Scribus Success Story: A Gingersnap Cat Christmas (paperback print novel)

Indie Publishing Friends, Writing

 

Scribus Success Story - book interior with epigraphs and illustrated title page

Epigraph and Title page for A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS. Scribus actually had an option to cameo the image like that!

Indie authors, paperbacks can be done in Scribus, and they can be done beautifully!

A Gingersnap Cat Christmas is a holiday fantasy I wrote for middle-schoolers. The POD paperback (whose interior I formatted in Scribus) is available through Amazon.com.

About the project: Having just missed my Christmas 2017 publishing deadline for the Gingersnap Cat ebook, I vowed to use the extra time in 2018 to teach myself Scribus, with the goal of having Gingersnap ready for print before Christmas 2018.

 Before this project, the last time I’d touched the Big Name desktop publishing program was back in college for a single assignment in a single class…so I really felt like I was starting from scratch! I learned the basics using the Getting Started with Scribus tutorial, and also by working on a single-page newsletter for my church.

I used Scribus 1.5.3 on Windows 7, and chose 5.5.x8.5” for the trim(overall book) size.

  • Completed Size: 199 pages
  • Initial Margins: Inside = 0.875in, Outside=0.625in, Top =.625in, Bottom =.75in. (Note! While these are the settings I used at the beginning of the project, they had to be readjusted after the author proof showed the body text getting sucked into the gutter, see “Challenges” below).
  • Typefaces (fonts): the interior body text was done in Fanwood Text Regular 13 with a fixed 19.5pt line spacing. The interior heading typefaces are Firefly 11 (title), and the Classiq Regular Italic Choix 11 (author).
  • Cover: Designed in the open source vector program Inkscape, but Scribus took care of converting the exported PNG to print-ready PDF. (The kitties were painted in the open source raster art program Krita)

This project was completed just before Amazon migrated all Createspace projects over to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and was so created according to Createspace specifications.

Scribus Success Story - book interior with a running header and a chapter heading

A sample of the novel’s interior.

Challenges: Though I thought I had automatic hyphenation turned on, but I don’t think I ever saw automatic hyphenation function work, so when needed, I inserted the hyphenation manually.

After setting up my left and right Master pages, I started by making each chapter its own file, applying paragraph and italicized styles (my italics weren’t transferred from MS Word), then adjusting the tracking (spacing between words), widows, orphans, etc. Once finished, I added each chapter to the main book body file.

This worked well initially, but since this was my first typography job, I wound up tweaking the tracking inside the much larger main file, which meant I had to deal with a slowdown in program speed. But if I had completed all my tracking 100% to my satisfaction in the individual chapter files, then added them to the main file without touching them afterwards, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Scribus was still usable during this time—it just required a little patience.

My biggest technical hurdle was shifting text blocks—first when my corrective tracking caused pages to switch from left-side to right-side pages (and vice versa), then shifting the text blocks away from the gutter and down from the top after I got my first author proof back. (I recommend all authors set their inside margin wider than you think you’ll need!) Luckily Gregory Pittman came to my rescue with his very helpful shifting script! (He was also kind enough to modify the script to include vertical shifting after an email exchange. Mr. Pittman is a gentleman and a scholar!)

I found Clif Graves’ previous Scribus Success Story   invaluable as both guide and inspiration, along with John Osterhout’s Scribus templates  and DJ Mills’ “Creating Print-on-Demand Interiors and Covers Using Scribus” tutorial.

I’ve had numerous compliments on the look of the Gingersnap Cat Christmas paperback—and now that I’ve done it once, I look forward to using Scribus to publish print versions of my other short stories and novels.

 

Screenshot of Symphytum Personal Information Manager

Free easy-to-use Personal Information Manager SYMPHYTUM helps you get organized

Indie Publishing Friends, Reviews, Writing

I’ve been CRAVING a virtual Rolodex/dossier box/index card program to help me organize things (like my book info)…today I stumbled upon a BEAUTIFUL and EASY TO USE Personal Information Manager (PIM) that let me do exactly what I wanted quickly, with little fuss.

It’s called SYMPHYTUM, it’s free for Windows, Linux, and Mac, and I love it already. Screenshot of Symphytum Personal Information Manager Each record starts as a blank screen, but you add the fields you want where you want them. Simple pick-an-option-then-drag-and-drop. I used a lot of “text” fields for my book page here, but the “date” field will pull up a calendar from which you can choose dates, and clicking the globe icon in a “web link” field will take you to the URL you entered in there. I’m sure there are other cool features.

You can also view all the records in a table, which makes things easy to see.

Two tricksy things:

  1.  When moving fields, they switch places with each other (when in a column I usually wanted it to bump the one I was replacing down)
  2. I couldn’t figure out how to resize my image at first, but after some experimenting I discovered the procedure: make the frame as big as you want, then get the image. If it’s not to your liking, resize the frame and get the image again.

