If you were reading along with us last Friday, we kicked off with How to Write a Book and the fun of using the WordPress cousin PressBooks. I hope you have taken the opportunity to go over to PB to sign up for a free account, play around with the bells and whistles and start getting familiar with your own no harm/ no foul “Test Book.”
Haven’t visited yet? Click on the PressBooks badge to the left and it will land you there…but not until you’ve read today’s post of course 😉
Last year Dollbaby surprised me when she came home from school one Thursday (Library day for her K class) and was eager to show me what she had learned. She tore through her backpack and found the “Go Dog Go” book she had checked out for the week.
While I thought I was in for a session of reading the famed “Go Dog” a few dozen times, she had other plans in mind. She carefully held the book in front of her (teacher style) and began pointing out and naming all the parts of the book:
Well, I was elated with the knowledge my little Grand-product had absorbed that Thursday! What ARE they teaching kids these days? Most adults I know couldn’t do a full scale tour of a book like this if they had to!
After she finished her lecture on the parts… the Go Dog Go marathon was on! I think I read through it, working that stitched and glued spine, a good six times before I finally talked her into a snack instead of another round of her “Dr Seuss I Can Read Club” pick.
So here, in part two, we will talk a little about the uber-confusing stuff that has to do with the “P” word (shhh…P stands for “Publishing”…quite terrifying in many circles!).
Here are THREE things I think you need to consider before you get into your book-writing project too deeply. Considering and understanding these 3 things up front, will save you from a lot of backtracking and frustration later
Take a breath, we’re going in!
1. Who are you writing this book for? This may sound like the world’s dumbest question, but many–if not all–decisions you’ll be making from this point forward are highly dependent on your answer to this simple question.
For whom am I writing this book?
Chew that over for a moment. Who is going to read this…realistically. Let’s have a moment here to agree and understand that your relatives are no more or less fascinating than mine. If they are, then you will likely find their stories already written up and sitting on the shelves at your local library.
My Hubby’s family claims relation to the “Daniel Boone” line. Search Amazon books for Daniel Boone, and as of this writing, you will get a count of 4158 results, not counting movies and books on tape. I’d say his clan has plenty of opportunity to read about Uncle Dan and Aunt Becky.
There are of course rare exceptions when a writer with an exceptional “voice” has an equally exceptional flare for telling stories about extremely memorable stories of their own comparably ordinary family.
The other 99% of us will eek out sales between 50 to 100 copies of our masterwork.
In my opinion, that’s still pretty danged cool!
So answer that question honestly for yourself. Who do you think will actually pay the $10 to $15 it will cost them to own one of these books? Count them up..go ahead and ask them before you begin!
Yes, I am aware, you can do an Ebook (made for reading only on a screen, like your computer/pc, laptop, iPad, Nook or Kindle) for little to nothing (charging less than a dollar is not unusual) how many of your relatives / buyers would actually appreciate only an E-reader copy?
Also consider this one: Will “certain” factions of your family cringe in horror if your hard work and sweaty talents are turned out only as a softcover book? These are real questions to ask yourself.
Getting one copy of your book done in a hardback version to appease someone could easily cost about $80. Would stubborn Aunt Nell who thumbs her nose at a paperback pony-up the $80 for a (I’d put this one in writing) NON RETURNABLE hardback printed just for her? Do you care?
2. Page Size Now this doesn’t sound like a real big deal does it? It kind of is though. Especially when you are writing a book for family. Because I am going to recommend using CreateSpace to most of you as we get in a little deeper, I think that page size is pretty important to consider. Whether you end up using CreateSpace or not, they do have an extensive listing of available page sizes on their website to choose from. It’s worth looking over their offerings for the info offered, especially since they have “common” sizes noted. Page size can make a difference in pricing, in the hand-feel and readability of the book you produce, in the cover design, shipping and all kinds of stuff!
