Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Self-Publishing: Setting Up Files

This lesson is a day late and super long. Things have been crazy lately.  In the last 6 months, my mother's entire family (parents, sister and her kids) have moved to the same town as my mom.  I've helped with some of the moving both times and I was just too beat on Monday to write :)  Luckily, I feel a bit more energetic today.  There's a saying that beer is proof that God loves us (which I agree with because I love beer) but I think it may be more true of coffee!

Anyway, for today's lesson we're going to prep files for Lulu.com.  You'll need a completed doll to do this.  Make sure your doll is at least 300dpi (dots per inch), whether scanned or digital.  With my watercolor dolls, I often scan at a very high dpi (like 600) and reduce them down to 300.  Scaling down produces a fairly crisp image, while scaling up blurs an image.  And keep in mind that 300dpi is the standard for most printed material so if you ever choose to print your doll any other way, it will already be prepared for it.

Most of my digital dolls are created in Illustrator, so to get the 300dpi image, I change the export settings.  I'm going to assume that most people reading this will be working with Photoshop or a similar image editing program.  If anyone has specific questions about Illustrator, I will happily answer them.

Keep in mind your margins.  There is a maximum printable area that you can fill on each page and on the covers.  There are templates available on the Lulu site here.   I create US letter sized books, perfect bound, full color.  That file is the third one from the top of the list.  The zip file includes a per-formatted Word document, and a back and front cover file.  We aren't creating a written book, so I don't use the Word file in this lesson.  If you have a text-heavy book, use the Word file.

Let's open a file and look at it.  I'm using the black & white doll I created in December because it's already been edited.  I don't plan on actually publishing this doll because the pdf is already available as a free download.  But it's perfect for walking through the process.

First, determine your image size.  To do this in Photoshop, go to Image>Image Size.  A menu pops up that show the width and height in pixels, the document size in inches, and the resolution.  The document size and resolution are the important numbers here.  My document is 8.5 inches by 11 inches, with a resolution of 299.999 pixels per inch.  For our purposes, pixels per inch and dots per inch are the same thing.  So my document is correctly sized and the correct resolution for the book I want to make. If your doll is NOT the appropriate size and resolution, there are a few things you can do.  First, you can create a new document set to letter size and copy & paste your images into a new file.  Or, if you want to do a little math, you can change the dimensions of your original image.

To change the dimensions of your canvas (your paper size), go to Image>Canvas Size.  A menu pops up with the the current document size as well as a width and height (filled in with 0s), and a diagram of where the canvas will extend.  So let's say that your canvas is 8 by 10 inches, and you need it to be 8.5 by 11 inches.  In the width box, type in 0.5 and in the height, type in 1.  The default measurement is inches, and the default extension is all around.  The document will now have an extra 0.25 inches on each side and an extra 0.5 inches on the top and bottom.

The next thing to check are the margins.  To do this, I like to create guides.  If your started your doll from scratch or importing images to a new document, you can set your margins at the beginning.  I've determined that a 0.5 inch margin is sufficient.  This just means that no text or images should come within a half inch of the edge of the paper.  I looked at the front & back cover templates, as well as the Word document and concluded that half an inch would work, so that's what I use when I create all of my dolls now.


Adding guidelines in Photoshop is super easy (this works the same way in Illustrator).  There should be rulers at the top and left of the image.  If not, go to View>Rulers and make sure it's checked off.  Not sure what unit of measure is being used on the rulers? Double-click anywhere on the ruler and a menu will pop up and show you the unit of measure.  The document is automatically aligned so that the top and left start at zero.  Click and drag a guideline from the ruler to the spot you want the guide to go.  For our purposes, we need one at the half inch mark and the 8 inch mark on the width of the page, as well as the half inch mark and 10.5 inch mark on the height.  My image has a border that isn't fully contained within the "safe" zone we've created with the margins.  I'm going to let it go because I'm not bringing this all the way to print.  Keep this in mind if you created borders or backgrounds on your images.

So far, we've determined that our image is the correct size, resolution, and falls within the correct margins.  The next thing to do is create a title page.  Same rules apply: 8.5 by 11 inches, 300 dpi, and it needs to fall withing the half inch margins.  If you want a sense of what belongs on a title page, open any book.  It's usually the first page.  I include the title and author name, and not much else.  If you decide to publish as an entity (ie, Paper Doll School Publishing), you would include that here, too.

This is a super simple title page I whipped up in Photoshop.  A title, author, and my website.  Pretty straight forward.  Create any additional pages at this stage as well.  Does your doll require directions? Create that page.  Or an introductory page.  Anything you might want to include.  Also remember the page minimums we talked about in the last lesson.  This doll has 31 outfits and the title page.  If I wanted to, I could combine outfits on each page and reduce the page number.  I try to keep my books to the 32 page minimum.  That makes for a reasonably sized (and priced) project.

One last page we need to create is a blank pdf page.  We'll use this blank.pdf page as the back of the images.

The last thing we'll do today is create the pdf.  There are tutorials out there for how to create pdfs with various programs.  I have Adobe Acrobat Pro CS4 installed on my Mac.  If it would be helpful, I can find out how to do all this in Windows with the pdf programs available in that format.

Open Acrobat.  Select File>Create PDF>Merge Files into a Single PDF.  Once you do that, a new menu pops.  Click on the Add Files button and add the files you want to merge.

There is an interested quirk in Acrobat - file numbering.  I named my files outfit1.png, outfit2.png, etc.  When Acrobat reads them, it places outfit1.png first, followed by outfit10.png.

You can see the numbering in the image above.  You can move files around in Acrobat if page order is important.  I'm not going to bother because this is a fake project :) Combining all the files takes a few minutes so be patient.

This is a screenshot of the pdf once it's combined.  If we uploaded this to Lulu now, the first outfit would be the first page of the book, and outfits would print back & front.  We need to insert the title page and the blank pages.  Again, this take a little time and it's a little tedious, but it's the best way I can think of to do it.

Go to Document>Insert Pages to add the title page and blank pages.  If the page you want to add is already a pdf, it will show up in the menu.  If it is not, select your files type from the drop-down menu.  Mine was title.png, so I selected the png format, and inserted it before the first page.

This is the method I use to insert the blank pages as well.  Instead of selecting the first page, select the Page option at the bottom of this menu and either Before or After from the Location menu.  For example,  I want the back of the title page to be blank.  I select the blank.pdf file and place it after Page 1.  That's it.  Do this for all of the pages except the last page.  You'll add an ISBN and copyright page here.  We'll go over that next time.

Here's the prepared pdf file.  There is a title page, then a blank page, then an outfit, then a blank, etc.  The final page should be an outfit.

Next time we'll wrap up self-publishing.  We'll create back and front covers, create a copyright page with an ISBN number, and upload the pdf to Lulu.com.  Til then, there will be a doll on Friday.

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