Halloween Time



Starting to decorate for Halloween and all my little monsters from my Wonderfully Horrific Crochet pattern book are making their appearances.

Have you begun your decorating yet?

PS. Remember the book is on sale until October 31st!

Get Started on Your Halloween Projects Today ~ With a Sale!

Wonderfully Horrific Crochet
On Sale Through Halloween!

If you haven’t already started working on your Halloween projects, now is the perfect time. I’m offering my Wonderfully Horrific Crochet eBook for half off! No promo code needed! Just buy and start creating. The sale runs all the way to Halloween (Oct. 31, 2013).

Plus I now have instant download available in my store so you don’t have to wait for me to email you!

A little about the book:

Wonderfully Horrific Crochet is an eBook containing 14 patterns of classic horror film images.

From Frankenstein and Dracula to the classic poison apple, this book is sure to have something that will make you shriek! Most props are to scale so they will look great at your next Halloween party.

The book contains 14 fantastic patterns as well as a supplies section and a tutorial section for all the stitches and techniques contained in the book.

Patterns Included (see pictures of all of them when you click on the book above):

Zombie Girl
Black Widow Spider
Mad Scientist
Ghost Girl
Little Bat
Flask with Poison
Chain and Shackles
Vampire Stake
Psycho Knife
Poison Apple

RGB to CMYK – Or Why Doesn’t My Red Look Red?

This self-publishing tidbit is all about color processes for print publishing and digital publishing.

The title of the post refers to the difference you can get when you change your photos from one color process to the next. In general red has a very hard time staying vibrant when changed from RGB to CMYK.

So what are RGB and CMYK?

Both abbreviations refer to color and both are used in publishing. However, one is used for print publishing and the other is used for computer viewing.

RGB stands for red, green, blue and are used for computer viewing. The reason being is because these are the color lights that make up a computer monitor (or other similar device).

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These are what make up the four process colors that are used for print publishing.

So why do I need to know this?

You don’t actually need to know what the letters stand for as long as you know which to use for what type of publishing you are doing.

When you take a photo, your digital camera will shoot the photo in RGB, when you view it on a computer, you will view it in RGB. If you send that same image to a commercial printer (or even your home printer for that matter), you will get a surprise when you receive your proof (book that needs approval). The photo you loved on screen is now a washed out mess.

The reason is because RGB can produce many more colors than CMYK can, but printing can only be done in CMYK.

Some publishers will take your photos as RGB (Amazon Createspace being one); however, they will still print it as CMYK, so you might not receive the outcome you were hoping for.

So what does this all mean?

If you are self publishing only in the digital realm (eBooks and computer viewable .pdf), you can use RGB to your heart’s content and not worry about your pictures turning wonky. You can take and edit pictures without ever having to worry about converting.

If you are self publishing and planning on printing your works. You need to get familiar with CMYK and how to convert your pictures to this color process so you can make sure your pictures look the way you want them to.

If the commercial printer takes my photos as RGB, why should I convert it to CMYK. Isn’t that extra work that is not needed?

Definitely not. Take the photo below. The first picture is in the RGB color process, the second has been converted to CMYK. You can see that my CMYK photo is not as vibrant and the RGB version. This is why it is important to convert before sending your book to the printer. You want to be able to fix the color problems now instead of feeling the disappointment of receiving the first copy of your book and finding it completely unsatisfactory.

All of my RGB colors are vibrant in this colorful photo.
All of my RGB colors are vibrant in this colorful photo.
My vibrancy is greatly diminished in CMYK.
My photo is now slightly washed out and the vibrancy is diminished. The printed version will be even more washed out because the brightness from the computer monitor will be gone.

So how do I convert to CMYK?

Converting is a super simple one-step process with software such as Adobe Photoshop. You will need the full version unfortunately, Photoshop Elements does not have the option for converting to CMYK. There are free programs on the web you can search for. However, with anything free on the internet, be careful — you never know what you will pick up on some of these sites.

My little mini tutorial below is made with Photoshop CS5.5, the option might be in a different place on older (or newer versions of Photoshop), but you should be able to find the same type of editing if you look around your toolbar a little.

First pull up the picture you want to convert. Then click on “Edit” in your toolbar and then click on “Convert to Profile”.

Convert to Profile is near the bottom of this drop down
Convert to Profile is near the bottom of this drop down

There will be a dropdown under “Profile”. You want to choose one of the options for CMYK. Any of the options will work, the differences are all minimal and refer to what works with different printing systems and different parts of the world. Your printer might tell you which one to choose, otherwise it’s up to you. As long as CMYK is in the title you’re good. I won’t go into the huge list of color profiles that exist, but you can definitely search it if you would like to learn about them all. In my mini tutorial I chose Photoshop 5 Default CMYK and hit OK. The result was the photo above.

