Thursday, September 19, 2013

Createspace==Lesson #3 in humility

How hard could it be to create a book for my son through Createspace? I had the prototype, originally done through Snapfish and tested on my son already so I knew the book was something that my son and others like him would like and be able to read. And I'd now done 3 other books through Createspace so I knew how the process worked. So it would be easy, right? I mean, I did look for posts on the site as to what to do to include photographs, etc. Piece of cake, right?  (::SIGH:: Picture me banging forehead on the keyboard again.)

Okay, first an aside. My son (an adult now) has Down Syndrome. I cannot find any books out there appropriate for him to read. He does not relate to drawings or to imaginary stories the way ordinary children or adults would. Factual books tend to have a vocabulary beyond him and while he's fascinated by weather, it's not enough to make him want to read the book. Finally I decided to create my own line of books for him. It's not as easy as it sounds. Not only did I need to use photographs instead of drawings, but I needed to choose something to which he could relate. I also needed to consider how his brain seems to process language and vocabulary. The result was a book about a dog, written as if from her point of view, with elements to which my son could relate--making a mess, looking under the tree for presents on Christmas, etc. My son, who has never seen Sophy, ended up loving the book. It is also a book any young child might enjoy.

Anyway, back to Createspace. As I said, I figured how hard could it be, now that I had all this experience under my belt?  ::SIGH:: Things I learned THIS time using Createspace:

1) Microsoft Word compresses pictures unless one goes into settings and tells Microsoft Word not to do so.

2) Even if one tells MS Word not to compress, the moment one uses the format picture feature, the picture is compressed.

3) Createspace wants pictures to be at least 200 dpi and 300 dpi is better.

4) One needs to choose trim size and figure out margins using pictures that one formats with MS Word until one is sure one has that right. Once I knew what size the pictures could or should be, I then opened each one in GIMP (see previous posts for information on GIMP) and formatted the pictures in GIMP to be the resolution and size I wanted. Then I saved those pictures, deleted the pictures I had in the book file and replaced them with the pictures formatted exactly the right size. That way when I saved, the resolution would be kept. (Note: Since I had close to 30 pictures, this means I ended up with a very large file.)

5) In figuring out margins, etc., I had to play with where to put the page numbers. For whatever reason, the techniques I had used with earlier books did not work with this one. Which means some blank pages do have page numbers because I could not figure out any way not to have page numbers on them.  (Okay, this isn't strictly a Createspace lesson was part of the humility process so....)

6) Because there were so few pages in the book (total 30), the cover was skewed when I used the online cover creator even though I was using a file formatted for the right size cover. I had to go back into GIMP and play around until I had a cover that loaded with roughly the same size borders on right and left of the cover images (front and back).

7) Sophy's Story took much longer to show up on Amazon after I approved it for sale than previous books. I don't know if this is because it's listed as a children's book (even though my son is an adult) or because of all the photographs.

8) Amazon nicely decided to discount the book--a nice bonus for buyers.

9) Uploading a kindle or nook version was....interesting....too. For whatever reason, it did not go as smoothly as previous books had. They went "live" well before the paperback version showed up but even there they took longer than my Regencies or my Book in a Week workbook.

What have I learned from all my Createspace experience? Never, ever assume it's going to be easy THIS time! Allow for extra time for the unexpected glitches. One doesn't always know what one doesn't know until a glitch occurs.

And now I'd like to ask a favor. I know I'm not the only parent with a special needs (adult) child who can't find appropriate books for him to read. If you know of someone, please let them know about my book. Or maybe check it out even if you know a "normal" child who might enjoy it. Thank you!