Archive for October 2013

Twelve Days 100 Pages: Thoughts on stress and self-doubt   1 comment

These are the “notes” that i’ve made after analyzing chapters and reorganizing things recently. These are additional things I wrote and mapped out after doing my pre-writing novel preparation, which is about twelve pages of documentation. So add that to like another 25 pages of notes and stuff and I have close to 40 pages of prep + the actual writing.

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This is just a part of the novel’s growth even though I hit a snag or two.

I had a serious loss of motivation for three days, simply because when I get so deep into a novel, my brain starts going at a thousand miles an hour. Any feeling of doubt can become and overwhelming one, and little bumps in the road (a character conflict that you are trying to work out for example) can become a Herculean task. But these are the shortcomings of many a writer, and I made sure to chat with one or two people about how I was feeling. A friend and fellow author told me to just keep going and don’t’ worry about it. He reminded me that among his friends and I am one of the most driven, well traveled and creative he knows. Then I spoke to my grandmother about how I was feeling, and she told me a simple phrase, “People read. People even read things that drop on the ground. You have a gift, use it, and keep writing.” These two general sentiments settled my raging mind enough for me to get back into the groove. Even though i’d lost some of my motivation, I had still written 3-5 pages a day during those times.

Now, as I’ve hit a nice landmark of one hundred pages, I’ve realized some more things about my process which I may adjust into the future. Feeling stressed while doing anything doesn’t make it easier to do. I was starting to worry about this novel I wrote in Japan, if it would be “real enough”, if people would even read it, and the usual negative self-talk that people make when they are on the verge of finishing a major project. I took these thoughts quite seriously, wondering if I had what it took.

But then I took some time to browse through my old website (Jamaicaninjapan.com) and looked at a few of my videos, and said… I HAD been there. I’d lived there, been happy and sad there. I was qualified to write this novel. A novel is nothing but an idea, and this is simply an idea that will be put out there. The paranoia and worry of putting it out there could come later.

Also *knocks on head* i’d released one novel already THIS YEAR. At the end of June, a mere four months ago, I released Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken, which a few people have read and mentioned to me they liked. Now, what i realize is that i’m never stuck on the belief that one major idea will cause my value to explode. I’m always questioning and trying to figure out a new angle to ensure that i’m using my energy wisely. BUT, I released a book! I organized my own book readings, did a mentally draining online launch and marketed the book to people on several continents. It hasn’t taken off yet, but for me to be blazing through another novel within such a short time frame isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it reflects an urgency within me to keep going and fight the battle of getting new products out there to attract different kinds of readers. The effort I’ve put into this project shows that i’m not happily resting on my laurels because I feel I have more to say.

I think that, on top of the sentiments from my friend and grandmother, helped me to relax a bit more. I can be a little neurotic during this face of extreme mental use, but sometimes we just need take two steps back, look on things literally and move from there. So i’m at 50,000 words in 12 days, which isn’t bad. But technically i’ve already hit the minimum industry standard for a novel.  Why am i so worried?

I guess this is a quirk of mine that makes me work harder, but it can be detrimental. So right now, i’m just breathing, taking it easy and going through easier motions in writing. I made the last ten or twelve chapters very detailed to ease the thinking involved with those parts. I’ve also sat and meditated on certain specific character meetings and motivations which I feel could affect the way the story ends. I mulled over that for sometime, and i think for now, I have another framework I can operate with.

So the evolution of a novel is always the rough outline, then the real outline, then the “tweaked outline” then the “tweaked some more outline” then you have the “first draft outline”, after which you get someone to read it some more, then you have your “tweaked draft” and possibly this will be ready to publish. So i’m gonna just get the first draft wrapped up as soon as possible, then fiddle with the tweaking and touchups as I find a few kind folks to take a read through.

cheers until I hit 125 pages

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Posted October 25, 2013 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

Seven Days Seventy Five Pages   Leave a comment

 

 

I’m approaching a point in time now where I need to have a structure to look at my book “at a glance” Basically, what I’ve discovered when writing a novel, is that you can plot it out and have an idea of where you want the story to go. You can dutifully expand on this structure and get a very solid outline of how the novel will sound and feel as you write it. It becomes and A to Z map of where the story will start and end. But inevitably, there will be bumps in the road depending on the motivation a character has, or the degree to which you will eventually agree with the character’s direction.