The CMYK options are also at the bottom of the "Profile" drop down, so be sure to scroll to find them.
The CMYK options are also at the bottom of the “Profile” drop down, so be sure to scroll to find them.

So that photo doesn’t look as good, are you going to leave it that way?

Nope, I will use Photoshop to correct the colors. This can be done in a multitude of ways under the “Adjustments” in the “Image” tab on the toolbar. Sometimes the photo will need very little adjusting to make it look like the original, other times you will need to make major adjustments. If you would like to see a tutorial on various ways to adjust the color, leave me a note below and I will whip one up.

See previous topic: Formatting Photos For Self-Publishing

Formatting Photos For Self-Publishing

This post is going to talk all about photos.

However, instead of talking about how to compose good photographs (you can only read “use natural lighting” so many times before your eyes start bleeding), this post is going to go in depth on formatting pictures for different applications. I’m going to explain how and why to make your photos the correct size and PPI(I will explain this abbreviation in a bit) depending on what kind of self-publishing you are going to do. First I’m going to talk about the why, then I’ll get into the how.

What exactly is PPI?

PPI stands for points or pixels per inch, and if not set correctly can change your crisp clear photo into a pixelated mess. Quite simply, it is the number of pixels that are placed in your photo per inch. So, if my photo was 20 PPI, I would have 20 pixels in one square inch of the photo.

Why is that important?

Each pixel is a small dot of color. Picture a square inch of paper and putting 20 dots of color in that inch. You will have to convey the design with just those 20 dots of color. The result will not give you much detail.

Now, picture putting 300 dots of color in that one inch. Those dots would be much smaller. Not only are they smaller, but now you have 300 different options for color. Your design will have much more detail than the 20 dot design.

See how blurry and pixelated a 20 PPI photo looks.
See how blurry and pixelated a 20 PPI photo looks.
I still don’t get why this is important.

Each picture you produce for your book whether ePub or print will have a specific PPI that you will need to use. Knowing the best resolution (or PPI) for your project will save you time and space (in your project file).

Why should I care if my file is big or not?

One important reason is money. Got your attention now huh? Certain distributors such as Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) will take out of your profits an amount directly related to your file size. They call it the transfer fee and they charge about $0.15 per mb (megabyte) when you choose the 70% royalty (I will explain all that good stuff about royalties in a later post).

Not only will you put more profits in your pocket, but editing a smaller file is much quicker than a larger one. Having to load a 3 GB file as opposed to a 3 MB file is night and day. Especially when using a complicated editing program like Adobe InDesign.

So what do I choose for PPI?

It depends on what you are doing.

Print is easy, your pictures must be at least 300 PPI for the pictures to not look blurry when printed (and to not be rejected by most print houses).

But I’ve noticed that when I send my 72 PPI pictures to Snapfish, they print out fine.

Good point, this is where it gets a little confusing. When you take a picture on a digital camera, the camera has a set amount of pixels to assign to each picture (that is where your megapixel amount comes in). For instance, a 5 MP (megapixel) camera will usually tell you that you can print a good 8×10 print with your camera set to its highest setting. If you were to open one of the pictures you took in Photoshop and looked at the image size when your photo is set at 72 PPI you would see that the inches are way bigger than 8 x 10.

Look at how many inches I get out of my DSLR when I'm set at 72 PPI!
Look at how many inches I get out of my DSLR when I’m set at 72 PPI!

The reason this happens is because of all the pixels your camera has to dole out. You could either print a blurry 63 inch picture, or when this file is sent to Snapfish, or your home printer, it gets converted into a 300 PPI image by reducing the size to bring all those pixels into closer proximity to make a crisp clear picture. How that actually happens and how the printer makes the pixels the correct color in the correct place is of course magic — or at least that is how I believe its done since I have no idea how that part actually happens.

Unfortunately, you can’t just stick all your pictures in your project at 63 inches and 72 PPI and have the printer figure it all out. You must put your photos in at the size you want them printed on your page which means you have to know how to convert a 72 PPI image to a 300 PPI. Good thing you’re reading this post because I explain all that below.

If 300 is good then 3000 is great! Right?

Not really. 300 is what is usually required by most book printers (including Amazon Createspace), upping your PPI to 3000 will not increase the resolution or crispness of the picture, it will only increase your file size. So save space and stick with 300 PPI.

What size should my ePubs be?

