Short, Sweet and Sassy

While I was stuck in bed away from my working computer and basically miserable, I couldn’t help but think of writing. Specifically synopsis and what really makes a good one. One that’s interesting, draws you right in but though it doesn’t lie and clearly mentions key point’s also doesn’t give anything away. Brief without feeling like an ad, in short: nothing if not distilled awesome.

In my head if it’s got to be short, sweet and sassy it’s got to be this brief description of the classic film, The Wizard of Oz.

Written Rick Polito for a 1998 TV Guide, this little gem has made the rounds of the internet meme scene for years and it’s entirely true and ridiculously intriguing for a modern audience (on the off chance that there’s someone alive who hasn’t seen the Wizard of Oz) all within the scope of one sentence.

In my fevered state of course I had to try my hand at a few similar snippets for one of my books as well.

Ash of Ambitions

  • Innocent woman gets caught up in the sinister machinations of a murderous family’s plots.
  • Sweet loner has unwanted guests suddenly heaped upon her. Body count rises.

Well that was fun. Got any sassy little blurbs of your own to share? Go ahead and post ’em in the comments.

Tumblr

Big news flash and sounding of sirens.

I have a new Tumblr account.

That’s it.

I honestly have no idea what I’m going to do with it or if it really has anything to do with my writing and should therefore be brought up here. Probably not. Though I did notice a lot of villain love going on on Tumblr, which is why I made the account (all of my characters could be called villains, even the nice ones, no really) but I’m not sure what to do with it beyond that except enjoy basking in the love of really questionable men and women with my people.

If you’ve got a villain related Tumblr feel free to post in the comments! I’m desperately looking for more villainy to follow. Especially female villains. So far my Tumblr is almost entirely Hannibal, not that the well mannered cannibal isn’t an awesome villain – I just live for variety.

When To Pay, When NOT To Pay: Book Baby Update

I’ve previously mentioned BookBaby here in the “you’d have to be crazy to pay these prices for this ‘service’ which you could do just as well yourself for free,” column of my When To Pay, When NOT to Pay series. Things have changed though so I suppose it’s worth a quick update.

The primary sticking point for me with BookBaby in the past was their paid ebook formatting and publishing options, all of which any ebook author should be able to do for themselves. Far as I’m concerned knowing how to properly format your own ebook and upload it to the sites of your choosing is as essential as knowing how to change a flat tire and any site that preys on people who haven’t yet figured out how easy it is for authors to do for themselves – is bad news. Now that BookBaby is offering to let authors do these things for themselves, for free, has my opinion of the site changed along with their policy?

Not really no.

There are already a lot of great ways to aggregate your ebook on the various ereader sites, most of which have always been free for authors to use (any cost comes out of the ebook’s price, authors pay nothing up front). Then there’s the various ereader sites themselves for which multiple formatting might be a bit of a pain but it ‘costs’ authors even less than going through an aggregate site. Most of those aren’t mostly in the business of trying to push additional services on Indie Authors (don’t get me wrong, some do offer ‘extras’ like cover design etc. it’s just never been their main money making focus) while BookBaby has always been about selling authors a bill of goods first and selling the authors books second.

That’s just not a great way to get my business or my endorsement.

Book Interior Formatting: Dotting Your I’s and Crossing Your T’s – Final Checklist

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

At this point I’m almost done formatting my second paperback book, so it’s time to go back over the whole and make sure I’m not making any glaring errors that would make all the hoops I’ve gone through so far, to save money and appear professional, a waste.

  • Odd numbered pages appear on the right (During the hell of formatting page numbers, double checking them, fixing them, etc; you might notice that you’ve got everything perfect and working, except – all the even numbered pages appear on the right side of your book. Yes it’s worthwhile to go back and fix it as it’s the #1 amateur mistake noticed by book designers and readers alike.)
  • Copyright page (Yes, some indie publishers don’t bother to include one in their paperbacks and the lack of one is a clear give away of an amateur operation.)
  • No page numbers on Chapter pages and other front and back matter and/or appropriate roman numbering for those pages that need it. (First page of a chapter – shouldn’t have numbers on it, you can have numbers on a index page or prologue but they should be roman numerals.)

If you’ve got those three covered – congrats! You should be able to print a passably professional looking (at least from a distance, if you squint and don’t know too much about book design) paperback novel!

