Seven days into the mammoth task that I have set myself for 2018 - to launch a brand new Bertram and Molly story every single day of 2018. It turns out that the writing is the bit I love the most and that comes most easily. The hard part is the uploading and technical side of things. I'm not completely new to publishing on CreateSpace or on KDP, but I do hope that the process becomes easier with practice.
Creating a Book Cover
My first challenge was to design and format a cover for book 1. I did this in Pages and then saved it as a PDF, before going online to convert the PDF to a JPEG using this site. I had to crop out the background of each image so that it became transparent which took me forever and I'm still not especially happy with it, but I expect that this process will get better with time and experience. I did this on a website called Clipping Magic, only to realise that as I had feared, there would be a cost to download the finished image, but it was just a few dollars a month and I'm sure I will be using it almost daily for future book covers. It will certainly do for now, and seemed to be the easiest to use of all fifty or more sites that I looked at, which took all evening!!
I found the font I used on the cover on a website called 1001fonts.com which has a number of fonts that are are available for free commercial use. I already had this font installed on my computer because I love this website and being able to find special fonts for different projects.
The stories will follow my own route as I swim solo along the River Thames from source to sea, and ultimately swim around the coast of Great Britain. It would completely make my day if readers started to type in the grid reference on things like Google Earth so that they could find things I talk about in each story. This is what I ended up with as my blurb or 'synopsis':
What could possibly go wrong on a school field trip with your favourite geography teacher?
I was originally going to upload the book as an Ebook first so that it could go on a pre-order. Then I could add the link for the second book at the back of the first, but you need to upload a good few days in advance for pre-orders and I wouldn't necessarily have my covers ready so far in advance. Instead, I ended up uploading the book on CreateSpace first as a print book in a regular format, and a second book as a giant print format. I had to keep faffing around with the covers and then convert from PDF to JPEG as I always seemed to end up with words outside the red lines, even when using the templates. I expect that this will be easier with subsequent books because now I already know more about the set up and formatting.
I don't entirely understand why, but the normal text size version of the print book has a white line at the bottom of the cover, whereas the giant print version doesn't. The cover and interior sizes were exactly the same apart from page length. Something to figure out in the future. I tried uploading and tweaking the file but I can't figure it out at all.
Submitting to CreateSpace and kdp
I decided to submit the book to CreateSpace and waited for the 24 hours to pass before looking at the Ebook version. I had assumed that I could simply convert the book to a Kindle book directly from CreateSpace, or that I could create a physical version from the ebook version on KDP, but no matter how hard I tried nothing seemed to happen. I eventually just copied the book from my original Pages version, and pasted it onto a Word document. I uploaded the Word document straight on to KDP with no problems, and it is now in the checking stage. Uploading the file as a PDF in the version that CreateSpace gave me did not work and the formatting was all over the place. But it looked OK with Word as far as I have been able to see.
In future, I will just submit the print version on CreateSpace, and whilst I am waiting on those to be approved, I will upload the Word version straight to KDP as an ebook. That should save time in waiting around.
It is definitely a faff, and I hope that someone will be able to advise me on an easier process that involves a lot less steps. One annoyance about having the book on Pages, and on Word is that I prefer to use Pages and it is set up to spell check British English. But when transferring the story to Word, that package is still set in US English so it highlighted lots of spelling errors that weren't errors. This should be easy enough to fix but was a huge inconvenience and I had to try and stop myself from going over the text again with a fine tooth comb and making last minute changes.
Proofing the book
Once the books were checked by Amazon, I went back over the digital proofs online and was happy enough with what I saw. There will always be room for improvement I am sure. In a perfect world it would be nice to get physical copies of each book to check over before publishing, but this would mean paying a lot of money for shipping and waiting a few weeks for the books to be printed in the US and sent to the UK. I generally find it quicker and cheaper to hit publish, and then to order copies via Amazon Prime UK as I get the book the next day, with free delivery. That way I can make changes much faster. It isn't ideal but for now it is workable.
The whole process was very tedious and exhausting, and as soon as funds allow, I would much prefer to employ someone who can take over the uploading and formatting side of things. That would free me up to do the things I enjoyed the most - writing the story, and designing the cover. But for now, the system worked and I expect it took a lot longer because it was my first time putting all the steps together in the way I did. There are definitely improvements to make in time, and I expect the first few weeks to be the most tiring - much like if you start a new job and have to remember lots of things like the names of colleagues, codes for doors, or where the loo is.
I did have a swimming friend pop in for a coffee and to wish me a happy new year, and as we chatted I came to realise just how excited I am to be writing the Bertram and Molly series, and how much opportunity there is for me to learn and to improve as a writer, but also to earn for myself some financial freedom and stability, and ultimately to have a better balance in life - time with friends out swimming in the lakes and time for writing. I feel incredibly lucky, even though the coming few weeks will be very difficult as I find my feet. It was the perfect end to 2017, and as the fireworks go off outside in the rain, I consider myself incredibly lucky and ridiculously excited to see what adventures I will go on with Bertram and Molly through 2018.
I made two sales today, and have published my Rydal Water 2018 diary, and the regular and giant print versions of Bertram and Molly. By tomorrow my Rydal Water colouring book should be live, along with the ebook and KU versions of Bertram and Molly. Now I just have to hope that the readers enjoy the books.
Daily Resolutions for 2018
I have to complete four tasks each day:
And that's about it from me for today. I'll let you know what happens next in my journey to becoming an author. Have a superb 2018 everyone.
Bertram and Molly: Book 1