Tag Archives: print on demand

Paperback version of Ships of the Fleet now available

I’m pleased to say that Ships of the Fleet Vol 1 is now available in paperback thought Createspace as well as Amazon.UK and Amazon.com

Ships of the Fleet coverAs I said in my last post, I really wasn’t sure how well the print on demand system would cope with images, but they have printed out quite nicely and now I have the finished product in hand,  I think paper is the superior product for this kind of material. Sure you can’t zoom in* like you can with a tablet but what you do is establish a fixed page layout. Obviously I have SotF on my own kindle and tablet and it is rather obvious that the spacing is rather thrown out by images as the machine will leave large blanks if it can’t fit the entire image on the screen.  There isn’t really anything that can be done about it because different people will use different text sizes or screen orientation – I’ve noticed the e-book versions of the Osprey military history books suffer the same problem. Which I think shows why paper books are going to be around for a while yet. There is always likely to room for a premium version of practically anything.

In related news work is well underway for Ships of the Fleet Volume 2. This one will cover the cruisers of the Contact War through to the early post war period. So for readers of the Nameless War that means Hood and the rest of the Geriatrics squadron through to Mississippi. So far I have the first two models done, with the write up for one of them, which leaves another four models to do.

Until next times regards.

 

*except as Red Dwarf would put it by moving your head closer 🙂

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Right… now what?

Okay, second attempt at writing this entry after accidently kicking the plug out of the computer – twice.

I haven’t been very active on the blog front of late; this is because over the last six weeks I have been busy, very, very busy. This busy-ness has come in the form of attending Loncon, making my panelist debut at Shamrokon, taking on new duties in the day job and of course doing final preparation for Book Three of the Nameless War – The Last Charge, which goes live tomorrow morning – in fact the paperback is already available. That last point I really didn’t think I was going to achieve on time, but I guess practice does make perfect.

Tomorrow morning the book will hit the digital shelves, the six hundred odd people who have pre-ordered will receive their copy and I – at risk of sounding over dramatic – will finish what has over the last ten years, become a fairly major part of my life. So I suppose the question becomes what do I do now, now that I have completed my side of the bargain and finished the series?

Well I can tell you one thing I am NOT going do: that is follow the suggestion of one friend who has put forward the idea that I should write trilogy in four parts. No, NO, NO! I am not Douglas Adams.

I will continue write. Writing is and remains a pass time I enjoy (the money angle doesn’t hurt either), I enjoy the process of getting the collection ideas down and linking them into a coherent whole. I enjoy the creation of my characters, I enjoy building the worlds they inhabit. I enjoy self-publishing with the challenges and opportunities it brings.

I have ideas for the future; readers of this blog will be familiar with my Ships of the Fleet project, its future depends on how the first one is received. There is also a long parked side project which I have begun to look at again and perhaps longer run the Battle Fleet universe has more tales in it.

When it comes to the immediate future one thing is for sure though. I’m taking October off and booking a holiday – Malta looks nice.

See you.

Oh PS, for anyone who hasn’t yet read The Nameless War, on the 1st October to celebrate the arrival of Book Three is it going on sale.

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Update on The Last Charge – Book Three of the Nameless War and other news

The Last Charge

Okay, so where are we up to?

Despite a dose of food poisoning this week saw the hand over of the manuscript for The Last Charge get handed over to my editor so unless he picks up something that has gone horribly, horribly sideways, the October release date is still looking good. In terms of tasks to be completed that leaves me with:

The Blurb (already wip)

The Cover Art (not started but I have some ideas)

Reading the manuscript again once I get it back. (I don’t remember writing this sex scene)

Preparing the file for the various electronic platforms. (Why won’t you work you stupid piece *************)

Preparing the file for the paperback.  (Why won’t you work you even stupider piece *************)

Preparing for the release.

But like I said – looking good.

 

Other News

As regular visitors are likely aware I have had an ongoing blog project call Ships of the Fleet. Up to now it has been done mostly for my own amusement but I am planning to formalize and expand the material into a short ship guide which I intend to release as an ebook along side Book Three. I don’t know whether there is a market for this kind of material so this project is me testing the water. The subject of the book will be the ‘Battleships of the Fleet’. So far I already have one new model done up with another about a quarter done and the write up has begun. I’ll need to do two more models and go back and look at the three which have already been displayed to freshen them up a bit*.

This does mean that bits of Ships of the Fleet might be disappearing in the future so enjoy them now. However, this is a side project, which means of secondary importance. If time starts getting short, then Book Three comes first.

Okay that’s the new round up complete.

 

 

 

* I recently and finally got round to obtaining a new PC. In the past I would decide a model was done when it got to a level of complexity that caused my old computer to basically stop and have a little cry every time I asked it to do anything.

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Smashing On Through With Minimum Swearing

A shameless and somewhat overdue plug. After several months of quality procrastination I have finally got Book one up on the Smashwords system.

So that means the Nameless war can now be found on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and for those of you who prefer their reading more analog here.

The Smashword wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Admittedly I didn’t try to do anything complicated. The text was nuked (put into notepad to remove all formatting because WORD puts in all kinds of nonsense) and then the formatting had to be put back in. That second part was largely why it took so long for me to get it done. There is a convention that ship names are in Italics. That is a lot of italics to put back in.

Book Two will be put onto Kobo and Smashwords in the next month and a half.

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Createspace Print on Demand – Pitfalls and Pratfalls PART II

A long break between postings and for that I apologize, I’ve been waiting for the proof copy of book two to turn up.

