Tag Archives: indie publishing

How to Make a Print Cover for Your Book — Post by Mary C. Findley

7 31 2015 chasing print cover

I recently helped an author friend make a print version of an ebook cover at CreateSpace.  He asked me to give some instructions for the next time. This post assumes you have an image manipulation program and know how to use it fairly well. I won’t be explaining details about tools and techniques. I assume you know them, or else, not to be unkind, you can’t do this.

I also post this caution. I am a cover designer and people pay me to do this for them because it is not easy.  Print covers are especially difficult. I am not saying I don’t like to help do-it-yourselfers, but I am giving you fair warning that it is hard.

So here it is, as simple as I can make it. Anyone who has any questions, please feel free to email me mjmcfindley@gmail.com This post is only about making a print cover, and from a finished ebook cover, and nothing about the book’s interior. If anyone would like to know my process for that, please let me know at the email address above.

When making a print cover, CreateSpace  gives three options. Most of us choose not to take the professional design services option because of cost. That leaves two more choices: 1. use the cover designer or 2. upload your own print-ready pdf.

The first option is one that many of my author friends have used with success. CreateSpace offers different background designs and layouts. Authors can use their own images if they fit correctly into the spaces. This is where some authors have not been so successful. This was the case with the friend I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

I made his ebook cover so I took a personal interest in trying to help him make it work. He relayed to me the error messages he got as his cover was rejected by the cover designer program. I changed the size of the front cover, created a back cover panel — nothing seemed to work, including re-making the size to their specifications.

I didn’t deal directly with CreateSpace so I’m not sure of everything that happened. I just know my author friend’s  frustration level was rising.  I wanted to help.

  1. I told him I would download a CreateSpace template of my own. This is step one, by the way, of my how-to instructions. Go to this link:   https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do Choose your color (black & white is most common. If you have a color interior, chose that. Plug in the trim size (his was 6 x 9) and the page count.  They create a zipped file containing two items: a pdf and a png file. You download that file, open it, and upload the png file into your image program. Photoshop, Corel, or whatever one you use. You will see a blank template marked with some of the instructions needed to create the cover with trim edges and spine marked.
  2. Unfortunately, in my program, PhotoImpact, it doesn’t handle that file as a png. For those with the same problem, this is an extra step if the template doesn’t have that layer with the pink lines separate from the white background. All you need to do is create a blank image the same size as (or slightly larger than) the template, copy and paste the template into it, center it, and use the magic erase tool or whatever it is called in your program to wipe out the white areas inside and around the pink template.
  3. Create a background that complements your ebook cover. That could be a simple solid color, but I like to use at least a textured background, like stone or fabric. You can get free textures at this link: http://webtreats.mysitemyway.com/ These are tileable, meaning you can fill the background with a smooth, even image. Choose a photo background instead if you wish. Make sure, again, that the background complements and doesn’t distract from your main front cover image.
  4. Lay out your ebook cover centered in the front cover area of the template. Getting an exact fit may require resizing. Don’t expect a perfect fit against the spine. When the book is completed it’s rare that the printers make an exact fold in the same place every time. I soften and fade the edges so that there’s no need to worry about an exact fit. The alternative is to try to exactly match whatever your ebook background is. That’s difficult if you didn’t make it yourself. If you did, that makes it easier.
  5. The hardest part for me is the back cover text. I suggest you lay it out a paragraph at a time. Small amounts of text are easier to manage. Pick an easily-readable contrasting text color and font. If necessary, use a screen behind the text to add contrast, and/or a thin outline, and/or a drop shadow.  Choose whether you will center it, block it, or just make normal paragraphs. This text, by the way, is your book blurb. It can be exactly what you made for your ebook upload page, or different. Up to you. Just make sure it is a comfortable fit. You can also have an author bio and image if you like. Just be aware of the space you must leave open for the barcode CreateSpace will add. It’s part of the template.
  6. The spine text is pretty simple. Type or copy and paste it in — I put the author (last name only) first and then the title and any publisher name if you use it. Then just rotate the  text 90 degrees so the head of the test faces toward the front cover. Make as sure as you can that the text fits within the pink borders. CreateSpace often says this is where you have a problem but often they just fix it and it works out fine. Make sure you delete the template, flatten or merge all parts, and save as a pdf.
  7. Remember, all images are required to be 300 DPI. Everything has to fit well within the pink lines.  Err on the side of caution. CreateSpace may still say the dimensions are off, but in every case I have let them adjust and had good results.
  8. Go through the review process, make adjustments if it doesn’t pass, and just keep at it until it does pass. “Your files are printable” is the message you are looking for.
  9. Please, please, please order a proof. Look for text too close to the spine or edge, readability, and good image quality.  Different printers produce different quality. If you can’t live with what you get, CreateSpace is good about fixing what they can. Contact them, but remember that they have what they call, paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact wording, “acceptable variations” and there’s only so much you can do.

