Revising Leah

January 11, 2009

Proof Copy: First Look

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:01 am
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In my last post, I discussed how worried I’ve been that the back side of my book cover wasn’t going to turn out well. I even started designing an alternative back cover just in case my fears were realized.

Well, my fears were indeed realized. Late yesterday, my proof copy arrived, and I found that not only does the back side of the cover look obviously pixelated (even more pixelated, in fact, than it did in the PDF file from which the cover was generated), but my attempt to soften the pixelation by slightly blurring the image has failed spectacularly: the image looks both pixelated and blurry.

Only three visitors to this blog voted on the two back cover options in my previous post (and those votes resulted in a three-way tie), but it looks like my decision has been made for me. There’s no way I can use Option One. Option Two is in.

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December 28, 2008

Publishing Through Lulu: Preparations, Part 2

When publishing a book through Lulu.com, you need to come prepared with three documents. In my last post, I discussed one of these: the manuscript of your novel. In this post, I’ll discuss the other two documents: the title/copyright page and the book cover.

Title/Copyright

The title/copyright document can be made with the same programs you used for the manuscript itself. I’m not sure why Lulu wants this document and the manuscript uploaded separately since they’ll both be joined together anyway. Perhaps it prevents problems with the page numbering, although it is certainly possible, using page breaks, to prevent page numbers from appearing before the first page of text.

Anyway, in this document, you’ll have — at least — a title page and a copyright page. There are other things you can include here, too, such as a table of contents, acknowledgments and dedications, an inner title page — whatever you want. All of these pages will count towards the total page count that you’ll use to determine the size of the book cover and the price of the book.

On the copyright page, you have the usual stuff that you find in any book: title and author, date and place of publication, ISBN number, etc. I have flirted with the idea of applying the Creative Commons license to my work. Since I don’t mind offering my novels for free, perhaps this would be the best way to go. I haven’t had the guts to take the plunge, though. For now, I continue to use a standard copyright.

Book Cover

Like most POD websites, Lulu offers a selection of generic book covers from which to choose, but if you want your book to stand out, you’ll probably want to try designing your own. I’m certainly not an expert graphic designer, but even with my basic skills, I’ve been able to design nice, simple book covers. As with everything else with self-publishing, I find it creatively satisfying do design my own cover. And at least I know I’m going to get a cover I like, as opposed to a cover I don’t like.

Where do you find the imagery? If you’re a talented photographer or artist, perhaps you could use your own work. If you are artistically challenged, like me, the Internet has a wealth of options. There are plenty of stock photo websites where you can purchase images for reasonable prices. Sites like Flickr are options too if you want something really unique, but of course you’ll have to contact and obtain permission from the photographer before you use those images, since most are copyrighted.

If you don’t have the skills to put together something really fantastic, or if your design idea exceeds your ability, you could also hire a professional graphic designer. My book covers are somewhat minimalist, in part because that’s all I’m capable of creating, but also because I don’t want the covers to be too busy. Since I designed the cover for The Spring over a year ago, I’ve paid a lot more attention to book cover designs. Obviously, there are a lot of professionally designed covers that put mine to shame, but I dare say that even my basic design looks better than some covers out there. Again, it’s all a subjective thing. I think my designs are simple and clean, and that’s the look I’m going for.

When designing the size of the cover, you have to be very precise, keeping in mind such things as the bleed around the edges and the width of the spine. Lulu even has a handy spine width calculator to help you out. One important item that you might not be able to add to the cover until later in the process is the ISBN bar code. I’ll discuss that tricky thing in a separate blog post next month.

Like the formatting of the manuscript, designing the book cover will take some time. Be patient, be careful, and be precise. Remember, you want your book to be the best it can be.

Preparations Complete

It’s best to have these three documents complete and ready to go as PDF files before logging in to Lulu to start the publication process. If you have these files ready, then the uploading process should go very smoothly.

My own files for Leah are ready to go. I’m just waiting for the new year to log in to Lulu and get the process rolling. My next post in this topic, then, will be on January 1.

November 16, 2008

Cover Image By Laura Loe

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 5:01 pm
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The 2009 Edition. Coming soon to an online bookseller near you.

The 2009 Edition. Coming soon to an online bookseller near you.

I’ve chosen my front cover image. It’s from a painting by American artist Laura Loe titled Girl Reading Book. I found the image a year ago, when I was exploring images to use for the cover of The Spring. I knew I’d be re-publishing Leah in 2009, so just for fun I started scouting for possible cover images for that novel, too. Girl Reading Book was among the first I found. When I saw it, I thought to myself, “Whoa, that’s her! That’s Leah Nells.” It was a moment of pure serendipity. The girl in the painting really does resemble the character I imagine when I’m reading the novel. Since then, I’ve collected other images that were possible candidates for the front cover, but Girl Reading Book has always been my first choice. I got in touch with the artist recently and received her kind permission to use the image.

You might notice that the design for the cover of Leah is similar to the design for The Spring. Since both novels are part of the same series, it makes sense that the front cover designs should be similar too. It’s a simple design, but I like it. It’s clean and elegant and (I hope) not too amateurish.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do for the back cover. One idea I have is to use a detail from Girl Reading Book. Another option is to use a completely different image (probably a photograph, but a photo might clash with the painting on the front). Or maybe I won’t use an image at all; I’ll just use the blurb’s text and leave it at that. I’ll experiment with some different designs and decide what looks best.

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