Pictures Aimed At Your Brain

By Dr. Insensitive Jerk


To write a feelustrated novel, you need a good layout editor, a photo editor, and pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

Layout Editor

Feelustration requires a fixed layout. The alternative, reflowable text, will leave your pictures in the wrong places. Sorry.

Fixed layout requires a good layout editor. As of this writing (April, 2017) that means Indesign, by Adobe.

I am not happy about this, because I don't really like Adobe products. However, I spent months trying to get MS Word to handle high-quality images correctly, and export to other formats (PDF and ebooks.) I finally gave up and switched to Serif Pageplus, which I regret. Now Serif has abandoned Pageplus, which is probably for the best, because Pageplus had a hidden gotcha. Only after you had finished writing your book would you notice that you couldn't change its page size, or even move the margins, without re-fitting every page individually.

Like me, you will eventually end up using Indesign. So you might as well bite the bullet early.

Indesign has a huge learning curve (that means it is hard to learn) and lots of idiosyncracies. No save button! But it's the industry standard, and seems able to do just about everything, once you figure out how.

My only other advice is: design your book from the start to be resized. You will want to sell hardcover, softcover, and a variety of ebook formats. So put as much as possible in the master pages. Changing the master page will change all the other pages. Try not to change the text frame size on individual pages, because that will delink them from the master.

Start your resizing experiments early, so you don't end up having to hand-edit every page later.

I have no connection to any of the products discussed on this page, except Gaia's Wasp.

The good news is: your Adobe subscription will also get you Photoshop (another huge learning curve) and a cheap subscription to Adobe Stock, which means pictures for $3 each.

Photo Editor

Pictures usually need editing, to crop and resize if nothing else. And a marginal picture can often be saved by a little retouching.

Since you are suscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud to get Indesign, you might as well go all the way and use Photoshop. But other image editors will work. I used Corel Photopaint for most of the pics in Gaia's Wasp.

Photoshop is a massive learning curve. But it won't take long, until it starts to be fun.

Please do not limit yourself to the feeble tools in MS Paint, even though it's free. If your vision does not deserve power, it does not deserve your time.

Obtaining Pictures

Ideally, you would decide which pictures your book needs, then go outside and take them yourself.

Sometimes you might even do that.

But most of the time, your best bet is to decide what idea your picture should capture, then use that idea as a keyword to search a huge library of pictures.

Fortunately, the world is now filled with amateur photographers who want to see their work used. Free photographs are available on several web sites. I won't give you the whole list, but by far the best (as of this writing) is Pixabay. However, I have found beautiful ponies buried in the crap at Morguefile.

Be sure to check the license terms. The best is CC0, which means free for commercial use without attribution. Beware the various versions of "No Commercial Use" and "Share," which prevent you from making money. That's why I don't use Flikr.

Yes, you will be using other people's work for free, in a book you don't give away free. This is okay. Hobby photographers want to see their work used, or they wouldn't bother to upload it.

But sometimes you just can't find a free picture that captures your idea, so you have to photograph it yourself, or pay.

Several web sites offer huge libraries of images for sale at a fixed price (no royalties.) You don't want to hassle with royalty payments, and you don't have to.

I won't give you a complete list of for-pay image sites, but here are a few tips.