Tag Archives: typography

A kindness of strangers

As I am sure you know, “A kindness” is the collective noun for a group of ravens. But judging by my recent experiences in publishing and promoting King’s Ransom, I’d say the word is wasted on those somewhat sinister birds. It would be far more appropriate to talk of “A kindness of strangers”.

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, my son originally persuaded me to have a go at self-publishing when he sent me a link to the Kindle self-publishing website. I’m reasonably computer literate, and back in the day, I spent some years working for The (late, great and lamented) Monotype Corporation, which taught me something about typography and graphic design.

So once I found the original digital file of the early drafts, I thought “well, why not give it a  go?” And all went reasonably well until I came to format the novel for publication, which is when I found that, although the Kindle self-publishing site is fairly clear, it doesn’t tell you everything. Not by a long way.

I had all sorts of problems to contend with, and at one point I despaired of ever getting the book published at all. However, as I mentioned briefly in a previous post, I was given a tremendous amount of help by a number of people who I “met” online: complete strangers every one, but enormously kind and generous.

But that wasn’t the end of it. After I published, I realised that I had not pre-planned (as I should have done) my promotional activity, and I posted another crie de coeur on a LinkedIn group. Within a couple of days, I’d received advice from a number of people, including the incredibly knowledgeable and helpful Susan Barton who offers a huge range of services to authors. As with Jo Harrison, who I mentioned in my previous post, I wish that I had met Susan before I published because, like Jo, she could have saved me an awful lot of heartache.

I’m going to return to the subjects of book preparation and promotion in future posts, but for the moment, if you are writing an eBook, or even just thinking about it, don’t do what I did. Call in these delightful people first: you will not regret it for a moment.

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Cover story

[Edited version of post originally published 14 January 2013]

Every morning, I go for a 5km walk with Barney my big blond Labrador. It takes about 45 minutes, and is a great time for mulling things over: work, jobs, the garden, political news – anything that’s on my mind. Recently I’ve been reading the guide to producing covers for Kindle books and on my walk this morning I started thinking about the cover for King’s Ransom, if I ever get round to publishing it.

Part of me thinks that it just needs the words on a plain background, but that doesn’t appear to be the conventional wisdom. Almost every Kindle book I’ve looked at has a pictorial cover related to the subject matter – sometimes rather tenuously. Design isn’t my strong point: like many writers I don’t have a strong visual imagination, although I do know quite a bit about typography – hence the thought that I would have a type only cover.

I’m not sure where this came from, but halfway through my walk this morning I had an idea which is a compromise between a picture and type: it would involve using the binary notation of the words “King’s Ransom” and trying and make something illustrative of that. One of the things I love about the internet is that you can find an answer to just about anything, and I found a site that converts to all sorts of coding – including binary.

I used the site to convert “King’s Ransom” to binary notation (1001011 1101001 1101110 1100111 100111 1110011 1110010 1100001 1101110 1110011 1101111 1101101, since you ask) and I think I might be able to use it in a way that would be more attractive than just the words.

Once again, watch this space.

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