Friday, February 15, 2013

Self-Publishing Update

Cover for my soon-to-be published book.
I selected the cover I wanted after making a minor modification to the first cover concept sent to me by my CreateSpace team. Now I'm working with the team to finalize the interior body text font. I've narrowed fonts down to New Baskerville, and Garamond 3. Next step is to look at samples in these two fonts, at 11 pt and 12 pt, with 122.5% leading.

Leading (pronounced 'ledding') is the space between the top of one line and the top of the next line (i.e.,  line spacing). My feeling is that something greater than the standard 120% will make the book easier to read, even if increasing the number of pages slightly.

In order to see what the body text will look like in the actual 6 x 9 book, one has to print using the "Actual Size" print setting, not the setting that's automatically selected by your printer driver. Because most of us are printing on 8.5 x 11 paper, printing actual size will run over margins, but the text will look the way it will look in your 6 x 9 book. Thus, my initial reaction that Garamond 12 pt was too small changed when I saw it actual size. Looks okay now (although still not in love with the font itself).

The 12 pt New Baskerville and Palatino look too large. If I were to use one of these fonts, I would downsize to 11 pt.

The leading used by CreateSpace designers for the 12 pt Garamond was 14.4 (120%). I'm going to ask to see a leading of 122.5%.

According to my CS consultant, Garamond, Baskerville, Palatino, and Hoefler are the most "popular" fonts used by self-publishers. My guess is that this has more to do with what the design team offers up than what authors choose on their own.

I'm told that CreateSpace provides a resource on its web site that will help authors estimate how many pages their books will run, and that will help determine approximate printing costs. From what I was told, choosing between the fonts I mention above will not alter page count to any great extent (unless I really jack up size and leading). Thus, my primary concern is the reading experience.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oh My Heart / Il Mio Cuore

I love you
Oh my heart
I love you
Will I ever see you again?

I love you
Oh my heart
As my days come to an end
Will I ever see you again?

How happy I was then
Loving you
Oh my heart
How I loved you then

And passion
Filled my days
And thoughts of you

And now
So far
Far away
So long ago

The wings of a butterfly

Sent to find you
Watch for it in your garden
When the spring comes
In the warmth of the sun

Oh my heart
My love
My love
My love

Ti amo
Oh, il mio cuore
Ti amo
Riuscirò mai a vedere di nuovo?

Ti amo
Oh, il mio cuore
Come i miei giorni hanno una fine
Riuscirò mai a vedere di nuovo?

Come ero felice allora
Oh, il mio cuore
Come ti ho amato allora

e passione
Riempito i miei giorni
E pensieri di voi

e ora
Tanto tempo fa

Le ali di una farfalla

Inviato a trovarti
Guarda per esso nel vostro giardino
Quando la molla viene
Nel calore del sole

Oh, il mio cuore
Il mio amore
Il mio amore
Il mio amore

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Self-Publishing: Cover Concepts

CreateSpace designers sent me two cover concepts from which to choose. Which do you prefer?



I'm thinking I like Concept 1 (which I submitted). But I'd move the lion up so that the mushroom cloud appears inside the sun above the lion's back. Also, I'd prefer a different font for the title.

Richard III Rediscovered

Shakespeare could only go by what history and conventional wisdom told him when he wrote these lines in his play Richard III.

"I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity."

But now we know the truth. Richard was relatively tall at 5', 8" and not a hunchback. He suffered from scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, which caused one shoulder to be higher than the other. Far from being "rudely stamped," Richard was handsome, as reconstruction of his skull illustrates.

All this teaches us once again, that history is written by the victors.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Self-Publishing Update

In an earlier post, I wrote about embarking on a project to self-publish my novel, The Lion and the Sun.  I'm using what is essentially, a publish on demand (POD) service, CreateSpace, which is an Amazon-owned company.

I choose to use the Total Design Freedom Standard publishing service offered by CreateSpace. This was my first novel, and my first experience at self-publishing, and I thought it wise to get a little experience under my belt before tackling the process on my own.

The self-publishing process using CreateSpace employs the computer, the phone, and the postal system. To date, I've used only the first two -- everything is being done digitally, with telephone conversations for added detail and/or clarification.

I uploaded my manuscript to the CreateSpace last Thursday, January 17, 2013. At the same time, I filled out an on-line questionnaire about my novel that was meant to provide the CreateSpace "project team" information to assist them in designing the interior and cover of the novel. I've reproduced the questions and my answers below.

