Frustrations and Half-assed Solutions

This has been one of those days when some things just don’t work out, and others work out in a way you don’t expect. I’ve been wanting to set up a website where I can sell my books and stories directly. I know I can do that on WordPress, but I thought I’d have more flexibility with a site of my own, and one more place to put my name and the book titles certainly couldn’t be a bad idea. But I don’t have the patience to build a site, and at this point I can’t afford hosting, so I tried out a freebie that was recommended pretty highly. Complete disaster. I couldn’t figure out half the stuff on the site, and I wound up clicking on pages that weren’t part of the sitebuilder itself, but advertising. It seemed every time I turned around, there was either a full page ad in all its raucous color, or a blinking ad that drove me crazy until I could find somewhere to go to get away from it.

So, back to WordPress. I know how to use it, and I haven’t really been taking full advantage of it. I paid for my domain name on Dark Boundaries, so maybe something is asking me what’s the point if I’m going to go wandering off to some other site. I guess that means it’s time to get to work.

And then there’s the cover for Within the Silence. The freebie graphics programs that I’ve been using just won’t let me do what I want, and GIMP — yes, it keeps popping up its ugly head — is too frightening to try to use without a good bit of reading first. So I’ve been experimenting with Apple’s Pages and Keynote. I can’t save anything I do with them because my 30-day trial expired, but I can still try this, that and the other. The “other” being a graphic that I needed to crop into an oval. Like this:

It took a bit of figuring out, but it finally worked. Could have read the manual first, but what the heck. The end of this long story is that I worked out a cover design and saved it, in spite of the program’s expiration. Clever me, I have a screen capture program that works very nicely. I’m going to do another version because it needs some tweaking. I haven’t finished editing the story yet, but the problem of getting a decent cover was really bugging me. So that problem is solved.

The only thing I did today that worked out exactly as it was supposed to was uploading Crossing Boundaries, the sequel to Hidden Boundaries, to Kindle.

And I decided that I’ll buy Keynote for working out future book covers. This isn’t my idea, but a spinoff of a spinoff. A couple of people have written about using PowerPoint to create covers, and this led to a very useful blog post that I found today about doing exactly that. Create Your Own Ebook Cover, Step by Step, With Pictures. He’s using PowerPoint, but his instructions can help guide someone who’s using one of the Apple apps.

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17 thoughts on “Frustrations and Half-assed Solutions

  1. That’s a great idea to use PowerPoint! I hadn’t thought of that. I have CorelDraw, so that’s what I use, but that’s a really reasonable way to come up with a great, simple cover.

    Glad you found it and that at least something worked out today. And congrats on the publication!

    1. i used to use an old copy of Photoshop and could handle at least the basics, but a computer upgrade scotched that. GIMP doesn’t look anything like Photoshop, so it’s a whole new learning curve that I just don’t have the time and patience for right now. I love it when people come up with unusual solutions to problems. Apple’s Keynote is only $20.00, so it’s a good investment for me. I’m going to be writing a lot of short stories and novellas, and cover creation can be a real headache.

      1. I suppose like PowerPoint, you can use the Google Docs presentation document too. Anyway, the Book Designer says simple if better for ebooks, so those should do nicely. What is GIMP?

        1. I don’t like to work online so I haven’t looked into Google Docs much. I didn’t even know that they have a presentation app now. But that’s a good suggestion for anyone who’s already using Docs.

          GIMP is a free Photoshop clone. Available for both PC and Mac.

    1. Oh yeah! Plenty of errors. But I love the challenge. I love to write, but I think doing queries and all the stuff that goes along with getting a traditional publisher to look at your work would drive me crazy. Instead, self-publishing creates challenges that keep me constantly interested (and frustrated).

      1. I attempted over the last year to get an agent for Headless. I’m not minded to go through the same process again with The Devil’s Unborn, although I think it a more saleable book.
        Psyching yourself up, finding names, personalising each one, sending off a huge bulk load. Then not even the courtesy of a reply from half of them,even though I provided a SAE.
        The last few weeks learning about self publishing have been very exhausting for me but I do feel better with actually get things out there albeit in an imperfect form.

        1. The learning curve can be rough because you’re doing so many new things. But it’s way better than waiting around for other people to approve or disapprove of your work. Especially when you know it has more to do with publishers’ bottom lines than quality.

  2. If you buy a domain name you can have it redirect to your WordPress site for something like $10 a year (maybe it’s gone up since I did it a few years ago). That way you can publicize your domain rather than something with WordPress in the URL. Can’t remember if it converts over to the WordPress URL once it gets here.

  3. I admire your tenacity!

    I don’t know much about self-publishing, but I was curious about the following: wouldn’t you be better off having your stories on a few platforms only and then spend the extra time and energy marketing them?

    Good luck with the sales.

    1. They’re all on Smashwords, which means distribution to other retailers. They’re also going up on Amazon gradually. But I’m not big on marketing, so the wider distribution, including my WP site is more valuable to me. Besides, once the site is more polished, and I can put the link in more places, it’s basically done. Any further marketing I do will have to be very low-key and take very little of my time and energy because I reserve that for my writing.

    1. I learn so much from other people. How could I not pass it on? The funny thing is that sometimes there are unexpected benefits to the sharing. I bought Keynote last night, and this morning, I realized that once I know the ins and outs of using it to create book covers, I can write a how-to article for the series of ebooks I’m planning.

  4. God on you, Catana! I watch you and Louise Forster with awe as you hack your way though this e book publishing jungle, leaving little notes behind you to help the rest of us. Have noted that how-to cover link for when I need it next year.

    1. It’s funny. At a time when so many people are saying that blogging isn’t as important as it used to be, because of social networking, writers are using it in a way that I think is very important. We share, teach, learn. Everybody benefits. Hmm, maybe I need another sidebar section — How To Do It. To make sure those links don’t get lost.

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