December 2, 2007

blurbs, front pages and such

Paying attention to the front pages of a novel, the bits before the story starts has shown me how varied they can be. Previous books, acknowledgements, publisher information, dedication, bio, ISBN and so on. I think I won't include a photo of myself. I found it really easy to get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) from New Zealand's national library. This, I have learnt is a number unique to any published book in the world. It is easily converted (Zenith/Publishme will do this for me - see earlier posts.) into a bar code which goes on the back of the book cover and which retailers link to the shelf price on their computers.

So I've put together all those front pages bits. The hard part is the blurb for the back cover. Even thinking about writing such a blurb creates an outpouring in my mind of cliches. I think it will be very brief. At the moment it is two sentences, but I am not at all sure this will be the final wording:

"Sleepless nights send Isobel off to a therapist, until she turns to a different approach to sort out the impact of her past on her present. As she starts rebuilding connections there’s an accident that somehow puts her in conflict with her partner, Iris."

I'm even thinking I might drop the second sentence. In which case the back cover will be very empty! Might have to put a photo! I notice that on some books something from the front cover is repeated on the back.

So I'm nearly design-ready. Jill, the designer, needs to get all the files on a CD and as a printout. I'll hand them over about 14 Dec and she'll check that she's got everything and can open it all and then I go away for ten days! She, meanwhile, will be doing the design and typesetting. (As well as coordinating the feeding of our cat.)

November 11, 2007

Cover image success

I have permission from the artist and a CD Rom of the ink and wash painting I really want to use for the cover of Take It Easy. All she wants in payment is a couple of copies of the printed book, which I think is really generous. I have had to pay $100 to the gallery that holds the painting to get the image, but hey, that seems reasonable enough.

My current activity is searching various websites - with some success - for places I might be able to use for promotion. What I should be doing is the marketing plan, for which I have a template from, and which I am avoiding because this is my least favourite aspect of this whole publishing enterprise. I'm also using the NZSA notes for writing a synopsis of the book, leading to writing a blurb for the cover and the words for a promotional flyer, which will be finalised by Jill, once we have a cover design. These are the exciting bits.

In the meantime my actual writing, which is focussed on short stories at the moment, has ground to a halt. Maybe I will have to live with that while my mind is full of production and publication activity, but I do want to keep doing some writing. Discipline, maybe.

October 14, 2007

Yes, you can quote these words…

Responses have arrived from all the publishers etc I contacted regarding permissions to quote from other writers. In all but one case they gave permission with no fee. I should perhaps mention that the quotes are all very short, a few lines at most.

The exception is Harvard University Press, who hold the copyright on Emily Dickinson. They insisted on a letter, not an email and answered by letter. They gave permission to use the two lines i had requested use of and wanted a fee of $US50 that must be paid by US cheque or money order, not by credit card or direct transfer, thus adding considerably to the cost from NZ unless you have access to a US bank account. I nearly didn't ask for permission for the Dickinson quote, as she has been dead for more than the usual 70 years. So, while the two lines of Dickinson are what I really want to use as the epigraph for the second, middle, section of my novel, I'm looking for an alternative, possibly a proverb.

On a more positive note, I have had a phone conversation with the artist whose image I want to use on the cover. Her approach is a 'what you can afford' one. I will certainly pay her something. Her usual $200, which she quoted when I asked doesn't seem unreasonable. I haven't done an actual budget yet, that requires me to decide how many I will print in the first instance and I haven't done that yet. My next step is to work my way through a marketing and promotion plan, then I might be able to decide how many copies to print in the first instance.