So i’m at 75 pages of this new project i’ve written that will be set in Japan and a part of me knows the next few steps, but I think all this writing has left me slightly burnt out. So i’m taking a day to just chill out. I’ve spent some time mapping and remapping aspects of the the book as it develops, but inevitably, I didn’t feel much like typing. This has happened to me before, and it’s a mixture of mental and physical fatigue. So generally, if I have a long stretch of incredible writing, i’m usually well rested and reasonably clear (although like many a writer i’ve pumped out 15 pages in a few hours after a hard night of partying). But with complex projects like this, I think that aspects of the story can burrow int your mind and cause certain doubts about the storyline and where its going. The more tired your body and mind is, the harder it is to write.

I tend to be sort of physical with my writing process… and i’m constantly jotting down notes on a pad, or pacing around referencing my “at a glance” system, which is just a sheet or two of cartridge paper with the direction of the novel laid out in tiny bubbles. When i’m feeling like i’m writing too much for a certain part of the book, or if I’m questioning what i’m doing too much, then I step back and look at the “big picture” to see if things fit.  Now this is a personal quirk of mine that i’ve always had to deal with. Sometimes I get too worried about the correctness of my story as i’m writing it.

I know that people can write a lot and then take out what you don’t need later on, but i hate writing stuff that I’m not going to use, so I try to be reasonably efficient. I prefer to add more later, than trim the fat. I guess its just how my mind operates. Or i could just be writing this blog post to blow off some steam and get away from the laptop for a bit. Regardless, hitting 75 pages this quickly only means that a part of the story up to this point has been quite clear, and depending on how I proceed from this point on, I might see a drop in the per page per day count if I am still struggling with certain directional hurdles.

Based on the outline i have of my book the project will be no less than forty five chapters, and i’m up to chapter 13, so there is a good bit of writing left to do. If I can keep this stride, then in two weeks I should be able to hit well over 120 pages. I’m already at 38,000 words in just a week, and i will hit 50K (minimal novel length) in no time. This isn’t really a race, but as i wrote in a previous blog, i’m going harder than usual with this project because I wanted to have two books out this year and I don’t want to be actively writing at the end of October. I want to be in revision and release mode.

At the very least, I feel that the voice of this project is interesting, and I feel that writing a novel set in Japan will be interesting to many of the people over the years who’ve asked me about life there, particularly life in Tokyo. I feel that if a story is burning inside you to tell, you should tell it. What’s interesting about this manuscript is that when I was in Tokyo I couldn’t write this. I was too busy at that time. Also, I didn’t want to write this book before I had finished “Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken”. Just a few days before I started this project, I felt like in many ways I was completely done with the preparation of that novel. I’d prepared the hardcover mansucript, I’d released patched up and slightly reformatted versions online, and I had a marketing plan and strategy mapped out. But what I didn’t believe, was that my first real published novel was the do or die test. All I knew was that, if I wanted to write anything else, I needed to get that one out of my system. So I did, and after releasing it, trying my hand a few book readings and spending more time than i’d like on re-editing and re-formatting for typos and so on, I could see that there was a future with another book in it. In fact, I was happy to start this book, because i’m one of those people that always has five to ten big ideas in me, and when they latch on to me, it is almost like being possessed. I can’t sleep, I focus only on that task and in a way it becomes my world.

So this is an exercise in getting it done rapidly, putting it out there, then releasing it so I can move on to the next one, whatever that is.

this is me blowing off steam

cheers

 

Five days Fifty pages, a novel in progress   1 comment

A month or few ago (yes, I wrote “few” on purpose :p) I wrote a blog post on how to be a 10 page a day writer based on some personal observations i’d made about myself.

Recently, I started a new project, and since Saturday evening, i’ve written fifty pages. Technically, this means I wrote fifty pages in four full days, but five and fifty have that little oomph sound I like.

