Ocular Haemorrhage

It’s research week in Casa du Rr.

Dead Hand by irisale87.

First of all, apologies for a long-ish post; there’s a lot of stuff I’ve looked at today, and I feel it only right that I spread some of that around.  If you survive to the end, you can see some examples of new cover art I’ve been tinkering with.  Thank you and good luck to all who read it – the Force is strong with you.

Since it’s been a nasty week for writing, I’ve wanted to put my time to good use: I’m trying to bundle up all the information I can on getting a book published.  The only real downside to this is that I’ve just about broken my eyes looking at a screen for hours on end, trying to make out what’s going on in the relative worlds of traditional vs. self publishing.

There seems to be these two approaches: traditional vs. hip.  The thing is, there’s not really an easy win here.  This list is hard to find fault with:

Traditional Publisher:
Pros:

  • Your novel has a better chance of being available in bookstores
  • Editing and cover art is handled by the publisher
  • You are guided through the process from manuscript to publication by an editor
  • Some blogs only review traditionally published books on their site

Cons:

  • You exchange control for the pros and prestige of being with a publisher
  • Contracts — may cost money to hire a lawyer to negotiate
  • The pricing of your book is determined by the publisher
  • Luck



Self-Publishing:
Pros:

  • Full control of your manuscript from writing to novel form
  • Ability to set the pricing controls and to adjust to the market as it fluctuates
  • Playing a part of the creative process of cover design and marketing
  • Largest royalty percentage available for an author

Cons:

  • All marketing is on you as the author
  • Personal financial investment
  • Responsible for distribution of your novel online through ebooks and/or print editions
  • Luck

Whilst I’d prefer to spend my time writing, which would indicate traditional publishers might be more for me, I’m also aware that this is a first book and possibly not quite at Stephen King‘s level.  As such, getting uptake from an actual publisher would be a rare event, much like being struck by a meteorite (Christ: is it a meteorite if it hits your head before it hits the Earth?  Maybe this should read “meteor…”), so am girding my loins to follow the self-publishing route.

There’s some good articles out there on this, for both real and virtual books.

There seem to be two main self-publishing outfits set up:

[Let’s not talk about SmashWords; it’s an interesting platform, but it’s lack of seamless Amazon integration makes it a bit more problematic.  As close to 100% of ebooks are sold through Amazon, this is a bit of a barrier.]

They’re a bit different to each other; Lulu seems to be quite the easy road with options for odd format books readily available, whereas CreateSpace is an Amazon subsidiary (which makes selling there trivial and at the same time agonising to put on Barnes & Noble).  For me, this indicates that Lulu is where I need to go if I wanted a one-stop shop that doesn’t piss of people who made the bad purchase choice of a Nook over a Kindle.

If I didn’t want a one-stop shop, SmashWords could become viable.  It would be logistically challenging but possible to put it out on all platforms: ship it to SmashWords for the indie readers, crank out hardcopies through Lulu, and publish to the Kindle ebookstore directly.

How all this should be priced is also a up for some thought; SmashWords have indicated that the current sweet spot is $3.99, which makes sense on some kind of weird emotional level.  Lulu claim that, “…Lulu authors that price their eBooks in the $.99 – $2.99 range sell more units and earn more revenue than those in any other price range.”  That all goes into the toilet when you want to make a hardcopy because the cost of manufacture is stratospheric on small or individual runs.  CreateSpace has a nice royalty calculator; Lulu have a similar popout.

This is about when blood started to come out of my eyes.

It’s especially interesting to note when it doesn’t go according to plan.  I mean, it all sounds sweet: put a book online through one of these agencies and wait for the cheques to roll on it.  Just park the wheelbarrows full of cash around the side of the house, right?

My three rules for life are: 1) Follow the money, 2) Follow the authority, and 3) If their mother couldn’t change them, neither can you.  What I really need is to find an agent and/or publisher to see if my book is worth going through a formal publisher first, and then do the self-publshing thing if that fails.  If only there was some kind of local speculative fiction publisher who wasn’t currently closed for submissions, amirite?

So that’s about where I am: on the trail of actual flesh and blood humans to make a submission to in the first instance.  I’ve about run out of energy for today though, so it’s probably time to have some lunch and reconsider all the choices I’ve made in my life so far.  If I’d turned left instead of right that time back when I was five years old, I might have become an astronaut instead.

You’re still here?  Great!  Here’s those cover proofs I was talking about.  For the ebook, if I end up self-publishing, of course.  A friend of mine suggested that I take a hard look at the different form factors of books, which was helpful.  Related to this is making sure that the thing is legible both large and small, as most people will only see the Amazon thumbnail.  So I changed the fonts and cranked a new cover or three out.  For contrast: the original.

I’d appreciate feedback on these – let me know which are appalling and which work for you.  My favourite is the first one, but I’m not sure I can be objective on this.

Now, the others.  They’re all subtle (or not so subtle) variations on the main theme.  Some colour shift, that kind of thing.  As I sit – hit me back on which ones you like and don’t like.

 

See you tomorrow.