I wish you all the best. And I’m ready to help anyone who needs it.

Image Credit: Print cover for one of my books, made using the ebook version as described in this post. Design by Mary C. Findley. Texture from Webtreats, Images from Depositphotos.com

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Step by Step and — Published!

send a white rose 9 6 2015 ebook 25

I recently made a list of the steps involved for publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site. This was for a new author whose cover I designed and whose book I edited. I thought it might be helpful to others who don’t know it’s actually not that hard to publish your own book.

Pictured above is Send a White Rose, the one I think is my first book published. (It’s a tossup between this and Benny and the Bank Robber.) Helping this new author made me think back to my first time setting up our KDP account. If we can do it, you can too!

Remember, this author had her book professionally edited and formatted, and a professionally-designed cover. So don’t skip the outsourcing to make your baby the best, if you’re not a very good do-it-yourselfer. But to keep track of your sales and make updates to your book, you need your own Amazon KDP account. So here’s how to do that.

List of steps to upload your book to Kindle Direct Publishing

1. Copy and paste this link into your internet browser window and hit enter to go to the site:
https://kdp.amazon.com/
2. If you already have an account at Amazon, you use the same user name and password to set up your author account. If not, set up an account by choosing a user name and a password. Be sure to write them down somewhere so you don’t lose access.
3. Once you are in the KDP account, you will see your “dashboard.” This is a screenshot of what the top looks like. Yours may be slightly different, since it will be a first-time publishing, and we have over 50 titles.
kdp dashboard screenshot 1
4. Click on the box that says, “Create New Title.”
5. Look at the screenshot below to see the beginning steps for uploading your book.

kdp select screenshot 2
The blue shaded box describes the KDP Select program. There are also lots of helps every step of the way and answers to most questions. If you wish, click the little box that says, “Enroll this Book in KDP Select.” There’s lots of information to be found about using KDP select during the 90 days a book is in the program so take advantage of as many of the features as you can!

6. Now you can start entering your book information and getting ready to upload it.
The first section tells you how to enter your title, author, and so on. If something does not apply, just skip it. (like the “series” part). If the publisher is the same as the author – just put in your name. The description is just that – about 300 words that will make people want to read your book, sort of a sales pitch that doesn’t give away too much but helps “sell” the book. If your book is a short work or novella, be sure to include that fact. People are sometimes disappointed by shorter works and you want to make it as clear as you can if it is not a full-length novel.

 