Anyhoo, there are a lot of things i’ve gleaned from experimenting with writing, from raging through mansucripts without much research because the ideas were so fresh in my mind, to tackling complex multi-character narratives that required more work. So, I wrote fifty pages in four days, but I had about a week of prep. I feel like sharing that process here while I continue to work on the novel. It’s either writing this blog post or playing Mario Kart, and i’ve already reached Godlike status in that regard.

So this is a snapshot of the prep i’ve done thus far.

prepsnapshot

I didn’t have a necessarily preplanned, perfect strategy for the prep, but I felt the desire to write the novel bubbling inside me and I decided to try and get my mind ready. My next novel will be set in Japan, so my first step of action was to read five Japanese novels to get a feel of Japan again. I did this in about six days averaging one or two books a day because of a speed reading method I used to increase my reading efficiency. This meant I could prep faster. So I could get a sense environment, mood and tone from books I read which helped me start to visualize what I wanted to say more clearly. I didn’t feel like reading for six weeks and then writing. So if you are reading this, I suggest you read my post on my speed reading experiment, watch the video, and shift the way you quickly absorb data.

Now those papers in the picture above represent a few things that shape how I get into the vibe and mode of the story. The first is a sort of lazy ideation.

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As I was reading about Japan, I just made loose connections between parts of the story I already had in mind, while adding little reminders of things common to Japan that I hadn’t thought about in a while, like “conbinis” (convenience stores), a few trips to shady palces in Akihabara, restaurant parties, etc. This just stuff that started to remind me of the environment. I also made several notes in a journal of mine, just free thinking ideas and phrases that came to me, (for the life of me the journal has disappeared) but this is an early sort of loose molding that holds no real weight for the structure of the final story.

Afterwards (not immediately after, like I said this was over a week, probably two) I looked at the rough outline i’d made of the novel previously. I only had 4 bullet points, meaning there technically was no story. So i’m not in writing mode yet by any means. So I made a rough outline from start to finish (in a word document on the computer) that ended up being about thirty chapters. From this outline, I wrote a two page “story summary” which explained what happens in the book from start to finish.

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Now, I didn’t really do these things specifically in order. In fact, I wrote the first three chapters pretty easily because they were clearly defined in my mind, but I had to fallback on these files to keep things mentally organized. So, the story summary was simply an expansion of my bullet points where each bullet point was a sentence or two stating what would happen in that chapter. I tend to refer to this as the “outline”, something that isn’t 100% what the real book will be, but serves as a great tracking and point of reference tool, and is best kept close by in hardcopy.

Then, with a better sense of where I was going, I started to map out a few of the character stories. I took some notes from The Snowflake Method here, and created a set of bullet points giving a rough summary of what significant characters motivations were, and where they might end up in the book.

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so I did this for about fifteen or so characters in the book, not really stressing each one, because even if more characters popped up, i had the main ones covered, people with a relatively significant contribution to the story.

With that done, the “universe” of the book begins to become progressively more real, and like I said in my post about writing 10 pages a day, the more specific things are, the easier is it to write it out. So now I was armed with a reasonably detailed story summary, my basic chapter by chapter outline, and a lot of details of my secondary characters fleshed out. I started pounding away at the story, but then hit a few hurdles when I realized I hadn’t properly mapped out the path of my protagonist, the most important guy in the book! So, I sat down and wrote about five pages outlining his emotional state and his motivations, while referencing the outline to map any significant events or personal situations he would have to different chapters. So in a way, I’m getting this “overall look” at his vibe, challenges and growth in the book from start to finish.

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That done, I kept pounding away at the keys, hitting 40 pages by Monday night. Sometimes I found myself a little stuck, because I have to puzzle out a character motivation or I’m trying to figure out a new angle, and in that situation, I either talk it out (literally record myself talking out the pros and cons of a character decision), or I do a chapter outline, which is one step beyond the story summary outline. So basically I get very specific, in terms of where the characters are, exactly what they talk about and so on. Usually after this i am able to write a bit more freely, because I have some working points to move with.

