Monthly Archives: October 2009

More Copies of Book Shipped Out

More copies shipped today, but only one to a paying customer. Here is the latest update. This morning I received one more order via the PayPal Buy Now button on the whiteknightpress.com web site. I also shipped out free copies to the copy editor and to one of the most helpful of the substantive editors. I don’t have the luxury of sending out very many free copies, because it takes so much time and effort to print and bind each book. It’s not as if a truck had pulled up to the house with multiple cartons stuffed with books; each book is the result of a little adventure — sending the .pdf file to the laser printer with the correct settings; checking to make sure one side of the pages is not printing upside-down; laying the pages down under a pile of heavy books to flatten them out after the curling from the printer; cutting the two-up pages in half to yield the actual pages for the books; printing the covers; scoring them and creasing them; binding the covers to pages in the hot-glue binding machine; trimming the books on three sides to become finished products; and, finally, shrink-wrapping the finished books. So, there won’t be very many promotional copies sent out.

This morning I also managed to register the book with the Copyright Office and sent the required two copies off to the Library of Congress. That was quite a battle, because the Copyright Office’s web site apparently didn’t get along very well with my Mac’s Firefox browser, and I had to re-do the registration about seven times before I finally got it finished. In the end the process went fine; I got the reduced $35.00 price for registering online, and the site then let me print a shipping label to send the hard copies to the LOC in Washington. According to the site, I should get my certificate of registration in about six months, though the registration is effective immediately upon applying and paying the fee.

Right now Clenise is trimming a new batch of books, after she ran them through the binder and attached the covers. She is getting the process down to a real system, which is great. Our little book factory is starting to hum along now, rather than operate in crisis mode as it did just a few days ago.

One issue that bothers me somewhat is that pages of the books seem to be somewhat wavy; that is, they curl in a couple of directions, so they don’t lie completely flat. Some copies are better than others, and I think I need to settle on one type of paper. As of now, I think 24-pound HP Color Laser may be the best for this project, but I’m still experimenting. Right now we’re using some generic 24-pound laser paper from Office Depot, which could save some money if the finished product comes out okay.

So far the eBay listing of the books for sale has not had any activity at all; it has had only 5 page views, though it’s only been up since Friday night and it’s now Saturday afternoon. I’m hoping for better results after the listing has been active into the weekdays.

Finding More Ways to Get Book Noticed

Today was not overly eventful, but things are progressing. I was having problems getting my D-Lux 4 book listed on Amazon.com through the Amazon Advantage program; the site gave an “internal error” every time I tried to upload the book title to this program, by which Amazon orders copies of the books to sell on the main Amazon site (that is, if Amazon decides to order any). I contacted Amazon’s support through the site, and about 12 hours later I received an e-mail saying they mistakenly had my account listed as closed; they had now reactivated it. I tried again, and my title uploaded perfectly. It had not yet shown up in a search on Amazon the last time I checked, but it should show up fairly soon, I think.

I also checked into getting the book listed at bn.com, the Barnes and Noble online site. That procedure seems more complicated, and involves a written application. The application seems to require various information such as a business checking account. So I went to the bank in my building at work today and opened up a business checking account. Nowadays it seems harder to do that than it did years ago, when I opened one up in connection with my earlier book, Dauntless Marine. Luckily I had some advance warning of the hoops to jump through, so I went armed with a copy of my business license and my certificate from the county court registering my dba name of White Knight Press. The account has been opened, so I’ll try applying to bn.com in the near future.

I also started looking into publishing the book in the format for Amazon’s Kindle electronic reader. It doesn’t sound overly complicated, so I may try that route; I figure that every new outlet for the book may help somewhat. I will need to try to find a way to convert my text and graphics into HTML format, which seems to be the preferred format for the conversion process.

My latest marketing action this evening was to list the book for sale on eBay. I had been planning to do that, and found time today. It seems to me that some owners of the Leica D-Lux 4 camera will go on eBay and search for “D-Lux 4” looking for cases or other accessories, and possibly find my book that way. I listed it at the same price ($19.95) as it is on my own web site, in a Buy It Now format. I listed it as having ten copies available. We’ll see if any purchases come in from that avenue.

By the way, I still have never heard another word from the very first buyer of the book; after I e-mailed him back to ask if he wants the book or not, he has maintained a strict silence. I have refunded his money, and may never hear from him again. The second book has possibly been delivered by now, and the third one was mailed this morning. I’m going to send out a very few free copies to people who helped with the editing process, just to thank them and see if they have any reactions or suggestions for further promotion.

