So you’ve written the great book, been to the Inkwell workshop, and got your cover design process underway. All you’ve got to do now is get the material into the zone with Createspace and KDP.
Not a bother….
Pardon? Not a bother with the typesetting, font choice and size, leading, frontwork, copyright page, acknowledgments and the rest?
That’s right. Even with my first novel, I was able to find an almost painless way through the process, thanks to a wonderful service from a small Australian company called bookow.com.
I came across them in an Indie publishing blog and checked them out. In fact I was almost put off trying to navigate their website, which is a bit, shall we say, off-putting. But the cost was so reasonable that I decided to try it out, and was gratified by the results.
Interestingly, the site portrays itself as a formatting and typesetting service, which it certainly is, but for me the biggest benefit was the simplified navigation through the Amazon and KDP processes.
So how does it work?
Well you sign up for the trial, sign in, and five minutes later you are uploading your Word file (saved as a Word 97-2003 document).
So far, so good. What about the rest?
The other bits – the frontwork etc. – are all done using a fill-in-the-blanks approach on a web form. You are given the option to add Title, Author, Imprint, Copyright variables (the system generates all the legal stuff), Dedication, Acknowledgements, ISBN, Foreword, Prologue and so on. Fill those in and you are ready to go. That bit is easy, and about a minute later you get a message that it has all checked out, or if there have been any problems. For me, the only problem was occasionally uploading a Word 2007 file by mistake.
Now here’s the really neat bit. As soon as it checks out, you are able to download a fully typeset PDF.
All you have to do is choose the page size you want for your book, the font for the Title (I used Trajan), the font for the Text (I used Chaparral, as I wanted a 1940s look to the work), the size (I chose 11pt) and the leading size (I went with 14pt). Press the button, and two minutes later there is your beautiful typeset baby ready for you to admire. Or copy edit and edit and edit and tinker and experiment.
If you don’t like it, you simply change the parameters and download it again.
You can send the PDF to your Kindle account, to read it on your Kindle or iPad, or off to your friends or editor to comment upon. One interesting point that I found is with that each time I read it on a different medium, different errata became apparent.
Finally you’re done tweaking, and it’s time to go to (e-)print. Off goes the final PDF to Createspace, and ten minutes later they confirm that you’re error-free. Except in one case where I specified different page sizes in Bookow and Createspace. They did their best, but it didn’t quite work…
Two iterations of proof copies later, and the work has just been released on Amazon.
Oh, and what about e-books? That too. Using the same uploaded files, instead of requesting a PDF download, you specify mobi for Kindle, or ePub, and a minute or so later there is your file downloaded, ready to be sent to KDP or whoever.
So a beautifully typeset work, and the process absolutely simplified. What’s not to like for Aus$69 per book?
Very little indeed. In fact just a few small niggles. It prefers to do its own hyphenation, and it is perhaps a little bit too aggressive. My copy editor and wife (same person at present) found it a bit annoying, but we learned to live with it.
Also, Italics occasionally got set off mid-way through a long paragraph. It’s a known quirk that Steve at bookow is trying to track down. I fixed it myself by switching back to Normal font for the full stop at sentence ends, then switched back into italics for the next sentence. The first person to spot where I have used a normal full stop, as opposed to one in Italics gets a refund of the book price!
Page sizing shows up a bit of a problem in the Createspace model. As you all no doubt know, the Createspace costing model is done by page count, irrespective of size. From an economic point of view that pushes the author towards a 6 x 9in size, which for me is too big for comfort. I started therefore at 5.25 x 8in. The problem then unfortunately is that the Createspace guidelines, which bookow adhere to, are for .5in and .6in gutters. The result is a rather short print line.
Steve offered to do some custom design if I was fixated on the smaller page size, but I went with a simpler solution and switched to a 5.5 x 8.5in size, which I am comfortable with physically, and gives a much better balance on line length. That involved Createspace issuing a new ISBN for the revised book, but there was no cost involved.
The other small gap is that while there are a wide range of options for the frontwork, there are only a few for the backwork. (Is that a word?) I had to improvise to get what I wanted, and Steve plans to increase the options in a new release.
All-in-all, a marvellous addition to the tool box. I certainly wouldn’t be published yet without it.
And Steve is a really helpful guy as well.
Want to have a look at the final product? The frontwork and Chapter One are included on my website.
or you can check out An Invitation to Hitler at Amazon here.
About An Invitation to Hitler
Britain stands alone, its Army broken in the Battle of France by the advancing German panzers; the retreating troops barely rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk.
In London, Winston Churchill, newly appointed as Prime Minister, struggles to impose his authority on the Cabinet. Some of them believe there is no choice but to seek a deal with Hitler.
On the coast of France the German army awaits its orders. The Luftwaffe intensifies its air assault on Britain, as the battered country tries frantically to shore up its defences. But after weeks of heroic effort, the RAF is weakening. The country is close to collapse. There are peace marches, riots, reports of mutinies, even hints of disloyalty close to the throne.
But Hitler is strangely reluctant to launch the invasion. He would prefer the British to sue for peace, so that he can turn his attention to his real enemy, in the East.
Then there is movement in England. An unknown group appears from the shadows and makes contact with the Nazis, seeking talks.
Who are they? What power do they have? Are there traitors even inside the Cabinet?
Who has sent An Invitation to Hitler?