Category: How To Series… Step By Step

Cloyce Joseph Tippett certifies in the T-bird T-33 Jet Trainer

This photo looks about half this good when printed in the actual book. It will be better when I boost the contrast.

You can add line drawings and black & white photos, or other sorts of images, to the body text if you are self publishing a book. Simply include the graphics in your layout before you create your pdf. But there are limits to how good the images will look, and these five tips will help:

1. Make the photos look the best they can – with good contrast and sharpness. While you can put color photos in your electronic file, they will print in black and white unless you are creating a color photo book. Making your photos or images look nice in black and white before you paste them into your document will ensure they look the best they can in the book. The book printing process tends to flatten them out, so tend towards contrast – but not to the point where you lose detail.

2. Make them big enough. At least a third of the page if the image is a photo with a caption, and at least one inch high if it is a graphic at the beginning of a chapter. If your graphic is a page decoration, you can make it any size you want. Actually, you can make all of them any size you want as long as you stay within the print margins of your book size. Full bleed graphics are a different issue and I have no current experience with those. Generally, I try not to bleed.

3. Downsample your PDF to 300 dpi. Or you could make them 300 dip to begin with. This is a standard pdf recommendation. My soon-to-be-available “How To Self Publish A Book” book will have printed samples with different DPI tests so you can see what happens, but it isn’t ready yet. In the meantime, 300 dpi is a good general guideline. This does not apply to line drawings.

4. Include captions that cover the 5 W’s of good writing – What, Who, Where, When, Why. Actually, the fifth should be “how” but that doesn’t start with a W so I use Why. Readers will always read captions, and the captions of the photos you include in your text may be some of the first text your reader scans… especially when flipping through the book with a mind to buy, so make the best of that opportunity. Avoid describing things that are obvious in the photo and use the caption to add value and interest to your project.

5. Order a proof of your book with all of your photos in the text before you go much further with the project. The only way you will be able to tell for sure how your photos will look is to test them. Get your writing into your book design, insert the photos and size them to your taste, then go ahead with the proof. It’s not expensive to order a proof and it can save you a lot of headache later in your project. Once you know how your exact photos or images are going to translate to the medium you are working with, you can adapt your materials so that they show well.

Line drawings look really good in the current state-of-the-art print-on-demand books that you can produce as a self publisher. Photographs print surprisingly well, depending on how good they were to begin with. But if you have really stunning photographs or images that are the heart of your book project, you may want to look into producing a photo book. The only drawback is the production cost, which is the reason coffee table books have such a high list price… they have a high production cost. The technology is easily available, it’s just an issue of profit and loss.

I have included over 100 photographs in my grandfather’s biography, working titled “CJT, A Biography” and they look good enough to be exciting, but I am considering a color photo book as a future project. Many of the images in my grandfather’s archive are museum quality and contain celebrities and world leaders, so the book would not only be marketable, but would also be an important archive.






Self Publishing Advice Butterflies

The Three Butterflies of Writing Advice

As I build my series on Step by Step Self Publishing, I keep trying to start at the beginning… with Write The Book… but current life and topics keep popping up.
Because this is blogging.
It’s more spontaneous, closer to live action, more like real life.
Not disorganized. No way!

For authors, publishing starts after we think we are finished.
So for authors, self publishing advice includes the topic of writing the book. And my advice for authors considering self publishing is to write another book and publish it as well. Don’t stop with just one book – use the time, effort, and self education to put out more books! But first, we have to write it.

Out of the millions of ways to write a book, I can think of three:

1)            Do something and write about it

Find someone who did something and write about them

3)            Make something up completely from scratch and write about it

I started with number one. I did something, and I wrote about it…  my memoir about raising poultry and a family in hard times, titled  “Just a Couple of Chickens”

Now I’m almost finished with my second book, using approach number 2. I’ve found someone who did something, and I’m writing about him. My grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett, did several very interesting things in aviation history as well as being a fascinating person in an extraordinary time.

