On the morning of 31st July, 2013, at 8.38am, I authorized my novel for publication via Amazon’s CreateSpace service. This was the paperback edition, 390 pages in total, ninety eight thousand words filling those pages. A few days later on 5th August, the Kindle eBook version went live as did the hardback edition, produced via the Lulu print on demand service. All these different editions come under the banner of the TIMELESS Press.
As I have said in an earlier article, I started writing the novel back in 2011, whilst I was on holiday with my family, on a cruise of the Western Mediterranean aboard the MS Grand Princess. The ship was docked in Livorno harbour. I was staying aboard that day, as I had for most of the previous ports of call. This was meant to be a nice relaxing break. Well, that was the plan, but things rarely go to plan, and the first few chapters of the first draft of the novel just came together, and more importantly so did the structure for the rest of the novel.
The novel itself took about nine months to write. Editing another nine months. Then came the search for a publisher and three separate rejections. Then I chanced upon the Amazon CreateSpace website, and a whole new chapter opened.
I was determined to make sure that the novel looked as professional as possible. CreateSpace offer free ISBNs for books they publish. But apart from tying my novel permanently to the Amazon Group, the sight of a CreateSpace ISBN would not look very professional. Hence the creation of the TIMELESS Press. A block of ten ISBNs was purchased from Nielsen, the UK ISBN registrar, for the local SF Fan Group TIMELESS. The various editions of my novel would use three of them, the remainder would be available to any member of TIMELESS, who having written a book that is of a high enough standard to be published via CreateSpace.
During the 1990’s I used a desktop publishing package on my old RiscPC to produce The Oracle the news letter for TIMELESS’ predecessor SF fan group SF Fantasy Cardiff, so I knew a little about layout and design. About leading and kerning and how to make something look good on a printed page. I chose the DTP package Scribus to lay out the novel. Should anyone else in the group wish to use the TIMELESS Press, then I will lay their manuscript out using the templates I have developed.
The font I chose is one of the Century family of fonts. Century Schoolbook is a legible and clear serifed font that look good on the page. Well all Century fonts look good on the page, but for me Century Schoolbook is the best of the best. The paperback edition has the type set to 10.5 points with leading set to 12 points. The hardback edition has the type set to 11 point and the leading set to 14 point. If you are scratching your head wondering what a point is, it is a measurement used in printing where an inch is subdivided into seventy two units called points. Adobe chose to use points when it developed its desktop publishing software, and it has become a standard in computers as well as publishing.
Although the real fun came with the design of the cover. At least twenty layers containing different elements went into the production of the cover artwork. My aim was to use as many colours of Autumn leaves as possible.
The first thing I created was the tree in the centre. This artwork was created for pleasure, whilst I was on holiday last year, in the same lounge aboard the MV Grand Princess that I used to write the first draft of the novel. When it became apparent that I needed to design the cover for publication, using this image was obvious. It started as the silhouette of an apple tree in Winter, which I cut in half and flipped, to give it the symmetrical shape. Then to emphasise the multiple realities the novel is set in, I overlaid half the tree with a golden circuit board pattern generated by the GIMP, the software I was using. I did the same to the silhouette of a root system. The image of a Winter sunset that forms the background for the tree was a picture of clouds taken with the camera on my mobile phone, then suitably processed. A small section of this image was then coloured various shades of brown for use as the soil behind the roots. The grass was a thin slither of the soil image, edited into another layer and processed with various GIMP filters until it looked green and spiky.
I knew that the picture of the Tree would only be part of the cover. I decided to use a red leaf about to fall from the tree as the next element. The veining on the cover was achieved by taking a photograph of a leaf, applying a desaturation filter to make it black and white and then removing the white background to create a transparent mask. This was then stretched until it could cover an oblong the size of the final cover. The Colour Gradient tool was used to create various shades of yellow in the veining. I then created the background. I used the colour gradient tool again to achieve different shades of red on a large blank oblong, then dropped the veining as a layer on top. By merging down the two layers, I had created the desired background for all the other elements.
The text on the front cover is again Century Schoolbook, but coloured various shades of light blue using the Colour Gradient tool. The 3D effect was created using the Motion Blur filter in GIMP, then duplicating the layer this created many times, to give it body. Finally, the blurb was typed onto an opaque yellow background which when dropped onto red veined background created an orange effect, thus giving the cover the desired spread of autumnal colours.
The final stage came when I saw the proof copy of the paperback edition. I decided to put a line drawing of a leaf above the chapter headings, to make them more visually interesting. Then as the chapters are arranged into parts one, two, three, four and five, I took the image of the Tree from the front cover and made a simple black and white version of that, with no distractions to go one the title page of of each of theses sections.