New Manuscript in Full Gear

My new Catholic cosmology blog is dynamically driving the new manuscript. Seven chapters already down on paper. Now preparing to write the chapter on Providence and Order in the Universe. Promises to be a difficult task. It’ll take a while. I’ll let you know when I finish the first draft.

Changed the working title from “The Heavens Proclaim the Glory of God” to “God Seen in His Universe.” At least two already published books have the title taken from Psalm 19:1. The new title is that of my astronomy blog.

Also, trying to choose the front cover image. So far, two possibilities: the visible version of “The Mystic Mountain, Pillars and Jets: HH 902-903 or Eagle Nebula, “Pillars of Creation.” Both are very powerful cover graphics, highlighting the sheer power of Almighty God’s handiwork. Which of the cover images below would you choose: #1, “The Mystic Mountain,” or #2, “Pillars of Creation,” and your reason(s) for your choice. Please send your comments. I’d be interested in your input.

Choice #1, “Mystic Mountain.”

Choice #2, “Eagle Nebula, “Pillars of Creation.”


Now Here is a Professional eBook Cover!

In my April 27th post, I talked about experimenting with creating eBook cover art on MS PowerPoint.

Less than an hour ago, I received from my daughter, Meg, the file for her very powerful and professional cover of my soon-to-be-published third eBook, There Are No Molecules in God, Book One: God is One.

On seeing it, my immediate, spontaneous reaction blew me back in my chair! I could never have imagined such a dramatic title heading, so befittingly symbolizing God’s majesty and power.

I am in awe of her talent.

Do-It-Yourself eBook Cover Design

In an experiment today, I found that, in a pinch, I could design my own eBook covers for upload on the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and publishing sites, using Microsoft PowerPoint.

It is no big deal. If I can do it, anybody can do it! Here is how:

On your start menu, click on Microsoft Works. On the MS Works Menu, click on PowerPoint 2007.

When you get to MS PowerPoint 2007, click on the design tab. On the Design menu, click on Slide Orientation, then on Portrait icon.

Next, click on the Insert tab, then on on the Picture icon. Then, in the Pictures Library, locate and upload the .jpg image for your cover.

In the Picture Tools mode that opens when you upload the image, you can “bleed” the photo off the edge of the cover by dragging the boxes on each side of the photo to the edges. When you click on the image, PowerPoint goes into Picture Tools mode.

When you click the Format tab in the Picture Tools mode, it offers many other tools to help you to work with your photo. If you want it to be background for your book title and author name, click on “Send to Back” in the Arrange section of the Format tab. Then text boxes will appear to let you format your title, author name and subtitle text. The text boxes are movable.

At this point, click on the Design tab to choose your text Theme.

For the fonts, I chose the Office Classics theme, which features Arial heads and New Times Roman text styles, after clicking the “Fonts” button to the far right of the Themes section. I chose to use New Times Roman all caps for my title and subtitle, and New Times Roman, caps and lower case for my author name.

To make them stand out against the busy background, in the Home tab, I chose the white color for the title and subtitle font, then superimposed the bright yellow over it. In the lower text box for my author name, I chose again the white color, then superimposed a bright red color over it.

To convert the MS PowerPoint slide into a .jpg image, after saving my slide as a PowerPoint file, I clicked the file orb in the top left-hand corner and selected “Save As”. When the “Save As” box opened, I move down the menu to the last choice, “Other Formats”, and when it opened, I clicked the downward arrowhead to the far right of the “Save as Type” box, and changed it from “PowerPoint Presentation” by scrolling down to “JPEG File Interchange Format”. Then I clicked on the “Save” button, and when asked if I wanted to save this slide or all slides, I clicked on “Save this Slide”. My cover art now was saved as a .jpg image.

Here’s how it turned out:

The Importance of an eBook Cover Design

The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” never rang truer than when applied to a professional cover design for an eBook.

The visual effect of a stunning graphic, enhanced by skillful placment of attractive, legible typography for the book title, subtitle, byline and descriptive text on the book’s imaginary front cover speaks volumes about the quality and professionalism of the book’s contents. In the mind of the potential buyer, it goes a long way toward closing the sale by making the book worth every penny of its retail price — a bargain, in fact.

