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  • Nicola

Adventures in Self Publishing: part 2

My last post explained the ‘why’ and this post will give you an insight into the ‘how’ to self-publish. Or at least how I’ve done it. I am no expert, which will soon become obvious. Quilt patterns generally have a lot of illustrations, so when I first looked into self-publishing (or print on demand) options I was drawn to Blurb, which is tailored to suit illustration/photo-heavy books. But after the compulsory google search I found that there were actually a lot of options. I’m sure you can imagine the hours spent comparing them all. I eventually settled on a service called CreateSpace, which was owned by Amazon. Just to confuse you, in the (very long) time I took to create the Spellbound Sampler pattern book, CreateSpace merged with another Amazon company, KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Are you still with me?

CreateSpace offered a template for me to paste my patterns into, which initially seemed sensible. I write my patterns in Microsoft Word and the CreateSpace template seemed similar...and it was, because it was an older version of Word. I soldiered on. The CreateSpace template then converted my text, illustrations and photos into a PDF (Portable Document Format, using Adobe Acrobat) and it occurred to me - after all that work - that I could just write the whole thing in ‘my’ version of Word and then convert it into a PDF. This is the process I’d recommend: use the programme that you are most comfortable with to create your document, then convert it to PDF. The CreateSpace site then turned my PDF into a print preview, flagging up any formatting issues or problems with the quality of the illustrations. There were lots of issues (you’re not surprised are you?). One being that my full page photos didn’t have a ‘bleed’ margin. I had to look it up, so let me spare you the trouble: your image should be slightly bigger (3mm or 1/8”on every side) than the trimmed document, so that you don’t accidentally have white lines around the edge of the page. And when I say ‘the image’ I mean the image on the page, which means the pages of your document should have a bleed margin. So when you create your document you will need to create a custom page size and add 6mm (1/4”) to the height and width.

Of course, you can avoid doing that by not extending any images to the edge of the page. But once I had that idea in my head I couldn’t let it go, so I made the adjustments. At this point the whole process had taken so long that CreateSpace had been absorbed into KDP but, to their credit, the change over was very easy.

The cover for KDP publications is created as separate PDF and, thus far, is the only down side to the whole process. Despite using good quality images, with a high dpi (dots per inch: the more there are, the crisper the image) the covers always print a bit ‘fuzzy’. I wouldn’t really have appreciated this if the whole process of creating the Spellbound Sampler pattern book hadn’t taken so long. As the Festival of Quilts was approaching I had a few preview copies printed by Doxzoo, which were excellent but, given the tiny print run, more expensive. But I did notice that the cover images were crisper.

On balance, the convenience of having pattern books printed to order and the benefits of Amazon’s wide distribution - quilting is international these days and postage charges can mount up - mean that I’ve had to come to terms with the slightly poorer cover. I’ll keep working on it though and I’ll certainly keep you posted. Nicola xx


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