Month: June 2017

Self-Publishing Part 8: While Still Preparing the Book, a Seedling Platform Aims for an Agent, Proper

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

Each iUniverse STAR title gets a personal agent: the iUniverse STAR Program’s Rights Consultant, a veteran of the book publishing industry. This person presents the book to traditional publishing houses, international publishers, audiobook publishers and book clubs for their consideration. But unlike in the old model of peddling mere manuscripts, when this first gatekeeper, the agent, had to have been approached by a writer, who had convinced the agent that not only did a manuscript have potential, and that there was a market for said manuscript, and that the author was someone the agent, and by extension the publisher, could work with to get that manuscript into the best shape possible, and then would continue to work with the publisher to sell the book after publication.

If the author could convince the agent of all these things, the agent would then take this raw manuscript he or she believed had potential to editors at various publishing houses. At each of these houses, the agent would attempt to convince an editor of these same things—that the manuscript had potential; there was a market for it; and that the author was capable and willing to do what it would take for the manuscript to reach it’s potential and would continue to work with the publisher after that to sell the book. No small order this.

With this new onramp to the Traditional Publishing Path, no author has to approach an agent nor convince anyone to believe in a manuscript, it’s market or the writer’s willingness to work on its success. Once the book has sold enough copies, it gets the agent automatically, no sales pitch needed. Not only is a Star title already written to industry standards, having already gone through the full editing process from developmental, through content and quality editing, the book has been through design and proofreading, with an author who has already worked very hard to not only getting it into the best possible shape but actually selling it.

In this new path, the agent is no longer hocking a manuscript that should sell with sufficient work at all, but a finished book that is already selling.

The pitch is not longer “here’s a manuscript and writer I believe in and think you should give a try”, but “do you want to hitch a ride on this author’s book?”

The system has been turned on its head, creating a completely new, author-controlled (though funded) pathway to traditional publishers and all that that might still mean.

So how does a book get this special treatment?

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Self-Publishing Part 8: While Still Preparing the Book, a Seedling Platform Aims for a Star

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

With the Star designation, iUniverse commits further resources to the book, effectively completing an entirely new, author-controlled onramp to the Traditional Publishing Path.

First, the cover gets reassessed. Not only has this book met industry standards in writing quality and shown a market exists for it, but the book has reached the market and demonstrated an actual demand exists for it. The book has proven it can sell. To make sure the book looks like the seller it is, the cover gets a second Cover Copy Polish. This would include, if necessary a professional editing of the back cover copy and author bio, possibly adding blurbs from reviews it might have gotten, as well as another turn through design, including, at the very least, a new ISBN and a new colophon:

Copy of 230px x 73px – Star designation

The logo changes color, again dependent upon the book’s actual cover, and transforms into a star; the swoop up remains; the matching color dot returns atop the i, and as the book and it’s author are no longer merely rising, the single word Star appears below iUniverse.

If Barnes & Noble had not stocked the book as a Rising Star title, this new, more rewarded version of a now proven title is sent to them again to reconsider stocking on their physical bookstores’ shelves: it is, after all, a new book, with a new ISBN.

Then, additional marketing and publicity support kicks in, such as placement in a separate STAR Program section on the online iUniverse bookstore, and being featured on the main page of the iUniverse Bookstore with a Star icon next to its title. This placement is perhaps best for marketing—I hadn’t known that this bookstore existed before I became a client, but being featured on the front page of a bookstore is something to crow about. Plus the book gets additional promotion through iUniverse’s social media. The Star author also gets access to exclusive publicity services such as a web-optimized press release, and more significantly, opportunities available only to publishers open up for the book: such as iUniverse submitting it to the Clarion Book Review. If the book earns the Star designation within its first year of publication, iUniverse enters it into nationally recognized book award contests such as The Independent Publisher Book Awards (the “IPPY” awards) and the Foreword Book of the Year.

All these benefits all in addition to everything earned by Editor’s Choice, and in the case of A Perfect Blindness, the Rising Star as well.

As good as many of these benefits are, the most important benefit is the transformation of iUniverse’s role: from merely a book’s self-publisher, and part-time promoter, it becomes the book’s full-time agent.

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Self-Publishing Part 8: While Still Preparing the Book, Finding a Major Mistake on the Cover

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

Sure, the cover looked great. The designers followed my instructions and really did a bang up job: Only with the wrong central image.

