I can’t quite believe that I’ve just spent the past four months formatting my five novels for Amazon’s “print-on-demand”…and I still haven’t managed to finish yet. Why so long, you ask? Ah. Therein lies a tale. I downloaded the “easy” template, the 5”x8”, and started pasting in my text, only to discover a couple of kinks in the file that prevented me from doing this easily. No matter. I would format the text myself. Six weeks later I had almost finished all five novels (and made the covers with the downloadable cover templates, which really are a joy to use), when it occurred to me to print out a couple of test pages to see what they would look like. Oh dear. The typeface—11pt Garamond—looked very cramped and small. Nor was there any “leading” (rhymes with wedding), that tiny extra space between lines that allows your eye to travel quickly without losing your place. Back to square one.
You may be wondering why I couldn’t simply “select all” and change the type size to 12pt, then add some leading while I was at it. In fact I could and I did. But I also had to clear all the character spacing I’d put in—which had taken up most of my time—and begin the process over again. Five books. Over a third of a million words in total. Oh yes.
Character spacing, I hear you ask? Anyone who reads ebooks (or poorly formatted paperbacks) will know that you nearly always end up with those four or five words spaced badly across a line every time the first word in the next line is too long to be accommodated. But by decreasing the spacing between the letters, sometimes it can be made to fit. There’s a trade-off, however: gently does it, as the effect can be noticeable. Don’t whatever you do use “scale width”. The results are ghastly.
I also had to make a set of new covers because the books were now longer and fatter, and it’s at this point I learned about a little something called “colour profiles”. Oh, what a learning curve! Computers use an RGB profile (Red, Green, Blue), whereas commercial printing presses require a CMYK one (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK)—a profile which contains approximately only one third of the colours of RGB. That bright, bright green that practically fluoresces off the page in RGB ends up looking like the dark, dull peel of a lime in CMYK. Not one for surprises, I did the conversion myself (a process that takes a mere couple of clicks in Photoshop—the full version, not Elements; it’s the one thing Elements cannot do), and hey-ho: the dark, dull peel of a lime. At least I could now manipulate it into something a bit more acceptable. Photoshop also allows you to save the file as a “press quality” PDF, which is the kind Kindle asks for (though I suspect they automatically convert those that are not).
The one thing I’ve learned from all this is that every decision is a compromise. I can now see an end in sight (just) and hopefully at some point later this month all my titles will finally appear in print (sigh) without too many surprises or disappointments. To help publicize this, I’ve put together a video. Well, actually there are two videos, identical in every respect except for their soundtracks, and here I would love your help. Which one do I use? Vivaldi or Bach? I’d like to know what you think, especially if you’ve read any of the Octavius Guy books in the past. Only one will replace the previous ones here on my website, and also on Goodreads, Amazon’s Author Central, and at Smashwords. But which?
Finally, if I’ve whetted your appetite, as a small token of my thanks for taking the trouble to find this page, I’d like to offer you a download of Big Bona Ogles Boy (Send for Octavius Guy #3) for free. Purchase it at Smashwords.com and, when it comes time to pay, use coupon code: MR99Y. This offer is available until November 30th, 2017.