Evelyn Chartres Author

Spiral Development for the Literary World

I have a background in Computer Sciences and over the years worked on Open Source and corporate projects. Unsurprisingly, when I began writing the Portrait, I fell back on the tricks of the trade to refine my work.

Primarily I use the Spiral development model. As an author, I found this process allowed me to produce working drafts and revise content as necessary.  Over several iterations, the manuscript was refined. Additionally, I threw in measurements, metrics used to track trends and measure success.

Unfortunately, I never kept metrics for the the Portrait, so no meaningful data was collected. However, my work on the Grand permitted me to determine which suited my needs.

For now, Changes per Chapter and in turn Changes per Revision seemed like ideal metrics to use. I plan an in-depth discussion on the various metrics employed in a later post.

Changes per Revision for the Grand Project

Delta between revisions for the Grand Project

Armed with a development method and metrics, I was able to repeat the same steps over and over until the manuscripts were ready for release.

The process is composed of roughly four steps as follows:

Working Version

Take your draft or latest manuscript and prepare it for use as a working copy. The finished product may be used in the Beta or Revise and Implement phases later on. This format should permit you to view your work as though it were a tangible product.

You will want to avoid viewing your manuscript in content creation mode. So reviewing your manuscript on Microsoft Word or Scrivener may not be ideal.

I use Calibre to convert my manuscript into an eBook. Since, I primarily read eBooks today, changing into a reader mode with that format is simple.

The Great Pause

After my working copy is complete, I set the project aside and tackle something new.  It could be anything from reading a novel to painting the house.

The goal of this phase is to take your mind off the project. Doing something else helps you re-energize and leaves your mind open to new ideas. I prefer to take longer pauses during the initial revisions, since they take much longer to complete.

A good pause should also enable you to approach your work with fresh eyes. Hence your brain will not fill in the blanks and prevent you from being objective when reviewing the manuscript.

A good example of this was taken from an article on how the brain interprets words. Note how this paragraph can be read despite the atrocious selling.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

I also found that my mind remembers what I meant to say and fills in the blanks or corrects as necessary. Adding a pause between reviewing cycles seems to prevent this.

Beta Reading

This step can be done concurrently with the pause. Since you have a working copy it can be distributed to solicit input and opinions.

This process can employ services like Wattpad which allows you display works in progress. Be aware that people will not likely check every revision you make, so it pays to engage beta readers when nearly ready to publishing.

Revise and Implement

During this step you revise chapters, tweak them or make corrections. This process is often referred to as redlining and was traditionally done using pen and paper. The term also evokes the images of earlier editions left dripping in red ink.

I use a Kindle Keyboard which permits me to insert comments. I use these comments to note a red line and transcribe them later. Early revisions tend to generate a lot of corrections, so you may wish to transcribe the changes every so often.

View of a review process on a Kindle Keyboard

Early revisions for the Grand contained a lot of edits. As revisions progressed I ended up with fewer and smaller corrections. Eventually I was looking for things missed in previous cycles, such as elusive typos.

This stage also permits you to adjust chapters, including their order. You may opt to add, rewrite or remove chapters. Just like you would add, fix or remove features in software project.

Repeat

Start the process all over again. Create a new version of the manuscript, take a break, revise and implement. With every revision look at your metrics to measure success.

Towards the end you will know when it’s ready. For me, that stage occured once I could complete a revision within a day with no more than ten  (10) corrections for the manuscript.

Revisions may also have different goals. The first few may aim to make it readable. While later revisions concentrate on trimming the fat or finding those elusive typos. Make sure to stay focused and track your progress, otherwise you will end up with an infinite loop.

Notes on Collaboration or Editors

This process can be easily adapted to collaborative writing or include editors. In such situations, the pause would likely be occupied by others completing their review process.

The process is malleable and can suit the needs of the author. Adapt as necessary so the process works for you, not against you. Just remember to establish ways of tracking your advancements.

Normalizing Your Manuscript Using Single-Spacing

Large works of prose are prone to having formatting inconsistencies introduced over time. Quirks in your word processor may lead to unexpected behaviour. I.e. Google Docs interprets a series of spaces as tabulations during a paste operation and WordPress will insert non-breaking spaces in order to display double-spacing.