7. It’s okay if you have no ISBN for a Kindle book. You don’t really need one. Just skip that.
8. Here’s a screenshot of the next part of the form:
screenshot 3 kindle publish options
9. Click “this is not a public domain work” – because you wrote it.
10. “Add categories” will give you choices about how to tell people what kind of story it is. You’ll want to choose “fiction,” or “nonfiction” and then you will see a menu of sub-choices. Then you can add a second category.  You can skip the age range and grade range parts unless it applies.
11. “Search keywords” are words that computers read and store about your book, and that people can use to look up books by subject. Separate each search keyword with a comma. These can be more than one word, and there is a limit on total number of characters, but be as detailed as you can to help your book get found.
12. Next you’ll select “I am ready to release my book now.” Pre-order is something where people can buy the book before publication, usually at a discount. If you had other books that might be a good idea but since this is your first, I’d say wait for the future to do a pre-order.
13. Upload your full-sized cover. I give quarter-sized samples for approval before the final purchase, and some new authors get confused and try the small version. Amazon won’t take anything under 1000 pixels on the smallest side. Click “browse for image” find the cover file, click “open” and the cover will appear in the box that currently says “No Cover Available.”
14. Upload the book file – it can be word doc, mobi version, or even epub.
15. I suggest you choose “Do not enable digital rights management” because DRM can make it hard for some people to open or read your book, and they can’t move it from computer to kindle to phone – they can only have it on one device.
kdp screenshot next
16. Click “Save and continue” at the bottom of the first page to go on to the second page.
17. On page 2, select “Worldwide rights.”
18. I suggest you price very short works at 99 cents. That’s the lowest price KDP allows. As a first-time author, it can help you get noticed to price low. You may also get Amazon promotion in short stories and hot new release categories. Enter the price as 0.99. If it’s full-length, $2.99 or $3.99 still seem to be the best prices. You might even entroduce it at a sale price and raise it later.
19. The royalty for 99 cents is 35%. A book has to be at least $2.99 to qualify for 70% royalties. Check the little boxes beside each country in the blue shaded box area to be sure your book goes to all countries Amazon publishes in.

screenshot KDP publishing page 2
20. “Kindle Match Book” refers to having both a print and ebook version. You only have the kindle version, so ignore that one.
21. Allow lending means once people buy your book, they can let a friend “borrow” it for free. You want to check the box to allow it. Word of mouth is good publicity and letting people share your book means more people will read it. The borrow only lasts for 2 weeks and then the person who got it for free no longer has it on his/her kindle and the owner gets it back.
22. Click the little checkbox in the “save and publish” section first, so they know you understand all the KDP info, and then click the yellow “Save and publish” box to the right, also.

23. It can take 12 to 24 hours for your book to appear but usually it’s sooner. They will send you an email to the address you gave them when you set up your KDP account. IT will have a link where you can find your book.

24. To set up your account to get paid when people buy your book, click on the top right of the screen, in the blue band, where it will say, in your case, “Joan’s Account.” You will have to log in again, and it will take you to a page like this:

account screenshot

Yours will be blank, of course. Fill out your information. There are lots of helps along the right side to answer questions all through this process.
25. Next enter your bank account information. KDP pays royalties, no matter how small, about 60 days after the month in which you earned them.

bank account snip
This may seem difficult, but take your time and follow the steps and you’ll figure it out. Wherever you are in the publishing process, you can look for other posts here on our blog for suggestions about writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and promoting to get help making your book sell.

I wish you all the best! — Post by Mary C. Findley

 

 

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Interview with Cynthia Carlisle Fields about Indie Writing and The Temecula Valley Indie Christian Writers Conference

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Elk Jerky for the Soul: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Cynthia Carlisle Fields (CCF): I am an author/screenwriter from San Diego, CA. and a graduate of San Diego State University. I am a mother of 1 son, a recent Law School Graduate. I have published 2 books and I am currently working on my first novel. I also host/publish 2 websites; The Derek Morgan Chronicles (www.thederekmorganchronicles) and Writers Stew (www.writersstew.com).

My Feelings on Indie…

I’m proud to say that I am an Indie writer. It gives me the freedom to be as creative and as aggressive as I want to be in marketing my work and myself. For years there has been a stigma against indie writers and many believe that our work or our method of publishing somehow is inferior to traditional methods. That can’t be further from the truth. Indie simply means that we have accepted full responsibility for publishing and marketing our work. In fact, most of books that you see on bookshelves today are authored by indie writers.