What is your book's tone, and how do you want readers to perceive your text? 
(For example, a light-hearted and easy-to-use guide to home finances, or a romantic fiction comparable to Nicholas Sparks, etc.)
The Lion and the Sun is a story of intrigue, betrayal, and regret set against the threat of nuclear terrorism. The novel will appeal to readers that enjoy books by writers such as Alan Furst, Charles McCarry, and John le Carre'. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Provide a brief summary of your book. 
(Fiction: list the main characters, plot, storyline and any quotes from the book that are particularly telling. 
Non-fiction: state your main objective, how you differ from others of your genre.)
The Soviet Union's house of cards finally came crashing down in 1991, sending the West near euphoria. Unfortunately, there were thousands of nuclear weapons stored in various locations in Russia and, as with the Russian ruble, security at Russian weapons storage sites collapsed. The US spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to shore it up. Despite its best efforts, something slipped through the cracks three years later; something that in the wrong hands, would put a great big crater in the middle of Manhattan. Daniel Conte, a veteran of 25 years with a covert unit attached to the CIA, is getting old, he's burned out, and he's on the razor edge of being divorced. Conte has promised his wife he'll participate in marriage counseling to get their troubled relationship back on track just in time for Christmas. But Conte is assigned the mission of tracking down the missing nuclear weapon component, and like the good soldier he is, he drops his domestic agenda and once again does the bidding of his CIA masters. Conte's mission takes him from Vienna, to Istanbul, to Tehran, where he's in serious danger of returning home in a body bag. Along the way he reconnects with an old adversary from Russian intelligence, becomes involved with a beautiful MI6 agent, and comes up against a smart-mouthed Turkish intelligence intern who seeks advice from him on her love life. Conte heads off on his globe trotting tour in November of 1994; just nine months after Aldrich Ames is revealed to be a Soviet mole in the CIA. The implications of Ames' treachery will be felt by Daniel Conte in more ways than he can imagine as he puts his life at risk in the service of his country; ways that will challenge his core beliefs and test his courage and his values. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Describe your book's theme(s).
The Lion and the Sun deals first and foremost with the human condition in all its many forms and facets; love, betrayal, courage, vulnerability, duty, honor, patriotism. These facets of human nature play out against the terrifying prospect of nuclear terrorism, the crumbling of the former Soviet Union, and the revolutionary fervor that is the old and now the new Iran. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

What is your book's genre?
Mystery/Thriller - Espionage 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Describe your target audience by factors such as age group, interests, education, gender, etc.
This book is meant for a mature audience interested in foreign affairs, intrigue, terrorism, and nuclear weapons. Readers who enjoy an international flavor to their mystery/thrillers will enjoy the book. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

What inspired you to write the book?
The book is based on my personal experience in intelligence, counterintelligence, and counter-terrorism, as well as direct experience in the countries depicted in the story. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

What distinguishes your book from others?
First-hand knowledge of events, organizations, and locales. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Describe any specific design ideas for the interior of your book.
For example, "I would like my interior to look modern" or "I would like my interior to look like my manuscript."

The interior of the book should give weight to the seriousness of the topic -- nuclear terrorism. Documents/correspondence depicted in the story should be set in different font to distinguish them from narrative. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Do you plan to submit an index? 
If you would like to include one, we will request that you upload the paginated and completed index later on in the process.

Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Describe any specific design ideas for the cover of your book.
Are there particular color(s) or types of imagery that you would like to see on your cover?

I would like to submit my ideas for the cover during the upload process. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

We recommend that all images be submitted at 200 DPI as images under 200 DPI may appear blurry or pixelated in print. Would you like to be notified if we find images under 200 DPI in your submitted files? 

Note: If you choose to not be notified of low resolution images we will be unable to replace any printed books that do not meet your satisfaction due to image quality.

Yes, notify me 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Additional Comments (Optional):
My novel has three parts, as well as a preface, a prologue and an epilogue. I have included a Table of Contents in my manuscript. I have several quotes in the document, with the sources noted in the Acknowledgements. 
Submitted on 2013-01-16 14:13

Would you like to have a phone consultation about your book? 
If so, please specify your preferred time of day. Phone consultations are offered between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Saturday. Please refer to the Phone Consultation FAQ for more information.

Yes - Afternoons are best 
Submitted on 2013-01-17 21:36

If yes, provide the phone number at which you would like to be contacted for your consultation.
Submitted on 2013-01-17 21:36

I received a phone call from "Kelsy," a member of my CreateSpace project team 7 days later, who called to tell me what would transpire in the coming weeks and to discuss further details of the book design. She told me I'd receive a mock-up of the first few pages of the book within 7 days and would be allowed two rounds to finalize the interior design. Following that, I receive a cover design, and likewise would have two chances to modify it. It would take the design team 10 days to produce a physical copy, which I could expect to receive 15 days after agreement on the mock-ups. They would be one more round of changes before the design was locked in.

I received the mock-up last Friday, February 1, 2013. My review resulted in several comments, which I was required to make in an on-line questionnaire. My main problem with the mock-up was with the font used for the body of the novel, Garamond 3. I found the text difficult to read, small and compressed, in this font. My belief is that the design team will "default" to a font that, although it will suffice for readability, is primarily meant to reduce page count, and thereby reduce the cost for producing the book. This benefits the author, by reducing what they have to establish as the book's retail price. However, I want to ensure that my novel is easy to read.

