It seemed an enormous step and, after the first few hours of research, I was almost ready to give up. Where to start was the most difficult. How to find, with no recommendations, someone to help print Ellen’s Tale. I had heard all the dread stories of the vanity press and in theory knew what they were. However they do not put a sign up or an animated arrow pointing at themselves declaring ‘Me, me, I’m vanity’.
I spent days surfing, bookmarking various sites, reading, sometimes printing, reams of information from various POD firms. So many differences but all had one thing in common: they cost more than I had. My budget, on a small pension, was miniscule and even the cheapest was more than I could justify on a gamble, and I have never been a gambler.
So what to do? I wasn’t giving up my dream. Always if I’m told I can’t I become more determined that I can. Fortunately I have always enjoyed reading for information and more recently surfing around. I was in the middle of convalescing from major surgery so had plenty of time to spare. Comparing prices and packets I knew I would have to do everything, bar the actual printing, myself.
What did I have to do? Well, edit the book. Not me, I am famous for my lack of spelling ability and my punctuation skills make the grown amongst us shudder. I had a secret weapon though. A ‘bestest’ friend of 50+ years to whom grammar and the correct use of the English language is a joy. We were to have many a tussle in the months ahead!
Okay editing was sorted. What else? A cover. The cost of hiring anyone to do this was way beyond my means but how did one design a book cover? Look at those in the bookshops, I was advised. I did, endlessly, and found no real inspiration, mainly of course because I still didn’t know what kind of book Ellen was. I spent hours looking at royalty free photos, maybe something would trigger an eureka moment. Nothing like a flash occurred but a steady thought that with all the thousand of photographs already in the house surely I could find something amongst them. So now the hours were spent sorting through mine. I was slowly building up a theme I wanted but how to do it I still didn’t know. Well, some kind of photo software would be a start. A friend showed me how to do such clever things on hers, however it never seemed to work when I tried, but maybe it just needed practise! Or maybe desktop publishing software. I am a firm believer in luck and it was just then I received an e-mail with special offers on some software, fairly basic but it was a start. All that was left was to learn how to use it and to have a clear idea on what design I wanted! Easy! No.
DTP was a term I had a lot about in the years of computer owning but it was never anything I had tried. I realise that many reading this will have not only mastered the skills almost before they were weaned and others had switched on and instantly got to grips with their programes. Like many things in life DTP stared blackly back at me and refused to co-operate in any logical way, as far as I could see. I would stare back as blackly and many a ‘wee small hour hours of mornings’ were to see me muttering incoherently in my hot milk ‘why won’t it do it? I don’t understand’. I would emerge red-eyed in the morning determined to try again.
Slowly it began to make sense, slowly a design began to emerge, slowly I began to see a book cover emerge. I had my theme: each book (because by then I had written the first draft of a sequel and had another in my head!!) would indicate some aspect of climate change. Each cover would be anything but pastel, the seeming fashion of the time, I liked colour. I found the picture for the cover of Ellen’s Tale in a petal of a poppy, a photograph I had taken years before and almost discarded.