I printed four new copies today, but we took a break from binding. We’ll probably do some more binding and shrink-wrapping over the weekend to build up the inventory in case more orders start to come in.

Order Rolling In

Of course, I would prefer to title this post “Orders Rolling In,” but I need to put accuracy first. Today I received one more order through PayPal. I never heard back from the gentleman who placed the first order, despite my e-mailing him twice. So I have now refunded his payment through PayPal. I may be hearing an indignant cry of, “Why did you refund that money, and where’s my book?” I’ll await further developments on that order.

Meanwhile, Clenise and I are cranking out books at a better rate than before. She has just about mastered the art of binding with our hot-melt glue machine. She bound four new books tonight, and we trimmed four others from last night. Soon we’ll have an inventory of about eight books. I need to send two of them off to the Library of Congress to register the copyright, and I’ll keep the others on hand in case I can get Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders to take some for their online operations. I doubt I can get any into stores, so I probably won’t make that effort, at least for now.

The shrink-wrapped books are starting to look pretty good. Here’s a photo I just took (with the D-Lux 4 camera, of course), showing a stack of books after shrink-wrapping and another stack waiting to be shrink-wrapped. The heat gun and sealer are shown also.


There’s still a lot to do. I need to work on copyright registration, getting books handled by Amazon, etc., and contact various camera-oriented web sites about promotion. That’s just a start. But the project is working out better than I imagined as of now, because I think we have managed to solve the toughest technical problems — mainly printing the books in full color and on both sides of the paper, printing the covers, and binding the books.

More Birth Pains for New Book

One thing that is emerging is that the “publication” process for this book is not a one-time event with a big party, a parade, or other celebratory event. As I mentioned yesterday, my first “buyer” later sent a message saying, What book?” I e-mailed him again today to ask if he wants me to ship the book or refund his money. No reply yet. My plan now is to refund his money through PayPal if I don’t hear anything from him within 24 hours, by tomorrow afternoon. I could just ship the book, but my last message from him said he didn’t order any book, so I think I will go the refund route and let him order it again if he really wants it.

On other fronts, today I signed up for the Amazon Advantage program so the book can get listed as a full-fledged title that appears when people search on Amazon. It was easy enough to sign up, though I wasn’t able to upload my description of the book yet; the Amazon site kept saying there was an “internal error.” I’ll try again later.

I think there is good news on the technical front, also. My wife, Clenise, has really dug into the project of getting the binding perfected. She likes to figure out technical things, and she’s very good at it. Today she spent time with the poorly translated and very thin user’s manual for the binding machine, and also with Rupert Evans’ great book on on-demand printing. She also looked at eBay ads for the binding machine, which have some pictures and more details. Now we believe she has the procedure refined so the binding machine will produce better bindings on a more consistent basis.

Otherwise, the color laser printer is working well, though I had to replace all the color toners yesterday. The printer can be maddening, because often it will print the back sides of the pages upside down, and I have no idea why it does that. Now I’m ready for it, though; I stand with my finger poised above the Job Cancel button on the printer and push it as soon as I see upside-down pages emerging. I think I have found a way to cure this problem; for some reason, after each print job I have to clear the print queue and then power the printer off and on again, and then it will print right-side up.

The other area we worked on today is getting the books ready to ship. I decided they will look better if they’re shrink-wrapped, so I ordered a box of shrink-wrap bags along with a sealing machine and heat gun. That system worked just fine almost right away, so now we can seal each book. This will protect it from dirt and damage, and will force the pages to stay flat. There is some curling of pages coming out of the printer, and that doesn’t look great. Shrink-wrap seems to be a good solution to that problem.

Oh, and I almost forgot. This morning I stopped by the Post Office and shipped off my first book, to the second buyer.

First Sales Activity – But Not Entirely Smooth

Yesterday has to be characterized as a fairly wild day in the life of this publishing venture. Every morning while shaving I check my e-mail on my iPhone. Yesterday, at about 6:30 in the morning, I saw a PayPal payment e-mail. I opened it, and it showed that a gentleman in New York City had paid for a copy of my book! This was fairly unexpected, because I had just declared the book “published” the day before, and had just installed a PayPal Buy Now button on my web site. I had started up my Google AdWords account, though, and it had received some clicks through to my web site, based on my short ad that shows up when someone Googles “D-Lux 4 Book” or Leica D-Lux 4″ or any one of several similar keywords. So I assumed someone had seen my little book ad in a Google search, clicked through to my site, and used the Buy Now button. That was pretty cool; the system was working.