My wishlist:

  1. It’d be nice if they had a toggle for “field-add” mode so I don’t accidently move things around when I’m just entering stuff (though I don’t think I’ve done that…yet.)
  2. I stumbled on a keyboard shortcut or two, but I don’t see ’em listed anywhere.

The next software program I want to get for writing is TrackerBox (which tracks sales across different vendors) but until then, Symphytum will work well in helping me keep ISBNs and the like straight.

 

(From a comment over at CoverCritics.com)

“I think this cover would not pass my test of imagining it with a title in an unfamiliar language. If you were to do that, would you still be able to tell anything at all about the nature, themes or even genre of the book?”

That’s a great idea. If everything about your book cover was the same (pics, typefaces) but the words were foreign/lorem ipsum, what assumptions would your viewer make?

Cool book cover design tip!

Indie Publishing Friends, Writing

Book Cover Makeover! Before and Afters, yay!

Art, Indie Publishing Friends

A friend of mine wrote a postmodern hypertext (like, CYOA) eBook called LOVE OCTOPUS TRANSFORMATION. My sketch has been on its cover for years now, but since I’ve learned more about eyecatching book cover design, I wanted to update it and make it purdy for her.

Here’s the before:

Sketchy octopus on black background.The test of a good eBook cover: does it catch audience interest? Does it signal the genre?

My old errors: I stretched the text, and you can’t figure out what the illio is in the thumbnail. Genre, what’s that?

Here comes the AFTER!

LOVE OCTOPUS TRANSFORMATION cover 2018. A woman's green face beneath pink tentacles, with the title in bold text.

LOVE OCTOPUS TRANSFORMATION cover 2018. A woman's green face beneath pink tentacles, with the title in bold text.

A mashup of CC-0 photos, a little Krita magic, and surprisingly little futzing in Inkscape for the text!
This one might be a little fantastical for the subject matter, but I think it’s striking! If I could do it again, I might move the author name to the top…but at least the typeface matches her other books! #branding

Do you love BEFORE AND AFTER style book cover makeovers? Comment below with some of your favorites!

 

Help a Therapy Cat named Punks

everyday, Indie Publishing Friends

punks-widget

Help Punks Get Her Tumor Removed!

Punks the Cat has a massive lipoma on her back between her shoulders that is limiting her mobility. We are trying to raise the funds necessary to get it removed. Visit our YouCaring page to read our story. If you can help, go to our campaign on YouCaring by clicking on the widget below. And please share. Each share means more than you know.

Punks is a therapy cat owned by Jennifer Amriss to help her with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and chronic anxiety. Any and all help is welcome and appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

In my quest to figure out what to do for my latest webpage, I stumbled upon Ms. Amriss’ site and this plea to help get surgery for her therapy kitty. Our cat Pixel isn’t an official therapy cat, but he’s helped our family through a lot of tough times, so I wanted to pass word along in case you could help.

SCVK is turning into a book

Indie Publishing Friends, Writing

This is a thing. A real thing.

Last November I thought I’d be sending off SCVK to agents for years. Then I came across Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing and decided to go indie and go for broke.

Now, not even six months later, I’m closer than ever to making my dream come true.

Today Katie Payne just sent a finalized cover (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH IT’S AMAZING but I’mma ask for a couple tweaks! BUT IT’S STILL AMAZING AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!). And Colleen just sent over some interior files for me to choose from. You know, for, like, the printed book. Which is going to happen.

THIS IS HAPPENING. TO ME!  All I need now is more moolah. Oh and for my last Typo Patroller to finish reading so I can fix tracking errors. 😀

SCVK Cover teaser and other stuff

Art, Indie Publishing Friends, Writing

onekatie:
“Closeup of painting I’m chipping away at for the one and only Danielle!!
.
.
.
#digitalpainting #digitalart #artist #art #illustration #bookcover #sketch
”
That sound you hear is my face cracking because I’M GRINNING SO HARD

onekatie:

Closeup of painting I’m chipping away at for the one and only Danielle!!
.
.
.
#digitalpainting #digitalart #artist #art #illustration #bookcover #sketch

That sound you hear is my face cracking because I’M GRINNING SO HARD


 

In other news…*squints at 41 printed pages of Armello fanfic* When did this get so long?! Probably time to re-read it soon.

I wrote some today on Horror and Frenchies and suddenly my motivation’s run out. Literally nothing sounds good to do (except maybe play DROPSY, but I don’t want to continue on without my friend over so.)

Well, playing DEAD SECRET sounds good but the last time I played it it got my heart going and I’m already kinda hyped by the SCVK cover preview. X33 I don’t know if my heart could take it.

TACOS TONIGHT!!