Monday, 25 May 2015

A Viking Voyages From CreateSpace to Kindle by Susan Price

Artwork copyright Andrew Price
I've just published my book, The Saga of Aslak Slave-Born, simultaneously as an e-book with Kindle, and as a print-on-demand paperback with CreateSpace.
          The book's been published before. It was first commissioned by the British publisher A&C Black, as part of their Flashback series of historical novels for children. The brief was to write an entertaining, exciting story which would persuade young readers to turn the pages for its own sake - while, at the same time, giving as historically accurate a picture of life in the Viking Age as possible.
          I took this very seriously, and, despite carrying a load of stuff about the Viking Age around in my head - which is why I was commissioned - I dusted off my books, checked facts and did further research. I've added a historical note to this new, self-published edition, called 'How Much Is True?'
          I tried hard not to put anything in the book for which there wasn't evidence. So when Aslak buys his way into 'a ship fellowship' and is given a token which identifies him as a member of that crew, and makes it easier for him to find a place in another ship, there is evidence of that being done in the Viking Age. (A bit like a modern lorry-driver showing his tachie-card to get lifts from other drivers.)
         When a rich, elderly woman takes a shine to Aslak, and decides that he is the slave she would like to take into the next life with her - well, there are several Viking graves which suggest that this was something which could, and did, happen. These graves hold one person placed in a central position, with grave goods, and a second person who is often decapitated, and who seems to have had their hands tied together behind their back.
          'Aslak' is the eleventh book I have self-published, but with all the others, I made an e-book first and then, later, published a paperback.
          The first book I made into a paperback was 'The Wolf's
Artwork copyright Andrew Price
Footprint', and I did it because so many teachers asked me where they could get copies. It's selling rather well. I thought 'Aslak' might appeal to the same market, since the Vikings are taught on the National Curriculum. (And my young cousin, who was one of its first readers, at the age of about ten, declared it, 'The best book ever written.' Hey, I'll take praise and good reviews wherever I can get them.)

          For some time now, CreateSpace has been offering me the option to 'publish with Kindle' as I come to the end of the CreateSpace process, urging me to click the button and transfer my files to the Kindle site.
          Every other time, I was using CreateSpace to publish a paperback version of a book I'd already published as an ebook, so I always ignored the 'publish on Kindle' button. But, with Aslak, I thought I might as well send my Viking voyaging from the one site to the other.
          I'd started by scanning 'Aslak' into my computer, and creating a Word file, which is what I would usually upload to Kindle. To make the paperback, I downloaded a 6" by 9" blank template from the CS site, and pasted my book into it. I then went through checking that the paragraph indents and line-breaks were as I wanted them.
          Since a silver Thor's Hammer pendent figures in the story, I used a public domain image of a Thor's Hammer to decorate the book. I pasted it into the Word file, and shrank the size until it was as I wanted it. Once it was, I copied and pasted it at every chapter heading. (Amazon specifies that the image has to be at least 300 dpi - dots per inch. If it's less, it will flag up a warning that the printed image may be blurry.)

          You check the book's appearance with the online previewer (above.) This lets you see how the book will open. All the pages are down the right hand side of the screen, and you turn the pages by clicking on the arrows to the left and right of the large central book. When you've seen how your book looks in the previewer, you can go back to your master copy, alter it and upload again. Repeat as many times as necessary.
          I designed the cover using an image done for me by my brother Andrew, and Amazon's Cover Creator. When I thought it was all as good as I could make it, I clicked the button to send Aslak sailing over to Kindle. And I gave the go-ahead for the paperback.

          On going to Kindle, I found that all had arrived safely, without shipwreck. A new entry had been made on my booklist, and Aslak's cover was already there. I used the on-line reviewer to check how Aslak had held up in the passage.
          I wasn't happy. A paperback is not an e-book. Lines were broken in odd places - there were strange gaps. The silver hammer still looked rather good, though.
          So I had to go back to my original Word file, add the silver hammers to each chapter, and then upload it to Kindle - just as I would usually do to create a Kindle book, in fact.
          And, of course, the pricing and distribution are all different.

          Conclusions? It was useful to have the cover designed on the CreateSpace site beamed over to Kindle. Apart from that, it's nothing but a piece of advertising for Kindle publishing. I still had to upload the Kindle file, and I still had to go through all the usual form-filling.


The Saga of Aslak Slave-Born                         The Wolf's Footprint 



Wendy Jones said...

Thanks for this. It was fascinating and also helpful. Great post

Jan Needle said...

i'm with wendy. thanks for that

Umberto Tosi said...

Congratulations! The Saga of Aslak... sounds like a great read! Also, thank you for the detailed account of your writing and publishing process. I can relate to the delemmas of aligning fictional characters with factual events, which I experienced in writing Ophelia Risng. I haven't used the CreatesSpace fast lane to Kindle, as you describe, having published everything so far first in Kindle, but I'm thinking of going that other way with my current work-in-process so it's good to know how smoothly it worked. Thanks again!

madwippitt said...

Interesting ... and is CS really that easy to do?

Reb MacRath said...

Thanks for sharing, Sue. Your research notes have sparked me to give Aslak a try.

Sandra Horn said...

Thank you, Sue - a really helpful post.

Lydia Bennet said...

congratulations on another fabulous book, and thanks for the helpful info Susan.