One problem was that we (my wife and I) didn’t really have a great copy of the book put together. I wanted my first customer to have a very nice-looking copy, with the cover neatly and firmly attached and the pages well trimmed.

So we set to work when I got home yesterday. To make a long story shorter, we had quite a few problems getting the binding machine to glue evenly and without crimping the cover or smudging it. Then, as we tried to adjust the cover design slightly in Adobe InDesign, I noticed, after all this time, that I had the title of the book spaced wrong — it used the name D-Lux4 with no space — it’s supposed to be D-Lux 4. So I printed a few new covers, and we pulled the covers off of some already-printed books to replace them. By about 11:30 p.m. we were about to have a nice copy ready to ship. Then I checked my e-mail. I had sent my customer an acknowledgment of his order, saying the book would ship the next day (today). At about 11:00 p.m. he had replied, saying, in practically these words, “What book? I didn’t order anything. Please respond.”

Well, that threw me for a loop. I use PayPal a lot, and I did not see how he could have paid for a book without knowing it, unless someone hacked into his account or someone in his household ordered the book on his account without telling him. So I quickly replied, explaining that I had received his order, and telling him I would be happy to refund his money if he doesn’t want the book. It’s now about 6:00 p.m. the next day, and I haven’t heard from him.

In the meantime, I received another order through PayPal. I e-mailed that buyer confirming the order, and have not heard anything from him. If I don’t hear from him, I’ll ship his book tomorrow. I don’t think there could be any systemic problem causing phantom orders through PayPal.

Anyway, our rush last night to get a nice-looking book put together was good in a way, because it forced us to really examine the book and cover and the binding process, and we fixed a number of things that needed improvement. Right now I’m printing out a new set of pages that we’ll bind in a little while, and hopefully ship off to our first customer tomorrow.

Also, this past Sunday I submitted the information on the book to Books in Print through the Bowker company online. Today I checked the Barnes and Noble web site and the book was listed there, showing a publication date in late November, for some reason. I guess I had put November as the publication month, and they just used a date late in the month. Anyway, that was encouraging; now I need to work on getting the book to be actually available through BN, Amazon, and other online sellers.

Time to Publish

One of the advantages of being a self-publisher, or having your own very small publishing company, whichever way you want to look at it, is to be able to control many aspects of the publishing process. So, today I’m considering my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 digital camera to be “published.” I’m making that judgment because the book is now in its final form. My wife is doing one last read-through of the latest draft, and she’s still finding some small typos and other things that need to be fixed. But the page count will not change, and the basic text and illustrations are now set. Given that information, today I went online with bowkerlink and uploaded the information about the book to Books in Print, including the title, number of pages, number of illustrations, dimensions and weight of the book, etc.

I also adjusted my new web site, whiteknightpress.com, to add a PayPal button to let people order copies of the book direct from my company.

The other step I took today was to open up a Google AdWords account. That is an experimental step, because I don’t know that much about AdWords and how useful it is likely to be for sales of this book. I set the maximum amount to spend at $20.00 per day to avoid getting swamped with costly clicks. I’ll monitor this process for a week or two and see what adjustments may be needed.

I also sent a message to the advertising people at dpreview.com to see if they have any low-budget options that would let me get some sort of publicity for the book at that site. I’m fairly doubtful about that approach, though, because that site gets millions of viewers, and I probably can’t afford their advertising fees.

Now I’ll sit back for a while and see when, and if, any book orders come in.

Getting Closer to Publication of D-Lux 4 Book

Last night my wife finished her read-through and editing job on the latest draft of my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera. She did an outstanding job; she is very meticulous and focuses well on details and maintaining consistency. She found quite a few typos and other issues that either had been missed by other readers and editors or had been introduced during the editing process. I spent today going back through the entire draft in Adobe InDesign and entering the changes she made on the hard copy. This included taking several more photos, all of which were screen shots of the menus in the D-Lux 4 to illustrate discussions of the menu options.

