gutters! Page breaks, and section breaks, headers and footers, making sure the headers and page numbering started on the correct page. Those were allllll a nightmare!
Upload upon upload upon upload, etc. It is maddening. You get the picture. Finally, it looks right…. Whew!
I don’t even want to talk about the Cover conversion. I’m not going there (OK well maybe a little bit). It’s a .pdf file that includes the front cover, spine and back matter specifications…. All you had to do is remember your high school math for all those formulas:
For a 5.25” x 8” book you need this: Width: .125 +5.25 + .74316 + 5.25 + .125 = 11.49316; Height: .125 + 8 + .125 = 8.25
CMYK, RGB color, 100% flattened to one layer and minimum resolution of 300 DPI. Argh! I know geeks understand this, but let’s face it, this old nerd was out of her league! So, fortunately, I got some help for all that. Too many big words and big software programs that I don’t have in my possession…. Thanks to the author for his help. Whew!
At least the KDP conversion was easy. (The author already did it!) But, eBooks are way cool. I’m liking them more and more…. (Especially that big print!)
I learned a lot from my octogenarian friend. I learned that I can do more than I think I can. She learned more than she will ever need to know about computery stuff, and we had a blast. I cooked, we ate, we talked and talked and talked. I made a good friend.
So, for all you young media consumers out there, please take a moment and thank us lowly old people who still like to write for you. Give us a break when you find a few errors. We really try hard to come up with good products. We really try to learn new stuff. It’s just that that pesky writing always gets in the way…..
*Big boy, big cheese, bigfoot, biggie, big gun, big leaguer, big-timer, big wheel, bigwig, fat cat, heavy, heavy hitter, heavyweight, high-muck-a-muck (or high-muckety-muck), honcho, kahuna, kingfish, kingpin, major leaguer, muckety-muck (also muck-a-muck or mucky-muck), nabob, nawab, nibs, nob, pooh-bah, wheel.