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So in a nutshell, that’s how i’ve been operating. What i’m doing isn’t nearly as detailed as the Snowflake method (which I believe has so much specificity is IMPOSSIBLE for it not to work). But I tend to go back and forth in my mind as I write, changing up the script so I give myself a little leeway with character motivations earlier on in the script. What I find though, is that these days when i’m stuck, I simply sit and write a lot more about what the character i’m stuck with is thinking. I add to their original dossier and see how that connects with their role in the story and it helps me to get a better sense of where they are going. My stories tend to be a bit fluid in some ways because it is literary fiction, not something with a hard plot like a crime novel or a fantasy book. This means for me i take a few steps back a lot of times when I write, seeing if the “fluid thoughts” mix properly. From what i’ve seen with the Snowflake method, which i just researched, it is bascially getting ALL of those novel details completely sorted out about a month before you write, because you will have completely and infallibly creating the universe of that novel. Depending on your writing style, I figure you can do it this way, or something close. But where I like what I do and what I read about that, is how you flesh it out. The rest of the flair will come from your level of skill as a maestro with the pen.

Eventually I might reach that level of explicit detail, particularly if I choose to write a thriller or fantasy novel, but at the moment this is how i’m operating. it’s a little rough and dirty, but so far, its getting something done 🙂

 

So I felt like sharing this, because writing is ever a lonely craft. Hope this gives someone a little behind the scenes look at the process. Mine specifically of course.

cheers

Posted October 16, 2013 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

The Delicatessen That is Explosive Reading   Leave a comment

There are two device investments that i consider the best i’ve ever made. The first is my Macbook pro, which has helped me over the last few years in invaluable ways. The second is my Kindle Keyboard.

Those who know me personally know that I have very strong opinions on certain things about technology and i’m not an early adopter (though I used to be). I didn’t see what all the fuss about tablets was about (I still don’t for the most part) because I didn’t see what need a tablet served when I had (at the time) an iphone and a laptop. I’m sure on one of my blogs I have an epic anti-tablet rant (particularly on the Kindle Fire) that made perfect sense at the time. Since then, I’ve scaled back the degree of vitriol I spew at tablet owners, as I realize that they are ideal for short trips, and also the perfect “mobile immersive” assistant during language learning. Other than that I have no need to play games tapping a screen that would be best dealt with through the proper use of a controller. That said, when I saw the advertisment for the Kindle Keyboard in late 2010, I knew it was what I wanted. The moment I saw some attractive person in a TV ad (or an online ad) slip the device into their back pocket, I was hooked. You see, I had been spending no less than 90 minutes a day commuting to work, and for the longest time I wished I had a reading device. Add to that my “down days” when teaching Japanese where I had hours to kill but couldn’t use the personal computers at the school because people were watching me, meant that the kindle wold have been my salvation. I cannot explain the envy i felt when I saw some industrious young foreigner happily reading on his Kindle Keyboard on the train. When I asked him if he got it locally, he said no, and that he had ordered it from Europe somewhere.

Regardless, as soon as time permitted ( about five months to be exact) I snapped up mine and it has been one of few devices that does almost EXACTLY what it is supposed to do, at all times. It is portable, it has incredible battery life, it looks like real paper yeah? Also, because I got the version of the Kindle pre Kindle Fire, if I want I can put music on there and listen to it while I read (naturally Amazon removed this feature with later models). I’ve always been a book head, and after living in Japan showed me the horrors of having tons of physical books in tiny spaces, I saw why having devices were such an integral part of existence there. In fact, before I had any sort of Kindle device, my escapism for my long commutes were done with a PSP and a Nintendo DS, which I played like crazy on the train.

Anyhoo, i’m talking about this device now because I’m preparing to dive into another writing project, and when I prepare to write something heavy these days, I like to get “writing fuel”. For me, writing fuel is essentially, seeding your mind with lots of good writing, so that your writing is equally good. I can’t explain this process scientifically, but in the last three days I’ve read four books, and I can feel the difference in my writing currently. I was barely slogging through a half written blog post that might forever stay in the draft box a few days ago, and now i’m here gleefully typing away about a device no one will ever buy again. What my kindle has provided for me is the easiest way to fuel my brain in context through the Amazon store. I’ll be working on a project related to Japan so…. i’m reading tons of Japanese novels. But i’m going to branch out into other Asian novels as well, just to get the “vibe of Asia” swimming around my head.

