Monday, December 16, 2013

Formatting a Children's Book for CreateSpace or My Adventures in Self-Publishing II

So when I went to hire someone to illustrate my book, one of the artists said she would also format it for me. In the end, she did not want to illustrate it, but she still begged me to have her format it so it would be "done right." She told me she had seen many children's books that were poorly formatted and she learned the special technique to do it. And, I believed her - but that shouldn't be a surprise, I tend to be naïve when it comes to trusting new people. It is true, however, that formatting a children's book is not even remotely easy.

Now, once the book was illustrated, I hired her to format it. Now, I didn't just hire her without checking anyone else out. I posted a job and she was actually the best candidate. Most of the other people were graphic artists who were going to both illustrate and set it up for kindle, which I did not want. She was the only one who actually had samples of children's books that she had formatted.

However, she also, apparently, had illustrated all the books she had formatted. In other words, they were all ready set up in a way she felt would best set off the words. I sent her the pictures, expecting her to send me back a page that had the words on it like a normal children's book. She sent me back a page that had the picture outlined in a heavy frame and the words outlined in another heavy frame.

When I told her what my vision of a page was, she complained that some of the pictures were done in portrait and some in landscape and she did not want to resize them because it would ruin the pictures. I told her I would fix them so they were all square pictures to fit on the square pages and she could just add the words and flatten the pages. (I had not discovered how to add the words in paint so they would be consistently sized from page to page nor did I have a page flattening program.)

So, I went through and created square pages and then set them to her so she could cut and paste the words into the picture, flatten them by pressing a button and send them back to me "formatted." I paid her hundreds of dollars for this. Then, she was supposed to send me two files, one for CreateSpace in a PDF and one for Kindle in a .mobi file.

When the project was nearing its end, she called me up. I had given her access to my CreateSpace account, and she had taken the MS Word file, changed it to PDF and uploaded it. Now, she complained, she could not adjust the pages in the MS Word file so they would look right in CreateSpace. Every time she tried to move a picture on the page to center it better, another page would disappear.

By this time, I was finished. I asked her about the kindle file and she said I did not need one because CreateSpace would do it for me. I said I wanted one anyway, but she never sent it. She began to whine that the pages were not acting right because I set them up wrong and she wanted to be paid because it was the end of the month.

I was tired of it at this point. I had spent a lot of time talking with her on the phone two to three times a week and she had already spent six weeks on a job that was supposed to take two. I took the messed up file she had and then I released her money.

Now, this woman also talked with me for hours on the phone about her life, my life, and everything in between. She kept telling me she wanted to friend me on Facebook and then never did because she told me she was afraid to friend people. I cannot say I am upset. I am actually just relieved.

It was easy to figure out her problem - she never put page breaks between each picture. I did this and then to save time, I just put in the margins required. This made my pictures a little smaller than what they could have been because she put margins into the pictures and then "bled" them with zero margins, but I think that was also part of the problem. I could have gone back and reduced the size of the original files, but I was done and the book looked good in CreateSpace. If you get it, you probably wouldn't have noticed the wide margins except I have now told you to look for them.

To be continued...

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