Saturday, June 27, 2015

Learning How to Adjust for Indie Authors

Scott D. Parker

Being an independent author has many benefits. I can write and publish what I want, I can design any sort of cover I can conceive, and I can establish a publishing pattern that suits my output. Heck, I can even pivot on a publishing schedule when it makes good business sense.

But there are limits to the things you can control. Sure, I can write whatever I want, but if no one buys, is that a good idea? I can make any sort of cover, but if it fails to attract attention and make sales, is that a good idea? I can publish a book a week for a year, but if no one buys, is that a good thing? No would be the answer to those questions. There is another thing over which an independent author has no control: the printing of a hardcopy book.

I use CreateSpace, which is an Amazon company. The way you go about creating interior files and cover files is very straightforward. I have experience no issues with that--once I learned how to conform to their standards. Having that first book under my belt, prepping the second was a piece of cake.

Here's the thing: WADING INTO WAR is a shorter book than THE PHANTOM AUTOMOBILES. I never considered making WADING into a physical book until I realized some folks--hi Mom!--wouldn't be able to read the book because they don't read on a device. No problem. I'll just use CreateSpace. The issue I had was with the spine. The book comes out a little shy of 100 pages and the space on the spine for content was, understandably, small. I got the text just the right way, but the cover image kept sliding onto the spine. Only a millimeter or two, but it looked bad.

I called up CreateSpace and talked with a couple of nice folks. They said that the printing process allows for a 0.125-inch variance. Of course, most books are printed 100% correct, but every now and then, especially with a book the size of WADING, things can shift.

Now, I never considered myself a control freak--and still basically am not--but when it comes to the look and feel of my books, that tendency comes out in me. The one thing I don't want is for a reader to buy WADING and have the printing be off. How to correct that?

Adjust. The best way for everything to line up correctly was to adjust the cover image to allow for that variance. As much as I didn't want to do that, I did. I altered the front and back cover, now with a black border that bleeds onto the spine. Now, the books should print the same way every time. I've ordered a physical proof so I'll get to see it in the flesh next week.

Is it the way I envisioned the book? Nope. Is it the end of the world? Also nope. I'm just thankful that I have the ability to do it.

Are there any aspects of publishing, either traditional or independent, that you have had to adjust to?

1 comment:

Dana King said...

My experience with CreateSpace has been similar to yours. I don't sell much, but the process is easy and my frustrations are few. As you did, once I got the first book formatted properly, the rest were easy. (I just copy and paste the ext book into the same file, tweak what's necessary, and submit. Never had an issue.) As for adjustments, I can't say I've any. I self-published before my lone contract, and have self-published sicne. It's working with the publisher that required the adjustment for me.