We left off at the final major hurdle – the cover art. While I’m not much an artist, I do have some talent so I already had an idea of what I wanted (basically a variant of the Kindle image file) and was hoping that a template type arrangement would allow me to drop the various components. No such luck. Oh such there is a template arrangement, but the results were going to be so blatantly amateur I never seriously considered them. There is the option to do it yourself and Createspace does provide a downloadable file to offer a guide on size for you see the cover has to be created as a single piece. Meaning front, back, spine and wriggle room all around the edges. Createspace does provide a file to help with this but due to the software I have access, to I couldn’t use this and had to instead had to measure very carefully. Once I had the file I then had to convert the file into a PDF, one that was both high resolution and relatively low file size and that was tricky. In fact so tricky I had to come up with a trick to do it. Basically Adobe have a facility to change image and information files in PDF’s, this is done for a fee. They also offer a free sample. I used the sample to turn my JPEG cover into a PDF that was the same megabit count as the original file.  So happy days.

Finally you send your draft files to be checked by Createspace. I hasten to add this does not mean they are looking for grammar errors or editing issues, this purely to see if the file will actually print. As long as you were careful and didn’t ignore any error messages, this shouldn’t be a problem. Certainly both of mine went through without any problems. You are offered at this point the chance to purchase a proof copy or you can just proof it online. Personally I think unless you are a publishing professional it is an act of insanity Not to get a paper proof. Sure it’s annoying to have to wait for it to turn up in the post but better to find out at this stage if something has gone wrong and you can bet your bottom dollar, that as soon as you have a paper copy in your grubby little fist you’ll find at least one typo that has slipped through. If alterations are made, then the file has to go through the proof process again.

Finally we come to the sordid topic of money. Namely how much am I going to ask for my work and where am I going to sell? Since I have a background in accountancy I take an unsentimental view of selling price. Yes, to me my work is priceless but to anyone else, it is worth what the market is prepared to pay for it, maybe less but never more (I’ve come across people who witter on about devaluing literature and generally I find myself struggle to control the urge to beat them round the head with an economic text book). So since I am an unknown self published author my pricing policy can be loosely summed up by the phrase ‘as little as possible’. The basic Createspace package means selling through their own site plus Amazon and affiliates. This is free. But there is also the option to go for what they call expanded distribution which gives for the princely sum of $25 the opportunity to sell through other sites like B&N. Well more exposure can’t be a bad thing? Unfortunately yes it can. Effectively it forces up the price of the book (in the US and those areas covered by Amazon.com). Given that POD already means higher per unit costs cost than traditional printing, anything pushing the unit cost higher still is unwelcome, so in short the expanded distribution means paying to make the book less competitive. It also puts a crimp on me making any changes to the file (such as another cover)  So for book two I won’t be making use of this.

There is also an option to make the work available to for Kindle. Personally I prefer to go directly through the Amazon system, which I am familiar with but does oblige me to contact Amazon to link the paperback and kindle additions together.

So there we have my guide to the Createspace experience. If anyone has any questions I will answer to the best of my abilities. In the mean time I will be taking a month off from writing to pursue other interests – or possibly huddle in a darkened room whimpering.

Book Two: The Landfall Campaign will be released in early October.

Cover of The Landfall Campaign

Cover of The Landfall Campaign

My next blog will be returning to Ships of the Fleet – The River Class Cruisers, until then regards.

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Createspace Print on Demand – Pitfalls and Pratfalls PART I

No blogging of late mostly due to the fact that for much of the past two weeks I’ve been hard at work trying to get book two set up for its paperback release. This is the second time I’ve fought my way through the Print on Demand (POD) process and I thought I would offer some observations.

Before I start I will put in a couple of qualifiers.
1) I’m about as computer literate as a concussed Neanderthal
2) This isn’t a comparison of different POD companies, just my experience of Createspace.

Now for my actual writing I use the word processor in a venerable version of WORKS (hey! you at the back stop laughing) but when it come to actually preparing the file for the POD I use Word from Office 2010 – a program I don’t like very much but that’s a rant for another day. Anyway first order of business is select book size. Createspace offers quite a variety of sizes and clearly states which ones are trade standard. It also provides a handy Word template which gives a basic layout of title page, index, dedications, chapters, etc, etc. The template also inclines alternate pages left and right to allow room for the spine of the book. The end result all looked good and had been achieved with every little fuss. Feeling confident I at this point naturally ran head on into problems.

In theory the Createspace site can accept Word in practice not quite. I started getting error messages about Fonts that hadn’t embedded and might not print correctly. Unfortunately it doesn’t provide any help as to where these fonts might be in oh… four hundred pages of text. I thought that it might be easier if I provided the file in PDF format and after a long struggle this I managed to do (turned out the version of Word I was using could save in PDF [if you are wonder how I didn’t know that I refer you back to point One of the qualifiers]) In this format the review section was slightly more helpful. There were several words with ascents and these were changed, yet I was still getting the error message about fonts (Myriad Pro to be exact) that wouldn’t embed and I still wasn’t getting any guidance as to where this font was located and Createspace’s support were about as much use as a chocolate kettle. After much cursing and swearing I found it, in the Header and Footer (Author and book name and the page count) . This wasn’t data I copied and pasted in, I typed in those details.

So, to summarize, I used the Createspace template. That Template had formatting that caused problem for their own systems. Now it is worth noting that at also every stage of the process Createspace offers to do it for you – for a fee. While I’m not making accusations because a) I don’t have any proof and more importantly b) one should not subscribe to conspiracy that which can be achieved by incompetence. Still it is wildly irritating to be supplied with a template with problems built in. Book Two I’ve largely avoid these problem by copying the data over a version of the book one file. With the file now complete the next stage was cover design, which will be in my next blog. Until then…

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