So my device gives me access to books easily and I’m also taking notes as I write. When I read a lot, I get inspired prose for my own projects that pops into my head which I jot down. Reading about familiar places and familiar scenarios (example a drunken romp through Roppongi) and then I get memory triggers, but not just a memory, but a very nuanced one. This is where the “fuel” comes into play. Reading and writing go hand in hand, and honestly I haven’t been reading that much in the last few months. Too burnt out, a bit too wired a bit too much of many things. But at the very least, I’m reading now, and i’m slowly approaching my writing terminal velocity.

I’m not frightened of any sort of book writing process. I find that writing a book is a matter of how visual it is, or how powerfully what you want to write affects you. I wrote a 110 page novella in a week and a half after a very bizarre breakup. I haven’t done that since, but I mean, I was motivated. Now, I find that through reading constantly, you glimpse all these different angles to talk about life and issues. You can spend an entire book that hinges on one premise (if you are that savvy) or you can take someone on a whirlwind journey through a plethora (or should I say panoply?) of circumstances that come to some ultimate end result. But these glimpses and insights and inklings are the things that form a story, and currently I have a basic framework figured out and i’m letting inspiration flow. I’m not sure if I’m going to write a “Tokyo love story” book. I mean, what is that anyway? I wrote a book set in D.C, and I made notes for one set in Tokyo. But now with my experience battling a few manuscripts from a naive perspective and then doing it again with my current level of *cough* age and a wisdom *end cough* I can see how intricately I can weave a new tale. In Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken I wrote frankly about the lives of three men struggling with various issues. Did I take it to the darkest point possible for each of them? Perhaps not. But I knew that in writing the book I took liberties in my writing and expression that I wouldn’t have done with a manuscript say, six years ago. The first chapter opens with a man having sex with a girl in a closet at a party, and I doubt I could have the balls to do that six years ago. I mean, i’d be worried about who was reading it and why and spinning all these notions around in my head and blah blah blah. Then, I read a few novels and see these very delicate ways authors write about freaky sexual things hidden within the folds of a gripping major story and I applaud. I applaud because a lot of writing is reality and the closer you get to putting your personal reality out there (at least a reality you are comfortable with) the more fun and fulfilling the process becomes. At least that’s what I think. So with my kindle and my rapid reading of books i’m trying to create momentum to engineer fun in writing, with the knowledge that i’m going to take it somewhere I haven’t yet. Tokyo is a big, fun city. Or a big, dark, city. Or a depressing city, or enlightening, or whatever. It is many things to many people. The point is… what is my perspective, and how do I convey that realistically on the written page? Maybe after a few more books i’ll see… but until then i’m gonna curl up with my kindle and get lost in Asia a few more times.

Posted October 7, 2013 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

Speed Reading for Mental Seeding   1 comment

Since Friday i’ve read two full length novels, and I started one this evening (Saturday) and i’m almost halfway through it already. I’ve fully absorbed each of these novels stories and content as i’m working up some mental fuel to dive into another writing project. So the question is, how did I read them so fast? Last year I read something on Tim Ferris’ blog (author of the Four Hour workweek) about reading 300% faster. I didn’t take heed at the time because I thought it was something wonky and I couldn’t be bothered.

Recently though, I was reminded that one of the biggest rules in writing is “read a lot and write a lot”. When I read tons of books, my writing takes on a mind of its own. Things are clear and sharp, I have a good base of inspiration from reading tons of stories, and I’m sufficiently “fueled” to pursue whatever voice I’m trying to write in. My next project will be based in Japan, so I thought it would be a good idea to devour a bunch of well written books that could take me back mentally to a place I lived for two years. But I wanted to do it more effeciently. If I could read say, five books related to Japan in a week instead of five in a month, I would be able to flood my mind with information and get to my goal of writing fuel faster.