I am confident in my gifts as a writer and I don’t feel that it is necessary to wait for a few publishing houses with a limited staff to validate me as an author. I prefer to eliminate the wait and cut the middleman. While traditional publishers have their merits, when they handle the cost of publishing and marketing it could take up to 2 years or more for your book to reach the retailer.

My books look and feel just like any other publisher’s, they meet all industry standards for publishing and when you walk in the bookstore they represent me like any other book represents its author. Indie authors are enjoying impressive sales at the counter of retailers worldwide and I encourage writers to consider the Indie market.

As an Indie writer I have learned to be aggressive in my pursuit of my craft, because of the pursuit and God’s blessings, I am so excited to see that my work is being accepted throughout the industry and I have even sold a script for a feature film that will begin production in 2016.

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Elk Jerky: When is this conference? And what kind of conference is it? Who is it tailored to?

CCF: The Temecula Valley Indie Christian Writers Conference will be held March 18-20, 2016. This is a conference for writers or those with a desire to become writers. It is designed to assist Indie writers by sharing information and tools that will help assist in finding publishing opportunities, exposure for their work and to take their careers as writers to the next level. The conference is tailored to the Indie Christian writer however, the workshops, networking opportunities and publishing information can be used by any and all writers regardless of genre.

Elk Jerky: What made you decide to coordinate an indie writers’ conference?

CCF: Navigating the mysterious waters of publishing and careers in writing can be scary, murky and often the doors are not only closed but they are invisible for the indie writer. When you add being a Christian writer it can be even more daunting in pursuing a career as a writer. The number of indie writers is growing by leaps and bounds and with traditional publishing houses publishing fewer and fewer new authors each year, writers need an alternative to ways of publishing and working in the ever-changing field of writing. Ginger and I, both indie writers wanted to provide a way to help writers because knowledge is power!

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Elk Jerky: Why did you choose Temecula as a host city?

CCF: Why not Temecula? When conferences and opportunities present themselves, it’s often in larger well-known parts of the country. Temecula, which is a part of Riverside County, is ripe with talented writers. I’m from San Diego but I spend most of my time in Temecula and I am impressed by all of the writers and those wanting to write that I’ve met here over the last few years. Plus, we are only an hour from Orange County and Los Angeles, so we are hoping to attract writers from those areas as well. The fact that we are in the heart of Temecula’s amazing wine country with almost 80 wineries, along with some of the finest restaurants and eateries in the country and a hopping nightlife in Old Town, Temecula is the perfect location for our conference.

Elk Jerky: What kind of workshops are available?

CCF: We will have workshops on: Publishing, Editing, Dialogue, Effective use of Social Media, Screenwriting, How to get an agent, Writing for Worship, How to Write a Query letter, Humor, Poetry and more. We will also have a full day of workshops for young writers grades 6-12.

Elk Jerky: Who are some of the workshop instructors?

CCF: Some of our instructors include: Author Sharon Elliot; Farrell J. Foreman, Professor and Award winning Playwright, Actor and Poet; and Nikia Chaney, Professor, Editor, Award winning Poet and Cave Canum Fellow, to name a few.

Elk Jerky: Who is the keynote speaker? Could you share a little bit about her?

cheri fuller

CCF: We are excited to announce that Cheri Fuller, the author of 42 books, will be our keynote speaker!

Cheri Fuller is a gifted, inspiring communicator who speaks nationally and internationally. From the east coast to the west coast and as far away as South Africa, Brazil, Switzerland, and Singapore, Cheri presents encouraging programs that impact people. Through her engaging storytelling style and practical wisdom, audiences leave inspired and challenged to face life’s struggles with hope and purpose. She keynotes at women’s retreats and conferences, writers’ conferences, Christmas events, and national parenting seminars.

Cheri is an award-winning author of forty two books including her newest, Mother-Daughter Duet and The One Year Women’s Friendship Devotional.

A former Oklahoma Mother of the Year, Cheri has been a frequent media guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, NBC Radio News, Moody Broadcasting, and other national radio and TV programs. Her articles have appeared in Family Circle, ParentLife, Guideposts, Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, Better Homes & Gardens Faith & Spirit, and other publications.