This tutorial will reference the same text throughout. A sample is available through Google Docs. Set Microsoft Word to display formatting to get a view similar to the one below

In other situations, people will either single-space or double-space at the end of a sentence. While a single author may be diligent in applying their preference, errors may be introduced and review processes are not guaranteed to cover every instance.

This tutorial will reference the same text throughout. A sample is available through Google Docs. Set Microsoft Word to display formatting to get a view similar to the one below

“A·vision·from·the·past·becomes·a·
writer’s·deadly·obsession,”·Evelyn·
Chartres.¶

The·Portrait·is·a·Gothic·horror·
about·Victoria·Frost,·an·author·who·
develops·an·unhealthy◦obsession·for·
her·character◦·As·events·unfold,·
her·obsession·turns·on·her·forcing·
the·author·to·question·her·sanity.···
Is·this·simply·insanity·or·are·there·
other·factors·in·play?···¶

·The·Portrait·is·a·mixture·of·
contemporary·and·historical·pieces·
with·the·latter·revolving·around·
her·character·and·muse.····In·this·
novel,·→the·author·will·revisit·an·
iconic·scene·using·both·prose·and·
art·yielding·new·pieces·to·the·
puzzle.¶

The above sample has instances of tabulations and varied spacing. Using the Find and Replace capability, the manuscript will be normalized using a series of steps.

Normalizing all Spacing

Making all of the spacing in your manuscript the same should be your first step. This will reduce the amount of steps overall.

When viewing formatting symbols you may see the following three types of spacing:

  • Space (·) – Normal spacing created when pressing on the spacebar. Normal spacing will not keep words together;
  • Non-Breaking Space (◦) – Spacing which will keep words together. There is no way to insert using your keyboard; and
  • Tabulation (→) – A space which covers variable area. If a word is longer it will take up less spacing and more with smaller words. These are inserted when you press on the Tab key.

The goal is to transform all tabulations and non-breaking spaces into a space.

Note

This assumes you are not using tabulations or non-breaking spaces for formatting. If you do, select the area prior to using Find and Replace to narrow the scope of the search or skip converting your tabulations.

From the Home Ribbon, click on Replace as which will pop-up the Find and Replace window.

01-Search-Replace-Ribbon.pngClick in the Find what textbox to make ensure the cursor placed there. Next, click on Special and select Tab Character from the pop-up. This will insert ^t and instructs Microsoft Word to search for tabulations. Alternatively, you could simply type in ^t yourself to save a few clicks.

SS000-Tab-Space-Replace.pngPlace a single space (·) within the Replace with textbox which replaces all tabulations with a space. When satisfied, click on Replace All.

Note

Spaces are shown below using the (·) formatting character for clarity. Make sure you use a proper space instead when looking over the screenshots.

SS001-Tab-Space-Parameters.pngSince there is one (1) tabulation in the sample, you should get the same results as below.

12-Replacement-Results.pngThe document should look as follows with formatting in place.

A·vision·from·the·past·becomes·a·
writer’s·deadly·obsession,”·Evelyn·
ChartresThe·Portrait·is·a·Gothic·horror·
about·Victoria·Frost,·an·author·who·
develops·an·unhealthy◦obsession·for·
her·character◦·As·events·unfold,·
her·obsession·turns·on·her·forcing·
the·author·to·question·her·sanity.···
Is·this·simply·insanity·or·are·there·
other·factors·in·play?···¶

·The·Portrait·is·a·mixture·of·
contemporary·and·historical·pieces·
with·the·latter·revolving·around·
her·character·and·muse.····In·this·
novel,· the·author·will·revisit·an·
iconic·scene·using·both·prose·and·
art·yielding·new·pieces·to·the·
puzzle.¶

Now click on Special and select Nonbreaking Space from the pop-up. This will insert ^s and instructs Microsoft Word to search for tabulations. Otherwise type in ^s yourself to save a few clicks.

SS002-Non-Breaking-Spaces.pngPlace a single space (·) within the Replace with textbox which replaces all tabulations with a space. When satisfied, click on Replace All.

SS003-Non-Breaking-Spaces-Parameters.pngSince there is two (2) non-breaking spaces within our sample, you should get the same results as below.