Be sure to check out the other steps on formatting your paperbacks interiors with Microsoft Word:

And as always – if there’s anything I’ve neglected to cover that you want to know, just ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Draft2Digital

By now if you’re an indie publisher, author or hoping to pursue independent publishing in one way or another – you’ve probably heard of Draft2Digital. But just in case you haven’t, Draft2Digital.com is a publishing platform like Smashwords’ infamous meat grinder in that Draft2Digital (D2D) lets you take your unpublished manuscript, format it for various stores.

What makes D2D different from all the other publishing platforms? You get access to all the markets at once! That means you can publish on the Kindle, Apple devices, Nook, various other ebook readers and even Createspace from one simple website. Not even Smashwords allows you to publish paperback books at the same time as your ebook and Smashwords’ method of taking your carefully crafted manuscript and placing it on all those platforms is, to be horribly frank, nothing short of putting your work in a mangler and hoping it comes out the other end in a legible format.

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Book Interior Formatting: The Dreaded Page Number

Formatting. Everytime I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Everytime, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Everytime, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

The Dreaded Page Number

Dead tree books, unlike ebooks, require page numbers, page numbers that can be an ever loving pain in the all get out to format properly. In order to mimic as closely as possible a book published by one of the big six publishing companies (never mind that the sizes available from Createspace are all wrong for a proper pocket paperback) you’ll need page numbers at the top of each page but excluding most of your front number pages as well as the first page of each chapter and you’ll also want the author’s name on alternate pages from the title of the book, again excluding your front and back matter pages.

In any other document, page numbers are easy so it always throws me for a loop how hard they are to format for a paperback. Click on images for a larger illustration of the steps.

Section Breaks

First thing you’re going to want to do is open your document and click on “show paragraph formatting” in the ‘home” tab of word. Then you need to go through each chapter (currently I find it’s easiest to do these one at a time) and make sure to delete any Page Breaks you see, in their place you’ll go to the “page layout” tab and select “breaks,” you’ll be adding “next page” or “next odd/even page” Section Breaks where you previously had page breaks.

Author/Title

Once you have those set up you can go ahead and click on the header portion of your document to open up the header/footer editor. Find the first page of your chapter and enter in either your name or the name of your novel, make sure that “different first page,” “Different Odd & Even Pages” and “link to previous” are all checked.

Page Number

Pg-#-Current-Pos-1

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Book Interior Formatting: Getting Fancy

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

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Book Interior Formatting: Chapter Headers

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

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Book Interior Formatting: Paragraphs

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

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Paperback Book Cover Design

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

First up: paperback book covers.  These are always a PITA to do because all of the POD have slightly different available trim sizes and each book requires a custom spine size, which effects the overall dimensions of your book cover. This particular ‘how to’ isn’t going to go into photomanipulation or fonts, as I’ve already discussed that at length in my “When to Pay, When Not to Pay” series. This time I’m going to cover finding the dimensions for your paperback book reliably, easily and without too many headaches.

Unlike with your ebook covers, which are a standard rectangle (usually 800×600 pixels) each paperback or hardcover book’s cover is unique thanks to things like ‘page bleed,’ ‘trim area,’ ‘live area,’ and the all important, all frustrating, spine width. Thankfully most of the POD sites offer some form of book cover ‘calculator’ that will estimate the overall size of the book cover for you based on the size of the book you want or they offer templates that are both completely useless and a big help.

Alright, first decide on which POD site you’re using (this time I wanted to use Lulu as I want a proper pocket book sized novel but as I went on I realized they were not cost effective so I’m back with Createspace though I hate them). Find their templates page and download a template for the inside of your book as well as the book cover.

Next: get a rough and dirty working estimate of your page count. Open the interior book template, locate the section where your text would go and highlight all of it. Open your book and hit ctrl+a then copy the entire text. Go back to the interior book template and paste the unformatted copy of your book into the highlighted section, in entirety. Wait for it to load, then look at the final page count of your novel. You might want to adjust fonts and font size now to get a slightly more accurate page count.

Go to the site’s book cover calculator, paste the page total in to the calculator where required. Now things get slightly different for Lulu vs Createspace. The following is a very rough and tumble summary of final fine tuning for your images. If anyone gets lost, please post a comment and I’ll amend the guide with additional information to answer you questions.

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