There are some common standards, but they are changing slightly with the invention of HD displays on things like the iPad and Kindle Fire HD.

Most people will tell you to set your PPI at 72. Before the iPad and other HD tablets were invented, the best your computer monitor could display was 72 PPI (and that is still pretty true today). iPads with their Retina display and other similar products have upped the digital quality to about 120 to 130 PPI. So to truely get the best resolution on one of these devices, your images would need to be set at this PPI. You can check out a whole rundown of PPI by device on this Wikipedia page.

Okay, back to confused, what should I make my ePubs then?

The real honest answer — it’s up to you.  Though, I am seeing alot of people start to set their PPI to 96. I say if you have just a few images, up them to 130 to cover all devices and computer screens. If you have a photo heavy ePub and file size is a big concern, stick with 72 PPI. The difference on the newer devices is minimal to most people.

What about PDFs that are for viewing and printing?

If you’ve ever printed a photo from the internet and wonder why its clear on screen but fuzzy when you print it, you’ve probably printed a 72 PPI picture. Your home printer, like a professional printer likes 300 PPI pictures because that’s how many dots it sprays per inch. When you have less, it fills in the dots with whatever color is around the 72 dots it sees and makes the picture look less crisp.

So it’s up to you to decide if you want to set your photos up for viewing or printing. If you think most people will print your pattern, or PDF, make your photos 300 PPI. If you think most people will be viewing your PDF online, set it up for 72.

What I do personally with my single pattern PDFs is make any nonimportant pictures 72 PPI and any important pictures (like a stitch chart or instructional picture with small detail) set at 300 PPI. I would set everything at 300, but I’ve found that people like smaller files whenever possible.

Okay, I’m convinced I need to do this, now how do I do it?

This is a pretty easy process once you have it down, but the first important step is to decide if you are making the picture for print or ePub.

If you are making both, you will need two files of the same photo since they will have different PPIs.

If you have a DSLR camera you can usually shoot in RAW or Fine quality which will get you in the 200 to 300 PPI range right off the bat, then you can make a duplicate copy and change the PPI to 72-130 for the ePub from the original.

Wait, what? I have to have a special camera?

No, not at all. If you don’t happen to have a DSLR that has the options of RAW files or large/fine format, you can use your standard digital. Even most standard digital cameras have a menu where you can change the quality of the photo you take, just make sure it is on the finest, or largest megapixel quality before taking your pictures. Then you can do less work on the back end.

Okay, figured out what PPI I need, now what?

First, keep an original unedited photo. That way you always have the original that can be edited again.

Now, open up a photo editing program. It needs to be a decent one that has the option to change PPI to make life as easy as possible. I recommend Photoshop Elements if you don’t want to spend a lot of money and regular Photoshop if money is no option. I’ll be using screenshots from both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop to illustrate where you make the PPI changes.

Special Note: Most of this PPI business is most important for print, so if you are only interested in ePubs you can usually forgo all this extra PPI work and use the free program (like Microsoft Paint) your computer came with to change just the dimensions of your photo. Follow the instructions below about how and why to change the size of the photo for where you want to put it.

Load up the photo you need to edit into the program. Then click on the Image tab in your toolbar, then click on Resize Image (or Resize -> Image) or Image Size (depending on what program you are using) and you should get a popup that looks similar to this (other versions of Photoshop might look slightly different).

This dialog box is from Photoshop Elements 9

Before you crop or do anything, you should change your PPI, especially if you are changing it to 300 PPI. That way you have the maximum number of pixels available to you while re-sizing.

What do you mean “maximum number of pixels”?

Once you crop the image, the pixels that you chop off disappear — they no longer can work to your benefit. For example, if you were to crop out 50% of your picture before you change PPI, instead of having 4592 pixels to rearrange into your photo, you will instead only have 2296. Having more pixels when changing PPI ensures your photo will look its best. Plus in your next step you will be removing pixels so starting with as many as possible is a good idea.

So looking at the dialog box above you will see that the PPI is currently set at 72 PPI. I want to change it to 300, so I make sure that the “Resample Image” box is unchecked (I’ll explain this box in more detail later) and I simply type in 300 in the box labeled “Resolution” (make sure the drop down is set to pixels/inch as it is in the picture above and below.

See my overall pixels are the same (look up in the pixel dimension box) as before, but my inches are now reduced.  BTW: This dialog box is from Photoshop CS5.5
See my overall pixels are the same (look up in the pixel dimension box) as before, but my inches are now reduced.
BTW: This dialog box is from Photoshop CS5.5

Hit OK and you have now changed your PPI. Follow these same steps no matter what PPI you want to change your photo to.

