The make-your-vegan-marketing-book-look-pretty stage

Visit part 1 or part 2 of my book journey if you missed those blogs!

April

After officially changing my book title to Vegan Marketing Success StoriesI waited for a few more potential endorsements to come in and continued to format the book, adding to the number of pages. I spent almost 7 hours on formatting which is more than I’d spend on a real client, but I do charge extra for photos (a pain in themselves).

I noticed a few media outlets that needed to be capitalized, fixed quotation marks that were either backwards or not formatted properly, and had to space out lines some more because I noticed the letter p looked slightly cut off at the bottom. Doing that added another 1.5 hours of work on the entire text because I had to do a whole bunch of stuff over again. Some things need to be done in order or it creates more work. If you don’t have patience or an eye for detail, don’t become a book formatter!

The person/company I had hoped would design my book cover gave me a quote that was almost double my budget, so I sent requests off to one company in the UK and one other local designer who I don’t know very well but is a woman of colour, so I had a feeling it might be cool to work with her.

I figured I’d start on the index once we started on the cover, which is the last big element for the print book.

I finished the audio file of harder-to-pronounce names/words for my future book narrator. (Coincidentally the name of a non-profit came up in conversation at a gathering I attended!) Then I had to work on a doc to prepare to narrate the Acknowledgments section, which has even more names there.

I attended VIVAS‘s Masterclass, “Ninja Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors with Kathleen Gage,” who I was going to hire to help me with PR down the road. It’s a good thing I attended this because I learned she’s more of a strategist than a publicist. Since I have PR experience I may still hire her to help me with a marketing plan, since she has so many great ideas, plus experience with her own books.

I finalized an agreement with vegan graphic & web designer Jomaira Lopes and although we started later than I was hoping, it’s important not to rush things!

While sending her everything she needed to get started, I had a look at Lulu’s guide and they asked for extra gutter and bleed room, so I had to adjust the document size slightly and spent another 20 minutes adjusting the images (note, if you format your own book with images…this will be your most painful part!). Still not as bad as the 1.5 hours I spent fixing text earlier. The number of pages went down again as a result.

Indexing is (or can be) fun

Once Jomaira started on cover concepts, I got to work on the index, even though in a perfect world the cover and title pages would have been done first. Since the cover wouldn’t be finalized until the end of May, I followed up with a couple more potential endorsers and started the index, which is the last element to finalize the total page count of the book and the cover spine.

This would be my first published index, so even though it doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to be accurate. What I found was that I enjoy indexing more than formatting, even though it’s more work (and potentially time, depending on the number of terms there are to index). Even though I am an amateur indexer, my book is amazing to practice on because it not only has a ton of names and company names but also marketing terms, some of which should be main headings, sub-headings, or cross-references to similar terms within the index. It’s a project in itself!

I was averaging about an hour per chapter until I got to some of the longer chapters (4 on Public Relations, 5 on Digital Marketing). The night I started working on the index I was dreaming of it! You know you’re dedicated when your work seeps into your dreams.

After indexing for 2.5 hours straight I had to do something else because I could feel my brain frying (similar things happen if I write for that long).

I finished all the tagging for the index at the end of the month in a total of just under 9 hours. After creating the index there were still revisions to do (removing unnecessary entries, bridging numbers, adjusting fonts and sizes), but that was the bulk of it. I got sick last week of April so it was timely and my workload wasn’t heavy either.

Here’s an example of some of my digital marketing notes for the index. I did the same for the public relations topics, but it looks less nice.

 

May

First week of May, I was still recovering but continued to fine-tune the index, spending a total of 14 hours on it. Something that was bugging me after I finished was long words that were running onto a second line, so I adjusted the column widths to see if I could give the words more space, and that worked!

I can confidently say that, like a website, an index can always be improved but at some point you just have to stop or else you will never finish the book.

I would have started on the ebook but wanted (and needed) to have the cover complete before I completed the Acknowledgments section (a very important section of text) and title pages. I got two more testimonials too!

I got hit with COVID the week of the 9th, but Jo needed an extra week to get three book concepts together for me. We met online on the 16th and it’s so cool what she came up with! My husband liked one of the concepts I had come up with, but I decided if the reader didn’t understand what it was right away, it wasn’t going to work, so we went with a simpler but BEAUTIFUL concept using my brand font (bonus!) filled in with subtle images of fruits and vegetables, on a white background. Super clean, no guesses.

I finally started on the ebook since we were getting close to finalizing the cover. I realized that the default settings on Sigil (the program I use to convert) make all paragraphs left-justified with no indents, and the handy indent button was not doing its magic. There are also italicized quote blocks I wanted to create, which require left and right margins. After checking out an Amazon KDP Kindle guide and learning that it recommends these things be made in a style sheet, I remembered that the ebook program I took covered how to make a CSS (cascading style sheet) and I figured if I want my ebook to look how I want it to, I better learn how to make a proper CSS!

Within about an hour or two I was able to create settings for each type of paragraph, then I started going through the book and adjusting the text. The ebook clients I’ve had in the past didn’t care much for things like indentation, but now I know how to build a CSS for future clients. Whoop!

The other issue I had was fixing note references. Instead of having the notes at the bottom of each page like they are in the print book, I wanted to link all notes to a References page at the end of the ebook. Unfortunately the Word to Sigil transfer is messy for this, and required me to fix the code in all 98 notes. Once I split the ebook into chapters (vs one long scrolling book), the note didn’t take me to the Reference page.

Amazon’s Kindle Previewer program also doesn’t allow you to test ANY links so I did all my testing in Books on my iPad.

