Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Using A Seed File

I went crazy trying to fine-tune the formatting on Seefer Elliot's ebook. Writing it in Microsoft Word was convenient, but when it came time to publish it as an HTML file, the code was virtually unusable.  I had to copy and paste chunks of data from one file to a brand new template. If you would like to publish a clean mobi file on Amazon (that can easily be converted to epub afterwards), copy and paste your work into this template:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Seefer Elliot and the World Aside Ours - Chapter 1

“No!” Seefer Elliot shot up from his pillow holding his hands over his eyes. “I’ll get up. I’ll get up.”
His mom walked away from the window having just thrown open the curtains. Seefer curled up in a ball trying to shield his blinded eyes. The sun’s rays shined into his room with a brilliant luminosity.
“Please…my blanket…I need it.”
Mom had pulled the blanket away five minutes earlier – her first attempt of getting him out of bed. Her maneuver proved to be unsuccessful and required a more convincing means of execution.
“Honey, if you were responsible enough to wake up the first time, I wouldn’t be forced to use such cruel measures,” she said. “You should learn to set your alarm.”
“I did!”
Mom shot him a look of disbelief as she headed out the door.
“I really did! You never believe me.” Seefer didn’t understand how this could happen. He did actually set the alarm. Was the volume on too low? Was it set for 7 p.m. instead of 7 a.m.? He looked over at the clock on his nightstand. The power was on, but something was peculiar.
The hour slot flickered between 7 and 8, while the minutes didn’t look like numbers at all. Upon closer inspection, Seefer got a whiff of something burning. It smelled like a crayon melting on a radiator, not the most pleasant odor.
He mumbled, “Broken. See?” But his mom was nowhere near to behold the proof. There was no surprise in seeing yet another electronic device break in his house. It seemed to happen quite a bit lately.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Awesome Are You, Createspace?

Last June, I started writing the manuscript for Seefer Elliot after months of outlining. Finishing up in October, I spent the next two months editing and polishing the text to make it ready for publishing. Welp, that day has arrived. I am moments away from approving the proof I received from Createspace.

The book was completely formatted for print and approved by the reviewers at CS, but I didn't want to approve it without first seeing a physical copy first. I highly recommend this. It is both sensible and thrilling for an author to be the first to see his/her book. To hold nearly 8 months worth of work in your hand is empowering and rewarding.

I have yet to be disappointed by CS's services. I ordered copies of I'm One and Sleigh Me! upon their release and I was more than pleased by the quality of the illustrations printed on the cover and pages. The colors were vibrant. The lines were clean. And the font was crisp.

I had no doubt that Seefer's print would look anything but brilliant, but there is still something to be said about getting the dead tree in your hand. That shiny gloss cover. The 98% brightness white pages. The Futura Media chapter headings looking so snappy in black ink. The culmination was exhilarating.

For a service that prints on demand, the quality is quite amazing. No fees up front. Only about $4 a copy. It was economical, but not at the expense of quality. Consider it for the next project you work on.

In a short while, the digital and hard copies will be available for all. I'm glad I got the chance to enjoy before the masses. :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Cover: Decided

The good people at Reddit helped me through the decision process of picking a cover for Seefer Elliot and the World Aside Ours. I gave five very different options in my last post and it was not surprising to hear very different opinions from the commenters. Over 125 people gave me their choice, but it was the constructive criticism that proved to be so valuable.

For example, while some people liked option 1, their reasons made me steer in another direction. They compared the cover to Animorphs or other book covers that came out in the 90's. While I don't disregard those types of books as bad in any way, I rather distance myself from a look that is over done.

Option 5 had some votes, but ultimately I decided that it is just too cartoony. One commenter said that 12 year olds want to think they are reading ahead of their age level. If there was a cartoon on the cover of this book, I'd be attracting the wrong audience. Seefer Elliot is not meant for 9 year olds.

Option 2 was never a serious option, but a foil for the other four. Option 4 had some merit, but ultimately, I felt it was too vague and "hey, look at here at this cool glowing kid."

Ultimately,  I went with my original favorite, #3. It is adult enough to attract young readers at the older end of the spectrum, but it keeps the whimsy that YA books need.

The original draft, as I posted it on Friday. Here is the final(ish) product:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Choosing a Book Cover

I need your help in deciding a book cover for Seefer Elliot. I have spent a few weeks putting together some very different looks. I am too close to the project to make a decision on what is the best cover for appealing to young readers. Just a quick summary so you know the context: Seefer battles other-worldly beings aided by the power of some really cool devises and a yet-to-be discovered ability of his own. My target audience is middle-schoolers interested in sci-fi and adventure novels.


I took a picture of my son (who was thrilled to participate) and superimposed it in the reflection of an astronaut-looking bad guy. The quality isn't there, yes, but it can be improved. The question is, should it be improved? Is this style the best?


Hey, I recognize that silhouette. I just took the same picture, drowned away the details with some color and stylized the cover in general.


This is my favorite. There is a scene in the book that shakes down like the image on this cover. I love pictograms, but do they convey the right message for selling a sci-fi adventure to young adults?


My son makes another appearance. This time he gets a pretty fierce glow and looks like he is ready to kick some butt. The only caveat to this (and to #2) is that Seefer is kind of a loser. I don't want to make him out to be too badass on the cover.


This was my hand at illustrating. If this is the way to go, I need to know it now so I can finish the drawing. I quit this effort mid-way because I felt it was too cartoony. The drawing is of the same pivotal scene shown in pictogram form on cover #3. I have yet to illustrate the battle on the ground. But should I even bother? Aren't cartoon covers meant for 4th grade and below?

I appreciate your input and any comments you can make would be truly helpful in wrapping up this first book! Basically it comes down to: which of these 5 books would you buy if you saw them sitting on a shelf?