Now you can get ready to crop your photo.

If you need to remove parts of your photo you will use the basic crop feature. I won’t go into detail about this, I will focus on “cropping” inches off of your photo for placement into your project.

You’re confusing me again. There are two types of cropping?

Yes. There is cropping with the crop tool in any photo editing software. This type of cropping can remove unneeded space in a photo or get a close up. For example, the photo I’m using in this post has been cropped to show just the face and hat of my little model.

The second type of “cropping” is removing unwanted inches from a picture that is ready to be published.

Why don’t I just leave it as is? Why do I need to take off inches?

File size can be dramatically affected by removing unnecessary inches off of your pictures. Using the dialog box above, my picture states it’s currently 15 inches wide by 10 inches high. If I only need to fill a 4 inch square on my page, I’ve got 9 extra inches of pixels I could reduce my picture by. Each less pixel is file space saved.

Why can’t I just put the picture in the document and use my sizing handle to make it smaller. Why do I need to change it before I put it in?

The reason you don’t want to insert your picture and then re-size with the handles in your word or design program is because the program will still save the picture at the original size you put it in. So Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign will save the file as 15 inches wide, but display at the size you make it. It’s just wasted space that is taking profit away from  you.

So how do I change the inches?

First, figure out what size you want your picture to appear on your page.

For example, if you are making a standard 8.5″ x 11″ PDF and want a photo to sit in the upper hand corner of the first page. Figure out what size you want that photo to be. 4″ wide? 6″ wide? 8″ tall? You don’t have to pick the exact measurements (as in 4″ wide by 6″ tall), but you should choose a maximum width or height to begin with. Your photo may dictate the other measurement (this will make more sense in a minute).

I’ve decided I want my picture to sit on my page at 6 inches wide. Since my photo is in landscape orientation (the width is bigger than the height), I will let Photoshop figure out what my other dimension will be.

I pull up my Image Size popup again. This time I make sure my “Resample Image” box is checked. This box allows me to change the inches of my picture while keeping the same PPI. If I left this box unchecked, when I changed the inches, all my pixels would try to fit into the new dimension and my PPI would jump to an insane number like 1200 PPI. This would my make file size the same as if I didn’t change the inches, so be sure to check this box.

I also want to make sure my “Constrain Proportions” is checked before I change my inches. This will make Photoshop automatically adjust my height or width to match the proportion I originally began with. For example, if my original picture was 4 x 6, by checking this box, I can just enter 3 inches in for my width and the height would automatically adjust to 2 inches.

After I make sure these two boxes are checked, I change my width inch to 6 as shown below.

See how Photoshop automatically changed my height to 3.993, this is why I say to choose just one of your measurements. Let Photoshop adjust the second to get the perfect fit.

You can see that my pixel dimension has changed. The overall pixels has been reduced, but I still get 300 PPI. I click OK and my photo will not be the perfect size for my document and the smallest file possible. All I have to do is save it and put it in my document.

Super Important Note for ePub makers: 

When you save your photos, DO NOT put spaces in your file name. For example, if your file name is “Scarf Close Up” save it as “scarf_close_up”. If you have spaces in your file name when you go to validate your ePub (will cover in another post), it will be rejected and you will have to go back and change all the file names so there are no spaces and re-link them all to your project. Ask me how I know.


So here is a rundown of what I covered today for easy reference:

  • Save an original, unedited file of each of your photos
  • Before you do any editing of your photo, change it to the PPI you need for what you are making (make sure “Resample Image” is unchecked)
  • Crop and edit photo as desired
  • Change size of photo to fit exactly where you need it (check “Resample Image” and “Constrain Proportions” boxes before changing size)
  • Save photo with no spaces in the file name

The next topic I will cover will be RGB photos vs. CMYK photos and the how and why’s about choosing one format over the other.

See Previous Topic: Print Books vs. ePubs

Print Books vs. ePubs

So you know you want to self-publish, but what type of publishing do you want to do?

Are you going to design and print your own books, just stick to ePubs, or make both? You may not know the difference or what can kind of work each type can entail. I sure didn’t at first. I could not wrap my head around what happens to your print book when it’s converted to ePub, or how to do it. Thankfully, if you’ve found this post, you will get a cliffs notes version of all the stuff I’ve learned about the two formats.

I’ve complied a list of differences between print and ePub publishing. This list in no way encompasses all that is different, but it gives the most important differences that can help you make the choice as to how you want to produce your pattern/book. Don’t worry if I use an abbreviation or term you’ve never heard of before, everything I talk about below will become their own topic in a future post where I will cover in depth what you need to know to self-publish.