So a few weeks ago, I searched on youtube for “read 300% faster”. I watched the first video i saw and followed the instructions and took a reading speed test to see where I was initially. [ NOTE: i’ve embedded the video at the bottom of this blog post]

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as you can see my reading speed wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. In fact they gave me an idea of what i could read with my current reading speed:

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So I followed the various instructions which essentially teach you a new way to read sort of “spatially” and rapidly from left to right. I did all the exercises and completed the test. I was pretty pleased and surprised to see my reading speed increase.

test3the time shaved off reading War and Peace is significant, a full 16 hours.

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It also gave me an idea of how many books I could devour based on the average battery life of my device. I own a Kindle Keyboard, so it will last about one month without a charge.

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I’m sure the idea of reading 16 books in a month might seem preposterous, but I disagree. Right after doing the test, I didn’t really have any books on the menu to read, but i read a few 5,000 word articles in no time flat, averaging 3-4 minutes each(which makes sense based on my word count). But I haven’t done any heavy lifting until yesterday. I picked a few Japanese books i’ve been meaning to read and put them in a collection on my kindle.

on Friday morning i read Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun (215 pages) in about three and a half hours. Later that night, I started, After Dark (256 pages) also by Haruki Murakami and read half way through in say, and hour and a half to two hours (I wasn’t really timing myself as I was sleepy). I finished the book this morning after another two hours or so. Then, this evening I started In the Miso Soup (245 pages) by Ryu Murakami (not to be confused with the previous author) and i’m presently at 43% as dictated by my Kindle (and i’m not reading continuously). In fact, I took a lengthy break to finish Resistance: The Fall of Man,  a video game i’ve been playing. So let’s say in 2 days I’ve read 3 books. that means in ten days I could read 15. Or being conservative, if I read one book a day that would be ten books in ten days, which is still pretty crazy. It gets more interesting if you take it a step further, seeing that I could technically read 30 books in a month (not that i’d really want to, i’m fine with just 15 🙂 ). Even a book every other day equates to about 12-15 books. The point is, doing this makes me feel very good, because I’ve always loved reading but sometimes it feels like a chore. This way, the reading experience is closer to watching a movie with the same clarity and interest but with a purpose. i”m not sure how many novels I will need to read until I feel ready to write, but I know I can easily read eight or nine books in a week and see how I feel afterward. I highly recommend these methods to anyone trying to boost their reading speed. Also, I did the exercise weeks ago, and i doubt i’m reading at the full 1,200 word per minute, because it estimated that at my speed i’d be able to read Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (320 pages)  in about an hour and 20 minutes. So at present (after one set of exercises) I can safely say i’m at the 900+ or 1000 words per minute level.

But remember, my original reading speed was pretty fast to begin with, and now i’m way above the curve (and I hear there are people who can read even faster with more trainig).  I haven’t tested my newfound powers on a daunting, intimidating novel yet, but i’m tempted to read Stephen King’s “The Stand” (1152 pages) as an exercise to see what I can really do, but my current my focus is on Japanese novels. But taking a rough estimate of what i’ve read in three days (500+ pages) it would be pretty fair to say I could get through that monster of a book in two or three days. I’ve put the video on the method here for your viewing pleasure. Cheers.

The Ultimate Guide to Easy Peasy Createspace formatting   1 comment

I understand how doing the Createspace Tango can drive some people crazy, and recently I figured out how to do it quite easily and why not share that information with the world?

There is only ONE major issue that I believe causes all the “Createspace chaos” when authors want to format their books for printing.

The main thing is, they don’t treat their Createspace book like a new book.

What do I mean by that? Basically most people write their books in A4 (8.5 x 11 ) size, not (5.0X 8.06 or whatever lovely assortment of paper back sizes there are out there). Uploading your book to Amazon is pretty painless these days since there is no more need to fiddle with HTML, unless you are a coding ninja and want ridiculous effects, videos and cool stuff like that in your book. For us regular folk, as you know, Createspace has more technical requirements, which can leave us pulling out our hair at four in the morning bemoaning the day we ever decided to be an “indie author”.

Hold your breath, not to worry.

