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Subject: Re: [docbook-apps] ANNOUNCE: new solar book produced using Docbook

Hi Bob,

Amazon says your book is in the mail and I should have it by Saturday.  Looking forward to reading it!



On Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 5:16 PM, Bob Stayton <bobs@sagehill.net> wrote:
You know me as the author of DocBook XSL: The Complete Guide.  Now I have written another book on a completely different topic: solar energy.  Since I produced my new book using DocBook, I'm taking this opportunity to tell the DocBook community about it, and I describe how I produced it at the end of this message.  Replies about the DocBook process can go to the whole list if you think it's appropriate.  If you want to reply about the book's content, please reply just to me so we don't burden the mailing list.

I'm pleased to announce that my book Power Shift: From Fossil Energy to Dynamic Solar Power has been unleashed from its long development and is now available to the world.  If you have any interest in solar energy, then you should read this book.

Climate change researchers sometimes paint a bleak picture of our current global-warming crisis, but rarely explain how we got into this predicament in the first place and how we get out of it. Now, for the first time, my new book does just that. Power Shift retells human history through the lens of energy, explains the science behind the crisis--in clear, succinct language that anyone can understand—and provides a detailed blueprint for the future, from governmental, commercial, and individual perspectives.

Wondering if the book is any good?  Here is what others are saying:

"Solar is surging all of a sudden, and if you read this comprehensive
book you’ll understand why!" -- Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"An energy book that is a pleasure to read" -- Kirkus Reviews

"visionary and brilliant" -- NASA Researcher Joe Jordan

"Exceptionally well written" -- Midwest Book Review

"lucid, convincing" -- Denis Hayes, organizer of the first Earth Day

"points the way to a clean energy future" -- California Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird

or check out the reader reviews on Amazon

After teaching solar energy for many years, I spent over 15 years researching and writing this book, all while living the life in the off-grid solar home we built. This is my lifework.

It has been a long road to publication.  I handed out the first draft in January 2000, and many things have changed since then. Now I get to report on solar energy's success instead of just wishing for it.  I'm self publishing the book, because as an unknown author I could not interest a publishing company, and because they don't offer much in the way of marketing for new authors anyway.  So I started my own publishing company, Sandstone Publishing (www.sandstonepublishing.com), whose catalog contains exactly one book.

Now I get to market my book, an activity for which I am totally unsuited.  My low-budget marketing plan consists of getting good reviews, and word of mouth.  So if you read the book and like it, please write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, and tell your friends and family about it.  Even climate skeptics can get something out of this book.

The book is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon, in paperback and Nook Book at Barnes & Noble,  in iBooks at the Apple iTunes Store and in Kobo from Kobo Books. And if you can't afford one, convince me and I'll give you an Ebook copy.  8^)

By the way, although you know me as Bob Stayton, I'm publishing the book under my full name Robert Arthur Stayton as a gesture to honor my father Chester Arthur Stayton, Jr. and my grandfather Chester Arthur Stayton, Sr., with whom I share my middle name.

Producing Power Shift with DocBook

I wrote the book in DocBook 5 using XMetal 7.  I started off writing it in modular fashion, but found that it got in the way of continuity.
This isn't technical documentation, after all.  8^)   So I merged all the files into one big book file and finished the book that way.  That allowed me to easily find something for cross referencing and to keep the narrative flow moving. Searches for indexterms were much easier in a single file, and I used XMetal macros to assist with inserting indexterms.

I hired a book designer for the interior and implemented the specs from the InDesign file she gave me in DocBook XSL.  From that I could generate the PDF for the book's interior.  I had hoped to be able to show you the page design by referring to the Look Inside the Book feature on Amazon, but for some reason they put the Kindle version in there and I have not been able to reach the right person at Amazon to replace it with the PDF version I submitted to them two weeks ago.  One of the many trials of working with automated publishing vendors.

For the cover, I started with a cover template in InDesign that I generated from Lightning Source, which is the print-on-demand vendor that I'm using.  They provide a form to enter the book's dimensions, paper type (which determines thickness), and page count, and they generate an InDesign template for the cover spread (back cover on left, spine in center, front cover on the right).  I could then fill in the text in the appropriate boxes. I left the cover in InDesign rather than try to implement it in DocBook.  From InDesign I produced the PDF for the cover.

Then it was just a matter of setting up the book at Lightning Source and submitting the two PDFs.  Since I already had an account at Lightning Source for my DocBook book, I just had to add another book.  If you are new self publisher, they will likely try to push you over to Ingram Spark, their service that is intended for self-publishers with little publishing experience.  Lightning Source does much less hand holding than Spark.

Lightning Source has some specific requirements for the PDF files you submit.  All fonts must be embedded, including those of any SVGs you insert.  They also came back and said the cover colors were too rich and had to be scaled back.  I was able to fix all the PDF issues using PhotoShop and Acrobat Pro's Preflight tools.

In January of this year I ordered the first Advance Reading Copies (ARC) to send to reviewers that want the book months before publication so they can write a review.  The ARC version predated the final copy edit, the index, and other final details.   The great thing about print-on-demand is that I could order only as many copies as I needed.  In April I completed the final revisions in XMetal and submitted my revised PDFs.  It cost only $40 each to update the book block and the cover.  Once I approved the test book, Lightning Source arranges for the book to be posted on Amazon and listed in Books-in-Print.

I also used the DocBook tools to produce Ebook versions with the epub3 stylesheet.  I ended up producing four different epub3 flavors for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Kobo.  They differ mostly in the CSS used, because their readers are not at all consistent about how CSS is handled.  It reminded me of the bad old days of HTML browser incompatibilities.  I then had to set up accounts on each of the systems to become an Ebook seller.  The biggest pain was iBooks, because Apple *requires* you to use an Apple computer to run the software they use to manage iBooks.

Just when you think you are done, you realize that no one is buying your book because no one knows about it.  So I had to start a whole new career as book marketeer.  Not much help from DocBook there.
Bob Stayton
Sagehill Enterprises

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