Cheri’s passion is encouraging women and inspiring and equipping people of all ages to connect with God in their busy life and impact their world through prayer, as they live life to the fullest, focus on what really matters, and build loving connections with family and friends no matter what their circumstances.

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Elk Jerky: Are there any other events taking place at this conference? (prizes, drawings, contests, book fair, etc.)

CCF: Friday night will feature a spoken word showcase and Saturday night will showcase the work created during our Young Writers workshops. The winners of our monologue contest will also have an opportunity to demonstrate their work on Saturday evening. We will also have a community book fair all day Saturday featuring the works of local and national authors including conference instructors and attendees. Sunday, we will close the conference with a morning worship service lead by one of our local pastors!

We are running contests throughout our registration period. Currently we are sponsoring a Monologue contest and an Anthology contest in which writers are invited to enter, poetry, and short stories in all genres. The winner will be featured in our Conference Anthology publication.

Elk Jerky: At most writers’ conferences writers would love the chance of meeting industry professionals. Will there be agents, publishers, and editors available for consultations?

CCF: Yes, attendees will have an opportunity to network with industry professionals. A special meet-and-greet will be hosted by Ink and Keys on Thursday evening before the official opening of the conference. Attendees are encouraged to register early for the conference and take advantage of this amazing opportunity. Space is limited but attendees will have a chance to meet and talk to conference instructors and industry professionals over dinner at one of Temecula’s finest eateries.

Elk Jerky: Are there scholarships available?

CCF: Yes! Ink and Keys is offering a limited number of scholarships that will be awarded on a needs basis. We are also encouraging individuals, businesses and churches to consider sponsoring an attendee(s) through our sponsorship opportunity. More information can be found on our website at: www.inkandkeys.org.

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Elk Jerky: What do you hope the people attending will come away with?

CCF: I’m hoping that people will walk away with the courage to pursue their dreams of writing. With the tools and exposure that attendees will receive it is my hope that they will return home and begin writing, and believing that they have what it takes to write, to publish, to see their words come alive. The dream of becoming a writer is very possible and the only limits are those we put on ourselves.

Ink and Keys is proud and excited to bring to the Temecula Valley this amazing, timely and necessary event to the writers in the Inland Empire and surrounding areas. We pray that writers, and industry professionals will take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn and network amongst each other as we work to open doors to the Indie Christian writer.

For more information visit our website at: www.inkandkeys.org.

cynthia fields

CYNTHIA CARLISLE FIELDS BIOGRAPHY

Author** Screenwriter** Actor**Producer

Co-Creator/Host- Temecula Valley Indie Christian Writers Conference: 3/18-20, 2016: 3 day conference and book fair will offer opportunities for writers/authors to network with industry leaders in all writing genres. One-on-one meetings, workshops and breakout sessions to discuss, publishing, marketing, enhancing writing skills, mastering social networking and other tools to help take their writing careers to the next level.

Restored Me Feature Film & Soundtrack: 2/14- Present: Worked as independent contractor assisting the Executive Producers in casting background/extras; Worked with project Marketing and Public Relations Director by writing the Production Notes.

Night of Life Issues: 2/14-Lead actor in role of Lady #1-“At the Kitchen Table”. “Night of Life Issues” is a stage play that explores the many life altering issues facing women of all ages. The evening begins with several teen girls sharing their struggles with family, peer pressure and drug and alcohol abuse. At the Kitchen Table, finds five women who have been friends since childhood reconnecting one evening at the kitchen table. During the evening, secrets are revealed that will both challenge their faith and their friendship.

The Glenn Ford Story: 9/14-Present: Author & Screenwriter. In 1983, Glenn Ford was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Isadore Rozeman. Wrongly convicted, Ford served 30 years on death row making him Louisiana’s longest-serving prisoner on death row. Approaching the first anniversary of his freedom, Ford finds himself battling cancer that was originally diagnosed while in prison but was not treated due to his death-row status.