After I got all of the changes entered, I went back and adjusted the page cites in the Table of Contents. Then I re-generated the Index. I didn’t want to try to just adjust the page numbers in the Index; it seemed to be safer (and much easier) just to generate a new index. InDesign has a fairly powerful indexing feature, so I used that to good advantage.

Then it was time to print out another complete draft to see what it looked like. Here was where Murphy’s law seemed to activate and cause a few glitches. First, I tried to print the whole book from within InDesign. As I said in earlier posts, there had been considerable difficulty in finding the right printer driver to do this, but I recently downloaded the new PostScript driver for the Brother HL-4070CDW color laser printer, and I thought that driver would work well. As it turned out, though, the pages only printed on one side of each sheet, despite my setting the driver to do duplex printing. Maybe I had something set wrong, though I couldn’t find any problem in the settings.

So I abandoned that approach and tried exporting the InDesign document to an Adobe PDF file, which worked a week or so ago. I got the PDF file exported at high quality and it started printing nicely, at high quality, and on both sides of the sheets. The problem this time was that the printer ran out of memory — the first time that has happened. So only about 12 or so sheets printed, then the printer stopped.

I quickly checked the printer’s documentation about adding memory, and ordered a 512 MB memory card from Amazon.com for about $68.00 including shipping. It should arrive next Tuesday.

In the meantime, I decreased the quality setting from 2400 dpi to 600 dpi, and the whole document printed out, on both sides of the pages. The problem this time was that the color photographs are too dark. I’m hoping that issue will be cured when the memory card arrives and I can print at higher quality. If not, I’ll have to tweak the print driver settings to see if I can correct that problem. The photos are not too dark; this was just some sort of printing glitch.

Other than that, I’m starting to work a bit on promotion and publicity. One of my guiding principles is that I don’t want to spend a lot of money on promotion and advertising; I’m going to look for inexpensive ways to get out the word about the book.

Latest Update on Progress of D-Lux 4 Book Project

Nothing too dramatic to report today, though things are looking better now than ever before for getting the book about the D-Lux 4 in final shape and actually printed for publication. Today I received my business license back in the mail from the county office that processes the applications. I wanted to be completely legal and official in my business setup, so I sent the application in about two weeks ago. The county’s questionnaire had a lot of questions, which I tried to answer honestly. One of the questions was whether the business (which is located in my home) has any equipment not ordinarily found in the home. I said yes, because of the binding machine. A gentleman called me the other day to discuss that response. He said that the county code prohibits having any equipment not ordinarily found in the home in a home-based business. So I told him this is not some huge, loud, powerful machine; it’s just a desktop binding machine, similar to what you can buy in Staples or Office Depot (though you can’t really buy this particular type of machine there.) In the end, we agreed that the question should be answered “No,” because this machine is not the type of machine that would cause any problems.

Then, a couple of days ago a lady from another county office called to ask me exactly what my business does. I told her I write books, print them, and then try to sell them to people online. She asked if I will sell them to stores; I guess if I said yes that would mean I’m a wholesaler, and would be subject to different regulations. Anyway, I said no, because I probably won’t try to sell books to stores, at least not at first. She said that was all she needed to know, and today I received the business license. The only new catch was that I can’t use the business name “White Knight Press” on my business license unless I get another form notarized and filed with the county court. So tomorrow I’ll try to get that done. At least the county sent me the form and told me how to get this done, so I have no complaints. The red tape has been quite manageable, and I’ll be glad to have the business properly registered and approved.

On the publishing end, my wife is doing a great job of giving the latest draft another very thorough read-through to spot inconsistencies, typos, and anything else that needs adjusting. She had never read it before, so it’s great to have her fresh look at it. She’s excellent with grammar and details, so I believe this will be the last round of edits before I start printing up a small inventory for my on-demand setup. Then I just need to wait for some “demand.”

Yesterday I also installed a newly available Postscript printer driver for the Brother HL-4070CDW color laser printer; that driver does seem to yield better results with photographs than the standard driver, so that’s another step forward to better printing quality.

The only other thing I’m waiting for is to see if Leica will release another firmware upgrade for the Leica D-Lux 4 camera. There’s some indication that another upgrade will be released around the end of October, and I’d like to include some information about it in the book, if possible. So I’ll wait a while and see if that happens. Either way, it now looks as if I’ll be publishing the book by early November.