Number 3 seems the hardest. To make something up completely from scratch and write about it. I do have my secret manuscript just like every other writer, my blockbuster sci-fi space opera, bodice-ripper… (space-suit ripper?) but in the meantime, I’m going back to methods 1 and 2 and writing sequels to my first two books.

Because if Write It is the first step in self publishing, then Write a Sequel and Do It All Over Again is the last… that’s just good publishing advice.


Black and White Self Publishing Advice

Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method makes writing light as a feather. Or at least lays it out in black and white.

Writing the book, and writing the next book, can so easily get lost in the process of self publishing. I am constantly trying to stay current in the writing world, and one piece of advice I gleaned from a teaching author was to continue to study my craft. Keep learning about writing. So I joined Willamette Writers and was delighted to listen to Randy Ingermanson at one of the Willamette Writers meetings in 2011.

Randy Ingermanson wrote Writing Fiction for Dummies, among other books, and he was talking about his patented Snowflake Method. I’d never heard of the Snowflake Method before and it hit me ‘tween the eyes like a well-received plank of brilliant break-through. I’d just rolled up my sleeves and resurrected the Outline…  effective, yet somewhat grueling.

Randy’s Snowflake Method is better. It’s a way of approaching story design, planning, forethought – working it out true to the rules of storytelling (beginning middle end, characters who live and breathe, scenes that make sense) while at the same time accomplishing the things that a book must have (one sentence summary, one paragraph summary, a plan…) and it’s a step by step, encouraging, hand-holding method.

He made some software and I bought it and I’m using it. Plus Randy’s website is fun to navigate and FULL of resources.

I made my publisher pay for the software and the Willamette Writer dues.
Which was pretty satisfying until I remembered that my publisher was me.


Cloyce Joseph Tippett Wendelins Basketball Team

Maybe somewhere in the photos lurks inspiration for the title. Like… why isn’t my grandfather dressed out? “The Aviator Who Didn’t Dress Out…” hmmmm

As a self publisher, I have the delightful burden of choosing a title for my book.

If I had a book deal with a traditional publisher, this would probably be out of my hands, and also out of my control. Usually, the idea that such an important issue for my book would be out of my control makes me glad to be a self publisher. But not this time. Choosing a title for a book can be a hard slog.

The title for my first book, Just a Couple of Chickens, came easily. It was a family catch phrase during the whole time we were struggling with over 101 infant poultry that arrived from my online catalog order.

“I thought you said you’d ordered just a couple of chickens,” my husband kept saying.

The sequel to that book, which is currently underway, has also come easily.

“Just a couple more?” asked Andrew. “Just a couple more what? Not chickens, right?”

But for my grandfather’s aviation history biography, I’m stumped. It’s got a working title of “CJT, A Biography” because my grandfather is Cloyce Joseph Tippett and it’s a biography. Riveting start. He was such a pioneer in the history of aviation, I must be able to do better than that.

I’ve compiled a list of book title building tips from my research here-there-and-everywhere, and I’ll post again once I’ve successfully found out how to choose a title for my book.

 Here is what the experts suggest to help me choose a title for my book, and I’m going to try each approach:

  •  Write down everything I can think of and everything everyone suggests
  •  Search the genre in amazon and see what other titles there are for other similar books
  •  Sum up my book in one sentence. Write several of these sentences.
  •  Choose a detail of the book and name the book after that detail.
  •  Check out Google keywords on the topic and zero in on the best keywords
  •  Make a list of nouns and verbs that reflect the book topic, then cut them up and line them up in different combinations
  •  Have a 92 character limit, so that it’ll fit in the  Books In Print catalog
  •  List my chapter titles, maybe the title is lurking there
  • Read the book and write down any sentences or paragraphs that capture your title imagination
  •  Sleep on it. Literally, have the title list under my pillow and sleep on it.

(That last tip suits me best. If there’s something I’m good at, it’s sleeping!)  I’ll keep you posted!


