KDP Cover template generator

This explains where to find the KDP cover template generator for one piece paperback covers to be used in Photoshop, GIMP, Illustrator, etc. (not how to upload separate jpgs to the Cover Creator). After entering some basic information, a template will be generated with the correct dimensions, having calculated for the bleed and spine width.

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/cover-templates

Enter your trim size (the finished size of your book) from the pull down menu. Next, enter the page count for the entire number of pages in your document, including all front and back matter. Your word processing program will have a page count (in LibreOffice it’s in the bottom left of the Writer application). Or, if you’ve already exported to PDF, your previewer or Adobe reader will tell you how many pages. Enter the total page count. Finally, enter the type of paper you want for your book’s interior. Creme is heavier than white and will affect the width of the spine. Once all your info is entered, click the yellow Download cover template button.Screencap3

The template generates immediately and downloads as a zip file. Open that and you’ll find two files in your folder, a PDF and a PNG file. You can open either one in Photoshop, Illustrator, or other program to create your cover.

When you set-up your title on KDP, make sure your trim size, page count, and paper color are the same as you entered for your cover template. If the information doesn’t match, you’ll most likely receive an error.

 

Hyperlink ToC bookmarks in LibreOffice that don’t fight with Calibre

NOTE: UPDATED WITH VIDEO 6/24/18

If you read e-books, you’ve seen it. The Table of Contents at the beginning of a book, listed in blue. Tap or double-click a chapter name and voilà, you’re there. Nifty, huh? If you use Word, you know how to create that ToC, or can readily find out how, because instructions abound on the web. Heck, even KDP explains it somewhere. But what if you use a Mac and LibreOffice? You’ll find nothing helpful on Amazon’s KDP site because a) they’re indifferent to Mac users, b) they’re indifferent to LibreOffice users, and c) they’re indifferent to Mac users who utilize LibreOffice. What to do?

You could save your ODT file as a DOC or DOCX, which kind of defeats the purpose of using Libre if you ask me. Not so very long ago, KDP used to tell Mac users to hand code all the HTML, good luck! Now their not-so-helpful help entry merely says to use hyperlinks and bookmarks. Which brings me to the crux of the matter.

I use Calibre to create an EPUB from an ODT file. I never created that active ToC because I didn’t know how, didn’t have time to learn, and didn’t have the inclination to wander the web trying to find out how. Yesterday, however, through some semi-useful information found on the internet and a lot of trial and error, I figured it out. There may be a better and faster way, but this seems to work and is fairly simple. Continue reading “Hyperlink ToC bookmarks in LibreOffice that don’t fight with Calibre”

Nightmare Alley, William Lindsay Gresham (1946)

Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham, is a 1946 novel that revolves around carny-turned-charlatan Stanton Carlisle and his rise in the ‘spook’ racket, that is to say, spiritualism. The story starts well; the first chapter begins by painting an indelible image of a sideshow geek in a traveling carnival. This is followed by the thoughts of the other acts in the ‘ten-in-one,’ the strongman, a dwarf, the tattooed man, etc., as a crowd shuffles by. One of these sideshow acts is Stan Carlisle, a young man who does magic tricks, but longs for something bigger and better. By cozying up to slightly older carny Zeena, who does a mentalist act, Stan learns the tricks of her trade, including the use of codes and how to cold read.

Eventually, Stan leaves the carnival and performs his own mentalist act with assistant Molly, who left the sideshow with him. He soon segues into spiritualism, targeting wealthier marks, even getting ordained as a minister to enhance his ‘legitimacy.’ Stan starts to fall apart, however, and he seeks the help of psychiatrist Lilith Ritter. And that’s where I gave up, about two-thirds in.

I liked the beginning of the book, set in the carnival with its interesting cast of characters. For some reason, I especially liked Joe Plasky and wanted to know more about him. It was obvious that Tod Browning’s Freaks had some influence on the book. If you’ve seen the movie, you can’t get it out of your mind as you read the early chapters. That’s a bit of a detriment, but at the time the book was published, I don’t think many people were familiar with the film. The slang terms used by the characters, and their dialogue in general, had a good authentic feel. Regrettably, though, the deeper I got into the book, the less interested I became.

Part of the problem was that I didn’t have a clear sense of when the story was taking place, sometime between 1920 and 1940? The story would jump ahead or go back in the past, but not having any kind of anchor to know when the present day events are taking place left me a bit adrift, time-wise. Just mention a year, for some kind of reference. I felt the flashbacks to Stan’s childhood tended to run too long, but that was probably because I figured out his main issue right off the bat during the first trip down memory lane, when he sneaked into his mother’s room and buried his face in her pillow while she was splish-splash takin’ a bath. The domestic drama of Stan’s parents was more involving than his Oedipus complex. Oops, did I spoil that? Too bad. I pegged it right off the bat on page 96, I didn’t need to see Stan lose his shit at a manipulative shrink’s office on page 169 when she confronted him about wanting to bed Mommy.

