Matcher Rules paperback now available

The paperback of Matcher Rules is now available for ordering.

The proof copy arrived today and the printer did a very nice job. PDF is obviously the way to go with Lulu publications because the text was locked in regarding placement, fonts, size, and graphics. The cover was perfect.

I was very jazzed to see it. Creation of an OBJECT has so much more emotional charge than creation of bytes on a screen.

I’ve ordered a few more copies to sell on consignment through my local independent bookstore. That should be an interesting process.

And . . . Lulu’s Done

I’ve completed the publication process on Lulu for the paperback version of Matcher Rules. I have a proof copy on order, which is supposed to arrive within 10 day or so. Then, assuming they haven’t left out a chapter or put the cover on upside-down, it goes live.

Realistically, this version is pure ego for me. I don’t expect to sell many, or any, in hardback. But I want, as do most authors, a copy of my work in my hands. Ebooks don’t do it for me, which is age or habit. I think it’s great books are available in various electronic formats but I’m not convinced people are reading them, as distinct from a quick browse. And there is nothing like a physical book. Nothing.

I had fewer problems with Lulu’s publishing interface because of all the pre-work. I had a beautifully created and vetted PDF, and a custom cover designed to their template. Neither of them was done by me, but I didn’t rely on Lulu’s stable of tame formatters or designers either. So I uploaded both files, their system accepted them, the cover displayed within the publisher marks, and I powered through the remainder of the system. It took twenty minutes, if you don’t count the month of preparation and the team I assembled.

Lulu does have a way to create your own cover, including uploading and shifting images. Since I had the custom cover, I didn’t dig into that part of the interface. But I found out where all those shit-brown covers on Smashwords are coming from. I refuse to believe people independently designed their own book covers in dark brown, so there must be some mechanism for downloading the book cover once created and uploading it to Smashwords. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about the legality of other people’s actions.

Matcher Rules Ebook Up on Smashwords

Matcher Rules is now up on Smashwords.

The Smashwords process was straightforward. Okay, let me qualify that: if you have a familiarity with Microsoft Word, it was straightforward. I know several writers who for political or religious reasons will not compose in Word, and I do agree with them regarding monolithic software dictatorships and unnecessarily complicated software. But I had to use Word at work for years and it’s what I’m used to, which is a great advantage when you are composing directly onto the keyboard. You can think about the writing, not about the process.

So, using Word, the Smashwords ebook manual made a great deal of sense, particularly since I’m still on Word 2004, which is a de facto baseline standard. (And what I am going to do when forced to upgrade to OSX Lion, which requires a much later version of Word, I do not know.) I did use the ‘Nuclear Method’ where you strip the old formatting out via a text editor and reload the entire manuscript using pre-set Styles. I had tried to impose Styles on several earlier versions of the manuscript, but not very well, so I had the usual overlays and artifacts to get rid of.

I love the Smashwords manual. It’s clear, it’s funny, and it’s accurate. I ended up deleting some of my own old Styles for the corrected ones they recommend and I think it’s going to save me a great deal of time in the future. Frankly, it taught me how to do Styles, which nothing else had ever done. I taught myself Wordperfect  many decades ago and then taught myself Word, but the primitive version back then didn’t have Styles.

I found Rhea Ewing via the women writers group Broad Universe and Rhea did the amazing and outstanding art for the cover. I love it. There’s my plot, right there. It scales up and down beautifully. When I looked at the Smashwords catalog, there were book covers in BROWN. They look like little square pieces of dirt as thumbnails — what were these authors thinking?

Since Smashwords ports the ebooks to many readers, no fancy type fonts are allowed, so I stayed with Times New Roman. My friend and former co-worker Linda Reynolds is doing the type layout and page design for the Lulu version but her expertise isn’t necessary for the ebook.

After all this, the manuscript plus cover made it through the Smashwords Autovetter on the first try. I was as proud as if my child had taken its first steps. Although the ebook is available directly from Smashwords it must pass a manual vetting process to be distributed to Amazon, Apple, etc. More on that as it happens.

Nothing Smells Like An Old Interface

Which sounds horrible, but sometimes when you sign on to a service, the scaffolding shows. It’s not quite as bad as a six-letter password in caps, but the Lulu website is putting all its pennies and time into their ebook section and letting the print option roll on as if it was 2001. Or 1990.

For example, there’s a neat manual for ebook publishing, which you download from the main page. For print, you sign on and start working your way through the steps. As you complete each step, then, when it is too late, you find out the rules and have to back out and do the step again. I’m sure the answer to “why is there no print how-to manual?” is cost-based. Or perhaps they lost enthusiasm, because ebooks are hot and print is not, but there are many many ebook publishers out there and Lulu has made its name in print. Dangerous, to ignore your core customers.

According to the main page, there are many sizes of print books available for authors, and there are templates for equivalent page sizes. Only after you sign on and decline their expensive marketing services do you find out you’re limited to only a few of the sizes. Bait-and-switch. If you’ve spent a considerable time formating to a template, you toss all that out the window and resize and reformat.

After the happy news Word documents are acceptable, there are ominous warnings that the system may “resize to fit” and make the book unreadable. Or you can create a PDF and imbed the fonts, which is much safer. Assuming, of course, you have the full Acrobat suite, which is about $500 and not easy to learn quickly. Or, you can pay them to format, imbed, and size your manuscript — and we haven’t even gotten to the cover.

There are Help screens. They aren’t specific to the process steps, and you have to exit the process to search them. There’s the main help screen, then you pick out of three options, Knowledge Base, Users, and something else, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and select help again. Why? And once you are in a section, say the Knowledge Base, it’s not a keyword search, but a thesaurus-based search on controlled keywords, which isn’t a phrase I thought I’d ever type again, having left the 1990’s behind. I suspect it’s a tree structure and you must be very careful to be at the top of the tree since it searches top to bottom. Then you log in again to pick up the publishing process.

At certain times of day — and certain days only — live chat is available. The wait is long, and the answers tend toward “no, you can’t do that.”

I’ve paid a very good friend of mine, who is a file formatting expert in Word, Acrobat, graphics and layout, to format my manuscript. I’ve also found a cover designer, also paid, to do the cover. Next week I’ll return to the Lulu interface, upload the various bits and see how far I get.

In the meantime, I’ve downloaded the Smashwords ebook manual and completed the formatting on the electronic version. I’m waiting for the final version of the cover to upload. I’m not using Lulu’s ebook version because the Smashwords free distribution and file creation software is so very superior. Not to mention the interface was written in the current millenium …