Rocks of Self Publishing Advice

The rocky road of getting it edited.

The correct self publishing advice regarding editing is:
Hire A Talented Editor To Review Your Manuscript.
No question, it is worth it. Choose carefully, research the going rates properly… and TAKE  their editorial advice.

Two places where hiring services for a self published book is well worth the expense are: An Editorial Review and a Professionally Designed Cover….

With that said, what about using family and friends?

Some of them may be sitting on Bachelors or Masters degrees and they may be avid readers. What about them?

Many writing professionals I have studied have discouraged the use of family and friends as editors “because they won’t tell you the truth about your writing…”
And a paid professional will.

Those writing professionals must have a different breed of family and friends than I have, because my posse tells it to me straight. They are a tough crowd and it takes guts to pass out my Readers Draft to my Peanut Gallery. They are professionals, engineers, executives, managers, business owners, educators, academics and they love to read. They know what they like and they know what they don’t. Nothing gets past them and it takes both SPF 100 plus a Kevlar vest to open up those reviewed copies when I get them back.

But my writing is SO much better when I listen to their advice. I cherish their work. Their help, plus a page crawl through the Chicago Manual of Style, sets me on the road to a readable draft.

Family and Friends are a significantly valuable resource and should be treated accordingly. Acknowledgment in the book is a minimum, but the biggest respect for their effort is to take their advice. If one of my test readers has a problem with something in my book, I do not argue with them. I go back to the keyboard and fix it, even if I really want to defend my prose. Because I am not just the author of the book anymore. It is no longer just my work of art. I am now the publisher… and I need this book to sell. I need word of mouth recommendations, good reviews, kudos, prizes, accolades. I need readers to want to read it…

So, since I became a publisher… I would argue that the term “a well-written book” is truly more accurately “a well-edited book”….



write now, it’s all I can do to keep writing… the book.
Posting is a faint memory.
Emailing family and friends, a delusion.
Texting, 4getit. Cnt doit fst anyway so why try?

I have to just stay focused on the book project and keep writing. I’m on my 17,548th draft of the first chapter – classic.
I do my best work with my fingers on the wrong keys, kidy djog s noh pbrt yp yjr ;rgy if you know what I mean.
And I just can’t find the balance between fact and supposition when it comes to Tip’s family of origin… so I bust right back to his first in flight exploits and then have transitional-sentence-itosis.

But I keep writing. writing.writing.writing….
Because that’s what it’s all about.

One of the most fun pieces of useful advice I’ve gleaned from all my studies on How To Write A Book….

is to Read What I Am Writing.

WahOOOOOOOOO!  Don’t haffa tell me twice!  I’m a reader like I’m an air breather. Seriously. If civilization ever fails to provide both libraries and hot running water, I’m outta here.

So that was not a hard one to follow.

I’m writing an aviation biography of my grandfather so I went cruising for aviation biography, or any biography actually. I’m not picky. The Lindburgh biography of course. That thing weighs like ten pounds. I feel smarter already. Amelia Earhart’s books. The absolutely beautiful “West With The Night” by Beryl Markham. The strange little gem “To Fly Like A Bird” by the Vertical Flight Heritage Series – Joe Mashman’s words, he flew with my grandfather. “Adventures In Aviation” by Kim Schribner, another pilot who my grandfather knew.

The first thing I gleaned was that there’s a structure and form and voice to aviation biographies. And it’s GOT to be about the planes. But it’s also got to be about the people. And I learned what a beautiful lyrical thing a biography can be. Which raised the bar for me and put me in writers block.


But anyway, I blazed back to the keyboard and kept with it.

The other piece of useful advice – to study my craft, the craft of writing – which I translated into taking classes, joining groups, subscribing to newsletters, studying or applying methods, finding and keep referring to websites, books, learning software…had also been useful. But the funnest of all is to READ.

And then it comes back to the writing. No matter what, I have to write the book. Writing Writing Writing…. no matter what to keep writing. So, I write.


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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