My comments on the mock-up are shown below.

Are alterations required on any charts or graphs?


Submitted on 2013-02-02 11:11

Does the placement or sizes of any images need to be adjusted?

Images okay. 
Submitted on 2013-02-02 11:11

Do any decorative elements used for fleurons, chapter title art or footers need revision?
I don't know the name of the typeface used to separate the scenes within chapters, but I like it. 
Submitted on 2013-02-02 11:11

Does the placement of page elements such as headers, footers or page numbers require modification?
Placement of page elements okay. 
Submitted on 2013-02-02 11:11

Additional Comments:

Submitted on 2013-02-02 11:11

Select a Digital Rights Management (DRM)option:
  1. Select Enable DRM if you would like DRM added to your Kindle-Ready file
  2. Select Do Not Enable DRM if you do not want DRM added to your Kindle-Ready file
DRM is intended to inhibit unauthorized distribution of the Kindle file of your book. Some authors want to encourage readers to share their work, and choose not to have DRM applied to their book. If you choose to enable DRM, customers will still be able to lend the book to another user for a short period, and can also purchase the book as a gift for another user from the Kindle store.

Once you publish your eBook, you cannot change its DRM setting. 
Enable DRM 
Submitted on 2013-01-17 21:39

If you would like us to upload on your behalf, please provide the email address associated with your KDP account in the provided text box.

Once you've set-up your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and accepted the Terms & Conditions, please visit the "Getting Started & FAQs" section at for additional information about setting up your account. 

If you have questions relating to your KDP account, please contact Kindle Direct Publishing via email at

Submitted on 2013-01-17 21:39

Would you like your project team to upload your converted Kindle file directly to your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account?

If you do not want us to upload your Kindle file to KDP, and you would like to upload your Kindle file to KDP on your own, select No, Do not upload on my behalf. Once this service is complete we will provide you with a Kindle-Ready file to upload to KDP at

Yes, Upload on my behalf 
Submitted on 2013-01-17 21:39

Are adjustments needed with the text styles? Text styles include line spacing and font choices for your chapter titles, body text, page headers and footers.
I find the body copy font (Garamond-3) difficult to read. I like a serif typeface, but one without too much difference between the ascender and descender letter lines, and not as compressed as Garamond. Palatino might be a better choice. I like having the material that's separate from the narrative, e.g., quoted messages, in a different typeface to set it off, but the typeface used on Pg-7 of the mockup will be too large for later material. Also, it should be justified, not centered (use margin adjustments to set it off). Use the same method from other such material. 
Submitted on 2013-02-02 11:11

Are changes needed with your front matter? 

Are changes needed to the front section of the book; such as your title page, copyright page, dedication, table of contents, acknowledgements, or foreword? (Not every book includes all of these elements) For a description of your book's contents, refer to your Design Mock-Up Summary.

I like the idea of setting off the words "Lion" and "Sun" in the title with an italic font, but I don't like the font used -- too "feminine," for lack of a better word. I like a bolder arabesque, like Zapfino. TOC needs to be formatted to line up chapter headings when chapter #s change from single to double digits. Also, Chapter 22 is missing the term "Chapter," and the chapter title may be too long to fit on one line. Change the title to, "Near Chabahar, Iran, December 11, 1994." I prefer that the TOC be contained on one page, if possible. If this can't be accomplished, I prefer that there be a blank page after the TOC and the preface. I like the typeface for the preface. It's a different typeface than the prologue and epilogue, but I think this is okay, given that it is not part of the story. There's a quote on the page that delineates Part 1. At the end of the quote is a number (1) in parentheses. Please delete that number. 
Submitted on 2013-02-02 11:11

If you selected "I have my own eBook ISBN", please enter the ISBN and Publisher/Imprint Name in the provided box.  
Submitted on 2013-01-17 21:39

The Kindle edition of your book requires a unique ISBN that is unrelated to your paperback. 

Select "CreateSpace ISBN" if you would like us to assign an ISBN for your Kindle Book or select "I have my own eBook ISBN" if you would like to enter your own ISBN. 

CreateSpace ISBN 
Submitted on 2013-01-17 21:39

After I'd submitted my reaction to the mock-up, I went to the CreateSpace web site and asked to be called by a member of the design team. I wanted to make sure my comments were clear. I received a phone call almost immediately. It was Kelsy again, and she was very open to my suggestions and we discussed a few other points, which she promised to pass on to the designers.

That's where things stand to date. I'm looking forward to seeing the next iteration of the interior, and hopefully, a cover design concept within the next 7 days. I'll let you know how it goes.