Jo sent me the cover file and (another bonus!) she also made an interior title page for the book in black (below). I was then able to finalize the interior print book (very small fixes took another 15 minutes or so) and ebook.

Loading to Lulu

I gotta admit, Lulu was not as easy a platform as I had hoped it would be. I spent an hour and a half loading the files and filling out all the back-end info. My anticipated selling price went from $18 to $22.25 USD. If I’d selected their suggested minimum price I would earn nothing on other platforms so I had to raise it (by less than a dollar) just to earn a few pennies on each copy that sells outside of Lulu.

I went all the way to the Review page and the only option left was “Confirm and Publish.” Obviously I wanted to order a proof first before making the book live, so I sent an email to customer service to see if I had to backtrack and go to the “print your book” option first.

When loading the book, it gave me this warning: “Your file contains images with resolution less than 200 pixels per inch. Lulu suggests using images with a pixel per inch range of 200-600 for the best results.” Some of the images I used are screenshots, so I figured I’ll see how it looks IRL before making major changes.

While waiting for customer service to get back to me, I exported my ebook from Dropbox to Apple Books (thank God I have an iPad for this) to test the notes. They just kept returning to the start of the chapter, so I had to ask Mitali and my ebook course instructor for help with this. This was my biggest headache thus far.

Cover design by Jomaira Lopes (not final)

Don’t tell me you don’t love my cover as much as I do!

 

June

Lulu’s customer service got back to me right away and confirmed that I did have to hit “Confirm and Publish” (they REALLY need to change that button to “NEXT”, IMO). Once I did, I had the option to order a proof copy without making the book live for sale. The copy costed $11.05 USD, $19.17 USD including shipping (less than $25 CAD).

Mitali said that her formatters say the program I used to create my ebook (Sigil) is a “nightmare application” and I could hire someone to do my ebook for me, but I was already so close to finishing and figured I’d wait until my program instructor got back to me. I found out on Twitter she was vegan, which I didn’t know before!

On Friday June 3rd, I continued to search for solutions online and found THE ONLY forum dedicated to Sigil on MobileRead.com! This reminded me of the old forums I used to visit in the early 2000s. I popped my question in there and within an hour, a Sigil Developer told me the problem I thought I had wasn’t it. But I continued fiddling around on a test doc and discovered that if the note code is correct before dividing the ebook into chapters, the link WILL work…and I found out the code that proved so!

I fixed all the footnotes and tested them on my iPad. Ebook was finally done! In total I spent 9.25 hours on the ebook plus the time spent troubleshooting the problem.

I loaded it to Lulu and found that unlike my print book, I will make a lot more $ on my ebook both on Lulu and other platforms because of the lack of printing required, so I’m happy about that. Since I don’t have to order a proof, it looks like after paying a global distribution fee ($4.99 USD) to Lulu, the ebook will be available pretty soon after I give the okay to publish it. I am thinking about doing this before my intended print book launch date and just not tell anyone until launch day, just so it’s one less thing off my plate.

The first week of June I finally starting recovering from my respiratory virus (which made COVID so bad) and felt my intuition starting to come back. I randomly opened what I thought was the final version of my ebook one night before bed, and noticed the first two endnotes on the References page were above the reference. One more thing to fix! I re-loaded it to Lulu pretty easily the next day and noticed they keep track of all the file versions they get.

While waiting for the proof copy…

While looking at my print file, I noticed the page numbers were a bit more to the right in the Index section than the rest of the book because I had manipulated the column widths, so that’s already one thing in the print version I had to fix.

I got all the pronunciations of the folks in my Acknowledgments section, followed all the companies in the book through my Facebook page and contacted a few folks who I hoped to hire to help me with a marketing strategy starting in July.

While hubs was out of the office (the quietest room in our home), I recorded and edited the Acknowledgements section and “script” for my video trailer but an echo could be heard on both files. After recording and editing just 7 minutes of the book, I committed to definitely hiring a narrator for my audio book because I made 3 mistakes in those 7 minutes that I had to edit out! NO WAY I could narrate and edit my entire book on my own without losing my mind.

I wasn’t too happy with the trailer clip, but when my husband was home I told him about the echo on both clips, and he told me to try recording in our closet instead. There was still an echo, but definitely not as bad as the quality of the office, so it will have to do!

I also went into a few local Facebook groups asking for lyric-free music from a local vegan. Within an hour, someone emailed me some EDM/house tracks and I might have already found the clip I want to use! I also found some royalty-free footage of Vancouver on Shutterstock, since I plan to use vegan businesses in the trailer and it might be good to use an overhead shot of Vancouver first.

The proof copy arrived in 12 days, and I was happy with how the cover turned out but Jo said she would make some slight space and colour adjustments. Even though I left an extra .25″ of margins to account for cutting, the page number and chapter header were WAY too close to the top page edge in my opinion, so I decided to add more breathing room. This change resulted in an increase in the number of pages, but there were several other things I found that I needed to change in the interior anyway:

  • Moved certain chapter titles down a line (the disadvantage of using an underline is that it makes inconsistencies so obvious!)
  • Reduced font size of image captions and re-aligned images
  • Re-do of the index (booo) due to the change in page numbers

These additional changes added another 1.25 hours to the project before fixing the index.

Additional changes would depend on who I hire to help me with marketing, so I have to wait for the two proposals to come in before redoing the index, re-submitting the files, and getting a new proof.

I emailed all the Vancouver-based contributors to the book to ask if they had any video footage I could use for my book trailer. As cool as it would have been to shoot something original, I don’t have the budget for a videographer but am going to attempt to edit a trailer together using footage from Vancouver contributors or local businesses and have that ready by the end of July.

Stay tuned for part 4 (the last part) of my book journey!

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