Thursday, 5 June 2014

Working with macros in OpenOffice

I decided to try to write a macro to help me strip the paragraph sign with three spaces that were left liberally interspersed in my document when I stripped it. To do this I recorded a macro.https://wiki.openoffice.org/wiki/Documentation/OOoAuthors_User_Manual/Getting_Started/Creating_a_simple_macro)  (see

I assigned a macro so that every time I press 'shift + f10' the macro will delete the paragraph symbol (actually a 'soft return' in this case) and the three spaces. Assigning a key stroke to the https://wiki.openoffice.org/wiki/Documentation/OOoAuthors_User_Manual/Getting_Started/Assigning_shortcut_keys macro was a bit tricky (see https://wiki.openoffice.org/wiki/Documentation/OOoAuthors_User_Manual/Getting_Started/Assigning_shortcut_keys )

Can I train it to search and destroy, I wonder? I expect many have trod these paths before.

Indeed- I have discovered that you can actually search a document for blank space, or other characters, http://word.mvps.org/faqs/general/FindingSpecialCharacters.htm so instead of using my macro I have just highlighted an example the characters I wanted to search for (which shows as three white spots together) and done a 'search and replace'. This did not work on the paragraph symbol that preceded them, but at least now I only have to manually delete that instead of four characters each time.

Et voila! apparently the soft return is called a 'manual line break' and this page tells you how to search and replace https://forum.openoffice.org/en/forum/viewtopic.php?t=42189
Hooray!

Openoffice


After wrestling for some time with various mysterious white space problems in Word I decided to try using OpenOffice instead, which is a simple free program very similar indeed to Word.  Having stripped out all the coding, as described in my previous post, I pasted the stripped HTML into an  OpenOffice Template that I downloaded from Catnip4writers .

This seems to be working OK so far. You have to remember to select OpenOffice when opening the document. Crude but effective. And I shall be keeping an eye on what happens when I add breaks, which seemed to cause unexpected spaces to appear when I was using Word.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Using the proof reading tool in Word

I found a useful proof reading tool in Word, by clicking on an icon to see what it was. Turns out it was "Checking for proofing errors" and it ran through the document looking for double spaces. Apparently you don't use a full stop for Mr or Mrs, for instance, and it was even quite clever at guessing names and places, although it had never heard of 'emigrate' which seemed a bit bizarre.

Removing all formatting from a complicated Word document including margins and headers

I have spent the last few weeks trying to sort out my document, which is a very complicated Word document originating from about twenty smaller files merged together and worded on over eight years. I decided to use paste it into an HTML converter (Blue Griffon which I happened to have about my person) and in HTML my document was revealed to have over 4,000 lines of coding before the text began. Not good! However much I faffed about some margins and header spacing seemed to have a text wrapping mind of their own, probably, but not necessarily reflected in one of those 4,000 lines of code, but which one?

 Having played about with the concept of using styles instead of embedded paragraph coding, which is obviously the correct way to ensure consistency and to control things centrally, I decided to take a deep breath and remove all coding from my document. This would mean losing the embedded index and reference hyperlinks, (gulp) and all my nice header and footer formatting that I had worked on for months. But, look on the bright side, all that work was not in vain because now I understand a lot more about styles and now my document will, hopefully, be neat and clean at the end of the process. I did think about using La Tex instead of Word in future, but apparently although this is good for HTML documents it does not work well with Createspace. Go with the devil you know (will I regret this???)

 To remove all code I discovered there was a choice of some nice downloadable Word add-ins but also some even easier online web pages. On the online web pages you just paste in your text and it spits out a clean version. I discovered a very nice site where you could configure exactly what you wanted left in, but after an hour today I could not find that site again, sadly (should have bookmarked it). Nonetheless I did discover a similar online site, http://www.cleanuphtml.com/cleanup.html that takes all your text and converts it to a blob of HTML. I cut and pasted this blob into my createspace template, removed the few lines of HTML code at the beginning and end of the text, highlighted everything, selected 'normal' as a style, modified paragraphs in 'normal' to 'block' justification, and behold, I am confronted with a 193 page block of text containing everything I ever wrote over 8 years.

Now all it needs is a little massage (should take about six weeks or so, at four hours a week???????) and perhaps we will end up with some sort of presentable product. If anyone has any theories as to how this process could be improved, please let me know.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Drowning

I've reached a point where my book seems a complete irrelevence. I can't edit my website, my friends can't or won't edit their website, some people haven't answered my emails about picture permissions. I have no how I am going to publish this book at all.  For weeks I have been waking up sweating at the thought of it and trying to forget about it and get on with some sort of a life. Not really succeeding.

Friday, 4 April 2014

2014 The Matador self-publishing conference

Last Saturday I attended the Matador Self-publishing conference in Leicester University’s excellent Stamford Court Conference Centre.Talks were as follows:
Keynote speech: Alysoun Owen, Editor of the Writers & Artists’ Yearbook, (the bible of all writers)
Alysoun gave the keynote speech and talked about the history of self-publishing from Jane Austen onwards, stressing how modern trends had meant that the despised ‘vanity publishers’ were different to many modern self-publishing companies, and, as it says in the Writers and Artists yearbook, there is “a new breed of self-publishing companies who offer authors a kind of halfway house between conventioinal self-publishing and the commercial kind.  Of these, the company that has gone the furthest is Matador.”and stressing how well respected Matador were within the book industry because of their high standards and of the work they put in to ensure that their author’s books were successful.

Work successfully with booksops and libraries to sell your book: Sarah Taylor of Matador,
Sarah explained how Matador worked together with bookshops and libraries to promote books. Unlike most self publishing companies Matador have a dedicated sales representation team who liaise ‘on a daily basis’ with bookshops Waterstones and WH Smiths and they also use Star Book Sales to represent them.
The basis of a good publicity campaign (apart from writing a good book in the first place) was:
·         to have good bibliographical data available via the ISBN which should be produced 22 weeks in advance, includes pricing: ensure that bookshops can make a 30-60% mark up, ie. at least £7.99 for a paperback.
·         Ensure distribution lines are set up and are clearly defined in all publicity: you should arrange an account with Gardners and Bertrams. She also mentioned Askews in Hull who supplied booksellers. Maggie Boyd mentioned Holts. Bookshops will not buy print on demand books as they are not available on a sale or return basis.
·         An advance Information sheet produced 20 weeks in advance of publication so that bookshops can be aware of the book and can order it in advance so that they can have it in stock before the launch. This should contain an image of the final cover
·         Liaise with the Bookseller magazine to see if you can get the book listed in ‘category previews’
·         Cultivate a relationship with your local bookshops
·         Try to get listed as part of Waterstones’ or WH Smith ‘core stock’ (quite difficult)
·         Arrange events and book signings
·         Arrange reviews and media marketing

Maggie Boyd of Leicestershire Library Services took the second half of this section: she said that very few librarians these days are involved in stock selection since most was bought systematically through the library supplier Dawsons. She had bought a book recommended by one author through a series of lucky co-incidences: the book was relevant, the self-published author had phoned her and followed through on her offer to send a review copy enclosing a stamped and addressed return envelope, Maggie had happened to have the book in her bag when she was stuck in a coffee shop, the book was relevant to a campaign that the library was running (books by prescription.) Another author’s offered book was relevant too: magical vets fitted exactly  with the Big Read theme for that year and the library put it on the Big Read reading list and ordered 92 copies (but that was published by Penguin).
She also stressed the importance of appeal, respect, trust, partnership and determination:
For books of Local interest authors could supply a review copy for approval, thorugh the Local Studies Books for Consideration procedure.  There was some County wide support for local authors and publishers through a local authors and publishers group SALT. If books were likely to attract media interest they would be bought. Email publicity was not effective though and would be deleted.
Books had to be in a format that made it easy for libraries to use (not spiral bound) and should be relevant beyond the author’s immediate circle. Libraries were wary of ordering material that might have a hidden agenda such as certain religious propaganda. Library champions were particularly welcomed.

Polly Courteney From Self-publishing to mainstream and back again. (see my previous post)

