Monday, September 26, 2011

Making e-books: part VI What's next?

Making e-books: What we have going next

So, this leads you to ask what are we going to come out with next? It seems like I shall focus on short stories. Kindal is our novelist. He already has four novels in various stages of completion that he is planning on publishing.

His first novel, Wolfhound is slated for release in mid-December. We already have cover art in the works and are working with a copy editor. We are very excited about this project. Wolfhound is an action-adventure science fiction story.

We are also working on an e-book anthology of Christmas short stories. For the last three years my mother-in-law has asked for Christmas stories as presents. So, we decided to put them all together in one book and send them out into the world in December.

I have three short stories currently ready for publication and two more in drafting stages. I will probably post at least one more individual Christmas short this year, and possibly a darker fantasy tale for Halloween. The rest will come out in 2011.    

Monday, September 19, 2011

Making e-books part V: The smashwords upload

Part V the upload    

After creating a Smashwords account I uploaded my story and cover, and after several minutes of waiting in the queue my story was live. My story went through their auto vetter and I had to go back and fix a few incorrect paragraph spaces and reload my document so I could get into their premium catalog, which allows your story to be distributed to Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple and other online retail outlets.

You do have to wait about three weeks for your story to show up on these outlets, but I find the wait to be worth not having to put your story up on each of these sites by myself. Overall, Smashwords was really nice to work with. I am grateful for the style guide, the service, and their features. I hope the next time I do this whole process that it will go even a little faster and smoother than this time.

Overall, I had a really fun time learning how to make an e-book, create an e-book cover, and learning how to get it up online. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Making e-books part IV: The photo shoot

Part IV Photo shoot
The biggest problem with the cover was that I really wanted to do the cover for free. It was going to take some creativity and work on my part to accomplish that, but I had resources or so I thought. First, I started looking for copyright free images. The Missing Figurine is Christmas themed and nativity sets are very important to the story. So, I wanted a nice photo of a nativity set. So, I set about on my search for public domain photo archives and other sources.

I could not find any copyright free photos of a nativity set. Is that insane or what? All the pictures were of ornaments, Santa, gifts, trees, etc. It was more than a little disturbing to me that there were no Christmas photos that actually centered on CHRIST.

So, my husband was like we have a nativity. Just set it up and do a photo shoot thing. I really didn't think we had a decent enough camera. I just have a digital point and shoot. It is a decent point and shoot, but nothing extra special.

So, while the baby was napping I hurried to get out and set up the nativity. I really have never set it up so quickly before. Usually it seems like this project takes forever, but that day it went super quick.  This is probably because I was super motivated to finish before my daughter woke from her nap. I snapped some photos from different angles, different light, different positions. Finally, I had quite a few photos to choose from. So I stopped shooting and downloaded them onto my computer.

Enter my photo program of choice Picasa, which is not really the best photo editor ever, but it is free. I like free and it has the basics, and few fun things thrown in to boot. I can’t complain at all. Especially, since it is way easy to use.

Throughout the day when I could grab a minute I would go edit the photos.  The thing that took the most time was finding a good crop. Did I try to get the entire nativity scene? (no. too wide for book cover dimensions). Did I try to get Mary, Joseph and Jesus? (nothing really excited me there.) What if I just highlight one figurine?

So I cropped around Mary and as soon as I did it I knew it was the best option I had come up with so far. I tried a few more things, but I kept coming back to that crop of Mary. I didn’t really play around with the lighting or effects. I just pushed the “I’m feeling lucky button” that auto fixes photo problems. Most of the time I don’t like what results from the “I’m feeling lucky button,” but this day found me to be lucky indeed. I was happy with the results.

So, I went tinkered with fonts, colors, and title placement for a while and at the end of it I was really pleased with the cover I had created from scratch in one day. All that was left was for me to upload.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Making e-books Part III: The Missing Figurine

Part III The Missing Figurine
So, after the rather work intensive first experience I wasn’t ready to jump on making another e-book any time soon. Plus, I really felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I needed some more information and better instructions before starting the whole process again. Then I found a guide.

Specifically, I found the Smashwords style guide. I read the entire thing once through. The little guide tells you step by step how to format your e-book so it can be in their premium catalog. I found the instructions and background info in the little book to be very instructive and helpful. So, several weeks after reading it all the way through I decided it was time to get up The Missing Figurine.

I decided to forego the whole amazon debacle again and just do the Smashwords route. It had a handy little guide with clear and sane instructions, and it put your book in multiple formats, and into multiple retail store catalogs. More bang for the effort sounded good to me.

I was surprised at how smoothly everything went this time. I didn't have to mess around with HTML code. I just learned more about the inner guts of my Microsoft Word program. It was super fun and interesting, and I was making something at the same time. So, I got everything formatted and ready on the text side of things. After that was finished all I needed was a book cover.