The problem was that for months I’d been using cover1 to mean a specific image. It was labeled cover1 on FaceBook, labeled cover1 on my desktop. I’d gotten used to cover1 meaning my favorite cover. Period.

But the designers changed my favorite cover’s name to coveralt1 and using cover1 for a different image, so when I directed them to use cover 1 (what had been my and most other people’s favorite) I had inadvertently directed them to use the wrong cover image.

ACK!

Once I figured out the error, I mostly felt annoyed at myself for not double-checking the actual file names.

Careless me. But fixable.

After that round of approved proofreading changes was uploaded, I got a chance to proofread the fixes. As part of any new changes I saw needed, I’d correct the main cover image, as well as trim the back cover text a little.

That’s for later. Then, I was back to waiting.

And asking questions. My contact at the Special Recognitions Board must have surely rolled her eyes with each email I sent her, but I wanted to make the best choices possible, and do whatever I can to help get prepared for the book’s launch.

For anyone who signs up for the mailing list, I created a teaser, a sample of 18 pages from early in each of the three points of view, edited for flow and context, and attached that to the auto-responder for signing up on the mailing list. I worked on buttons and other artwork for emails and pages, teaching myself how to use various stand-alone and online programs, including Canva, which makes graphic design as easy editing a Word document.

Then, on March 1st, I got the new interior, all in PDF, with the proofreader’s corrections made, and laid out exactly as a person who buys the book would see it: gratifying.

Still, this meant more yet work: for the second proofread, I was reading the book cover to cover, and making all the final changes before the book get uploaded to sell for an estimated $23.95 for the softbound Print on Demand version, and about 20% of that as the suggested price for the ebook version, though I have more control over that price than of the physical copy, and haven’t decided on final price yet.

Back to work, rereading this newest version, making any needed changes to the text, submitting a new proofreading form. Then, it was back to waiting, this time for another form to indicate the final changes to the cover; filling out and submitting that form when quickly, and then it was waiting for all these changes to be implemented, so that, finally, a last review of the manuscript and cover can be made, and only then, after the approval of the now final version, will the book go live.

Then the really hard part beings: Selling it.

How the book sells determines whether it will receive the highest designation on the Traditional Publishing Path with iUniverse: Star. This designation recognizes that a minimum number of books have been sold, the specific number depending on the form sold: physical or electronic. Thus, once A Perfect Blindness sells enough copies, it earns the Star designation and then gets the full weight of iUniverse’s help thrown behind it.

Self-Publishing Part 8: While Still Preparing the Book, Growing a Seedling Platform with 25 Pages of Errata

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

One of the things mentioned by the person delivering the Quality Edit was that after the book was typeset, I should have it proofread in it’s final form: things can happen when the conversion is made from MS Word to the typesetting software, and further things might simply come across differently when typeset.

Yeah. (Note the slight frown caught in the corners of the mouth.)

Well, I wasn’t pleased with yet more cash coming out of my pocket, but understood needing the proofread: Nothing like a few typos to steal the spotlight in online comments about the book, and I suspected something could have slipped through if only because of all the unnoticed errors and unseen weaknesses the previous pairs of eyes had so far found.

Because I had cut so many words out after the developmental edit, and had paid for all remaining rounds of edits using the original word count, I had a decent amount of cash due back, and so I applied it to a proofreading, keeping the actual new dollars leaving my pocket rather modest given it’s still a fairly long book.

Perversely, I hoped I’d be wasting that money and the proofread would come back basically empty. After all, it’s been through so many edits plus my own readings.

Instead, I got my money’s worth.

A bit over a week later, the errata came back: 25 pages, stuffed with corrections—about 20 per page—mostly dealing with consistency of formatting, but with an unnerving number of grammar errors.

How could I have not seen these? Most of them are so obvious.

            Of the 500 odd changes, I rejected only 18, and many of those not because a change wasn’t needed, but because the suggested correction wasn’t quite what I wanted or the text needed, and so will have to be made based on a second proofread: mine. There were a few questions for me to answer, and a couple of disagreements on usage, and in once place, an editor finally agreed with something I’ve known for decades the the in The Ohio State University is legally part of the name, thus part of the proper noun, thus capitalized. A small thing, but in this case, one I liked persevering in. Odd what we writers can find pride in, no?

A second grammar correction that editors generally have issues with (after my use of then as a coordinating conjunction) is a period after said/say, when the same person continues speaking. Like this period, used purposefully to indicate long pause made for dramatic effect:

“Look at it this way. She can, for all intents and purposes, live here. For free. Or,” Jonathan says, abruptly stopping the melody. “We can give her the keys and she can start paying some rent.”

