Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kicking Back

Day 4 of my cruise and it’s getting hard to remember what day it is. Think of a multi year trip… I wonder how difficult it will be to remember anything. That may be where notches in wood came about. Tomorrow another island. I think the least enjoyable part of this trip is brushing off people hawking their wares. Everyone has about the same thing at the same price. There are lessons in that for writers.

There are only two classes: the aware & the unaware.

R&R

After a year of productive writing, four books, two in print and two almost edited, I’m taking a few weeks to recharge my batteries. I will not be writing stories during this time,but collecting ideas.
When I travel, I carry a notebook and pen with me and jot down ideas for stories. When I return, I usually have a years worth of ideas.
I will be on a cruise ship for the next week. I plan to look at it as if I am on a cruise to another planet. I think it makes sense to compare an earth-bound water going ship to a space ship. My wife thinks it’s “spooky.”
Then I’ll be off to some graduations, a fishing trip, and a trip to my family’s cabin in the Rockies. If my batteries aren’t recharged after all that, they’re dead.

There are only two classes: the aware & the unaware.

A Little Birdie Whispered

If you are on the verge of working with GoDaddy, WordPress, CreateSpace and Kindle here are some hints.

Make yourself a file for each of these products. In it, put the username, password, email address, customer number (as in your GoDaddy client number), pin number, etc. and save them. That will make your life easier. One thing I didn’t record is my GoDaddy customer number. You can have everything else and not be able to do business unless you have that number. For me, it took a phone call and a barrage of questions to find out my client number. ‘Nuf said.

Next, when you are uploading, activating, creating, documents, pages, and books, keep step-by-step track of what you are doing. It may be weeks or months before you get back to performing these steps. That’s why webmasters are paid well, they know what to keep track of and how to make the task easier. If you are doing it yourself, as I did, you are learning as you go. Trust me. This will be a valuable step.

At one time, I was a network administrator. Some years later, when I was working on my home network, I realized I had to perform all the tasks as a home network administrator I performed as a network administrator in a large organization, I just had fewer people to deal with. The same is true when working with self publishing. You have all the tasks to perform of a publishing company. You may not have some of the headaches of working with other people, but you don’t have the support of other people either.

If  When you do run into a problem, don’t immediately assume you caused it. Likewise, don’t immediately assume the service provider caused it. Write them or call them and in as dispassionate a way as you can muster, give them the details of the problem. It is likely that they experience problems such as yours more frequently than you do. They are likely to find a good fix and get back to you.

I have had issues with all the service providers I mentioned in the first sentence. In some instances, their system or instructions were the problem. In other instances my understanding or misinformation was the problem. In every instance, we eventually worked through the problem.

The learning curve of taking on creating your own blog, writing your own books or articles, and posting them to e-readers or POD books is a steep, but not impossible, one.   Thinking back on my learning curve, it was more like a roller coaster. It had many ups and downs, but in the long run, the ups – such as seeing your book in print – were more than enough to make up for the downs.

Kindle and Create Space: Success

As of today, I now have the same book on Kindle and CreateSpace. This is my first book, the one named, Anthem  I and Other Short Stories. I have had it available on Kindle for five months. During those months I found some errors that led me to hiring a copy editor. She found more errors, mostly of the academic type. For example, 80% of those were so called ‘Oxford comma’ errors. I decided to go with her editing to avoid any confusion. There were two misspelled words, and some prepositional errors. Otherwise it was fairly clean.

She read my ‘proof copy’ from CreateSpace. From now on, I will make a CreateSpace hard copy first, then publish on Kindle. Why? I think that many people, including me, can edit better with a hard copy in hand. For some reason, the ‘errors’ don’t pop out on an electronic screen like they do for me in print. She agrees.

My second reason for doing this is that if my copy works on CreateSpace, it only requires taking out the page numbers for the chapters in the Table of Contents for it to work in Kindle.  All I did was upload the Word 10 rtf file I used to make the PDF file for CreateSpace, without the page numbers for the chapters and Voila! It worked.

I was quite pleased with that. If you’ve followed this post, you are aware I have had more than a little hassle uploading to CreateSpace.  Fortunately, I think I have found my workarounds to easily publish on CreateSpace.

Emailing to my blog.

This will be my first attempt at posting to my blog via email. I’ll be going on vacation this summer, so I have the option of writing in my blog ahead of time and having them posted later, or emailing my posts. I want to experiment with this option today

Yesterday, I received another rejection notice from a publisher for one of my short stories. As rejections go, this one is just a little more remarkable than the run of the mill rejection. I say that because it reads in part, “…this one reads like one of those “Tales from Quark’s Bar and Grille” episodes of Deep Space Nine. Taking what’s actually a pretty decent …story and throwing in some sci-fi props may work on television, but it doesn’t work in print.”