The backstory for Molly was also a bit strange, somewhat disjointed and with an odd vibe. I think the author just didn’t quite know how to convey the memories of a young woman about facing the world alone with her showbiz father.  Stan’s first cold read, of an old southern sheriff threatening to shut down the sideshow and arrest Molly for indecency (she wears a sparkly leotard for her Electric Girl act) is too long by half. And repetitive. In fact, Stan himself thinks, I need to end this, before I lose him. Yet he keeps talking. And talking…and talking, and it’s the same thing over and over. Again, maybe the purpose was to educate the reader on how cold reading and codes worked in mind reading acts. I’m aware of all that already, so the longer it went on, the more aggravating it became, and I had a hard time believing the ‘mark’ didn’t wise up. I had a similar complaint once Stan stepped it up to spiritualism and the tricks mediums use in séances was revealed. In great detail. It was the forays into details that bogged down the book’s pacing for me.

Freaks came to mind during the carnival chapters. Houdini did when Stan began his mind reading and séance schtick. After Stan became a phony minister, horrible, repressed memories of Elmer Gantry surfaced (satire my ass), a book and character I loathe so intensely, no words exist to describe my ire and hatred, may the gods rot Sinclair Lewis’ talent deficient soul (the Burt Lancaster movie is pretty good though). By the time shrink Lilith Ritter shows up, who, quite frankly, seems more than a tad unbelievable, I gave up. Not to mention, every time I saw her name, I thought of the great character actress from back in the day, Thelma Ritter. And another fictional psychiatrist, Lilith Sternin (possibly inspired by the novel).

I wanted to like this book and I wish I had, but Stan Carlisle is unlikable, boring, irritating, and selfish, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I couldn’t connect with him. It’s not a good thing when you lose a reader with a wholly unsympathetic main character. It wasn’t because I need to have rainbows and roses; I like darker stories and characters. I kept slogging longer than I wanted to in the hopes of seeing the carny folk again, they were far more interesting. They showed up, briefly, in a later chapter, but nothing came of it. They do reappear later on, but Gresham had lost me by then. As for Stan, I didn’t give a good goddamn what his childhood issues were or what happened to him. I will say that what eventually befalls him is fitting, couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. If you’re the schadenfreude type, you’ll love it. I know the ending from the movie and, honestly, I thought it would be better in the book; it’s not (I jumped to the end and it was anti-climactic).

You may want to give Nightmare Alley a shot. There are good moments and some interesting supporting characters, but that wasn’t enough to draw me across the finish line. I’ll keep it on my shelf, though, and may try reading it again someday.

How to change page numbers in LibreOffice

I know I’m not the only one who has wrestled with page numbers in a LibreOffice Writer document. The content of your book (excluding the front matter) should start on page 1. Sure, but in your document, the good stuff starts on page 7. How do you change those pesky numbers?

I was looking into this today and found several explanations to try to achieve that. When I tried them, they didn’t work and, worse, messed up my formatting. Then I started playing around with various options. I thought I discovered the secret, but that, too, altered my formatting, though ever so slightly. Try again. Jackpot! You won’t believe how easy it is.

On your first numbered page, place your cursor in front of the page number in your header or footer. For this example, that would be document page 8. Choose Edit — Fields. The Edit Fields dialogue box that pops up will have three columns; Type, Select, and Format. Below the Format column is a narrow box that says “Offset.” Enter a negative value of the number of front matter pages in your document. For instance; my book has six pages of front matter that I don’t want numbered, and the first chapter begins on page 7, but I don’t have a number field on that page, so I’ll enter -6.

Number Change

Page 8 has now turned into page 2, and all even numbered pages should have also changed.

Number Change 2

Repeat the process on the next page to turn 9 to 3. All the odd pages should automatically change. The lower left hand corner of your document window will show the actual page number (page 2 in your header or footer will show as page 8 of xxx).

There you have it. Quick, painless, and no unwanted alterations to your carefully formatted pages and header/footer styles.

The Heirs of Moliere, Various (18th century)

Just finished reading The Heirs of Molière, a collection of four French verse plays. It wasn’t a bad read. The first play, The Absent-Minded Lover was okay. I guess. I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief in regards to the title character. I simply couldn’t believe a person could be that flaky and survive in the world. Too stupid to live. It did have its amusing moments, though.

The Conceited Count revolves around a noble set to marry the daughter of a bourgeoisie. The count is exceedingly proud; take Mr. Darcy’s pride and pump it up on steroids. Yet, all he has is his name and titles, the wealth was lost in an old family scandal. There’s a “surprise reveal” at the end regarding a character, which I saw coming a mile away.

The Fashionable Prejudice is about a married aristocratic couple. The wife is miserable, due to her husband’s indifference and numerous infidelities, but she hides her unhappiness because it’s the right thing to do among their social set. Unbeknownst to her, her husband has rediscovered his love for her, but he’s afraid of looking a fool and being mocked by their peers. He vacillates on whether to tell her and becomes outraged when he believes she’s been unfaithful to him. All is resolved at the end, during a masked ball, when he takes the place of a confidant she’s sought out for advice. After her impassioned speech, he reveals himself and declares his love. I suspect Beaumarchais was familiar with this work. The situation of the Almavivas in The Marriage of Figaro has quite a few similarities.

The Friend of the Laws is an interesting piece of political intrigue. It’s crystal clear that the villain of the story is based on Robespierre and his machinations. Which is incredible, considering the play premiered in early January of 1793, months before the Reign of Terror and a good year and a half before Robespierre’s downfall and execution. I have to say, it was pretty ballsy on the author’s part. According to the book’s introduction, the political moderates enjoyed the play, the extremists not so much. The play was shut down and was part of the reason dramatic censorship was reinstated. The author survived by going into hiding during the Terror. Fascinating stuff.