SS004-Non-Breaking-Spaces-Parameters-Results.png

The document should look as follows with formatting in place:

“A·vision·from·the·past·becomes·a·
writer’s·deadly·obsession,”·Evelyn·
Chartres.The·Portrait·is·a·Gothic·horror·
about·Victoria·Frost,·an·author·who·
develops·an·unhealthy·obsession·for·
her·character··As·events·unfold,·
her·obsession·turns·on·her·forcing·
the·author·to·question·her·sanity.···
Is·this·simply·insanity·or·are·there·
other·factors·in·play?···¶

·The·Portrait·is·a·mixture·of·
contemporary·and·historical·pieces·
with·the·latter·revolving·around·
her·character·and·muse.····In·this·
novel,· the·author·will·revisit·an·
iconic·scene·using·both·prose·and·
art·yielding·new·pieces·to·the·
puzzle.¶

Confirming In-Paragraph Spacing

For this step, we use wildcards, so from the Find and Replace window check the Use wildcards option. Wildcards are incapable of using the special characters that were used in previous section, so the Special button displays a new set of features.

Attempts to use special characters will result in the following error:

17-Feature-Not-Supported.pngThis manuscript assumes that you will be using single-spacing between sentences. This assumption significantly reduces the amount of steps necessary and will prevent the introduction of oddities when exporting to an Ebook. An Ebook will insert non-breaking spaces to display two (2) spaces and creates an odd effect when near the end of a line or when starting one.

Insert ([.\!\?””;,])·{2,}into the Find what textbox and \1· into the Replace with textbox.

SS005-Paragraph-Spacing-Options.pngAgain, this may be confusing, so let us break it down to explain.

[.\!\?””;,]

Provides a list of characters to match in our search. In this case, the period, exclamation point, question mark and end quotes, semi-colon, colon and ellipse are searched for. The backslashes force search to treat preceding it characters literally. i.e. the exclamation point and question mark are special characters in searches.

()

Anything within a parenthesis may be referenced in the Replace with textbox, in this case it would be \1.

·{2,}

Find instances of at least one (2) spaces to make a match. This will ensure that we do not replace spacing that is already correct.

\1·

Replaces the matching text with whatever character was matched followed by a double space.

Click on Replace All to normalize spacing at the end of a sentence. Our sample yields several results with the document looking as follows with formatting in place:

“A·vision·from·the·past·becomes·a·
writer’s·deadly·obsession,”·Evelyn·
Chartres.The·Portrait·is·a·Gothic·horror·
about·Victoria·Frost,·an·author·who·
develops·an·unhealthy·obsession·for·
her·character·As·events·unfold,·
her·obsession·turns·on·her·forcing·
the·author·to·question·her·sanity.·
Is·this·simply·insanity·or·are·there·
other·factors·in·play?·¶

·The·Portrait·is·a·mixture·of·
contemporary·and·historical·pieces·
with·the·latter·revolving·around·
her·character·and·muse.·In·this·
novel,·the·author·will·revisit·an·
iconic·scene·using·both·prose·and·
art·yielding·new·pieces·to·the·
puzzle.¶

Erroneous Spacing

Erroneous spacing refers to misplaced white space located at either end of a paragraph. The sample we have been working with includes an example for both. To correct spacing at the end of a paragraph we insert ·{1,}(^13) in Find what and \1in the Replace with textboxes.

SS006-Paragraph-End-Spacing-Options.pngWhile this string is simpler than previous entries, I will break it down to explain.

·{1,}

Find instances of at least one (1) spaces to make a match.

(^13)

Special characters used to refer to a paragraph mark. Do not use ^p as this will not work with Wildcards. The parenthesis will preserve the formatting of that specific paragraph mark.

\1

Removes the spaces and drops in the found paragraph mark.

Clicking on Replace All will yield the following result with formatting:

“A·vision·from·the·past·becomes·a·
writer’s·deadly·obsession,”·Evelyn·
Chartres.The·Portrait·is·a·Gothic·horror·
about·Victoria·Frost,·an·author·who·
develops·an·unhealthy·obsession·for·
her·character·As·events·unfold,·
her·obsession·turns·on·her·forcing·
the·author·to·question·her·sanity.·
Is·this·simply·insanity·or·are·there·
other·factors·in·play?¶

·The·Portrait·is·a·mixture·of·
contemporary·and·historical·pieces·
with·the·latter·revolving·around·
her·character·and·muse.·In·this·
novel,·the·author·will·revisit·an·
iconic·scene·using·both·prose·and·
art·yielding·new·pieces·to·the·
puzzle.¶

To correct spacing for the beginning of a paragraph insert (^13)·{1,}([!^13]) in Find what then\1\2 in Replace with.

SS007-Paragraph-Start-Spacing-Options.pngHere is a breakdown of the string.

(^13)

Find an instance of a paragraph mark. The parenthesis means this can be referenced later in Replace with using \1.

·{1,}

Find instances of at least one (1) spaces to make a match.

([!^13])

String will instruct Microsoft Word to match any character that is NOT a paragraph mark. This element will be referenced in Replace with using \2.

\1\2

Drops the paragraph mark and non-paragraph mark back in without the spacing.

Clicking on Replace All will yield the following:

“A·vision·from·the·past·becomes·a·
writer’s·deadly·obsession,”·Evelyn·
Chartres.The·Portrait·is·a·Gothic·horror·
about·Victoria·Frost,·an·author·who·
develops·an·unhealthy·obsession·for·
her·character·As·events·unfold,·
her·obsession·turns·on·her·forcing·
the·author·to·question·her·sanity.·
Is·this·simply·insanity·or·are·there·
other·factors·in·play?¶

The·Portrait·is·a·mixture·of·
contemporary·and·historical·pieces·
with·the·latter·revolving·around·
her·character·and·muse.·In·this·
novel,·the·author·will·revisit·an·
iconic·scene·using·both·prose·and·
art·yielding·new·pieces·to·the·
puzzle.¶

And you are done! Single-spacing between sentences is a simpler process that requires less steps.

Summary

Follow these steps below to normalise your manuscript for single-spacing after a sentence.  All of these are done from the Find and Replace window.

Replace tabulations

Find what: ^t

Replace with: ·

Wildcards: No

Replace non-breaking spaces

Find what: ^s

Replace with: ·

Wildcards: No

Spacing within paragraphs

Find what: ([.\!\?””;,…])·{2,}

Replace with: \1·

Wildcards: Yes

Spacing at end of paragraph

Find what: ·{1,}(^13)

Replace with: \1

Wildcards: Yes

Spacing at start of paragraph

Find what: (^13)·{1,}([!^13])

Replace with: \1\2

Wildcards: Yes

Note

Spaces are shown below using the (·) formatting character for clarity. Make sure you use a proper space instead when looking over the screenshots.

Microsoft Manuscript Madness

How to format your manuscript for print on Microsoft Word and not rip your hair out!

Microsoft Word, like most user-friendly software is designed to make life easier and does this by making assumptions. While some are merely annoying others will have you ripping out your hair.

Microsoft Manuscript Madness is also available on Medium.

This tutorial concentrates on behaviours observed when working on a manuscript using versions of Microsoft Word with the Ribbon. More specifically the following items will be covered.

  • Print Layout versus Print Preview
  • Section Breaks and Page Breaks
  • Section Break Types
  • The location of Page One
  • Quick Summary

To simplify matters we use the CreateSpace Interior Templates. More specifically the 6×9 Inch Formatted template, which contains a formatted look-and-feel to drop-in your manuscript.

Print Layout versus Print Preview

Microsoft Word will alter the way you view a document based on the viewing mode you are in. The two most basic modes for formatting your manuscript for print are the Print Layout and Draft Mode. You can switch from one mode to the other via your View Ribbon.
001-Page-View-Modes.png

  • Draft Mode. Text and formatting remain however white space, headers and footers will disappear. This is great when creating content, but is poor at getting the document ready for print.
  • Print Layout. This mode will display the full page, including headers and footers.  This is ideal to finalise a novel before submitting to sites such as CreateSpace.

Note

Print Layout will not display blank pages. If a page is completely blank due to an automated process, the page will not be shown and may be missed. This behaviour will be covered in more detail later.

From now on we are going to make use of Print Layout to see how changes apply to the page. However this view differs from the end-product and we need to be aware of this. For this tutorial a novel excerpt was used and is shown below under Print Layout. To showcase the differences, we concentrate on the title page.

002-Print-Layout-View.pngThis is where Print Preview comes into play. This feature allows us to see how the document would be sent to the printer. From the Ribbon click on File then click on Print, which brings up the Print Preview pane.