Also let it be noted that I’m referring to full pattern books below, a lot of this is not relevant if you are self-publishing single patterns. I will cover that topic more in another post.

Print is design specific.

You have page layouts with picture placement, page numbers and a variety of other elements on each page in a print book. A design program such as Adobe InDesign most likely will be needed. You could try to layout your entire book in Microsoft Word (or any similar word processing program), but it will be difficult and may not produce very professional looking results.

ePubs are print (or reading) specific.

eReaders are made with the intent of reading words on a device that can be adjusted at the readers whim. With most eReaders, the user can pick the font and the size of the text. Trying to use CSS (don’t worry I’ll explain that abbreviation later) to style your ePub can be done, but it’s usually more work that it’s worth.

Most eReaders have their own font bank to choose from and their own sizing. Using simple formatting you can easily write a whole book on Word (or similar word processing program), with no special software needed.

In print you have to worry about layout.

Do you have a half title page, a title page, a copyright page? Are they in order? Do you have the correct page numbering? Do my facing pages look good together? All of these things are needed for print books. People have in mind what they are used to seeing in a print book and if you are missing these things, it can effect how they view your work.

On a side note, what got me interested in designing my own print books was finding a  book very fortuitously called Indie Publishing.

The book gave me great starting off points and I recommend it to anyone deciding to take on the task of print self-publishing. It gives lots of information on how exactly books are set up (which even if you own lots of books that you can open up and look at, having it explained can ensure you don’t miss anything).

Forget layouts in ePubs.

Having a beautiful transparent background image on your print page is useless in ePubs. Epubs are meant to change with the device they are being read on, anything that is in a print book that normally wouldn’t move (like page numbers) need to be removed in ePubs. If you’ve ever read anything on a tablet or phone you know that just moving from portrait to landscape can change the whole layout.

You need an ISBN for print books.

ISBN stands for : International Standard Book Number. It’s that 10 or 13 digit number that usually rests above the barcode on the back of the book, and you need one to put on your print book so it can be catalogued and searched for. If you only buy one, it can be really expensive (like $125 a pop), if you buy in a bunch ($250 for 10), you may never use the extra ones.

The good thing about ISBNs is that they never expire, so you can always get the 10 pack to save money and not worry about how fast you need to write books to put them on.

You need a barcode to sell your print book in stores.

Add another $25 to every ISBN you buy to get the corresponding barcode. If you get picked up in a store you will need one of these printed on your book for inventory control. If you use a print on demand service (like Amazon Createspace) they will put the barcode on for free with the ISBN you supply.

Depending on who you work with to print your book, you also have the option to have them supply you with their ISBNs and barcodes for free. I will talk more about that option when I talk about the different outlets you can work with for self-publishing in another post.

Print books can cost you money up front.

You made a print book, now how are you going to distribute it? If you want to make a bigger profit you will want to buy a bulk amount of preprinted books and sell them wherever you can (craft fairs, your online store, etc…). You will have to purchase a good amount to keep your profits high and hope to sell them all.

You do have the no money up front option of print on demand services (like Amazon Createspace, which I use). When someone buys your book, Amazon prints, packs and ships it for you. You receive a much smaller profit, but I find the lack of involvement on my part ideal and I don’t mind the reduced profit.

ePubs are pretty much free to make.

You can buy an ISBN if you want, but beyond that only your time (and possibly any computer programs you purchase to help you make the ePub) are the only costs to you.

Of course depending on where you sell your ePub you may have to pay a percentage of your sale to that website, but they take it out of your profits, not up front.

Print and ePubs have different photographic requirements.

If you’ve never heard of PPI, by the time you are done with this series you will be an expert on it. It stands for pixels or points per inch and effects the resolution of your pictures. It also is something that much be adjusted when making a print book versus an ePub. You can easily lower a picture’s resolution for ePub, but it’s a big challenge to increase resolution for print. You will have to make the decision of whether you will ever print your book before editing your pictures.

As you can see from the list above, printing a book can be a complicated and daunting task as compared with ePubs. Especially when making print books that contain lots of photographs. So why would you choose to take on the extra task of laying out and producing print books when ePubs are so much easier? Simple, people still like reading physical books. Especially ones that have lots of pictures that are much easier to see in print than at a fixed size on his/her tablet. Luckily for you, I have conquered both and have lived to tell about it. And I will walk you through both processes so you can do it too. Stay tuned for my next installment of self-publishing where I will go more in depth on picture requirements.

See Previous topic: My Top Three Reasons I Self Publish

See Next topic: Formatting Photos For Self-Publishing