# Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

## NaNoWriMo Sponsor Offer Review: Blurb’s BookWright Program, softcover and ebook

As part of the NaNo winning ‘prices’, some companies offer to print you one of your books for free (although you have to pay for shipping). This is totally clickbait, I know, but what the hell, I like it. This year I plan to review the process on the three companies that do it – CreateSpace, Lulu and Blurb.

The catch for Blurb’s offer is that you need to use their program, BookWright in order to get the following, as stated in the NaNoWriMo Winners’ page:

• One softcover copy of your novel in our 6×9 inch Trade format, up to 480 pages with Economy black and white printing (offer expires January 31, 2015). How do you do it? Just use Blurb BookWright™, our free layout software, to design your book. Try out our new novel templates to get a head start.
• Free conversion of your book from BookWright to a reflowable eBook for Apple® iPad® (EPUB3 format) or Amazon Kindle® (KF8 format).
• Entry into a draw where you could win free editorial services from a member of Blurb’s Dream Team network of publishing professionals.

#### Formatting process

I had been editing a couple of the short yakuza-centric stories with the idea of making a compilation of them, and this was my chance. The code was good until January 31st and I had two stories out of the four I wanted ready, and one halfway. Ready, for me, means proofread (at least by me, I do my best), formatted and converted into $\LaTeX$ format.

Here comes my first surprise. BookWright does not take pdf, at all. It wants rtf formats. It wants me to format my document in a text processor and feed the formatted document to the program. The automatic index does not stay when I do the conversion, and neither can I do changing headers – those which are different for each chapter – I need to go with a static one, and aligning that is a nightmare so I give it up.

After fighting with the layout for ages – and discovering that the best way to “undo” is to close the program without saving your changes, I get a new surprise – there is no way to generate an index unless it is… the old way. Aka doing it by hand. Needless to say, I was less than impressed – I mean, even Microsoft Word can do your tables of content automatically, even if it blows sometimes. That should be something basic, imo. And by hand, I mean going to the page, writing it down, and making the dotted line and trying hard as hell to align it.

BookWright complained a lot about fonts, as apparently you need to license fonts for eBook creating? Not going to criticise that, although I was peeved at first at how much it complained about good ol’ Times New Roman. I decided to go with Arial in the end because it is always a safe option.

I finally managed to format everything, although it took a ridiculous amount of time. I had to make sure that all the chapters started on an odd page, make the index, and resize titles, things that my $\LaTeX$ coding does for me, usually. I should have left a blank page before setting the title page, though, but I only realised that when I got the printed copy. We’ll get to that.

The next step was setting up the cover. I had the 6 x 9” cover in high resolution template, so that was no problem, and I managed to do both the back and front covers without trouble. The spine, however, gave me some trouble as I did not manage to find any indications on what size to measure. After a few educated guesses, I make the cover for the softcover book and the eBook (here I messed up a bit with proportions, my own fault).

BookWright has three main working focuses: covers, pages (main text) and background (where you set the layout, headers, page numbers, etc). Aside from the issues mentioned above, the program in general did not come through as too user-friendly for me, it was very slow and stopped responding at times. It would not adapt to my screen either. I did double-check that some of the things I wanted to do in the forums, and saw that they could not be done, but not all of them – it might be possible that you can do some of them and I just did not find the way.

Choosing / Creating the project

Formatting the text (1)

Formatting the text (2)

Background and layout

Designing the softcover

#### Ordering process

The uploading and ordering is easy enough, as is the ordering and paying process, which is done through the web. You obviously need an account with Blurb, though. You upload from BookWright and the wizard takes you through the correct steps. The code was easy to use, and the shipping was reasonable. What amazed me was the price they had for you to download the extra pdf.

Ordering and paying

End of the ordering process

#### The eBook

Looks neat. The white thing on the cover is my fault, I did not realise that I needed to resize the cover a bit. Regarding the inside, the index is not linked, which is annoying. The header is added automatically, which is nice. The reflowing one/two pages works pretty cool too (shown on my Kindle for iPad).

eBook Cover

eBook Index

eBook – one page

eBook – Two pages

#### The softcover

The outside covers are very, very cool, they are not too shiny even if you are – as I am – a matte fan. The inside printing is well-defined and clear, however I find the paper a bit too thin, a lot can be read from the backpage. The gluing feels extremely good. However, not convinced by how the book came out a bit wavy.

One image is worth a thousand words so:

Softcover front cover

Softcover inner pages

Softcover titlepage

Softcover: wavy side

#### The TL;DR

I would not recommend them as a launching program, too much hassle. I am not sure if their pro package is better as I have not tried it though. The InDesign plug might be a solution, but as I mentioned, I use $\LaTeX$ and I am pretty happy with it, so BookWright is not my best option.

I’m doing the whole formatting again with a friend soon, so I’ll let you know if the second time feels better.
ETA: Nope. Still a mess.

## Kokeshi (version 2)

Before NaNo I was working on a short story I called Kokeshi and which I decided to completely rewrite. I had a good idea for it, but somehow NaNo came along and completely caught me off-guard. And guess what? I forgot to note down my good idea and… I completely forgot about it, so when I opened the file after finishing The Shikigami of Blood I drew a blank on what I wanted to do with it.

I had a very clear idea about Kokeshi, the main character, but the other one, Crow, was completely gone from my mind. Lesson learnt, though: “TAKE NOTES, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE SURE YOU’RE NOT GOING TO FORGET THAT IDEA!!”

I reread everything that I had written for the first version and rewritten for the second, and I could go on, but the original idea I had was lost forever. I was not able to remember it, no matter what. There had to be a reason why Crow acted the way he did. I decided not to mourn too much over the lost idea, and started anew.

The dynamics between Kokeshi and Crow stay more or less the same in both versions, although the second one is more detailed. Same base course of action, same ending, but the POV switch is much smoother now, and Crow makes sense, on a distant plane. He really does, at least to me.

Now I plan to let them rest for a while and then, maybe, I will see about working a new story with Crow’s background. Not because I need it for Kokeshi but because it might be cool XD

## Kokeshi revisited

While free-writing is an entertaining exercise, it becomes a bit of an awkward thing to do when you go over 3-4,000 words in a story. The other night I was considering killing Kokeshi, the MC in the story that shares his name. I made my decision in the end (not telling XD) and the result is… awkward is a bit of an understatement. Okay, it is a huge one.

However, right now I know how I want the story to go, to happen and to have happened, and thus I have a plan. Yes, the POV switches are painful at the moment, characters pop out of nowhere, the scenes are randomly cut and Crow’s personality takes a bit of a turn from his first POV to his second, but nobody says that I need to go with this as a definitive version of the story.

I can just finish the hammering I’m doing at the moment and then start again, knowing where I’m going, knowing how my characters tick, who I need and what their motivations are.

So that’s the plan.

## I just stabbed my MC*

* MC = main character

In the back. Treacherously.

Long ago, when I started writing, I used to see it as an outlet for repressed feelings – believe me, it was better than other ideas I had. For the last couple of months things have been rough, and I just… I guess I have just snapped and stabbed the main character of my new short story in the back. I am considering letting him die, but then I need to switch POVs to explain the rest of the story. I mean, yes, there is a reason why he just got a kitchen knife in his back, other than me not feeling cheery and happy with myself nor the world. I do have another character that could take over the narrative, he even had a brief introductory POV. Or he could find himself being the hero.

Or maybe let the story float in a completely different way…

Well, that was a weird update, don’t you think? XD