003-Print-Preview.pngLocation of the pages are different between modes. In Print Layout the cover page is located on the left, however in Print Preview it appears on the right. Which is correct?   CreateSpace features an Interior Reviewer, which agrees with Print Preview.

004-CreateSapce-Interior-View.pngSo why do we care? Well this tells us that Print Layout is not a true representation of the final prioduct. Understanding this when putting in the finishing touches changes will make life easier.

Note

Print Preview is also an excellent way to confirm your document before submitting to CreateSpace. If you have a large novel which is full of images; you need to upload the document, wait for rendering and finally a sanity check before you preview. This process is slow and tedious compared to checking with Print Preview.

Section Breaks and Page Breaks

Breaks are typically inserted into a document to push content onto another page. Using breaks will produce a behaviour which is more reliable than using the Enter key to achieve the same. Typically using the Enter will break formatting when you change as font size, line spacing and so forth.

Both types of breaks can be inserted using under the Page Layout ribbon. However, the CTRL-ENTER key combination will insert a Page Break which eases content adjustment and distribution within chapters.

So what is the difference?

005-Page-Section-Breaks.pngMicrosoft Word gives us a brief description for all major types of breaks. They have included them below for convenience:

  • Page. Mark the point at which one page ends and the next page begins.
  • Column. Indicates that the text following the column break will begin in the next column.
  • Text Wrapping. Separate text around objects on web pages, such as caption text from body text.
  • Next Page. Insert a section break and start a new section on the next page.
  • Continuous. Insert a section break and start a new section on the same page.
  • Even Page. Insert a section break and start a new section on the next even-numbered page.
  • Odd Page. Insert a section break and start the new section on the next odd-numbered page

The above fails to address differences between Page Breaks and Section Breaks.  The core differences are outlined below:

  • Page Breaks. Pushes content onto next page or column without changing the formatting.
  • Section Breaks. Will permit you to adjust Headers, Footers, Page Layouts, Margins and so forth. Sections can also be Linked or Unlinked from previous sections, beware of this when finalising your document.

So Section Breaks permit you to do more, however they are not always useful. Section Breaks are an excellent way to break up major sections of a document. For the template every new chapter is preceded by a Section Break, which hides the Header for the first page of that section.

Within chapters themselves, Page Breaks are better suited. This reduces the chance of a break getting unlinked and create a formatting mess later.

Section Break Types

This may be news to some people, however Microsoft Word will lie to you when it comes to Section Breaks. When working on the interior of a novel, behaviours and assumptions for a given type of Section Break are not consistent.

Microsoft Word has also been known to change the type of break on your behalf and not display the type used. This behaviour will be outlined below.

006-Section-Break-Mismatch.pngWhen you view  formatting, you can see all of the Paragraph Marks () as well as Section Breaks. In the image above, we see that below the Title Page’s content there is a Section Break (Next Page).

Double-click on that break to open the Page Setup window. Note how the Section start is listed as Odd Page and not Next Page.  Changing the setting will generally not alter what is shown in the codes, making it difficult to visually troubleshoot odd behaviour.

Note how Microsoft Word is interpreting the Odd Page setting.

007-Section-Break-Odd-Not-Odd.pngBased on the definition previously found, Odd Page should have started the copyright on the odd page.  Yet the copyright is found on Page 2 as shown above.  This behaviour is not only inconsistent, it is aggravating!

To make things more interesting, change that Section Break to Even Page and see what happens.

008-Section-Break-Even-Breaks-Formatting.pngWhen we set the break to Odd Page the new page appeared on an even page. Now that we have set it to Even Page it still appears on an even page, but also forced the Title page to be on the Left vice the Right.  How will that play out when we submit the document to CreateSpace for printing?

009-CreateSpace-Preview.pngInterestingly enough the title page appears where it should. However, CreateSpace probably corrects for this behaviour to cut down on blank pages. Now Microsoft Word’s Print Preview no longer matches.

So what have we learned? Do not use of Odd or Even page Section Breaks. Instead use Next Page Section Breaks and double up if need be. Next page for the most part will generate a consistent behaviour, albeit not in all circumstances.

The Location of Page One

One thing that can be frustrating is the location of every Page 1 in a document. Microsoft Word will force Page 1 to be on the Right side, no matter how much the user attempts to push it onto the Left.

