‘Beware the Spider’ eBook Looking Good

Files are starting to show up in my inbox for my new Black Orchid Chronicle, Beware the Spider.

The PDF version for printing paperback copies is here, done, finished, completed and FINAL. I’m just waiting on the cover for the print edition. It’s the last big “mystery” from the design crew.

I’ve seen the front cover, of course, but they can’t do the spine and back cover until they have a page count. With the PDF Final done, they’ll get the page count and produce a beautiful print cover. Can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, I have the ebook versions (.mobi and .epub).

Here are the first two-page spreads for the .epub version (for Apple iTunes, Nook and other non-Kindle readers).

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 11.43.24 AM

On the right hand page above, notice the silhouette of the black orchid just above my name. It mirrors the orchid design from the cover and will appear on the spine of Beware the Spider and future Black Orchid Chronicles as the colophon, or publisher’s emblem.

It’s a nice touch, and I owe it to my designers at Damonza.com. Creative and totally professional all the way.

If you squint at the Table of Contents below, you can get an idea of where Beware the Spider starts and where it’s heading.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 11.43.55 AM

There is tweaking to be done, especially for the Kindle version (.mobi), but we’re getting close.

Thank you for your patience. And stay tuned here.

Free Books from the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is making fifty years worth of books free on the Net.

I downloaded about ten from the Met Publications site. No charge. Easy search. Easier browse (since I don’t know much about art). Download as PDFs.

The artwork is, as you would expect, spectacular.

I downloaded “Bloom” because in my other life I take a lot of photos of flowers. Published in 1995 and now out of print, Bloom is a “celebration of flowers in fashion.” I didn’t read the text but I enjoyed looking at the photos and was amazed by the dressmaker’s lavish attention to detail.

I was especially intrigued by two books of American Indian art — Masterworks from the Museum of American Indian and Native Paths: American Indian Art from the Collection of Charles and Valerie Diker. I’m researching tribal legends, myths and belief systems to round out a character for the third book of the Black Orchid Chronicles. That manuscript is almost done, but I need to add some heft to the “Pony That Sees Far” character, aka for dumb white folk as Joe.

If you love ancient Egypt, you have just unlocked a graduate study of resources not just of Egyptian art but hieroglyphic language. Teach yourself Egyptian. It’s free.

I don’t know much, if anything, about art. I don’t write about art.

But I think any writer could find at least a half-dozen useful resources here. And did I mention it’s free?

Self-Publishing Proofing … UGH!

You’ve heard the old saw about the dog chasing a car? What will he do with it if he catches it?

I feel the same way about proofing the files for my Viet Nam memoir, HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos.

I’m about a third of the way through the process; I’ve found some issues. Now what do I do?

Proofing for a self-publisher is different than for authors pursuing the tradition agent-print publisher model. In the latter, someone else is fudging with the details. (At least, I assume that’s true. Why else would you share 85% of the gross if they weren’t doing work you don’t want to do?)

And if I’ve learned anything about self-publishing, it’s that the process is full of details. Hundreds of details. Maybe a thousand details, or tiny decisions that must be made and acted on. (In fact, I’m already planning another paean to lists. I could never plow through this self-pub production process without lists — to do lists, check lists, deadlines, reminders, catalogs of lists, links to lists of lists, etc.)

Witness the first issue I discovered during my proofing tests. (Oh, yes, I tested many devices and apps. See below.)

ProofingThis is how the Library page appears in Kindle:

  • Top – That’s my computer monitor showing the FOUR versions in the Kindle app for the MacBook Pro.
  • Lower left: A Kindle White, showing a generic cover with the HOTEL CONSTELLATION title. All other books in the library show their appropriate cover.
  • Bottom row, second from the left, the iPhone: Perfect. It’s hard to see in the photo, but it’s there, just as you would want it.
  • Bottom row, second from the right, Kindle Fire. My book is a no-show in the library. It’s there, and you can find it by scrolling across the bottom of the screen, but it’s not where I would like it.
  • Finally, lower right, the Kindle app on an iPad. Same issue here as with the Kindle White. The book shows up with a generic cover.

This problem of how (and even if) the books appears in the Kindle library may, or may not, be easy to solve. Just like the issue of having the cover appear twice in every file. (But that’s a separate issue … I think. I hope. I desire it to be so.)

I don’t know, because I’m not certain whom to ask. I’m sure I’ll fall back on the patience of my designers. I’m using their files; they’re experts (and I truly believe that); they probably run into this from time to time. They’ll know.

But you begin to see the magnitude of the proofing chore. And that’s just one item I’m checking. (Makes sense, right? Start with the cover.)

You can’t check everything. That would require rereading over and over a book you’ve already been through close to 100 times. So you create a sample that will cover Here’s what I’m checking:

  • Cover —
    • Appearance in library —
  • DLH email link hot? —
  • TOC / links
    • 1
    • 15
    • 27
    • Sources
    • Back links
  • MAP 1 —
  • MAP 2 (CH. 16) —
  • CH. 16
    • Pullout quotations —
    • Footnotes
      • Format —
      • Links forward/back —
  • Photos End of CH. 17 (10) —
  • Source links: 5
    • Show as links? —
    • Links work —

Let’s see. I’m proofing this on five devices: The Kindle app on my MacBook Pro; Kindle app on my iPad; Kindle app on my iPhone; Kindle 1 and Kindle 2. I regret — really, but for this purpose only — NOT having a Windows system to test this on. You can only do so much. (Big lesson there: You can only do so much.)

So what do I do? What’s good enough? I counsel young people not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good (enough). I will try to follow my own advice. But those two cover issues HAVE to be resolved.

Meanwhile, I have the proof the printed book to proof — it arrives on Monday, maybe — and that will involve turning every page, if not rereading the entire text. In addition, I have to upload all the files to Smashwords for distribution outside the Amazon world.

It’s just getting interesting.

Authors on Proofing

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
― Oscar Wilde

Picking up your first copy of a book you wrote, if there’s one typo, it will be on the page that your new book falls open to the first time you pick it up.
― Neil Gaiman

I do my best proofreading right after I hit send.
― Anonymous