Monday, 22 April 2013

Covers and Formatting and Nitpicking Edits, Oh My!

Hey all,

The title of the post sounded a bit better in my head than it did once I’d written it down. Nitpicking Edits doesn’t really flow in the same way as bears; but, I’ve committed, and so it stays. Also, I don’t want to have to think up another sort of pun or clever wordplay for a title, and if I had anything other then that, I’d just feel like I was slacking off.

Right so, as you might have guessed I’ve been hard at work this weekend not only writing away at Dreamstate II again (yay fun) but also putting the finishing touches on my book cover for From Ash, and doing all the strange technical formats that Amazon requires for its Kindle ebooks. There are a few things I wanted to talk about today, because I find them rather entertaining, or at least interesting, and they don’t really pertain to one another, so I’ll just start listing them off as I go, and you can read along and try not to get lost.

First of all, I wanted to talk about a very strange thing that some Kindle readers do when they interact with book titles. The way that you set up the document, so that the Kindle can understand where each chapter starts, is that you put heading markers on all of the chapter numbers, or titles. You then link those to a word built (you can make one yourself if you wish, but it takes longer) table of contents, and then the Kindle bases its chapter jumps off of those. Anyways, when you jump to the chapter, it highlights it and pulls it to the left hand side of the page. If you leave that page, and then go back, it’s centered again. I’m not sure why it does this, and I’ve had a few people ask if I’d just missed centering one of the pages—but no, it’s not me. I’ve seen some authors get around this by just having their chapter titles left justified from the start, which I might do, just to see how it feels. I doubt anyone really notices, but these are the weird little things I start to obsess over when I’m about to release something.

Next, I wanted to talk about the cover art. I showed off a few early designs a month or so back, and have since updated, played around with, and changed up what I had for my final design. It’s close to the one with the desert background, but done up a bit cleaner in a way that I like. There are people out there that definitely do this sort of thing for a job, and let me tell you, I am not one of them. I mean, I suppose I technically am, but it’s not something that I’m inherently gifted at. I can sort of tell when something looks off, but I don’t know why it looks off. After about an hour of being confused, I tend to just run through a bunch of Photoshop tutorials online until the cover looks alright. I like my final product though, much better than many of the covers I’ve seen on more “professional” works over the years. I just can’t help shake the feeling though that those designers didn’t end up staring at their screens and mouthing ‘WHY?!?!?’ for an entire afternoon only to realize they needed to move the title subtext up an extra half inch so it didn’t fade into the background.

Moving on, I used a public domain photo as part of the background image on my book cover, and to avoid any sort of weirdness, I was going to cite it in the book. I’m not quite sure what protocol is on things like this, but I figured if I just made a little note on my own copyright page, it would probably be fine. I suppose if someone really wants to sue me, I can change it without any real issues, but I imagine that since the photographer is long gone, I’ll probably be safe enough.

The cover art and the formatting, which are time consuming, don’t really invade your head in the same way that last minute edits do. I’m always impressed at how many pairs of eyes can miss certain typos. I’m still finding the odd word here and there to change around. I’ve even found one or two words in Dreamstate: Dark Eyes, but then again, I’ve found more in traditionally published books before. There’s always that terrible feeling, right up until the moment that you put something out, that you’ve forgotten to fix that one thing that you can’t quite remember what, but you’re sure it was important and huge and crucial to the story. I sometimes even have trouble looking through things I’ve published in fear of finding those rouge typos. I can sort of rationalize my way out of it, in an “I can fix it later if I really need to,” sort of way—but the fear is still there, lurking, and being sinister.


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