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Doing quality work with minimal financial outlay

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Daniels (mrpld) | 25 comments While we all want to just "write" and have our creativity magically produced into a beautiful book, without a publisher to take over we find ourselves having to do a lot of the ugly work ourselves.

I just wanted to throw in how we (Elita and myself) produced out book without having to resort to expensive software.

First up, Elita did the bulk of the writing in OpenOffice writer on Linux (we don't use Windows in this family!), though in all honesty it could have been in a plain text editor.

Since I am pedantic about print results I used a program called LyX (also free) to import her work and typeset it. The great thing about LyX is that it handles all the fiddly and hard bits like hypenation, scene breaks, contents, front matter and back matter, kerning and all those things which shift the printed results from the "word processor" look to "professionally typeset" look. The output from LyX will be ready-to-print PDF or Postscript to places like Lightning Source International.

Things like LyX aren't for everyone - it's somewhat reminiscent of the early 1990's, however the output is highly desirable. The best thing is that you can change the production format without it mangling all your hard work.

For eBook production, we used a package called Calibre - it's available on most systems and doesn't cost anything (again, Open Source Software). There were a few things to fiddle with during the conversion, mostly because of the limited resolution of the eBook readers. For generating Amazon Kindle type MOBI books, you can also download an ePub -> mobi converter from Amazon directly (Windows, OSX and Linux).

For coverart, we used Inkscape (again, more Open Source free software ). With Inkscape I was able to generate a basic theme layout and export it to produce the cover art, bookmarks, posters and WWW site artwork.

All the programs we used are availble on most systems (Win, OSX, Linux) which makes it wonderful when you have to hand your work around to others as you avoid incompatibility issues. Best of all your printers will like you a lot more when you can produce files in their preferred formats.

This has been a bit of an introduction - I'm happy to explain the various processes in more detail to all that ask.


message 2: by Naomi (new)

Naomi Kramer (nomesque) | 34 comments Mod
This looks like it'll be a very useful thread, Paul - thanks! :-)

message 3: by Shayne (new)

Shayne | 8 comments Thanks, Paul, some great ideas there!

message 4: by Murray (new)

Murray Gunn (murraygunn) | 14 comments I also use OpenOffice on Linux (Ubuntu) and use Calibre to convert my work for my own ereader. But I use yWriter to manage all my 'scenes' and GIMP to do any graphics work.

message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Daniels (mrpld) | 25 comments Oh yes, I did forget to mention GIMP, though I don't use it as much since moving more to Inkscape (certainly for pixel editing it's fantastic :) )

message 6: by Paul (last edited Sep 14, 2010 07:59PM) (new)

Paul Daniels (mrpld) | 25 comments Just a tip (though I'm sure most will already know this), always work on a maximum resolution artwork and then scale it down to a separate file when you need to (if needed). It does slow down your system working on huge files but it's less time lost than finding out that you have to redo everything because your image lacks the resolution needed for a quality output.

The above is a big reason why I use Inkscape more these days - because everything is in vector format you can get all the resolution you need on demand ( of course, it really chews hard on the system when you've got a massive bitmap background you're overlaying on ).


message 7: by Paul (new)

Paul Daniels (mrpld) | 25 comments Another tip...

- Be very careful when you choose the font(s) for your front cover. Watch out for excessive usage from other books ( fonts like Morpheus ). Watch out also for copyright - some fonts are for non-commercial use.

- Just because it looks good on your screen when you design the cover doesn't mean it'll come out nice in print. Sadly because the screen and print use completely opposite colour systems the difference can be rather startling. It's worth as a test to go get your cover printed from a digital-photo kiosk - usually only a couple of dollars and it gives you a fairly good idea of what the end result might be [ * note - colour matching might not be perfect ].

message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Daniels (mrpld) | 25 comments On the subject of fonts again - if you're wondering what the most popular font used in printed novels (as opposed to technical docs) its one called "Palatino", most systems should have it.

message 9: by Lily (new)

Lily Mulholland (lily_mulholland) Great intel! Thanks :)

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