You can specify Odd Page, Even Page, Next Page or use Page Breaks to force it to go to where you want. Microsoft Word will add in blank pages to counteract your attempts. This behaviour will also apply every time you reset the page numbering to One for a new Section.

010-One-Page-Reality.pngFrom the above image, we can tell that CONTENTS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS follow one another in Print Layout with no blank pages in between. We know this because the Section Breaks have been explicitly set to New Page. Note that the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS page is a new section and is set to Page 1 shown in lowercase Roman numerals.

Since we know that CONTENTS appears on the Left side, we would realistically expect ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to be on the Right side.  Let’s take a look at the Print Preview.

011-One-Page-Blank-Inserted.pngNow we have a blank page that has been inserted between CONTENTS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. What if we wanted ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to appear on the Right? Let us try setting to the Section Break to Odd Page and see what happens.

012-One-Page-6-7.png

013-One-Page-8-9.pngMicrosoft Word has changed the location of CONTENTS to appear on the Left alongside ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. Not only is CONTENTS no longer on the Right, but the program has even inserted two blank pages for no reason.

This type of behaviour will occur when a section starts on Page 1. If you insist on having a section start on the Left side, then it cannot be Page 1. So how do we manage page numbers for sections?

From the Ribbon click on Insert then find the Page Number drop down. Select Format Page Numbers to adjust settings for the section you are currently on.

014-Page-Number-Format.pngA new Page Number Format window will appear. You can set it so the page number is taken from the previous section, or set it to a new number. If you wanted ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to appear on the Left then renumbering to Page 2 would resolve the formatting issue.

015-Page-Number-Format-Window.pngYou can also adjust the Number Format. For our Internal Design, we removed the Roman numerals and had ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS start at Page 1. This enabled us to have the PROLOGUE start on the Left side.

Now to highlight the trouble with page numbers being reset, here is what happens when the chapter BOOKWORM is accidentally reset to Page 1.

016-Page-Number-Reset.png

There should be no blank page, however Microsoft Word added it for us. Since Microsoft Word will copy from the previous section when adding new Section Breaks, every chapter after BOOKWORM would be reset to Page 1 and format the same way.

Pay attention to your formatting before you paste in your entire manuscript!

Quick Summary

In summary, when working with a document formatted to for a printed novel using Microsoft Word there may be unexpected behaviour. To simplify matters here are a few basic rules to follow:

  • Appropriate Breaks. Use Page Breaks in chapters and Section Breaks to break apart chapters and other sections of the novel. Too many section breaks can make fine-tuning a nightmare.
  • Next Page Please. To make your life easier, just use Section Breaks Next Page since their behaviour is the most consistent. Odd and Even Page Breaks do not always do what you think they should do, so if you want a blank page insert two consecutive Section Breaks Next Page.
  • Confirm with Print Preview. The Print Preview capability will allow you to quickly see where errors in formatting are located. Since Print Layout will not display blank pages, Print Preview is where you catch those faults.
  • Do Not Trust What you See. Microsoft Word will not always show you what is happening. Blank pages will not be shown in Print Layout and when viewing formatting codes you may encounter a Section Break (Next Page) which is anything but. Sticking to basics will make sure you do not get unpleasant surprises.
  • Page 1 Placement. No matter how much you want Page 1 to appear on the Left side (as viewed from Print Preview) that will not happen. Accept it and move on.

Creating a Cover Swatch

Dressing up the Cover – Part 7

I discovered through trial-and-error that dropping a series of images into a gallery then asking users to comment was inefficient. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Users tend to ignore titles and will comment on the first, or third image. Unfortunately some sites will vary the order;
  • Users have a hard time comparing covers which are very similar in design. This requires them to look back and forth, which makes comparisons more difficult.
  • Images dropped into a gallery may not exist or be accessible later. The first time I created a sample gallery to compare against, the images became unavailable and was unable to address the issue. This particular behaviour is showcased below:

52-Post-Error.pngTo mitigate the above points, I created a swatch containing all of the images. This permits me to provide titles, a consistent order and can throw in thumbnails to compare how covers will appear at smaller dimensions. That single image will mean users need only click-once to get a view of all versions, which increases the chance of getting meaningful commentary.

Creating a Swatch is straightforward; create a canvas large enough to fit the desired versions. Since Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing lists covers should be least 625 x 1000 pixels, all featured variants meet the minimum.

