It Should Have Been So Easy   4 comments

It should have been so easy.

It's a beautiful world after all. Kinda.

It’s a beautiful world after all. Kinda.

It should have been so simple. The pictures on the website – a stack of beautiful books, a fuzzy blanket, a steaming cup of tea – taken all together created a sense of serenity and well-being, maybe even exuding a whiff of old money. You know that smell. The smell of comfort, even smugness! Or maybe you don’t. (If not, sorry about that.)

On any account, it certainly looked easy. Three months ago, it looked like 10 minutes work, if you could even call it that. It would all be over before you could finish that cup of tea and curl up under that soft fuzzy blanket with a good book.

A book, no less, that you yourself had created!!

Three months later, the tea has turned to Irish Whiskey, the blanket has been burned and I have been reduced to a raging lunatic screaming in anguish on my kitchen floor, screams that no one seems to hear.

Welcome to the wonderful world of self-publishing.

Looking back, I can see that my problems began when I decided to try a new thing with a particular book design that had been created for another output mode entirely. Like trying to fly a bicycle, perhaps, or drink a shoe.

My problems were further complicated by the fact that I downloaded a program they told me I would need to create my book. Only now, as I am painfully aware, I should never have downloaded it in the first place, despite an invitation to do so and a big blue flashing box on my screen that lured in my cursor and cause me unwittingly to click on it and thus grease my descent into hell.

Actually, we never got too far right off the bat because my computer informed me that my startup disk was almost full. Well, I have no idea what my startup disc even is, or why it would be almost full, or what it could possibly be almost full of, so this message was as mystifying as it was alarming.

And so began the futile process of freeing up space on the enigmatic startup disc. As it turns out, you can empty your trash, but that only goes so far, obviously.

At this point, I quite convinced myself that this whole process would run a lot smoother on a new computer. I checked my savings account balance – $112.84. Well, scratch that option, although I must say I was somewhat proud that I was into the three figures range in my savings. It comes from being frugal, don’t you know.

Finally a friend sent me a link to a site with some sensible ideas of how to free up some startup disk space. A week into it, and I was ready to start the simple and, dare I say, elegant, process of creating my own book.

Despite the freed up disk space, it took several hours, seemingly, for the program I had erroneously downloaded to load itself, and that time could only be spent drinking copious amounts of Irish Whiskey.

But download it did, although my old MacBook Pro was smoking a shuddering like the star ship Enterprise fending off an attack from the Klingons.

Before I could actually resume the process I had apparently started a few weeks earlier, I was asked for my user name, which I couldn’t remember, and my password, which I probably knew (for a change) but it wasn’t going to do me much good without a user name, whatever it was.

A few days later, after typing in every series of letters and symbols imaginable that I could possibly identify as myself, I was in! O, brave new world! Now we were cooking with gas. Or so I thought, anyway.

I was instructed to simply “click and drag” the files my designer had sent into the little box. (By the way, in order to do so I had to learn all about the mysterious machinations of a thing called Dropbox. More time! More Irish!)

After several days, I managed to get his files open, as well as the program I shouldn’t have downloaded open at the same time. It was crunch time. Time for the magic to kick in. I held my breath. I clicked. I dragged. Nothing. I clicked again. I dragged again. Nothing. The files my designer had sent were for whatever reason undraggable! Undraggable files! What next?!?!

Oh, gentle reader, I’m glad you weren’t in my little kitchen to hear the volley of oaths that issued from my mouth that evening as I tried every conceivable method known to man, or woman, to drag those fucking files from my desktop into the little box in the program I never should have downloaded in the first place. Disgraceful. But, somehow, earned.

I contacted the company and sure enough, after several days of keen anticipation, a “real person” from the publisher informed that I couldn’t use PDF’s for my current purpose. I was stunned. This is hardly an obscure file format, this is PDF, for crisake! What the hell?

Clearly, I was out of my league. I called in every designer I know. I cajoled. I begged. I called in favours. One designer converted all of my files into JPG format, but then informed me the quality wouldn’t be good enough for print.

Another designer who had actually published a book with this publisher was good enough to come to my place yesterday to help me. I made her a cup of tea. She told me we would be finished by the time she had finished it. I laughed nervously, thinking I’d believe it when I saw it.

She showed me how to bypass the program I had been working in and things went swimmingly, everything was tickety-boo. The right sequence of buttons was clicked. We hugged and she was on her way.

And everything was perfect. At least, until I received an email informing me that the cover was all wrong. I frantically texted my guardian angel and she fixed up the cover and sent me the files and I went through the whole process again. Now, surely, everything would be ok.

I went out for a celebratory lunch. But when I got back home, there was another email from the publisher: the pages were not an acceptable size. Lord help me, Jesus.

So, now I have written a groveling pleading letter to my original designer asking him if he could possible be so kind as to change the dimensions of the interior pages. He’s already done way more than he should have had to and hasn’t actually been paid yet, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that. One thing I am reasonably sure of is that I’m not his favourite person right now.

Ahhh, dear reader. Somewhere the birds sing and the cows go moo and all is well with the universe. But not in my kitchen, currently. I still have miles to go before I sleep . . .

Stand by for further updates.

Thanks for reading!



4 responses to “It Should Have Been So Easy

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  1. I shouldn’t laugh but I do find this particular piece worthy of a tweet (which I will be doing immediately so hopefully that will bring you some traffic). You know what a techno nerd I am and have heard me rant before about people getting in over their head and technology begs that. I am very sorry to hear about your frustrations (again something I am very familiar with based on the number of times I have shown up at accessible events just to discover three stairs to get into the accessible event). With that said I would highly recommend doing the lovely bus trip to Market Mall and participating in a few of the Apple store “free” lessons. I know too many people who remind of those old Saskatchewan farmers who have spend their life driving farm equipment then move into the city and try and drive like they are back on the farm. The intricacies of a computer (contrary to what a computer salesperson will tell you) are like trying to drive a high end standard transmission when all you have ever driven is a small compact automatic. You think you know what you’re doing until you crash (computer or car). Let this be a lesson to you, never download without verifying. Now I am off to tweet your excellent article. BTW is the power outage affecting you?

  2. Eugene,

    I could do a cautionary piece around your experience for all those who might attempt to follow it. I ache for the mistakes you made. My advice: work with your designer – they know all this stuff. Also, resizing and reflowing text is not an odious task for anyone with good desktop publishing software, which they all have.

    And now, since you’ve made me thirsty, I may have to find my scotch.


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