Book Cover Design and Printing

I haven’t discussed the cover of my book very much, so I’ll talk about that now. I think I’ve made some good progress on that aspect of my project, thanks in large part to one of the volunteer readers who I met through the Leica Talk forum at dpreview.com.

I have no background in graphics, art, or design, though I have used Photoshop and other graphics software sporadically over the years. The expert advice in the books I’ve read about self-publishing says you should get a professional designer for your book’s cover, because potential buyers will judge the book by its cover, and a poorly designed one reeks of amateurism.

In my case, though, money is a major concern. When I self-published Dauntless Marine back in 1996, I was willing to spend money to have the cover professionally designed, and that book has a very nice-looking cover. This time around, though, I’m trying to keep costs down as much as possible to see if it’s possible to make a profit, or at least to avoid taking a loss. So I set out to design the cover myself. I did look into some book cover design software, and downloaded a demo version, but it did not seem to offer enough value to justify its cost of approximately $200.00. So I decided to design the cover using Adobe InDesign CS4, the same program I’m using for page layout for the book itself.

Here’s an example of one of my earlier attempts at cover design for the book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera:

I was fairly pleased with myself after I developed this design. But fortunately, the volunteer reader had a strong background in graphic design and catalog production, and she offered a very helpful critique of the cover, including points about different shades of blue, the unwise use of vertical lines to outline the spine area, bad choices for the fonts, etc. Her criticisms made a lot of sense, so I heeded her advice. She recommended I try for a mostly white cover with some highlights in red, black, and gray, to reflect colors associated with the classic look of Leica cameras themselves. So I tried that approach, and came up with the version shown below, which is very likely close to the final version of the cover:


To me, the newer version is clearly a better choice, and I am indebted to my volunteer reader for helping me make that change.

Another issue was printing the cover. I originally chose a cover stock based on the recommendation of Rupert Evans in his excellent book, Book on Demand Printing. He recommended KromeKote C1S (coated one side) stock, which is shiny like a trade paperback cover on the printing side. I tried it and it worked well. The problem, though, is that I could find it only in one size – 8 1/2 by 11 inches. The book is to be printed at two pages on each side of a sheet of paper that size, so each page will be just about 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. As the book gets up to and beyond the 200-page point, the spine is getting quite thick, so I can’t use letter-size cover stock to wrap all the way around those pages, even if the pages are trimmed down somewhat.

So I had to search for cover stock in legal size, 8 1/2 by 14 inches. I think I have found a good candidate, called Galerie XP Silk Cover. It’s not cheap, costing over $70.00 with shipping for 500 sheets. But I’ve printed a sample cover on it, and it looked very good. It’s not shiny, but it’s stiff and substantial, and the color laser printer prints well on it.

The legal-sized cover has a nice appearance and it easily wraps around a 200-page book, so I think the cover problem is essentially solved.

Printing Problem May be Solved

A few days ago I said I was unhappy at the quality of printing of the pages of my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera. I printed directly from Adobe InDesign for the Macintosh to a Brother HL-4070CDW color laser duplexing printer. Everything printed out, but the text, instead of being a crisp black, looked like a slightly muddy blue, and the quality of the color photographs ranged from fair to horrible. Some of them were very muddy and had color streaks vertically through areas that should have been a solid color.

I tried calibrating the printer and using all sorts of different combinations of existing printer profiles and printer settings. Finally, as of yesterday, I think I may have hit on a solution that will get the book’s pages printed with an acceptable appearance.

This was a matter of trial-and-error, in which I tried various combinations, and took notes on each one so I could reproduce any that seemed successful. Eventually I tried saving the InDesign file to an Adobe PDF file at the highest quality possible, from within InDesign. Then I printed that PDF file from Adobe Reader version 9 for the Macintosh. For some reason, that program seems to have a better printer driver for the Brother laser printer than InDesign does. That driver includes options for Fine printing at 2400 dpi (dots per inch) and for Vivid color printing, as well as for Booklet printing, which enables printing two pages per sheet of paper while duplexing, resulting in four pages per sheet, using both sides.

Anyway, the results of that printing test were fantastic — much better than printing from within InDesign. The text was crisp black and the color photos looked very good — about as good as can be expected from an inexpensive color laser printer, as far as I can tell.

So I’m quite encouraged at this point. Now the main problem I see is that the pages still curl quite a bit coming out of the printer, making it hard to bind the book and have the pages lie flat. I’ll be trying various types of paper and maybe other options to deal with that issue next.