Using larger covers in the swatch can make it too large to upload at many sites. Additionally, the swatch would take more time to view and require users to zoom-in and out frequently. Hence sticking to the minimum provides avoids a whole slew of issues.

Cutting Down to Size

Before we begin, we need to create usable variations. The files we created contain Layers and Styles which react differently at lower resolutions. Additionally, we want to preserve these originals, so use the Save as Copy feature to avoid modifying the source files.

Open up your Bravo Paint Shop Pro project file then from the File menu click on Save Copy As.

41-Save-Copy-As.pngThis feature permits you to save a copy of the image without modifying the working image.  Select either JPG or PNG formats then click on Save.

Note

Ensure that your save path and file name are correct prior to completing this operation.

42-Save-Copy-As-Window.pngYou will be presented with a warning about losing Layers and Styles through a Merger. This is precisely what we want, since the image is to be resized later. Click on Yes, then open this newly created image.

43-Save-Copy-As-Warning.pngFrom the Image menu click on Resize.

44-Resize.pngA new window will pop-up. Resize to 625 x 1000 pixels or settings that allows you to meet the requirements. Since our examples made use of increments of the minimum size, so the window appears as follows:

45-Resize-Window.pngOnce satisfied, click on the OK button.

Repeat the above steps for each variant;  in this tutorial we did the same for Hotel and India.

Creating the Canvas

Since we are dealing with three variants (Bravo, Hotel and India) we need to create a swatch that permits fitting in all three. We also need to include a buffer since thumbnails will be added as well. So we create a canvas that is:

  • Width — 2500 pixels.
  • Height — 1400 pixels.
  • Resolution — 300 dpi.

From the File menu click on New. This will bring up a new window, replicate the options shown below:

40-Swatch-Create.pngThe colour of your background should be something neutral. This provides a separation between the covers and will not distract the viewer. For the above example, we used a variant of grey.

Once satisfied click on OK and a new image with the appropriate dimensions will be created.

Dropping in the Variants

Now drop in copies of the variations onto the canvas. Click on your copy of Bravo then select the Background Layer. Now from Edit menu, click on Copy or use the CTRL-C keyboard combination.

46-Copy.pngThis will place a copy into your clipboard.  Switch to your Swatch then from the Edit menu click on Paste As New Layer.

47-Paste-As-New-Selection.pngThis will drop-in Bravo, which can be moved anywhere onto the canvas.  Since this is our first entry, place it near the edge on the left and leave a bit of spacing.

48-Selection-Dropped-In.pngNow add-in the thumbnails for Bravo.  Switch to your Copy of Bravo and shrink down the image to a maximum 160×160 pixels.  Repeat the Copy-and-Paste operation done previously then drop-in the thumbnail.

48-Thumbnail-Dropped-In.pngNow we can compare the full-sized cover to the thumbnail.  This permits us to see how the image appears on Amazon.com.  Now we lack a method of seeing how it appears on a black and white display like the Kindle Paperwhite.

Drop-in another thumbnail then from the Effects menu, select Photo Effects then Black and White Film.

49-Black-and-White.pngA new window will appear, I found that Default is sufficient for this step.

50-Black-and-White-Film.pngWhen satisfied, click on OK.

To add in a label, from the Tools Bar, select the Text Tool.  For this example, Arial Black at 28 points set all Black was used.  Adjust as necessary to end up with a result that looks like the following:

51-Text-Tool.pngNow you have the following on your swatch:

  • Main image;
  • Thumbnail;
  • Black and white thumbnail; and
  • Label.

Repeat as necessary for the other variants.

Final Touches

Once finished, crop the Image to remove any unused space.  You should end up with an end-result that resembles the following:

Swatch.jpgNow you have one image that gives you an overview the three covers.  It’s easy to compare one against another and allows you to see how they hold up at lower dimensions and on black and white displays.

Hotel does not display well as a thumbnail or in black and white.  That alone should steer you away from that design.

Create these whenever you wish to compare a sample set of covers.

Notes and Variants

Dressing up the Cover – Part 6

This is Part 6 of the Dressing up the Cover tutorial and previously we covered Taglines and Layer Styles.

t_21-Tagline-Inserted.pngNotes on Bravo

Bravo was originally released along with two (2) other variants and was by far the most popular of the three (3). Feedback shown below led to the creation of other variants.

