Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Art Book Adventures

I wasn't really planning on participating in the A-Z project that so many bloggers in the OSR community are joining. And in fact, I'm not joining the project itself, just because I'm too lazy to make the clicks and put up the apple graphic.

However, since Jim Kramer sent me the final files for the long-awaited art book, the letter "A" basically fell into my lap. If I can continue a 26-day run of consistent serendipity, then I'm golden, baby.

So: the Art Book. I've downloaded the one-piece cover from Jim, and I'm currently downloading the interior pages, which are 73MB - full color, high resolution files are monstrously big. Assuming that my computer doesn't crash, then I move on to the next step, which is to load this bad boy onto lulu.

9:19AM, USA central time: I managed to download the file from Jim without mishap, and double checked it (this is after several previous editing cuts, so mainly I'm making sure that the last changes didn't create new glitches, which happens often in edits). So I've now gone to the lulu site, created the new project (I'm starting with the hardcover, but I will have to re-do a lot of this for the softcover), and am now uploading the file for the interior pages. I have about a forty minute wait before I find out if lulu will have any objections to the file.....

So for now, that's the status in terms of producing the book. I don't expect every phase of this to go smoothly, because lulu can be cranky in the extreme. The crankiness is worth it, of course, because it's all quality control, but half-way through the problems (and you never know what they will be - it's new every time) you are ready to scream.

So, anyone who's interested in the internal process of getting a book actually loaded onto lulu, stay tuned. For better or worse - I have no idea what adventures I will run into.


  1. The interim step is to watch the yellow bar advance for a while, then go to the backyard and see what the hell the dogs have been barking about for the last 10 minutes while I was trying to think.

  2. 9:54AM USA Central Time
    The file "has been added to your book successfully." Next step is to "make print ready file." There's almost never a problem at this step, so I've clicked the button. I don't bother to review the uploaded file yet - I want to check the print-ready file once that is created, not the file I uploaded before lulu did anything to it. I know what I uploaded: I need to see it only after lulu has processed it.

    9:57AM USA Central Time
    The print-ready interior is done, and now it's time to download it and take a look. I've never seen a problem with one of these - most of the problems occur with the initial upload, so I have high hopes for this phase of things. According to lulu, this will take 6 minutes (downloading is faster than uploading), but it will probably be about 10 minutes.

  3. 10:07AM USA Central Time
    Now I have downloaded the interior pages that are "print ready." First step is to set my Acrobat reader to see two pages at a time and do the first sweep for large-scale errors that might have occurred. Back in a few minutes.

  4. 10:12AM USA Central Time
    After zipping through the pages in Acrobat reader, I can see that none of them are upside down or off-center or garbled as a result of lulu's making the file print-ready. I didn't expect any problems with this file.

    Sometimes you can discover that your pdf was created with the fonts not embedded (lulu now picks this up at the time of upload) but most frequently the problem takes place if what you're uploading isn't a pdf but a .doc file. There, you can see actual problems if they interpreted a font incorrectly or otherwise messed up the translation. Here, I started with a pdf, so an error would have surprised me.

    Next step is to set Acrobat Reader to show me one page at a time so I can look more closely at each page for smaller-scale problems like pixellation. Again I don't expect to see a problem - if I had created this file I might, but Jim Kramer is the one who created it, and he's a professional. He doesn't make mistakes with things like picture resolution.

    This step takes time. It is also the phase during which I often spot the gremlin-type editing errors I managed to miss throughout the whole editing process. I really hope I don't see any of these, because it would mean having to turn the document back to Jim to fix a mistake that's probably mine.

    Back again after the close read-through.

  5. 10:30AM USA Central Time
    The only thing in the book that I've got a slight question about so far (page 68) is an illustration called "In the Lich's Chamber," which at this bigger-than-actual-size viewing seems to have a few lines that are a bit rough. It's hard to tell if this would actually be visible in print. This also happens to be from one of Jim Kramer's artists and one of his Usherwood Adventure titles, so I'm going to assume that it's not a problem - I think Jim would have caught it if this is a problem with resizing. I think the issue is just that these lines are really, really thin. When they are increased in size by the reader, they are getting a very, very slight roughness (I wouldn't even call it pixellation).

    I continue checking pages...

  6. 10:38AM USA Central Time
    I'm done with the read-through, and the only other thing is (typically) in something I wrote. Fortunately it's exceedingly minor: I described my "Eldritch Weirdness Books 3-1" as just "Eldritch Weirdness 3-1." That's definitely not something big enough to make me turn the draft back to Jim, so we proceed.

    The next step is to go back to the lulu page, which is waiting for me to hit "Save and Continue" for the interior pages file.