I arrived home yesterday from my great adventure in Austin to find The Albuquerque Years awaiting inspection. I’m pleased to report that it passes with flying colors.
The cover looks exactly as I expected — except — I got the title wrong on the spine! Can you believe it? This is why you should always order a preview copy of anything you do. I might not ever have noticed this fluke, and probably nobody else would either. I only noticed it when I inspected the spine to make sure it was exactly centered. I’m pleased to report that it is. The error is easy enough to fix, and I’ll simply upload the file again, so it will be correct for future volumes. I’ll also extract the stray comma from the middle of a sentence on the author bio page. Of course that's the first thing I noticed in there ... .
(Taking such pains to get the finished product as close to perfect as I can make it is a personal preference. We each set our own standard. You'd have to know the story of how my mother taught me to sew to fully understand what some may rightfully consider my nitpicky anality in this matter. I would not sneer at others who might choose to let them slide.)
At my urgent request, my husband opened the package to report on it while I was still gone. He was surprised at the size of the pages, which are larger than The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, a standard trade paperback (6 x 9 in.). This one is Lulu’s Crown Quarto page size (7.44 x 9.68 in).
“Why did you make the pages so big and such an odd size?” he wondered. “Why didn’t you make it the same as your other one?”
“Two reasons. Mainly, I wanted the extra width to give me more flexibility for flowing text around pictures. But I also wanted to keep the printing cost down. The smaller size would have added at least sixteen more pages, and at 2¢ per page, that adds up.”
He garumphed a few times and I reminded him that if he looks on my bookshelf, he’ll find lots of odd-sized books. I quite like this page size. I think it looks distinguished.
Looking inside the book, I’m pleased with my choice of header font. I looked long and hard through several free font sites to find one that approximates the handwriting of a beginning writer. Several “kiddie” fonts were available, but most were smeary, ugly, and hard to read. I finally settled on one called I Did This!.
There is one thing I’m not delighted with. The photographs are dim looking, and rather grainy, some more so than others. Fortunately I did store the specific version of the photo files in a dedicated folder. I purposely used three different file formats, jpg, tif, and eps. According to Lulu, jpg is best. According to the printer for The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, eps (encapsulated postscript) is best, and that’s the format that produced the exceptionally fine photo and graphics results in that book. In a few days I’ll go through and analyze each photo to see if I can identify a correlation, and let you know what I learn.
Even with this minor disappointment, I’m delighted with the book, and if this is as good as I can get the photos right now, they will do. Lulu receives 4.5 stars for product quality (I’m withholding half a star because of the photo quality), and about 2 stars for user-friendliness (I have no doubt this rating would be higher if you use their online pdf conversion and cover templates).
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal