Month: June 2017

Self-Publishing Part 8: Finishing Preparing for Publication

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

It’s now, at the level of Rising Star, that real institutional help kicks in. Which makes sense: the publisher finally knows it might actually make money selling the book, so they put more of their own money and time behind the book. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 8: Finishing Preparing for Publication”

Self-Publishing Part 7: Testing the Author’s Reaction Time—Pass or Fail

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

I had seven calendar days to complete this evaluation and send it back for consideration for Rising Star status. If it’s not back in that time, the Rising Star Board will not consider the book—end of path.

In other words, this assignment forced me to demonstrate (signal if you will) just how hard I’m willing to work, how deeply I’ve been thinking about the marketing, and if I can take advantage of sudden opportunities. As with the initial manuscript, I’d thought I had thoroughly explored all the possible angles and had developed these ideas well, but found that was far from true.

            Damn. Again.

Starting with the easy stuff, I filled in the first few questions with the material I’d been generating over the past couple of years, which made the long blank document look less intimidating. Then came the research: of my own notes, of my social media presence, of similar books, of the people who might buy a book like that, and why. This was much harder than I thought. In addition to filling up the 12 pages of the Marketing Evaluation proper, I generated an additional five pages of ideas that expanded beyond A Perfect Blindness proper to me as a writer more generally, and how that can drive traffic to and interest in the book. What I’ve learned is the writer’s platform.

Two days before the deadline, I got a reminder that I have only until October 27th to be considered.

By then, I was nearly done and delivered it the next day.

Then I waited, yet again: Until the next Special Recognitions Board meeting, which happens as need be. Fortunately for me, that would be in early November.

On Nov. 3rd, I got this in an email: “We are pleased to inform you that you have been chosen for the prestigious iUniverse Rising Star designation.”

Now, the real help and the real work begin.

Question: how do other writers deal with the ups and downs: the anticipation realized, only to find another hill, even mountain to climb?

Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

To ask a question or follow along with the self-publishing adventure, join the “Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness” here.

Self-Publishing Part 7: Testing the Author’s Reaction Time

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

Before I could attend to the new marketing assignment, I had to repair and resubmit the manuscript. Along with the evaluator’s letter recommending A Perfect Blindness to the Editorial Review Board came an attachment with about two pages of minor mechanical fixes that needed attention. Some of these involved my habit of using punctuation to instruct the reader how I intended the sentence to be read rather than for grammar. In dialogue especially, I put full stops where grammars say comma, or commas were the same books stay none is needed. These punctuation marks are akin to director’s notes to an actor, telling the reader to hesitate a moment longer than expected to emphasize a dramatic pause. Evaluators tend not to like this I’ve found, but it’s a deep habit, gained from reading the manuscript aloud to myself as a final editing step: A period asks for a full breath before continuing; a comma a shallow breath.

The manuscript was ready the next day; I accepted most changes, keeping only those that really needed the hesitation. The now truly final manuscript was ready for design and typesetting, and left my computer for theirs.

Then, I turned to the unexpected, urgent, twelve page assignment from iUniverse, which was also essential for the success of A Perfect Blindness: the marketing plan needed for the Rising Star designation.

As with any book intended for sale, there are two main questions for the publisher:

  • Is it well written?
  • Will it sell?

A Perfect Blindness had the certification that it was the former. But no matter how well written a book, if there is no market for it, it won’t sell. Further, even if there is a market, if the writer won’t get behind marketing his or her own book, it has vastly less chance of selling: especially in self publishing. These are the same question large buyers—bookstores and book clubs—ask when considering a book.

The Rising Star Marketing Evaluation questionnaire covered a great many things: from the basic marketing text I’d sent with the initial submission over a year before and had been refining in the lulls since, to the still undecided genre, the estimated page count (360), the book’s website information, my social media presence, including usernames and # of followers, the target audience(s), the book’s local or national appeal, the selling points of the book, to my favorite quotes from it, what problems it solves (alleviates boredom?) as well as my specific plans, for how long I plan to market the book, a realistic estimate of how many hours per week I plan on spending marketing the book, how much money I might spend on these ideas, what I won’t do, and others I’d never thought of, such as what books are similar to A Perfect Blindness: A total of 24 in-depth questions.

I had 7 calendar days to complete this and send it back for consideration for Rising Star status. If it’s not back in that time, the Rising Star Board will not consider the book—end of path.

If you write fiction, do you think about all of these things before you write? During? After?

Self-Publishing Part 7: Before the Good Things Start, Unexpected Tasks

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

Once I handled the couple dozen mechanical issues the official reader had pointed out, a number of good things happened.

First came the most obvious part of the signaling iUniverse does: the Colophon, the symbol of the publishing house that appears on the back cover and spine of the book, gets a make over. From a simple orange circle with a white swoop leading to a orange dot over the i and black lettering that 95% of the books they publish get on their back cover:

it changes into this (actual background color depends on the book’s cover):

Main_Logo

The publisher’s name—iUniverse—appears of course, but below that come the words “Editor’s Choice”, the reward for all the time, money and effort spent. The orange circle of the logo turns into a blue ribbon—we’ve a winner here. The swoop leading to the dot over the i remains, though in inverse, moving from negative space to blue, flying up to the newly blue dot:

EditorsChoiceActulsz

The spine in both cases gets the circular logo with the swoop and launched dot—no i, nor text.

These changes separate this book from other independently published books, waving a flag that this is a quality book. The buyer has iUniverse’s assurance.

On the title page inside, the Colophon turns to a simple black circle with a white swoop and outsized dot over the i, no different from any books they publish: What good, after all, is a hidden signal? By the time this page is seen, a potential reader has already been intrigued enough to pick the book up, look it over, crack it open and start leafing through the pages: that battle is won.

In addition to signaling to readers the particularly high quality writing in and raised expectations for the book, this designation includes some institutional support beyond placement in specially designated sections of the iUniverse online bookstore: the book’s cover is given additional design work to ensure it hews to industry standards. Now, the publisher has started putting its own money and time into the success of the book.

At the very end of the letter, was a sentence telling me that the reader enjoyed the book very much.

For a writer, that is the true sound of success.

It remained sweet so as long as I kept beating back the suspicions that this is said to any writer who pays for their services with the dual cudgels that they are ponying up their own cash and services for the book now, and that we both make money if it does, in fact, sell.

Yet, I was hardly finished working on A Perfect Blindness.

Not only did I have to attend to some errata and resubmit the manuscript, I discovered I’d immediately have to start work on the second step of iUniverse’s Traditional Publishing Path. One to demonstrate that not only does this newly certified well written book have an actual market, but that I had the skills and will to help it reach that market. If I could do both—by the deadline—I would be eligible for the Rising Star designation and gain access to all the additional institutional resources that come with that reaching that step on the path.

That deadline was in seven days: A week to submit a complete marketing analysis and plan.

This was completely unexpected.

Have you’ve ever been caught by surprise by a publisher or marketer like this before?

 

 

Self-Publishing Part 6: The Judgement

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

On October 20th, seven days after submitting the mansucript,  I got an email, containing these paragraphs:

Congratulations! You’ve earned the Editor’s Choice designation for your book, A Perfect Blindness, although there are a few issues to clear up, as detailed in the attached document. The Editor’s Choice icon that will appear on the back cover of your book will improve your book’s marketability by designating it as a high-quality title.  Your book will also carry the Editor’s Choice icon next to the book title in the iUniverse online bookstore.

[…]

We will not move the project until we hear from you in order to make sure we have the correct version. Thank you!

So, the manuscript is still not, quite, out of the woods. I looked at the attached document, which was from the reader, with the actual recommendation to the Editorial Review Board.

After a paragraph with boilerplate text reminding me of the quality standards for the Editor’s Choice designation, I got the words telling me I’d not wasted a moment reworking Scott and Jonathan. The reviewer said that characters make or break a book, because a great plot without anyone to care about is pointless, and that “I love the characters” in the book. They are realistic, with strengths and flaws, and are written so that a reader cares about them.

Hands raised high in a victory cheer here.

I still had to handle the few mechanical issues the reviewer pointed out in order to move on, and for the promised good things to happen.