So, what am I to understand by this rejection? First, whoever read it watched Deep Space Nine. Maybe a lot of Deep Space Nine. True, my story began in a bar, the bar was futuristic, and it moved to space ships. It was a story about a con finding a mark, then running his game on him. My story did not begin with DSN. It began from knowing a con man who used the con I describe in my story, it’s called a Monkey Trap con. The story is loosely based on him. I wasn’t thinking of DSN, Quark, or anything related to that.

Second, think of any story, it doesn’t matter, make it a love story, an adventure, a space opera, whatever. Now, take that story and put it in a different venue, or even a different genre. Now make it work. That doesn’t mean you’ve written something for TV, it means you are taking a story and using it differently. Just because Quark had a bar out of which he ran scams does not mean that every Sci Fi story that has a bar and a scam was a thinly veiled fan fiction knock off of DSN. The next thing I would take issue with is the phrase ‘throwing in some sci-fi props.” Part of my story had the mark run an errand for the con man to build his trust. It could have been anywhere, I agree and Sci Fi was not integral to that part of the story. But next, he was to go to an asteroid that had collided with a planet made of diamonds.

Some of you may remember the news last year about a planet composed of diamonds. It was absolutely integral to the telling of this story. It could have never taken place anywhere but in space whether the story was in print or TV. It’s my guess that many who read that story dreamed of taking a space ship there and scooping up a load of diamonds. Didn’t you?

The editor(s) who wrote me remind me of a friend I have who, when he reads my stories, says things like, “You must have subconsciously recalled the story of X written by Y in which he, blah, blah, blah. At times, just like in this rejection, there is a very thin thread, or no thread at all connecting his comments to my work. Most often the perceived connection is only in his head.

All of this leads me to this thought. I believe there are many editors who look for any reason to reject works sent to them. They may look for Oxford commas or the absence of them. They may look for how prepositions are used. Each one has a pet thing to look for first to cull works. I can’t blame them for doing this. They have hundreds of submissions and their magazines, online or print, have limitations, so the first order of every day must be ‘what can I cull?’ So, I ordinarily don’t say much about anything of mine being rejected. Usually, the most that I do is send the editor a one word email that says, “Thanks.” They have too much to read to be bothered by more than that.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. Alice Walker

Steep Learning Curve

Some things come easily when it comes to writing, like writing itself. I love to write and love to read. But today, in order to get things out to readers, I have to use a blog, a Facebook page, an author’s page, upload to Kindle or other ereaders, convert Word files to PDF using Adobe Acrobat and navigate CreateSpace’s upload process. In the last month, I accomplished the last three things, but found the instructions from Word, Adobe, and CreateSpace lacks something. I didn’t find one source that had an easy-to-follow, step-by-step set of instructions that helped me to get through their maze easily.

In fact, it was only when I gave up on their instructions and thought about what I was trying to accomplish that I was able to succeed. Here’s how I did that. If you think about a block of text as an overlay on a page, what you are trying to do with CreateSpace is put that block within some prescribed lines. So, rather than trying to stay within their recommended measures for  top, bottom, left and right, think about which margin needs to be adjusted to move the block.

My problem was I wanted a Header at the top of the page and page numbers at the bottom. I could see them in Word, it’s a what you see is what you get software program, WYSIWYG. I could also see them in Adobe Acrobat, it’s WYSIWYG too. But, alas, when you go from PDF to CreateSpace all pretense for being WYSIWYG disappears. So what happened to my header and page numbers? Although it looked like I’d given them enough space, I followed the instructions, didn’t I, I actually hadn’t given them enough space to show up on CreateSpace. So, I increased the margins on the top and bottom to a little larger than CreateSpace called for and , Viola!, there my header was and there my page numbers were.

How to get page numbers, headers and footers to work on CreateSpace

So, after what seems to be forever trying to keep formatting from Word 10 to PDF to CreateSpace, I think I can claim success. As I said in an earlier post, I will share what I did to get here.

First, I went through the steps CreateSpace suggests for formatting in Word 10 for a 6X9 book. I will not repeat them here.

I purchased Adobe Acrobat as everyone I could find that successfully formatted in Word to PDF to CreateSpace, used their PDF conversion.

Once I had my Word file looking like I wanted, I began page numbering from page one (my title page), I also added my header for the book on the title page. After I got these things in my file successfully, I regenerated my table of contents. After completing these steps I clicked on Acrobat found on the upper toolbar on Word. It appeared there after I downloaded Adobe Acrobat and installed it. I clicked on Acrobat, then created a PDF file.

Then I went to Adobe Acrobat and uploaded the file I just created in PDF. When the PDF came up, I began on page 1, the title page and deleted the header and page number by clicking on Tools, then Edit Text & Images a box appeared around each paragraph of text. When I put the cursor on the box, blue boxes appeared around the text. I put my cursor on a connecting line between blue boxes, then clicked delete. Repeatedly doing this, I deleted unwanted headers and page numbers on pages 1 to 6. I was left with a properly numbered text with headers in the right place.