RULE NUMBER 1 – your paperback is essentially a new book.

The Createspace book is a “new” book that you might have to format again. When I say format, I’m talking stuff like Chapter headings and how you want the inside to look. (I personally call formatting “Happy text tweaking”). Sometimes if you copy and paste an 8.5 X 11 manuscript into a 5.5 X 8.5 template, some stuff will change, or get a little warped which is normal.

So if you spent a godawful amount of time formatting your KINDLE book to look a certain way, then wonder it looks all weird in Createspace is because they aren’t the same. With me so far? So then people start doing their research and develop high blood pressure worrying about  “margins”, “PDF dpi”, scary numbers that end in decimal places and even creepier things called “the gutter”.

Again, not to worry.

The only thing you need to be concerned with is ONE THING:

Does my document meet the submission requirements?

Or in simpler terms does it fit properly on the page? Boom. That’s it.

A lot of people don’t know that Createspace provides pre-formatted templates (for free) that allow people to instantly meet these submission guidelines without the aforementioned hair pulling and subsequent early morning screaming. They make it hard to find on the website (naturally of course because they provide * ahem* “many services” to help you get your book off the ground). I’m not knocking them, but you can format your book by yourself, easily and have it meet submission guidelines sooner than you can read a Sidney Sheldon novel.

So when you are going to make your new book size, remember it’s like doing another book SO….

1. Go here:

https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/InteriorPDF.jsp?sitesearch_query=file%20format&sitesearch_type=SITE

2. Then pick the size you want your book to be (note, if you buy an ISBN for the hardcopy your book size will be locked to the size selection, so choose carefully).

3. Download the Microsoft word document for your book size.

4. Copy your entire novel into this new document. Hold the brakes! This is where people usually go crazy because the text might have changed significantly when they copied it into the template. Sometimes things change, and sometimes they don’t. So take a quick scan through and see how the text looks, and make whatever adjustments you need to. Remember it’s a “new” novel, so you might have to reformat some stuff, but as soon as you pasted it into the template, it fits EXACTLY into Createspace’s submission guidelines. Meaning, even if your text looks crappy at the moment, it would print properly on the page. So if your document looks a little odd, take some time and fix up the text because you won’t need to worry about page margins since they are set in the document. Meaning it will print properly on the pages of your soon to be paperback book.

5. Upload your new book document to Createspace and Preview (I’m assuming you already have cool stuff like a book cover and a description already done)

6. After the book uploads, you will receive an e-mail that gives you an option to view your file, then check “Interior review”. You shouldn’t have any error messages because…. It’s a createspace made document! Ain’t life grand? 🙂

So again, immediately after reformatting (if your document requires it) you have a document that fits PERFECTLY into the Createspace submission guidelines. So the only real “work” after that is to figure out how you want your text to look for a book that size. So take a paperback that has a formatting look that you like which is the EXACT SIZE of the book you want to print, and see how the text looks and also how they did their chapter headings. Once you get a feel of how your book will most likely look, order a proof. Based on this guide the proof should look okay. If you want to increase the font size, and make other changes that is up to you. But if you do it this way, you will have no problems. You don’t have to worry about margins, “the gutter”, “mirroring” or any of that madness since the settings are already in the Microsoft Word document.

Also if it helps, popular fiction fonts are: Garamond, Bookman Old Style and Minion.

I mention this because Times New Roman and American Typewriter might look okay read on a Kindle, but if you want a quality look to your printed book, go with the masses. For my book Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken I’m on the Garamond bandwagon. If that doesn’t inspire you to change your font, the epic bestseller Eat, Pray, Love is printed in Garamond. When I did a very rushed print of my book (before understanding the process) I got an “okay” print but the font was a little small, and my book came out to 188 pages. After using a template, updating the font and doing my “happy text tweaking” the book went to 288 pages with properly sized text. So not only did I get a bigger book, but a better looking book. After I get my first proof, I can check to see if I like the feel of it, or if I want to make any adjustments. Whatever action I take from here, I have no worries, simply because I know it will always print properly on the pages. I hope this helps someone out there to make it happen!

Cheers

 

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