An example of where page size can come into play with pricing is in the font size you select. What are your needs? A 12point font is pretty typical, but would that be too small for many interested buyers to comfortably read? If you need to bump the font up to a 14 or 16pt size, that can really pile on the pages (and the pricing) if you don’t adjust to a slightly larger page size.
Now ideally, we wouldn’t have to bother with this, because folks in need of larger font would use an E-reader and could adjust the size of the lettering to their own liking. However, if your Mom is like my Mom…I would rather hand write the entire book on room size blackboards for her, or act out all of the scenes using household items as props than to EVER try to explain, let alone try to teach her how to even turn on an iPad!
note: if you are indeed using PressBooks, you do not have to consider page size until to are ready to publish. The formatting of pages and chapter breaks, page numbering etc will all be done for you automatically upon choosing a size. You even have the option to offer the finished book in different sizes. If you are using another format to write, you will need to set a page size and make a font selection before your first word is typed in. This includes margins at sides and footers and headers etc. So do yourself a favor and be aware of this upfront if you are writing on Word, Google docs, or even directly on the CreateSpace webpage, you will need to know your size and choose a template or adjust settings accordingly.
3. dpi Resolution is a big deal if you want to add photos and scans of documents to your work. It sounds ferociously techy–that “dpi” thing–but all it really means is “dots per inch.” There, that scales it down to normal human language! The more dots a digital eye can see in an image, the richer the photo or scan will look when reproduced.
Remember back-in-the-day when “Camera Phones” and Digital Cameras were introduced? The pix were really–hmm, personal challenge here…say it without cussing–“crummy?” That’s because the pixel (or the “dots”) count was pretty low in comparison to what the human eye was capable of “processing.” Now, my phone takes photos that are often better than my expensive 16 megapixel SLR camera I had to have. Why? Because I’m kinda lazy and rarely bother to change settings on my heavy camera.
If you are taking new photos, do some online research about your phone and your camera too.
Generally for cameras, if you start by setting it up to mimic the use of ASA100 film, you’re going to get some much higher resolution shots than on the “auto” setting. The auto-sets are a default to let you get a decent photo whether or not the subject is moving. Setting up for the old-school 100speed Kodachrome days, will give you more of a portrait quality look, and hopefully–if you are steady handed and capturing a shot of the ol’ family homestead–a nice high resolution image with lots of teency weency usable “dots.”
If you have an iPhone, or any other “smart phone” do some research on this as well. There are easy ways to get richer looking photos buried behind that settings icon on your screen. A few weeks ago, I mentioned a blog I love called “The iPhone Photographer” and even though I use an Android, reading David’s inspiring blog and seeing the cool stuff he gets a PHONE to do has been a real boost for my own phone-tography. I generally just take his topics and search them for my phone model.For example, I might Google “How to take High Resolution Photos on Samsung S5.”
If you already have a scanner, test the images for dpi on the CreateSpace tool described below along with your newly taken photos. You may need to make changes in the scanner’s settings (if available) or go buy a better quality scanner (we’ll discuss these down the line) or see if you can borrow or beg the use of a better one…without overstepping the bounds of someone’s generosity 🙂
And for heaven’s sake, if you can avoid it at all, don’t rely on the “Cloud” as the sole storage shelf for your photos and images! Stick a memory card in that phone / camera / scanner and then back it up!
You know, you may as well hope over to CreateSpace after reading this (remember, it’s free) and set up an account page so you can start testing the dpi of all your own photos. How? Play around with the “Create a Cover” feature. Each time you load a photo–pretending that you are going to use it for your cover image–a little message will pop up and tell you with Green, Yellow or Red coloration–whether or not that image is up to snuff dpi-wise. This is a fabulous feature to get familiar with. Be sure to make a note of the photo and the dpi it read as. Whether you use the image in the middle of your book, as your author head shot, or as the real cover–you will know immediately what the quality is.
How Cool Is That?
So work on familiarizing yourself with these big 3 to start off with. You’re on your way to a polished, nice looking, easy to do project that you can take pride in. In the meantime, don’t get so lost playing with the shiny new toys that you quit writing the stories!