Bravo caught my attention better than the others.

Bravo looks the most professional, although the fonts are kind of sterile.

I’m not a fan of any of them. They all scream —self-published— in the worst of ways.

None of them say horror to me.  If you’re sold on using the image, I’ definitely try to bring it out in the fonts.  Look at some popular horror titles and see what they use.  That will give you an idea of what communicates —horror— to readers.

Overall, the points brought forward were related to the choice of font and how the cover did not fit the ideal horror cover. The Portrait does not subscribe to the modern ideals of horror, at least in terms of gore playing a large part.

People expected to see streaks of blood, fangs protruding from the lady’s mouth or vast amounts of gore. This worked against the story of the premise where the supernatural settings are concealed for most of the novel and would potentially spoil the surprise!

There was a noticed distaste for the red borders employed with this particular variant. While I initially believed that they infused the cover with a bit of colour, people predominantly disagreed and preferred to have no transitions as all.

Over all I managed to pick up a few points to work on:

  • Keep some distance between the outside edges of the image and the font. Text elements are more likely to remain visible if the image needs to be truncated or applied to a printed cover;
  • The use of red for fonts to add in colour may not work out as expected. Red does not display well in black and white images;
  • There is a strong preference for covers to use an image covering the whole of the visible area. This led to the development of Hotel and India variations which are covered later;
  • Font selection is key and has been discussed before. There was a strong push for Trajan Pro as a general-purpose font.

Some  recommendations were applied to Bravo which created the variant below.  While it does not address all of the faults, it does provide an incremental improvement.

A Hotel Visit

Hotel was a variant that aimed to make use of different fonts that would grab the attention of a potential reader.  This version also made use of transparencies and the outer glow effect which differs from other versions.  While Hotel universally reviled in comments it does have certain features that were fun to explore.

You will need to make use of the Lady Normal Base, to proceed with this aspect of the tutorial.

The cover size is longer than the original image allows . To achieve this we needed to create a mirror image copy then join them at the seams. This increases the space above her head to prevent the Author’s Name from obstructing her face.

From the Image menu, select Canvas Size.

30-Canvas-Size-Select.pngA new Window appears, which permits you to adjust the Size of the canvas. Increase the Height of to 16000 pixels then ensure Placement is set to Bottom, Middle as shown:

31-Canvas-Size-Options.png

Click on the OK button, which adds an empty space above the image found.

32-Canvas-Size-Result.pngUsing the Selection Tool, make a copy of the top portion of the Base then Paste as a New Layer. You up with two copies of the Top with the new selection that needs to be flipped.

From the Image Menu select Flip then Flip Vertical.

33-Flip-Vertical.pngLine-up the images as though they were part of a mirror image. Once satisfied with the merger, right-mouse click on the layers then from the Merge Popup-Menu select Merge All (Flatten).

This operation will merge both layers together. You may need to experiment until the connection is seamless.

Next add the Author, Title and Taglines. As mentioned previously, Layer Styles for Author and Title employ of Outer Glow, Emboss and Transparencies to get the desired effect. To reproduce the effects showcased on the cover the following fonts were used.

  • Title — Bebas Neue Bold
  • Author — Oleo Script
  • Tagline — Cinzel (Bolded)

For Layer Styles adjust until settings match the options below:

35-Layer-Styles-Emboss.pngThe next step is to adjust the Outer Glow, set it to match those shown below:

34-Layer-Styles-Glow.png

While there are a lot of ways to adjust transparency, you can do so from the General Tab of the Layer Properties window. Copy the settings found below then save it for later use. This ensures consistency when applying it to other layers.

The Tagline only makes use of Emboss, copy the settings below to match our style.

35-Layer-Styles-Transparency.png

The Tagline only makes use of Emboss, copy the settings below to match our style.

36-Layer-Styles-Emboss-Tagline.png

You end up with a cover which looks roughly like our sample.

A Trip to India

India was not one of my designs. Ironically, an acquaintance used a phone app to whip up a design she felt worked well. This formed the basis for cover design used on The Portrait.

Other than making use of Lady Ethereal as a base, this design uses techniques which have been explained before.  To the following fonts were used:

  • Title – Cinzel (Bolded)
  • Author – Cinzel (Bolded)
  • Tagline – Cinzel (Bolded)

In Part 7, we will talk about making a Cover Swatch.