Friday, March 14, 2014

It was a small project, at the start, or so I thought

I've posted before about how it came to be that I got all wrapped up in getting Mom's stories put up in book form and you can read about that here. Last October I finally had a rough draft which I showed to Mom when we all met up in Cleveland. Since then I've been fine tuning and adding more photos and refining the layout. Now, it's finished and off I go to the corner copy place to get a bunch done and bound.  Whew, that's a load off:)

But wait! I sent it by email in PDF form to my good friend and artist, Kathy. I asked her to look at it for it's graphic qualities and give a critique. Her reaction was interesting. Here's a link to Kathy's artwork online. Go ahead and take a look and you'll see why I asked her to look at the book. Kathy has a major eye for the old and precious and story-telling! Here's one of Kathy's works just so you can see.
Kathy Miller
Atlas of TimeEncaustic and mixed media
35 x 221/4 x 91/4 inches, 2007

So the thing is that Kathy liked it and just enjoyed reading Mom's stories even though she'd never been to Frostburg, Maryland, and never met Mom. Fascinating. For the first time, after talking to Kathy, I came to think that there might be a wider audience for Mom's stories than just the family. With that in mind I went off to think about this project and widen my vision.

What I knew right away that this was a project with the end product as a real book that you can hold in your hand. It was not an online project. And it was apparent to me that we needed a way to have the book printed without me having to run to the printers all the time. It should be automatic and on demand. And I sure didn't want to be shipping them either. We also needed to charge something for them and it should be enough to cover printing costs, at least. Maybe the project could generate some small change for one of Mom's favorite charities. That would be nice.

Then I remembered about CreateSpace by Amazon. And off I went to check it out. Signed up for an account and then jumped in. Made a cover first so that the project was easier to visualize. That exercise showed me that we needed some synopsis text for the back cover, and here's what that looked like.

It’s small town America of the 1920s and 1930s and The Great Depression is causing hardships for just about everyone in the Western Maryland mountain coal mining area. WWI has ended and with it the demand for coal just about vanished. Miners are out of work, unions try to organize with limited success, but it’s all background to a little girl and her family and friends. The joys of the seasons, the sheer pleasure in getting lost in a book by the light of a streetlamp, and gentle grandparents are what matters.
"We didn't know we were poor," Virginia W. Kelly says of childhood, "because everyone was poor. We had what everyone had. And somehow we were all very happy too."

What to do about the cover design? There were of course choices. I downloaded the cover design template in which you can build all the elements of your cover by hand and might go back to that later, but set it aside for now because it looked time consuming and maybe even challenging. Then found Cover Creator and the ready-to-go cover designs. That took just a few moments to work out and it was easy and fun. Just select the design you want to play with, plug in title, sub-title, authors name and photo, and synopsis text. I'd like at this point to show you what the cover looks like but somehow it doesn't allow a "copy" or a screen shot. Too bad.

Next I got assigned an ISBN number for the book. Wow! It's own ISBN number! Am remembering a time when just one ISBN number for a self-publishing project would cost about $100. But this is free.

Next was the interior layout. Had already chosen the size as 6 inches by 9 inches because it is the most popular paperback size. Now I had two choices: copy and paste or upload from Word and work online, or use the template offline. Maybe working offline would be better.  I downloaded the template for the interior of a 6 x 9 book. When it's finished all that would be left is to upload the full template.

In the meantime I was anxious to see how much of problem this was going to be, converting the 8.5 x 11 inch original size to 6 x 9, so in Word just changed the page size to 6 by 9 inches with narrow margins and saved that copy with a notation about the new size. Then I took a look. Yikes, there are a lot of adjustments to be made! Page breaks sometimes made no sense, photos were probably too large for the smaller page, and the like. And, the photos couldn't be too small because, well, people really like looking at the photos and the audience will probably be older folks and we like larger print and larger images.

So that's where I am at the moment, and working on the interior text, making it fit, adding yet more pictures, and still adjusting the contrast on all of them. I think I know how it goes on these print projects because I've seen others. Photos go dark and lose contrast. I hate that.

This is gonna take a while!

Grandpa Williams, Mom's dad, with a fish.
Cambria Williams (1807 - 1960.

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