Promoting your book to online booksellers. Steve Potter from Wordery
Steve explained that once your book was available via online bookstores (this happened automatically with Wordery as they linked from ISBN data, for Amazon you could take part in the Amazon Advantage program, where books were listed at an agreed discount). Play,com and Kobo (both owned by Japanese company Rakuten)   were other very important worldwide sites. Ebay was another important marketplace.
Marketing hard copies should be aimed not only at libraries and booksellers but also gift shops, garden centres, National Trust shops etc.
It was important to get a book prominently reviewed on the Goodreads.com site
The English Speaking book market included not only England and America but also Ireland, Australasia, India and South America.
Patience and perseverance were vital.
If you send an email to a newspaper journalist you should contact them again to see if they read it.
Web pages could include a lot of media content and this was the vital part because the more readers could find out about a book the more likely they were to buy it. It was particularly advantageous to have the “look inside” content (he called this online video content) which could include a first chapter. Bookshops also liked to be able to offer bookmarks and flyers and should be shown a copy of the press release. On ebay you could and should customise a wholeebwbpage to promote your product.
Authors should interact with industry news hashtags such as @twitteruki-sme. @newscred, @marketingUK and @lisaDMyer and @kingarst and should keep retailers informed of any developments relating to a book. Radio interviews were a very powerful way of reaching readers and retailers should be informed of such events in advance so that they could stock up.
Authors should be aware of any anniversaries or prescient events relating to their books and should utilise this in their publicity materials. Digital Marketing conferences and Social media were important too and all publicity should link to a route to buying the book.

Lucy Mansfield the Wordery Marketing Manager led the next section: she mentioned affiliation schemes where online bookstalls such as Amazon paid you if someone linked to your website. Social networking media included pinterest, twitter, facebook, (she mentioned the advantages of shortening your URL’s using Tinyurl) bookmarking sites such as stumbleupon, reddit for social news feeds, and tweetdeck and hootsuite( which helps you pre-schedule tweets), blogger, wordpress, tumblr and wix.com. Media sharing sites included Youtube and vimeo.
Posts should be a third industry news, a third personal information showing your human side and a third about things you want to promote.

Clive Barker of Nielson Bookdata spoke next and I have blogged his post In my blog Anna Martin’s Library Spiel.
Over lunch I met Cambridge based editor Cressida Downing, and during the lunchbreak I met some authors: @DJBowmanSmith who explained how she was publicising her book using Twitter and Blogger, also fiercely eloquent retired school teacher Robin Chambers who was passionate about his own child wizards books which he described as “Far better than Harry Potter” – although he had been a published author in the 1970’s he found it impossible to even submit his manuscript to any publishers and described the inefficiencies of the three agents he had tried to persuade to read his book. All of the people I met seemed like sensible people with good products to offer, and the self-publishing option did seem like a very sensible move forward for them.

There was a select amount of free and helpful publicity material available from related companies, from short run book printers such as Orbital Print of Sittingbourne, 40 years old company TJ International book manufacturers, cornerstones literary consultancy (somewhere between structural editors and pre-literary agent agents) University Of York Online postrgraduate diploma in creative writing, and, of course, lots of information from Matador themselves including the very excellent indeed ‘Guide to self publishing with Matador’ which was a free 57 page beautifully produced little book (purporting to retail for £3.99) which really was an excellent description of all the stages involved in self-publishing and explained how Matador would handle each stage of the bewildering process

I was sorry not to have attended the session on how to (or whether to) choose your self-publishing company but delegates over lunch told me that the talk had described how a few of the old vanity publishing companies were still around who advertised for authors, just told them that everything they wrote was brilliant and did not need changing at all, and did not provide many services.


At the end of the conference I was left inspired but rather overwhelmed by the difficulty of making a name for oneself and one’s product in the wide world. The world is a big place and it is very difficult to do all these things in person, particularly marketing and distributing to booksellers on a bulk basis for several authors at once. so it did indeed seem to make excellent sense to employ a company who can schedule everything and help you through the complicated process. They stressed that it was important to ask around and get a sense of which services were offered and to get some quotes. I asked Matador if they offered any promotional activities in America, such as those offered by Merrimack, the company I have had some dealings with, and he said that Matador books are available in America

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Conventional publishing or self-publishing? (Matador Self-publishing conference)

I recently went to a talk by Polly Courtney who explained that she had decided to self-publish with Matador after being frustrated by her treatment by conventional publishers. Courtney, who estimates having sold 100,000 books in all, explained the fascinating story of how she became a writer after collecting anecdotes about the cut-throat world of city banking when she decided to quit, which was later made into the book Golden Handcuffs.  She wrote her first books whilst still working part time as a consultant.

She explained how a structural editor suggested she should transform her book from fact to fiction, but then other editors did not like the banking aspect and wanted her to transform her book to a book about how a banker shops. She was unhappy with the titles and covers of her books. She discussed the difficult balance between acccepting the advice of experts and going with your own gut feelings. Structural editors, she explained, could give you advice on how to structure a book, in contrast to line editors who checked facts and suggested changes in grammar and sentence structure.

