Saturday, 1 June 2013

Epublishing a backlist

The job of epublishing the backlist of poetry books in printed format, has been calling to me for some time from my to-do list.  I had put it on the back burner because of the headache over the inclusion of images.  I really want the children's poetry books to retain their images in digital format as I took a lot of time and trouble to create them.

So... how long did it take me to tweak and epublish a book with no internal images?  Any guesses?  And... how long did it take me to epublish a shorter book with images?  Well, it took me about 25 minutes to do the poetry book with no images and about 25 hours to do the one with the images.  However,  the good news is that I then went on to process three more books with images and I have improved on the 25 hours.  This is also partly due to updates to the Kindle Direct Publishing software since my last attempt way back in October 2012 that have made file conversion work properly.

The main problem is that the Kindle software shrinks the images.  It specifies that the maximum size that can be displayed on a Kindle is 600 x 800 pixels (presumably this is for the basic Kindle like mine).  I duly went through the entire book, deleting all the pictures.  I re-processed the originals using Photoshop Elements 6.0 and re-sized them to 600 x 800 before painstakingly re-inserting them into the Word document.  The result was exactly the same (give or take) as the first attempt at conversion BEFORE mucking about with sizes.  Either way, a picture that should have filled a Kindle screen was shrunk.  As a consequence, I gave up re-sizing for the subsequent books and there is no apparent difference except perhaps in the file size but it's not big enough to create a huge financial hole.

The other problem with the images is that they don't always behave properly.  You think they are in one position on a page but they appear somewhere else instead, like at the top of the next page and obliterating half of the poem on it.  I think I have sussed this now - you need to check that the little anchor marker for the pic is definitely above the page break line.  I found switching to Web Layout View in Word was the best way to check this.

I am still not totally satisfied with the way they appear on the screen but I can't see how to improve them so that is how they will stay.  I only have one further book to convert but I can see it is going to be the most challenging.  They are all listed on a Listmania list on Amazon.

Home Front or Foreign Shores?

We are now at the planning stage of our June tour.  In previous years, we have journeyed around western Europe in the mighty Burstner but this year, we may opt for the UK.  The cost of fuel is one factor but also is the fact that we have never been up to Scotland in the van with the crew.  I have fond memories of a wonderful holiday in the far north-east of Scotland 31 years ago when I saw the Northern Lights in the distant summer sky.
 I have wanted to return ever since.

However, I also REALLY love going to France and Spain.  France is my favourite - such diversity of geography within a single country - and the Dordogne in particular!

We will almost certainly go there in September this year so I am more tempted to to the UK trip.  This would mean that some amazing museums in the north of England could be visited en route - Beamish Museum for a start.  The idea is to find loads of cycle trails too.  I love this sort of research so can't wait to make the final decision and get started.

When we do the long trips, we often see if there is a school or other educational establishment where we may be able to find a day's work and to offer it at a discount.  This way, some of the mileage counts as business mileage and helps to offset a proportion of the costs on the motorhome in our annual accounts.

Last year, we linked up with a bilingual group to the south of Poitiers.  We investigated an international school near Toulouse but the proximity to the end of term is an issue so I have contacted a small village school near Crieff.  They contacted me to see if we could help out with a last-minute booking for World Book Day in March but the Itinerant Poet had been fully-booked for many months.  The head teacher sounded really nice and I promised to call her if we were travelling north of the border in the motorhome.  I was really happy when I called her yesterday and she remembered me making the offer.  Plans are now underway...

Now that the IGCSE English exams have been sat (and hopefully passed) we are looking ahead to next year's selection.  Current favourites are geography and physics.  Wherever we go, the diverse landscapes and map-reading can be incorporated into the geography study and the pressure/weather patterns into both.