Here’s a picture of my first proof for Seeing Things. I guess I put a photo up here before. There’s something really exciting about holding a paper version of your book in your hand.
It took a lot of frustration and exploration to get it to this point. I had been told I had to get my book in PDF form in order to get it on CreateSpace. A PDF converter is easy enough, but I could only convert it as an the 8 1/2 x 11″ document that it defaulted to on word. It took a while to realize that Word has hidden tools that will let you change the paper size and margins. But what paper size? What margins? Well, they say if you want to do something well, a good idea is to copy someone who did it right. Enter Ms. Valentine’s lovely book (which you ought to read.)
This is kind of what I wanted my book to look like. So I opened it up and took a ruler to measure margins and page size. I used it to tell me where to have the title page and where to have the isbn page, and all those other things you think you know just because you’ve read a zillion books (but don’t.)
I had some obstacles formatting it to this stage. The biggest one was figuring out how to remove the headers and footers from the title and blank pages. The CreateSpace forums told me how to do it, but it still wasn’t obvious or intuitive. I tried to follow the directions, but it wasn’t working. I’d get frustrated to tears, then have to take a break and go back to it, hoping I’d see something I hadn’t before. Finally I got past this. I uploaded my document (and you don’t have to convert it to PDF after all, so I didn’t even need the PDF converter software I’d downloaded). I uploaded my photo. I reviewed it. I ordered a proof. I waited.
Then the book came. See photo above.
When I first decided to make the cover, I used the same photos as I’d used from the ebook cover. It wasn’t until holding the proof in my hands that the poor resolution became apparent. The text, especially was not pretty. I knew the original photo had been with an older camera, so I chalked the poor resolution of the cup to that, and assumed that GIMP just had weak text tools. Like I mentioned before, Jeremy had similar problems making a CD cover, and he told me he used Paint or another tool, then created a PDF of that text and used it as an image.
We took new photos, and I started over from scratch. However, no matter what I used to make the text, it remained blurry. Finally, we figured out the problem. I hadn’t set the image resolution high enough when I created it.
So I started over again with new photos. I couldn’t get the shadow right, so I decided to just make an oval that looked like a shadow. This took me maybe eighteen tries.
The other problem with the first draft is that the margins were off. Somehow it had defaulted itself to 1″ lower margins. The page numbers were too high as well (.5″ instead of .3″), and it took a while to figure out where to go to fix that. That took a few pages off my manuscript length, which meant that the PDF would have to be resized, but I figured 6-10 pages wasn’t going to make a difference. The gutter margin was a little deep, but I’d been told to make it deeper than you think it needs to be, so I left it.
Other problems: the lower margin seemed to flutter from page to page. I was told to “shut off widow and orphan control” to take care of this. I did that, and it removed 7 pages from my manuscript, but I figured 7 pages wouldn’t make a difference.
I did a lot of digital proofs to get this one. Tweak, submit. Wait a day. Open, review. Tweak, submit, wait a day. Open, review. Tweak, submit, wait a day. Open, review. I think it took three times before I was ready to order another proof.
And…here’s my lovely proof! Oh, wait. Why is it orange? It’s supposed to be burgundy. The first one was a kind of reddish brown, which was close, but this is definitely orange. Also, the shadow looks weird. Good news though, the auto-correct PDF that CreateSpace did didn’t alter the image significantly.
Flipping it open, I see that now the “a little bit wide, but okay” gutter margin looks HUGE. Once I fixed the bottom margin and the page number placement, the aspect ratio of the extra-wide gutter margin was way off. Displeasingly off.
Doing some research, I figured out that the problem was that the “gutter margin” meant what you add in addition to the left or right margin, not instead of the left or right margin. So instead of .75″, it was 1.35″. Okay, that’s easy to fix. Just change the numbers. This removed over thirty pages from the length of the manuscript, but the PDF sizing adjustment had worked fine before, so I wasn’t worried about it.
Also, the page numbers weren’t right. Each chapter page has its own section, and I had to alter the page number margin for every one.
After I finished the interior, I tinkered with the coloring of the exterior, altering several layers so that it was closer to the dark red I wanted. My friend Keyan had made some promo postcards last year with quotes from some positive reviews, so I used those quotes on the back. I liked the way they made the layout look.
Upload, submit, wait. Review digital proof, order physical proof. Wait.
Got this last Thursday. I was so excited, and showed it to everyone. It’s finally done, I said. People asked when it would be available for purchase, and I said “soon.” I was relieved. It’s finally done.
Then I showed it to Jeremy. He immediately pointed out that the cover was squished. The cup wasn’t round anymore. That last 30 pages made a difference. Also, they’d warned me that the author photo wasn’t high enough resolution, and while I didn’t notice or care, Jeremy pointed out the pixellation along the nose, and then I did notice (and care.)
No. It was good enough, I insisted. At least the interior was perfect, I said. Then I idly flipped through and found out that wasn’t the case. Some of the continuous page breaks came on the wrong side of the carriage return, causing weird word spacing. Noticable word spacing. My fingers are pointing to the line on the left.
Frankly, I sulked. I didn’t want to work on it anymore. I’m so tired of working on it. I pouted. Also fumed. Then I cried. Then I resigned myself to one more proof.
Jeremy figured out how to upload a better resolution of the photo. I altered the cover art to shrink the horizontal measurement without comprimising the significant layers. I fixed the strange sentence spacing. I stayed up late so I could submit for review and order my proof the next day. On Saturday, April 7th, I ordered another proof.
I noticed the next must-fix mistake before I’d even gotten the proof back. Those widows and orphans? Yeah, apparently there are people who care about that stuff. To me it’s like worrying whether your napkin has been folded into a swan or not. WHO CARES?
But people do care. I didn’t manually alter the kerning and line spacing to make sure there were no widows at all (I assume word can do that, but have no delusions that it’s easy or clean). I completely ignored orphans. I did, however, alter sentence structure so that one and two word widows or “runts” got sucked back into the previous page, and when that wouldn’t work, I added descriptions to the end. I think it looks a little neater. It’s not flawless, but 99.8% of readers won’t notice.
Still waiting for the proof to arrive later this week, at which point, I’ll upload the new interior, make any corrections to the cover’s color, submit, review, and order another proof. Maybe that one will be done. I’d like to just take a break from it for a while, but I know of a couple book clubs that are looking at adding my book, and it’s hard to make a book club get a book that’s only available electronically.
I sure hope TREEMAKER goes easier.