It struck me that Polly was in a much stronger position to have the luxury of going it alone after she had had already made her name with the support of the conventional publishers and that her initial decision to go with a conventional publisher was quite a wise one, even in the light of events.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Genres: The world of Steampunk revealed

Today for my teabreak I decided to investigate the world of steampunk with a view to finding an audience for my book about real life steam punk Dionysius Lardner. In case you've not heard of it, steampunk is a design genre, much in the same way as heavy metal, goth or emo.

The world of steampunk seems to interact seamlessly with the world of Second Life, where several steampunk memes such as New Babbage, the Primgraph and a predeliction for drinking Absnthe seem to find their origin or at least reside.

Steampunk is a genre of fiction writing too: the site Steamed features many authors and Goodreads  itself lists 576 best steampunk books including HG Wells's The Time Machine and Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which, come to think of it, does make sense, somehow, as they both feature both Victorians and futuristic fictional or non-fictional feats of engineering, and daring adventuring, which are major themes. Apart from those two I haven't read any of them. 574 to go then. And I'm not that hot on fiction anyway. That's a bit daunting- does that mean I can't be a steampunk afficianado after all? I do like Studio Ghibli cartoons though, and a lot of them feature weird things that fly and people wearing goggles, and brave women dressed in Edwardian Garb. And I have long been an admirer of Sydney Padua's wonderful Babbage and Lovelace cartoons.

Anyway, it occurred to me that it might be good to have a book launch at a steampunk event, and I had to laugh with recognition when I Googled "steampunk convention" and looked at the artwork and typography for the fabulous posters for the World Steampunk Fair. Attending this event will now, I see, be a Mecca to aim for in my future plans and I suspect my daughter will be just as keen (although she'll pretend she doesn't know me there of course). And its second sentence of the advertisement reads "welcome one and all, welcome steampunks, welcome people who aren't steampunk at all" so that might include me somewhere in that spectrum I hope.

Just as well Babbage can't hear my brass band though.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

When to buy in professional help

As mentioned in my past post, I have decided to buy professional publishing services from Merrimack Media together with Crowdpublishr. In some ways this goes against all my training and the advice that I have often heard: you should never be asked to hand over any money to a publisher. Self publishing is traditionally frowned upon in the publishing industry and is given the term 'vanity publishing'. Moreover the sums involved are not to be sniffed at: I have just agreed to pay what I would normally only spend on a car once in three years, probably the biggest expense I will ever make, short of buying a house or sending my children to University (or selling them as slaves).

Self- publishing is very 'big' these days now that everyone has Windows and Open Office at their fingertips, and any attempt to control quality in the industry is pretty futile. It has been said that there are more people writing books than there are reading them, hence the title of this blog: "of the making of books there is no end" - Ecclesiastes 12v12. It seems unwise to rush to join this herd of shabby lemmings as they foolhardily propel themselves headlong towards the book market void.

Despite all this, I am remarkably happy about the transaction and have seldom felt more sure about anything. The Times, they are a Changing, as Dylan would remind us. Indeed, I have quite deliberately chosen to follow the self-publishing route rather than have to negotiate some dubious deal with a mercurial publisher whom I might never have heard from again and who would own rights over my pride and joy that has taken me ten years to craft. A publisher and an agent have rights to a cut of all future earnings, whereas if you pay a set amount in advance for each service at least you know where you stand and the expense is paid and although crowdpublishr do take a cut of the profits it is less than that taken by publishers. I was advised on this by some friends who published a best-selling children's book and only made them £20,000 which they considered a derisory sum (!) They published the next book themselves. I must remember to ask them how it did.

Coming from the UK I really know absolutely nothing about the American book market, although I fondly imagine that I know quite a lot about the English and Irish markets. Moreover, publishing a book alone is quite an isolating business and one needs wise mentors and battle scarred generals to proffer advice and designing expertise. What is more, if you are going to publish a book in America, legally you have to have an address in America to whom the tax bill can be sent.

Once you have decided you need  some advice - how to market a book in the States, what to send to whom, and when, how to present yourself, whether or not to set up a pre-order system, and unknown unknowns- how do you identify a trustworthy company who have the necessary qualities you seek, but charge a price that you can afford?

