Printed! (or the ridiculous importance of scene separators)


I finally submitted the final (!) draft of my novella, Before the Time Machine, to IngramSpark for paperback printing and distribution, and Draft2Digital and Amazon KDP for e-book.

The process was interesting, and I need to learn it since I’ll be repeating it.

The companies

IngramSpark allowed me to upload drafts and check them until I was satisfied. Formatting the interior was easiest in Pages, with an export to Word and then PDF, and now I know it needs to go through Adobe Acrobat to save it again as PDF-X. I went through two dozen versions at least, in all three formats.

Draft2Digital wouldn’t allow my scene dividers to be font text, so I had to create images for scene dividers in Word to make them look like I wanted. I also had to use their title page to make things look right, and even then there were things I could do nothing about. Regardless of theme, if I had a non-indented date to start the scene (June 1883) then the next line indented no matter what.

Amazon was easier to use to upload the e-book, but I already had the Word copy from preparing for D2D so that part was fast. Again, they allowed multiple uploads until I uploaded the version that looked best in the Preview.

E-books: must we?

I’m doing it, but an e-book is still a mystery to me — it seems like the TV movie or Napster version of a novel. Although it is my creation, I cannot determine the font, layout, or size of text. That’s up to the reader instead of me. My e-book will have sans serif font, which is inappropriate for my story though I know it’s better to read on a backlit device. The “book” exists in ones and zeros, not the printed page. It’s more like a website than a book.

But, says fans of e-readers, I can have 1,000 books to carry with me! I have trouble imagining the circumstances where that would be important. I’m an inveterate reader of several books at the same time, but surely for a few hours I can read just one book? or if it’s a whole plane flight, perhaps two? Is my attention span so short that I would jump around different books as one would change channels on the television? How would I follow a sustained narrative? And I’d miss the sensual experience of book reading — the feel and smell and sound. All books would feel and smell and sound the same, impoverishing the experience.

Workflow

The workflow going forward will likely be:

  • Write in Scrivener
  • Export to Pages to do draft formatting
  • Export from Pages to Word for IngramSpark, then save as PDF, then use Adobe to make it PDF-X and don’t worry about my publisher logo being too big when it isn’t
  • Adjust Word file for e-book if necessary and save with different name
  • Upload to D2D and Amazon

Formatting

For interior formatting, both Vellum and Atticus made blocks of text look lovely but didn’t have fine enough control over themes or scene separators. Atticus was better than Vellum because you could customize themes and upload your own images, but I could just add them in Pages or Word and have more control over size and placement, so I couldn’t justify using it.  I returned both products for a refund within the 30 days.

I realize most people don’t care about scene separators (also called flourishes or dividers), but I do. My book is dual timeline, part modern and part Victorian era, so I wanted a suitable font for the text (Garamond), and suitable dividers. The few Victorian-ish ones I liked were too fancy, though they might be suitable for the Victorian mysteries.

I had used a special font originally, then later took a screenshot of it and edited the image out of sheer frustration at not finding anything as good:

I will say it felt like 1998 all over again to be spending the day searching the web for free clip-art.

A learning curve

I underwent unnecessary stress because people kept telling me the book’s interior had to be final draft, fully ready, so I got the impression I couldn’t make changes. But all three systems let me upload as many times as I wanted so long as I didn’t click “approve” or “submit”, all allowed me to save my place on the pages of form fields so I could come back, and all had some form of preview so I could see if things looked right.

My publication date is 5 January 2022, to allow time for fixes, which means the books are in “pre-order” status. After I approved at IngramSpark (~$3/book royalty on $9.99 price), Amazon had the paperback book up within hours on its websites, with the cover appearing the next day. Barnes & Noble was close behind. But that’s been all so far, 48 hours later. Supposedly, it will appear at Apple Books and Kobo, as well as others, but it hasn’t yet. I may have to do Google Books separately.

For the e-book submitted to Draft 2 Digital (60% royalty on $5.99), nothing has come up yet at a retailer after several hours. For the e-book submitted to Amazon (35-70% royalty on $5.99) it came up almost immediately, but the two versions of the book are on different pages and will have to be connected, or they may connect themselves within a few days.

None of the services were very good at letting the author know what happens in the process, how it happens, and how long it takes. You literally have to learn by doing, which in this case means doing the web forms and uploads. I had to ask at the Alliance of Independent Authors Facebook group for guidance and reassurance, and I may have to ask again if the book doesn’t show up everywhere it’s supposed to.

 

2 comments to Printed! (or the ridiculous importance of scene separators)

  • Congratulations Lisa. The book looks lovely. What a lot of work!

  • Thanks for bothering with the e-book, which is a boon for elderly readers who need to adjust the font size, and who have trouble with a heavy paper book of large font, or a paperback with small font. Unfortunately still, the controls of e-books are ignorantly small and unusable.