I have recently signed an agreement with Mr. Ford and his family to tell his life story and I am currently in pre-production on the film entitled, “Thirty Years of Tears.”

The Derek Morgan Chronicles: Creator & Writer: The Derek Morgan Chronicles is a Collection of Fan Fiction Stories based on the CBS Procedural Crime Drama, Criminal Minds. The stories feature the show’s original character, Derek Morgan. Nicknamed, “Fan Fiction on Steroids,” these stories explore the mind and life of the characters while interjecting new characters to create amazing and thought-provoking drama. Originally written as a blog, the chronicles is now a full-blown website that has found new life and a growing following on the Internet with nearly 150,000 views to date. (See links below).

http://thederekmorganchronicles.com
https://www.fanfiction.net/u/5113402/ddgorgeous

Writers Stew: Creator & Writer: Writers Stew is a website filled with inspirational, motivating and creative writings. The main purpose is to share my work and encourage emerging writers to pursue their passion for writing.

Priscilla Jones Shares It All: Creator/Writer. Priscilla Jones is a successful advice columnist who finds herself suddenly divorced after thirty years of marriage. Now alone she suddenly realizes that she must take the advice that she has so willingly given others as she embarks on her own quest for love and happiness (Pilot script complete and registered with WGA-West).

Cold Day: Writer. Cold day is a screenplay written for a feature film. The comedy looks into Hell on the one day that it actually freezes over! The words, “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I…” is a phrase that has been spoken with great conviction by many. Cold Day looks into the lives of three such people as Satan himself witnesses their lives from the discomfort of his frosty digs on a particularly cold day in Hell. (Pilot script is complete and registered with WGA-West.). Tentatively scheduled for pre-production, Dec. 2015.

In My Mother’s Shoes, published in March 2007 is a collection of poetry, short stories and psalms which pay tribute to my mother; it’s a book that virtually every reader can connect with as they reflect upon their mother or the person who filled the role as a mother in their lives.

Tribute to Mother, published in March 2009 is a follow up to my first book, “In My Mother’s Shoes.” This book is a collection of poetry, short stories and testimonials written by men, women and youth and original writings of mine that again pay tribute to mothers. The collection is an emotional journey through the eyes of so many who wanted to take a moment to say thank you, mother.

Recent Writing Awards:
2014 Profiler Choice Awards: Awards given for writing excellence in Fan Fiction for Criminal Minds.

*Winner, Best JJ/Morgan Story (Left Behind)
*Runner Up Best New Author
*Runner Up Best Drama (Family Reunion)

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Christian Indie Conference, Anyone? Post by Mary C. Findley

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The original Christian Indie Authors Network will hold its first official Christian Indie Author Conference July 30- August 2, 2015, at the Radisson Quad City Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 111 East Second Street, Davenport, Iowa, 52801.

I chose the image at the top because one of the themes of the Christian Indie Author Network is “A light in a dark place”. Books nowadays are getting to be pretty dark — focusing on vampire romance, demonic influence, serial killers, and so many other topics without shining the light on the hope, comfort, and heavenward focus we can have with Christ.

Please consider joining us at this conference. It’s for writers, with educational opportunities and promotional ones. I will be teaching two sessions: One on Book Cover Design for those with limited means but who still want a professional-looking cover, and one one formatting your ebook without being afraid it will be spit out by the Smashwords Meatgrinder or look like alphabet soup on Amazon.  These are just two of the author training opportunities we will present. Authors can also have a table to sell their books and meet readers. Vendors can advertise their services for authors as well.

It’s also for readers. Come meet these strange creatures called Christian indie authors. Find out about books you’ll be glad to know exist. You might even meet costumed characters and that crazy Christian Steampunk writer, Sophronia Belle Lyon.

You can reserve your hotel room, find your registration forms, and learn more about this first-ever conference for writers and readers who love it Christian and Indie!

http://www.christianindieauthors.com/cia-conference.html

(Image from pixabay)

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