With all three of my eBooks, the two that have been published and the third, which is about to be submitted to all three publishers, I have been extremely fortunate to have our daughter Meghan, as my art director and graphic designer. Each time, I would e-mail to her the chosen graphic, the text for the cover and the cover image specifications of Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and; each time she would return to me the finished .jpg image, ready to upload to the conversion process. I am equally fortunate that Meghan majored in graphic design at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, after which she has served as graphic designer and/or art director for St. Louis Business Journal,The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rochester Magazine, The Hamptons Magazine, Gotham Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine. She now raises our first grandson, while she freelances from home for two of her former employers to design special projects. Thumbnails of her cover designs for my three books are shown above.

If, unlike me, you have the talent and skill to design your own book covers, you are very fortunate indeed. If, however, you are like me, why not shop around for a talented, but affordable graphic designer in your area, who has the documented training and experience to put a sense of what lurks in your manuscripts into pleasing visuals on your product covers. Perhaps there are colleges, universities or graphic arts schools in your area. Contact their human resources departments in your search for an affordable, talented graphic designer for your covers. Otherwise, check your local or regional Yellow Pages under the headings “Advertising Agencies and Counselors” or “Graphic Designers”.

OR, if you are handy with Microsoft PowerPoint, you might try this experiment I just did per an article by Danny Pollard published at

Here is how my experiment turned out:  

Regardless of who is designing and producing the product cover, there are certain requirements for the finished product that I submit to my three publishers: Kindle, Nook (PubIt!) and Smashwords. Here are the specs for each:

Amazon Kindle Specs: 

Must be .tiff or .jpg image, ideally 500 pixels wide x 1200 pixels high to be displayed digitally on the various sizes of Kindle screens at 72 dpi (dots per inch), using the  RGB (Red-Green-Blue) color mode.

Barnes and Noble (PubIt!):

The maximum viewing size of the nook screen is 600 x 730 pixels. Images should be optimized for web delivery and can either be .png, .jpg or .gif. The choice of format is optional and should be based on a compromise of image quality and file size. Typically, .gif supports a maximum of 256 colors while .jpg supports 16.7 million; .png supports 24-bit color. Cover images typically range between 500 pixels x 600 pixels to 600 pixels x 730 pixels.


A product inage is absolutely necessary for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. It must be a .jpg or .png image file, ideally 500 pixels wide x 800 pixels high, to be displayed digitally at 72 dpi, using the RGB color mode. The cover should include the book title and author’s name (a descriptive subtitle and refernce to one or two previously published titles by the author, may also be useful). Since the lonline bookstores use your cover to merchandise your book, it should be a book-like cover, the shape of a vertical rectangle, approximately 500 pixels wide by 700 pixels high. Images cannot be square (e.g., for CDs or DVDs) or three-dimensional.

Author’s Note: If your designer is unfamiliar with the size of these digital specs at 72 dots per inch, there are online conversion sources that will translate the digital dimensions, say, 500 pixels wide by 700 pixels high at 72 dpi into inches on the computer or eReader screen.

The Importance of an ISBN for Your eBook

Recently, I stumbled on an online article entitled How to Become a Kindle Author. Its unnamed author explained in the article that, when publishing on Kindle, it is unnecessary to obtain an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for your Kindle eBook since it is assigned an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identifier Number) by Amazon, which is the sole distributor of the Kindle edition. Barnes and Noble doesn’t require an ISBN.

However, what about eBook authors who publish with other publishers (e.g., Smashwords) in order to maximize their chances for worldwide book sales? If an eBook author wishes to make his/her book available to all eReader and iReader devices, it would seem prudent to publish with at least one eBook publisher/distributor which offers the ISBN option.

According to Mark Coker, CEO of, the ISBN is so essential to acceptance by two of Smashwords’ largest retail partners, Apple and Sony, he requires an ISBN for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. Once an eBook is accepted for inclusion in this catalog, which is distributed electronically to major eBooksellers as well as eReader and iReader bookstores worldwide, the author can choose to let Smashwords be the book publisher and obtain the ISBN at no cost, or to retain the title of publisher, and pay only $9.95 for the ISBN.

I noticed that most, if not all, online booksellers offer in their book search boxes the ISBN code as one of the suggested indentifiers to use in order to find quickly the exact book that a customer is looking for. Indeed, its use as the unique identifier of any book published worldwide would make it the searcher’s best bet.

Three caveats, though: (1) you cannot use the same ISBN for your eBook as you do for your print edition of the same title; (2) you cannot use the same ISBN for your Smashwoords edition of an eBook for any other version (e.g., Kindle or Nook editions) of the same eBook title; and (3) after Smashwords “ships” a specific ISBN eBook title to retailers, the ISBN for that book cannot be changed.