Saturday, February 05, 2011

Doing it yourself - technical advice for self publishing

I’m self-publishing and the result is great, far better than doing it through the trite and oppressive established publishers. My fervent hope is that everybody, within all arts will be self-publishers in ten years, like they always should have been.

This is one way of making the necessary pdf files of the cover and the content, a task necessary if you want to publish through printers and distributors like Lightning Source (LSI).

I had experience from digital publishing and benefited from that, but the process, even though it requires some initial effort should be fairly easy for everybody.

I do everything myself, except the actual printing, a task very satisfying and also creative. Do it like this and you have total control from start to finish. Every word and image you use will be your own, your own creativity manifested. This is true artistic freedom like it should have been all the time, not the fucked up and destructive process that have ruined artists and their work for a century.

The process is easier than ever, now. You needed to make Postscript files before and then make a pdf file. Now, the Adobe pdf process makes one printer-ready file practically in one swoop. These are Lightning Source’s requirements, but they are the so called industry standard and should be quite similar to other printers. I studied the LSI requirement for weeks before starting up, but it was much easier than I had feared, really.

When you make the cover you might want to download a preformatted template from LSI. It will make it far easier to place all elements in the right place, for instance on the spine. I do that and open up the EPS-file in Adobe Photoshop professional, (pretty much the industry standard these days unfortunately). When you do a message box like this should appear:

If it isn’t like this you should change it to be 300 pixels/inch resolution and CMYK color. I recommend that you read a lot about CMYK colors before starting up if you don’t have knowledge of it beforehand. The anti aliasing should stay unchecked. Width and Height are the complete template image, not necessarily the size of the actual cover. When opened, it will look like this:

This is the template where you place your images and text, make your cover. This one is for a dust jacket that I made for one of my hardcover books (Night on Earth). I use layers a lot. If you haven’t done that before you might want to learn it. I use about five hours to complete the actual process, even though the advance creative wrangling takes far longer, of course. But once you have an image in your head about how you want the cover to be, it’s just to get started.

When you’re done you save (file/save as) it all as a pdf file like this:

I write and preformat my books in MS Word 2003 professional, preferring that to later and other versions. You can make files up to 32 MB with that, which should be plenty. I keep it simple, use a few extra fonts and stuff, but that’s pretty much it, no macros and shit. Thereby it will make it easy to also use later versions of Word, if I should need it.

Then I «write to file» (file/print) using Adobe Acrobat (yes, the industry standard) via MS Word. The Acrobat, once installed will appear as a macro in Word. The following is for a Norwegian Word version, but Properties is in the upper right corner.

Custom Royal is my custom-made page size for my book. Default settings are the industry standard needed to make your book print ready, and there must be no security on your file or the printer won’t be able to open it. Uncheck and check everything you see here.

That’s it. You press OK, and you’re done.

Some people claim Word is for writing and that you shouldn't use it for layout, but I've used Adobe InDesign for 15 years, also while it was still called Pagemaster, and I prefer Word for this task. You can do everything important in Word.

One more thing: As a precaution you should always check your file to make sure the fonts, all your fonts are there. You use Adobe Reader, file/properties and check if all the fonts are properly embedded. If they’re not, you must retrace your steps and make sure you have done it right.

This is a bit sketchy, by necessity, or it would have been twice as long and way too technical. Feel free to ask questions.


Yasmin Selena Butt said...

This is so spooky, I've just reached the stage were I am brooding on using the images I've created to pull together the actual cover jacket for Gunshot Glitter and was really intimidated at what to do next - and lo & behold I found your post via the #Authorday hash dash on Twitter. Thank you for sharing the knowledge!

I agree with you on creative control with novels. It's the biggest reason behind why I wanted to self-publish.

Amos Keppler said...

Yeah, to me it became more and more essential, as the years passed by. You can read a lot about my ongoing process concerning this on this site.

A pleasure. I love it every time a true colleague reaches my shore. :):):) If I can help you further just ask.

Spooky is twice great in this case, then. Sometimes there is synchronicity (or random events and acts touching each other) in life.

Yasminselena said...

Thank you Amos, I will, I want to read more of your blog. I'm with you on synchronicity, it's like the days when buses arrive just as you reach the stop and trains pull up as you step onto the platform. It's a feeling of the Universe being on your side : ) x