The suggested comma after melody, while grammatically correct, is NOT the way Jonathan spoke it. He’s been playing his keyboard, and to accentuate the starkness of the choice stops playing. Time passes here: a long breath, to heightened contrast and drama here. This period stayed. But, most of the time, I agreed that there was no long pause needed and a comma matches not only the grammar, but the manner in which the words were spoken. A bad habit caught, but still not broken I imagine.

I made quick work of the changes, most of them simply needing “accept” to be typed in the row next to it.

But there is also a problem with the cover: a rather significant one.

Self-Publishing Part 8: While Still Preparing the Book, a Seedling Platform Sprouts Speakers

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

A Perfect Blindness is drenched in music: not only do two musician friends end one band and start another, they go to clubs and dance, and listen to music on the radio, on vinyl and CDs as well; very many other songs find their way into the text of the book: some as the inspiration for the songs of White Heat and Mercurial Visions, two of their bands, play; other times some lyrics are quoted; and many times, songs were in the back of my mind as I wrote a particular sentence, so slivers of them can be extracted from the text, while the outlines of others can be discerned in some turns of phrase. In fact, the book has a soundtrack.

All the songs actually listened and danced to, played, or used in the text somehow have been collected and used to create a Spotify playlist as well as a You Tube play list, both available here:

ListenSPOTFYPowered By U-tube SM

A new service opened for business around this time called 8-tracks. This is radio with 100% human curated play lists: No algorithms, just human DJs, a perfect place for a custom book playlist, with an added bonus of being able to upload specific versions.

8tracksImage

The Spotify and YouTube play lists were posted on FaceBook, in my stream, in the group, and on the as yet unpublished page, as well as on the APerfectBlindness.com website.

I told my Special Recognitions Board contact Laura about them, and she said she’d included both of them in the package being prepared for Barnes and Noble on the sell sheet. Later, I will recreate the same list for 8tracks.com, but use some rare 12” remixes I’ve kept since then and not merely the standard versions: With all the pops and clicks that come with vinyl. In the future, I see more unified play lists, such as one for Exit-SmartBar (harder edge goth-industrial dance sound) and for Berlin (more fluid, synth-driven dance), and all the songs about love and passion.

I had also been collecting all the locations—the bars, clubs and music venues, visited, danced or performed in. This is how I’d earlier discovered that the Agora was called the Newport Music Hall at the time Mercurial Visions was to have played there. Doing this, I discovered that several of the clubs featured in the book either no longer existed, or had moved, and one—Neo—has a theme party for wont of a better word in its name hosted at other venues, but in most cases there are still groups of people dedicated to the way things had been over a quarter of a century ago. Finding many images on line for these clubs, I created a collection on Pinterest called A Perfect Blindness and posted them there in.

Then on Face Book, I found a private group dedicated to Wax Trax! the Chicago label behind Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, A Split Second, Front 424, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult—the core of the early industrial scene who also discover Mercurial Visions and sign them to a contract in the book. These are many of the bands played, listened to, danced to or quoted in the book, and so featured on the play lists. Bands I loved when I lived in Chicago, and still listen to now. I asked to be a part of this private group and was accepted. In one long exchange, one contributor was saying how many kids who weren’t even born then are fascinated by this time and place. Others reminisced over the locations. A comment was tossed out that the book has a built in readership. That would be good, for A Perfect Blindness is, definitely, an homage to a place and time, if even in a small way.

Then, I been admitted to a private group of another band featured in the book, a band I danced to and still listen to TSOM: The Sisters of Mercy.

Things seemed to be falling together. Yet that last comment the Quality Editor suggested: a proofread after it’s typeset. Makes sense, yes, but that costs more money.

Ug. Must I?

 

 

Self-Publishing Part 8: While Still Preparing the Book, a Seedling Platform Sprouts Speakers

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

A Perfect Blindness is drenched in music: not only do two musician friends end one band and start another, they go to clubs and dance, and listen to music on the radio, on vinyl and CDs as well; very many other songs find their way into the text of the book: some as the inspiration for the songs of White Heat and Mercurial Visions, two of their bands, play; other times some lyrics are quoted; and many times, songs were in the back of my mind as I wrote a particular sentence, so slivers of them can be extracted from the text, while the outlines of others can be discerned in some turns of phrase. In fact, the book has a soundtrack.