I was very fortunate here in that I managed to stumble across Merrimack Media and Crowdpublishr whilst trying to identify an artist for my cover, and through this connection I trusted them. Merrimack have a good track record with scores of books in their list which are listed on Amazon and on the  Library of Congress website. I have so far found them to be knowledgeable, attentive, fast and just nice people do do business with. I am very happy about my decision and look forward to discovering what the future months hold for my book and myself.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Making a publishing plan

I have lately begun some negotiations with Merrimack Media, a company based in the Merrimack Valley, which stretches between Massachausets and New Hampshire. This is to help me understand and break into the American market from the UK where I am based.

Merrimack have an impressive back catalogue, judging from a search of the Library of Congress catalogue and an Amazon search.

Looking at their website I see that they are organising what looks like an excellent conference in Conneticut, which explains all the things I need to know about self-publishing, namely:
  • Get a well-designed cover to attract your audience
  • Distribute your book using online, bookstore and other channels.
  • Generate publicity using social media, book readings, PR, book reviews and more
  • Build an online presence with a WordPress blog and and website
  • Harness the power of social media
  • Develop a media kit and sell sheet
  • Develop your own WordPress website
  • Make a video trailer
  • Crowd-fund your book
  • Make a plan for success
Merrimack charge for their services and take a cut of the royalties of the book too, which seems a bit like having your cake and eating it. Nevertheless, I believe they will give good personal attention to my project, and get the job done well, which is the main thing that I want.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Crowdfunding a book

Today (OK- in my lunchbreak) I have been looking into crowdfunding. Recently there has been a surge in self- publishing and this can be an expensive business. Here is where crowdfunding can help. A UK company, Unbound, offer a service where authors can submit an idea for a book, set a funding target and then try to raise funding for the project. Once the target is raised the book is published by Unbound and 50% of the profits go to the author. This compares well with the 5-10% profits offered to authors by traditional publishing companies. It takes a lot of hassle out of the self-publishing process. Other companies such as the US based Crowdpublishr have taken up the mantle and are offering similar services. You can read more here. see also Crowdscribed.
This concept is similar to the model, familiar to publishers from Regency period onwards, of publishing by subscription.
Nevertheless, 50% of your profits is a large amount. If you are a control freak and are happy to build your own publicity website you could just use a normal microfunding site such as Kickstarter.

Marketing, of course is the key question here. A big company might or might not be far more effective in publicising your book than a lone author. Is it worth paying someone to publish your book and if so, who and how much? It might be that companies like Crowdpublishr could be a great help in this area.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Marketing: the Advance Information Sheet

The Publishers Association gives some information about how to create an Advance Information Sheet.  This was traditioinally sent out to bookshops and distributors six to nine months before a book is published, so that they can pre-order stock.

The Writers and Artist's yearbook suggests several ways in which one can find the names of the correct journalists to write to for publicity.

Setting up a business

I decided to set myself up as a publishing company. I'm not really sure why I am doing this, except that I've always wanted to run my own business like my father did. I almost did so a few years ago, and looked into how to do it, and it looked interesting and useful. So I am taking a bit of a leap in the dark here. The main aim at the moment is to learn and practice how to run a small business and to end the year in credit and to publish my book.

The British financial year starts, I think, on 6th April, so I think that will be the official start date of my business and I have applied to my usual bank to set up a business account there. That will mean that the finances of the publishing enterprise are kept separate from my personal finances, which will make them more transparent. They give free banking for 18 months to startups.

You have to register with the British UK for self-assessment for tax purposes.

The Publishers' Association give some advice on starting out as a publisher

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

More about marketing

Here are some interesting blogs about marketing books:
The Book Designer

“Develop an audience of people who like your writing so you can sell enough copies on the first day to get your book up to the top of Amazon, where it will then get more attention,” suggests Culwell on the Publisher's Weekly site.

The Publishers Weekly site quotes extensively from “  Lori Culwell, author of How to Market a Book and founder of BookPromotion.com. It is important to collect a mailing list and allow potential users to leave their details and you can have a form on your blog page to do that: such as,:
- MailChimp (free and good for basic email list)
- aWeber (costs $1 to sign up)
- iContact (works well for both beginners and more advanced lists)
- Benchmark Email (can add video and image customization)
- Constant Contact (allows for XHTML and other design elements)
 
"There are also numerous sites where an author can promote his or her eBook, often through targeted giveaways, including Addicted to eBooks, Free eBooks Daily, or FreeBooksy. Worthwhile outlets for hosting giveaways for print books are Goodreads and LibraryThing."
 