Another thing Jill and I have been talking about is the choice of font for the text. Times New Roman is a very standard seriph font for text, and we have decided against that as it is such a standard choice and we want to be a bit different, while not trying to be so innovative the look of the text is strange to actual and potential readers. I am certainly noticing fonts more in books I read, and really like ones where the font is named in the front of the book; it often isn't. Because parts of Get Used To It are in journal form that needs to be distinct from the main text, the font must look good in italic. For this reason we abandoned Garamond, because the italic version is fussy. My favourite at the moment is Bookman (which comes in a range of ocnfigurations, but starting from the standard Bookman which is included in most word processing software). It has a slighly old-fashioned look, but I don't see that as s bad thing for this book. No, it is not a historical novel, it is set in the year 2000 and in the '60s.

September 23, 2007

Permissions et al

This is the website of the place I am going to print my book. I chose them because:
a)They do small print runs with competitive pricing.
b)They offer a lot of (currently free) advice on the processes.
c)They reply promptly and give straightforward answers.
d)They offer assistance with the marketing and selling side - at a parallel website, - which I haven't explore in detail yet.

I have had some fast replies to my requests for permissions to use (in every case short) quotes from other writers. They are surprisingly specific and detailed and so far all three agree to my use and tell me how to word the acknowledgement.

Most of my time at the moment is going into figuring out this blogging business. This bit, creating posts, is easy enough but other parts have me floundering around. For example, I got my photo onto my profile, then accidentally removed it and now I'm having trouble getting it back. It's in the second post, that's easy, it's getting it into the profile that is the challenge. Something to do with getting the URL right. The help files are, I think, written by and for people who don't need the instructions spelt out as fully as I do.

September 15, 2007

Moving along

Making haste slowly with this project.

Have been talking with Jill, about page layout and fonts and how I want the pages to look. Find I have opinions about this! Seriph fonts (the ones with little flicks like Times New Roman) are best for text. Garamond and Bookman are my favourites at the moment, they have a slightly old-fashioned look which I like. Jill is exploring variations on Bookman.

Haven't done anything about checking out whether I can use the cover image I like.

Have written and emailed off to the relevant publishers for permissions to use quotes from other writers. Seven of them. The web makes this kind of thing easy. I got advice from the New Zealand Society of Authors (recommend them to any nz writer) then did searches on 'permissions author's name'and in every case found a place with the instructions I needed. Some I could do online. In order to fill the 'publisher' space I had to name a publisher, so rather than just using my own name I invented PJ Press (PJ being the first initials of both myself and my partner) and have permission to use a friend's post office box for an address different from my own residential one. So it's PJ Press, P O Box 2, Paekakariki, 5258, New Zealand. Not that I want to hide anything but I think I might be taken more seriously or something if the publisher information is different.

Jill, the friend who will do the book layout, can do it over christmas and new year holidays, so that is the time frame I am working to.

I have done yet another read through of the ms, correcting minor errors - there are always more! I'll get a clean copy printed. My next job is to assemble the information needed for those beginning pages. I have a model for this from a website that works with writers to publish their work. I'll say more about them next time, after I have asked for permission to do a link to their website.

That's it for now.

August 13, 2007

the beginning

I have a manuscript of around 86,000 words, which is a medium-sized novel. I have had two other novels published by a publisher. That publisher is not doing new titles and I have decided to embark on doing it myself - with the help of some friends - and recording what I do here so I can refer other people who want to publish their book to it. And 'talk' to others.

What I am starting with:
The manuscript, which has been read and commented on (twice) by my partner and sundry friends, all of whom are intelligent readers and have given good feedback, most of which I have taken notice of.
A friend - and this is important to my doing this - who has worked in book production, who can do page layout and a whole lot of that technical stuff. She is keen to be involved.
Support in the undertaking from my partner.
Information I have gleaned from websites, workshops, library books and the New Zealand Society of Authors, of which I am a member. Most countries have something similar and most apparently, like the one here, produce helpful pamphlets etc.

What I have done:
Sent an email letter to three (fairly) local printers to get some indicative information about costs. One of the things that makes this venture possible is the development in printing that means it is possible to get small runs printed without affecting unit price. More on this when I have some prices.
Found an image I'd like for the cover. It's by a local artist so I have to find out if I can use it.