I just released a book last week (The Easter Hound) using the Kindle Comic Creator (KCC), and it was a breeze. Up to this point, I had delayed jumping into illustrated work because of the digital barriers. It’s true that children’s works do well in printed format, but I didn’t want to begin a project that had absolutely no digital footprint. If you know anything at all about digitizing picture books, then you understand that pictures won’t fit, words may flow to the wrong page, etc, etc. It’s a nightmare! And then I ran across the KCC. This software has been available for awhile, but just hadn’t been on my radar until a few weeks ago.
Let me take you step by step into my process. Once I had a workable manuscript, here’s what I did:
1. Software Installation – In order to install the software on my Mac, I had to download a couple of plug-ins as well, but the process was pretty straightforward. The software is free, by the way. Here’s a link to it.
2. Art Creation – I started this project from scratch using Photoshop Elements. I also have a Bamboo stylus pad that I use to draw with. I went 100% digital, creating the work in Elements from the get go. Some of you may prefer to work in pencil/ink, scan your work, and then trace. That’s cool, too. I set my page size to 1280 x 800 pixels, the maximum size KCC accepts. I decided to create a landscape book, but I could’ve also chosen portrait. There’s also an “un-fixed” mode, where the reader can either hold their device landscape or portrait, but in order to make this work, your artwork would (I’m guessing) either be shrunk down or cut off, depending on how the art was created (unless you developed square-ish pictures). Since I didn’t want those hassles, I picked an orientation and stuck with it. Don’t forget to also make a cover, a title page, and back matter for your copyright info. If you’re already working with existing art, then you’ll have to resize the pages to fit within KCC. They don’t have to be 1280 x 800. They can be any size smaller than this.
3. Dropping in Text – Remember, you’re developing static, unflowable pages. So your text must be placed into your pictures. Since I’d never been both author and illustrator on a project, I found that many of the words I’d put into my story became unnecessary when accompanied by the art. So when you’re writing that manuscript, know that it’s going to shrink since pictures will tell much of your story (or, they should).
4. Formatting – Once I created all my individual pages (the 1280 x 800 canvases) in Elements, I saved them all to jpg format. Then, in KCC, I created a new book. From there, I uploaded a cover and entered in my metadata (author name, publisher, etc.). Then from within the software itself, I “added pages” until I’d loaded all of my jpg’s in the order that I wanted them.
5. Compiling and Previewing – Once my book looked like I wanted it to, I hit the “build and preview” link in the top nav. This built my book into the proper Kindle format. I then scrolled through my book using the Kindle app on my desktop (another piece of software to download).
6. Uploading – When I was ready to publish, I opened up a new project in KDP and uploaded the entire file that the KCC had spit out. Like magic, people.
7. Page previews – I found out the next day that since my project is “fixed” and not moveable the “Look Inside This Book” feature is currently not available (!!!!). So I uploaded the first three pages of my book on the product page (customer photos) to give people an idea of what’s inside. It’s a bummer, but an easy work-around.
The only drawback is that you can’t upload KCC files to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. (duh). BUT! Since all my art is saved in jpg format, I can take those files and compile them using iAuthor (for the Apple Store), import them into Create Space to do a paperback, etc., etc.
Kindle Comic Creator has given me the opportunity to expand my creativity in so many ways. Next, I’m going to illustrate a second picture book and develop a visual reader’s companion for my latest novella, The Tell-Tail Heart, complete with pictures and notes.
If you’re curious about how a picture book looks having been created in KCC (or you’d just like to thank me for this post!), you can buy The Easter Hound on Amazon now for only $1.99.
How about you? Create any projects in KCC? Been thinking about illustrating in the digital age, but been afraid to take the plunge? I’d love to hear from you!