 

Friday, 31 January 2014

Building a publicity website

I've decided to build a website using Gimp, BlueGriffon and an internet server company that is cheap and run by someone I know. The obvious alternative is to use Wordpress, which makes very good looking sites, or Joomla or Drupal, but these create Knowledge Management sites and are quite overglorified for my current needs.  I spent several months of spare time experimenting with Wordpress sites hosted on another host company last year and something always went wrong, so I think it is quite good to do a simple site that I have created myself from scratch (as I have done successfully in the past).

I am using this webtutorial in how to lay out a website using Photoshop (I will use Gimp which is pretty similar) because I like the look if the website that he is laying out. Once I have made the website components in Gimp I will upload them to my server site using either BlueGriffon or FTP, which are processes I am vaguely familiar with from last year (when I was using NVU, an older version of BlueGriffon). I might not need BlueGriffon at all in fact.

Amendum: After  debating this issue for some time I decided that I really needed professional help in designing a cover and a website and that paying for this would be money well spent. It is of paramount importance to have a professional looking cover and website. The current plan is that the web developer is going to follow a Joomla template.

ps In the end I decided that all this was a bit beyond me so I asked a friend to design me a site and he did and its brilliant. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Before you start: Consider Marketing and Distribution

From what I have gathered from my research, the secret of marketing a book seems to be to produce it in the right place to start from. It is really important that people know where to find your book, so it should be on Amazon, as well as listed on the bibliographical lists that libraries and bookshops use when selecting books.

If you want bookshops to stock your book really it should be available via a distributor: in the UK the two that all bookshops use are Gardners or Bertrams, and in the USA the company is Ingrams. So if you self publish, it is good to publish with a company such as Amazon CreateSpace or Lulu or Authorhouse who automatically make your book available via Amazon and get it listed in those important bibliographical databases (in the Uk the British National Bibliography and all books sold in the United States have to have a Preassigned Control Number which you apply for before the book is published and you can only apply if you have an address in America. So again, if you want Americans to buy your book, it is easiest to publish with a firm owned by Ingrams. see the Publisher Association's FAQ on the subject.

There are certain industry standards that all books must fulfil in order to be widely distributed by bookshops using the major distributing companys. Distributing companies list these on their websites but Lulu gives an example of such requirements.

If you publish with a company such as LULU they give you an ISBN so you don't have to worry about that, or they let you use a pre-existing one but that would not be included in their distribution listings so you would lose those benefits/gains.

I am going to a day conference: Troubador's The Second Self-Publishing Conference at the end of March [2014] so that may enlighten me further.

Alison Baverstock's Marketing Your Book: an Author's Guide, ISBN 0713659653 London, A& C Black, 2001 £9.99 may be a bit dated but I am reading it to be going along with. It
contains the brilliant quote:

"I don't read books: there's not enough space in my life.  When I have an empty space in my brain, it's cool, it's OK, I don't want to fill it with anything." - Celine Dion. Sunday Times Magazine, October 1999.

Which confirmed my suspicions.

One of Alison' suggestions is that the British Booksellers Association can provide a list of British Booksellers to whom to send publicity material.

Beginning to produce a book

I have been recently investigating self publishing a book in association with a small Irish scientific publishing house, so it seems sensible to record what I learn on the subject as I go along.

I studied a module entitled 'The Modern Publishing Trade' as part of my degree in Librarianship, and the subject of graphic design an interesting one and since then I have often played about with programs such as Gimp (a free version of Photoshop) and now PicMonkey.

At the moment my book is a huge pdf file created from a Word file, but it is apparently preferable to e a program such as Indesign or Publisher to create a finished document. A good book on InDesign is InDesignCS6 Visual Quickstart Guide by Sandee Cohen, Berkeley, Peachprint press, 2012 ISBN 9780321822536, $34.99 available on Creative Edge (which is a sort of online library that you can belong to for £15 a month apparently. I have a hard copy of the book that my friend lent me.

My friend swears by InDesign but I believe I have Publisher on one of our home computers so I will probably go with that and thus save myself £329.

Another book she has lent me is "Graphic Design School: A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers Working in Print, Moving Image and Digital Media" David Dabner, Sheena Calvert and Anoki Casey, Thames & Hudson, 2010 ISBN 9780500  28634 £14.95