Of Marathons and Brick Walls

That title fairly describes my life over the past few months. Anyone who’s published a book will know what I mean by marathon. But is mine published yet? Nope. That’s where the brick wall comes into the story.

Back in the summer, my publishing platform, Smashwords, merged with Draft 2 Digital (D2D). The books would eventually be migrated, they said. But I took the opportunity to apply the things I’ve learned over the past years to my already-published books, trimming and tweaking what are still essentially the same stories, with every word counting. Three of the four were done. Or so I thought. They are successfully released as e-books, but the paperback has been a huge headache.

D2D now offers the option of paperback books, which Smashwords didn’t have, and I was relieved to have that format again. Their claims were that they could simply apply the e-book file to a paperback version, and would create a full book cover from the e-book cover I provided, or I could upload a full cover myself. I chose the latter because the former was simply taking the main colour of the front cover and slapping it on the back and spine. With some tweaking to my inside document, I gave the okay for an e-book release and ordered paperback proof copies.

Oh. My. Goodness. Everything that could be wrong with a book printing was there: No gutter margin adjustments (“gutter” refers to the inside margin at the spine of the book; you should be able to read the entire line without breaking the book spine!); the spine of my design was partially wrapped to the front cover; the cover colouring was way off; the size of the actual book was too large (not the standard size which I’ve always chosen); there were orphans and widows all over the place (those refer to “abandoned” text, such as “Dear John” on the bottom of a page with the rest of the letter on the next page, or a single line at the end of a chapter on an otherwise blank page); centred elements were NOT; the divider images, clear on every other printing I’ve ever had, are fuzzy. The list goes on. Brick walls.

What it all means is that, as much as I’d worked toward a pre-Christmas release, it will now likely turn into a Valentine’s Day release. I will have to reformat not one, but five books for their paperback versions. Picture five brick walls to surmount that you weren’t planning to face at all. It was work that I had hoped D2D’s claims would relieve me of. But I guess the old adage is still true:

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

For a few days, I was in shock at the poor quality of printing (and the first proof book took weeks to arrive), and I wondered why I was putting myself through this. I seriously thought about just throwing in the towel on writing. But I know myself; I’ll give myself a few days, and then I’ll be spit-fire again. And then D2D will be getting comprehensive feedback on their paperback program (in all other ways so far, I’m satisfied with their service and tools). After that, before I can move on to the next story, I’ll be working for months getting re-releases and my new release ready for paperbacks.

In all this time, I’ve heard that real life has gone on outside of my library (where I write). I had a craft stand at our annual local Christmas market, which meant weeks of preparing when I wasn’t writing. Someone usually cleans our house (me), does our shopping (me), and cooks our meals (me). I’m also part of the decoration trio in our church, which has meant regular stage design changes and creating elements for that – some as simple as wire figures, some as complex as giant wheat stalks.

And I’ve heard the rumour that Christmas is coming! Somehow, with all the editing, graphics, publishing and not publishing lately, I’ve not gotten into the season’s mood yet. But now that the Christmas goal has been ripped away, I’ve allowed myself time. Time to breathe. Time to think about and write something other than manuscripts and blurbs and bios. It’s not that I’ve forgotten this blog, and it’s not as if I’ve had no ideas for it – I’ve had dozens; I’ve just had no time to pursue them, and if you’re like me and don’t write them down as they come, the ideas flit away like startled sparrows. So, I’ll start writing them down – and when I need a break from the editing marathon, I’ll investigate those ideas, and start sharing them with you! Thank you for hanging in there in my long silence!


Filed under Articles, Musings

14 responses to “Of Marathons and Brick Walls

  1. I hired Vinnie Kinsella (vinniekinsella.wordpress.com), a real-live book designer, to do mine. I got him together with my publisher and let them work it out.

  2. Which part of your book did you have them design?

  3. Your brick walls are awful, and I hope you will soon have the cheerful energy to tackle them all. I’ll be thinking of you.

  4. Vinnie designed the whole thing. The cover was an image I provided, but he just put the whole novel together. My publisher, Word Hermit Press, assembled everything for the printing of the paperback. Vinnie did my short story collection, too, and the jacket system for the hardback version.

  5. I had my books published through Amazon who are also the sellers. I used the P O D Method. Print on demand. It worked fine and not expensive. On hindsight they should have been edited much more thoroughly.

  6. I’ve used D2D for years for ebooks and they’ve been great, but the print books are a really new thing for them. I didn’t even realize they were doing it. I do know that I’ve never been able to use their provided pdf for either Amazon KDP or for IngramSpark. I have done my own interior formatting, but with my last book, I hired it done, which saved me many tears.

  7. Good luck! It’s always a steep learning curve, but it will be worth it in the end.

  8. I’ve learned by experience that, for me, designing my own cover is more satisfying. It’s a matter of choice, finances, and time vs. cost…

  9. I’m trying to get away from Amazon, as they see authors as customers, and offer little to no help or advertising or anything else… The editing is certainly up to the author, unless you want to pay substantially for the work hours it takes to edit something well.

  10. Yes, the prints are new to D2D; it’s a BETA learning curve, I’d say! I have guidelines for interior book design from CreateSpace, and my hubby made me an excel calculator for spine widths, etc. Which company did you hire it out to?

  11. There is a woman in my local writers guild who does it. I hired her. It was well worth it for me. Formatting my other books really did drive me to tears.

  12. thomas

    Hey Stephanie, your covers look great! I’m using D2D for print as well. My first proof (3 weeks) had really grainy pics. adjust to 300dpi. Then ordered second proof ordered Dec 20, 2022, its now Mar and no proof copy. They gave me a label a month ago, but still waiting. another person said she waited 3 months for her D2D proof copy, a year ago. How long does a Beta take?? You get your proofs yet? how long did it take? I agree with you about amazon, but 3 months to get proof copies at D2D is nuts.

  13. Thank you! I was not happy at all with the proof copies – too many issues with their auto-changes from e-book to PB. I’m nearly done prepping all of them for PB release. I won’t do that before I have the proofs in my hand, however!

    How long your proof copies will take depends on where you are in the world; it took about 3 months for the first, and the other 2 (ordered at the same time as the first) ended up taking nearly 5 months to arrive from the UK printer to Switzerland! I agree – it’s nuts. D2D will be getting a comprehensive feedback to help improve their Beta program…

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