Then I uploaded my corrected file to check to see if the headers and page numbers had disappeared once again. They had. So, I went back to my Word 10 file and increased the size of my margins on the top and bottom of the page. Downloaded it as a PDF again, then uploaded it to CreateSpace again. This time everything looked exactly like I wanted.

This is a manual fix for what should be automatic. I don’t know if the CreateSpace folks didn’t vet their instructions or, being business people, left a little out in their instructions, either way, I never could get to a finished book following their instructions.

I hope my work around is helpful to you.

New in Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Cover for Anthem I and Other Short Stories
Cover for Anthem I and Other Short Stories

My first hard copy book, Anthem I and Other Short Stories, a new book in Science Fiction and Fantasy, should be available in about a week on CreateSpace. Yep, I finally got everything right for uploading. So, whether you like to read books online, or have a copy in your hand, I have both. I could have separated my chapters into two books, my book is 583 pages in the PDF format, which is long for the average science fiction book, and even longer for a collection of short stories. I could have made it into two books. One could have been a fantasy fiction book, the other a science fiction book.

I have immediately begun to upload Anthem II for a proof copy. I’ll send that off to my editor next week. Then I should take about a week or so to make the changes she recommends.

The end of the school year slowed me down a bit. I had tests to give out and grade and papers to read. Fortunately, I met all my university deadlines.

As I guessed in a previous post, the problem I encountered with uploading to CreateSpace was solved by converting my Word file to PDF by using Adobe Acrobat. From what I understand, Word makes a reasonably good PDF, but not the same quality as Adobe Acrobat. That is reasonable since Adobe Acrobat invented the PDF.

Still, there is something eluding me when setting up CreateSpace. I thought I followed their steps slavishly, only to find that my text was outside their required margins. So, it’s back to the drawing board for Anthem II.

 

 

The Saga with CreateSpace continues

I purchased an ebook on formatting documents for CreateSpace. After reading through the chapter on Word, the author said, “Then I DID NOT use Word’s converter to get to PDF.” She used Adobe Acrobat (version unk.) to convert her Word rtf file to determine if there were any issues with her file. She found a few and corrected them in Acrobat before she uploaded her file to CreateSpace. So, the two instances where I found where authors passed their Word rtf or doc file through Acrobat in order to prepare to upload to CreateSpace. In those cases, they successfully uploaded. Everyone else has had problems, many of them experienced the same problems as I’m experiencing.

I would love to buy Adobe Acrobat XI (AAXI) today, but tomorrow I can buy the Student and Teacher’s edition at a discount. I’ll wait till then.

I noticed that AAXI has an action wizard where a sequence of frequently used steps can be applied to a single PDF file or batches of files. I think that means I may be able to identify the ‘fixes’ from Word to AAXI and put them in a automated routine to fix any file I upload from Word and intend to upload to CreateSpace.

If I can identify the steps to that, I’ll put it into a Kindle chapbook and tell the world how to do it.  That should cut into the sales of ebooks on How To convert PFD to CreateSpace.

It’s almost like the first day of school waiting to buy software to fix a problem. “How long till tomorrow Mom?”

P.S. after I posted this comment, I found the following at http://www.12on14.com/dpi/pdf.pdf

“Acrobat is the best probram to usefor creating PDFs. If images are involved, given Word’s downsizing, do not use Word 2007-2010 ‘Save as PDF’ feature. Only NitroPDF ($119) and OpenOffice/LibreOffice, offer the security of PDF/A and full black text.”

That’s from a website for Commercial Digital Printing, 12on14.com.

CreateSpace Woes and other things

I’ve been trying to upload my first two Anthem books in the trilogy. Every time I uploaded for the first umpteen times yesterday, the page numbers disappeared. Finally, I centered the page numbers on the bottom of the page. Then they appeared in CreateSpace, but… new problem. The numbering sequence changed which caused my Table O Contents to be out of whack with the actual page numbers.

CreateSpace says, of course, the problem is not theirs, it’s Word, they say. Of course, if I were to talk to Microsoft people, they would say it was CreateSpace or PDF.

Out of everything I’ve read, the only thing that makes sense to me is purchasing Adobe Acrobat Pro XI. By doing that, I will have control over how the PDF page looks, and if WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) works from PDF to PDF, I should be able to retain my page numbers.

All in all, it appears that better training for using CreateSpace is becoming a Zen monk. Why? There is a tremendous amount of stress in trying to get CreateSpace to work properly. The emails from CreateSpace come quickly and they are gentle in their approach, but most of the emails I received from them were not addressed to the issues I was raising. For example, in one email I had a question about ISBNs. Their response had to do with creating PDF files in MS Word.

I had seven emails from them reminding me I had received earlier emails. That’s it… “You received an earlier email.” I don’t know about you, but my mailbox is full all the time. I don’t need emails telling me I received previous emails.

Enough of this… I’ll tell you later how purchasing Adobe Acrobat Pro XI worked out.