All the songs actually listened and danced to, played, or used in the text somehow have been collected and used to create a Spotify playlist as well as a You Tube play list, both available here:

ListenSPOTFYPowered By U-tube SM8tracksImage

A new service opened for business around this time called 8-tracks. This is radio with 100% human curated play lists: No algorithms, just human DJs, a perfect place for a custom book playlist, with an added bonus of being able to upload specific versions.

The Spotify and YouTube play lists were posted on FaceBook, in my stream, in the group, and on the as yet unpublished page, as well as on the APerfectBlindness.com website.

I told my Special Recognitions Board contact Laura about them, and she said she’d included both of them in the package being prepared for Barnes and Noble on the sell sheet. Later, I will recreate the same list for 8tracks.com, but use some rare 12” remixes I’ve kept since then and not merely the standard versions: With all the pops and clicks that come with vinyl. In the future I see more unified play lists, such as one for Exit-SmartBar (harder edge goth-industrial dance sound) and for Berlin (more fluid, synth-driven dance), and all the songs about love and passion.

I had also been collecting all the locations—the bars, clubs and music venues, visited, danced or performed in. This is how I’d earlier discovered that the Agora was called the Newport Music Hall at the time Mercurial Visions was to have played there. Doing this, I discovered that several of the clubs featured in the book either no longer existed, or had moved, and one—Neo—has a theme party for wont of a better word in its name hosted at other venues, but in most cases there are still groups of people dedicated to the way things had been over a quarter of a century ago. Finding many images on line for these clubs, I created a collection on Pinterest called A Perfect Blindness and posted them there in.

Then on Face Book I found a private group dedicated to Wax Trax! the Chicago label behind Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, A Split Second, Front 424, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult—the core of the early industrial scene who also discover Mercurial Visions and sign them to a contract in the book. These are many of the bands played, listened to, danced to or quoted in the book, and so featured on the play lists. Bands I loved when I lived in Chicago, and still listen too now. I asked to be a part of this private group and was accepted. In one long exchange, one contributor was saying how many kids who weren’t even born then are fascinated by this time and place. Others reminisced over the locations. A comment was tossed out that the book has a built in readership. That would be good, for A Perfect Blindness is, definitely, an homage to a place and time, if even in a small way.

Then, I been admitted to a private group of another band featured in the book, a band I danced to and still listen to TSOM: The Sisters of Mercy.

Things seemed to be falling together. Yet that last coooment the Quality Editor suggested: a proof read after it’s typeset. Makes sense, yes, but that costs more money.

Ug.

Self-Publishing Part 8: while still preparing the book, a genere at long last

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of Perfect Blindness

In answer to my own question: yes, I would keep finding mistakes, so many that I started a Word doc to collect all the errata for me to fix. As I worked on engaging the FB group with updates, which hadn’t yet very many members, did finally gather enough votes to make a final decision on the cover: A blend. The one I liked the most and had sent as a mock up originally was the clear favorite in the polls, more than doubling the votes for all 3 other covers combined, and for both men and women. Still, I liked some of the elements from other covers, so instructed the creation of a hybrid version based on the most people’s favorite cover.

After I sent in the directions for design, I returned to struggling with its genre. I had NEVER liked the suggestions of Contemporary Romance, or Urban Fiction. I went back over lists of genres on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and from the BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) site—BISAC classification numbers are used throughout the industry—and came up with nothing that described the book well at all, except for literary, and that mainly because no other genre worked.

As I keep researching, I came to the firm conclusion that literary is its genre, especially considering it is in dialogue with so many other texts, from novels to movies to songs. Again, I brought up my concerns with my contact at the Special Recognitions Board. She countered with “New Adult”, a fairly recent genre that deals with newly minted adults up to roughly 25 years old, dealing with school, work, and what life on one’s own is like. I came close to convincing myself that this could be right, even though 2 of the 3 point of view characters are in their late twenties, and one is 19.

I could of course simply direct her to use whatever genre I wished, but if I wanted to keep my designations and the benefits that comes with them, I had to follow industry standards, and she is the judge in those matters.

Then, my contact responded to my long explanation with, “Yes. It’s literary fiction.”

FINALLY. After almost two years.

That settled at long last, I went back to building the platform for the book so when it actually launches there would be support for it. Frankly—support for me so I can show people stuff and it’s not punk.