EPUBs, Covers, and More Marona

A few things!

First, the .epub of Vendetta.

I’m really unhappy with how some ereaders and ereading apps handle this file.  On calibre, the file looks really good.  On Nook for Mac, the pictures look extra compressed.  I know they aren’t compressed that terribly, because calibre is reading the same file, and that jpeg-y pixelation in Nook isn’t an issue in that software.  Adobe Digital Editions has the same problem, though the text looks lovely.

I am not sure what to do about this problem.  Smashwords is in charge of creating the .epub from my Microsoft Word file, and insists that all images be anchored to the Word page as “characters.”  However, the image seems to be treated differently than a character is, because my text doesn’t get that skewed.  In the future, I may create my own .epub from scratch and see if I can override software settings to let the pictures resize proportionally, like they do on the Kindle.  That seems to be where the problem lies.

The other thing I am noticing is that the .epubs going out to other retailers, like Barnes & Noble, are not containing the updated cover.  The various websites are reflecting the updated covers on the product pages, but the preview files contain the old cover.

In the future, I may decide to publish directly through these retailers’ publishing platforms, instead of managing everything through Smashwords.  I want more control over my final product, and having to fiddle with a program I have never liked using because of, well, problems like this, isn’t working for me.

I do like Smashwords though.  Don’t get me wrong.  If I could give Smashwords a .zip containing my own handcrafted .html?  I wouldn’t be complaining.  Smashwords is very kind to its authors and readers, and really cares about where the industry is going.  I wish everyone used Smashwords.  (I should also note that purchases made at Smashwords net the most profits for the author, short of the author selling directly to readers.)

Second, covers!

I love the original cover for Vendetta.  I really do.  I love all the covers.  The problem with covers is this: thumbnails.

I knew this heading into cover creation.  My husband (who created the original concept for the cover, and did all the starting legwork of cropping, arranging, taking photographs, basically everything) and I tested out the covers by making thumbnails of the versions we like.  We made our decision based on the thumbnail, the e-ink version, and the image itself at actual size.

The thing is, we were using Photoshop.  Of course the thumbnails we exported were going to look amazing!  They even looked great all by themselves on a page.

But when the full-size image was subjected to various websites’ own compression, bad things happened.  Minor changes in quality, but if you saw the other thumbnails, you could see the difference.  Each site also has its own look.  So even though the colors were the same on the cover, when paired with the color schemes on these different websites and the other covers surrounding it in the catalogue, an illusion was created, and the cover suddenly had its problems.

So we made a new cover.  More striking colors.  The same issue still occurred.

Vendetta is now on its third cover.  I tested my own thumbnails against Amazon by screencapping the webpage of my genre and downsizing my cover to thumbnail size.  I inserted various versions into the screencapped catalogue, and looked at them that way, as a reader would.

I’m happy with the results.  Not only does the new cover do what I wanted the old covers to do, it actually fits in with the style I was hoping to use for The Shadow’s Edge series, a style that we had scrapped for Vendetta because the original imagining of the cover was stark red on black, and neither of us liked it.

Third, The Shadow’s Edge series.

I’m working hard on this series.  I wrote the second book longhand into four notebooks, and transcribing it has been work.  I’m currently a little over halfway done with that job.  I want to get it done, because there are things I need to match up with the first book, and I don’t want to do that until both books are in the same format.

In the meantime, it’s been really hard not to talk about the characters in this series, and how the events of Vendetta impact it.

Well, that’s all for me now!  Hope you are all enjoying Vendetta and these last weeks of summer.