I’m having a BOOK SIGNING at the VENICE BEACH MUSIC FEST! This Saturday, August 23rd from 12-3, on Windward Plaza in Venice Beach, 90291. There’s a free concert all day, lots of local artists will be showing their work, and I’ll be signing copies of my book, KAFKA AT THE BEACH: A Layman’s Handbook for Those Falsely Accused of Felonies.
This is the best kind of book signing – right on the beach with a free concert going on across the plaza. The organizers invited me to their last festival in May and it was a blast! When they asked me back for this one, I jumped at the chance.
This is a very fun event. Swing by if you’re near Venice!
I’m having another BIG GIVEAWAY on GoodReads.com. (Okay, it’s only one copy but it’s free and potentially yours if you enter!) My first giveaway on GoodReads attracted a lot of readers, and it was fun, so we’re going to do it again!
I’ve grown to like GoodReads.com. I had never heard of it until my book turned up there and was already getting favorable reviews (4.2 out of 5 from a crowd of complete strangers, I’ll take it!) GoodReads is a terrific resource for readers and authors. Over 20 million avid readers in one cyber-place is a good thing for books in general, so if you haven’t checked out the site yet, I recommend doing so. And while you’re there, enter to win a free copy of my book! Like Bluto said in Animal House, “Grab a brew. Don’t cost nothing…”
When you use CreateSpace to publish the trade paperback of your book, you need to approach your “publication date” with care. My publication date ended up being inaccurate because I was learning things the hard way….
The CreateSpace publication date for my book is off by months. Once a publication date is entered for your book, it cannot be altered. I have no idea why. There might actually be a good reason for this, but don’t ask the CreateSpace employees to explain it because they’re probably not going to know. However, the first time you upload the original, uncorrected, manuscript of your book to CreateSpace, that is the date CreateSpace will carve in stone and never allow you to change.
My publication date says April 5th when in reality, my book wasn’t actually published and available for sale until months later. That original date was simply when I began figuring out the CreateSpace process. After that came a lot of adjustments…the text, the font, the cover, the trim…with many periods of waiting in between. I downloaded multiple versions of my digital proofs, and then a ordered few versions of my physical proofs, trying to get everything right. But once a date is entered, you cannot change it. It is part of your proverbial “permanent record.” So if you’re planning on fixing up your book to get things right, you might want to pick a date in the future that will more accurately reflect the time spent preparing your book for publication.
I don’t know how much this matters. Some online sources say that this could be a problem because it makes your book look older than it is, so people will consider it less “new” and be less interested in reading it. However, I’ve decided that I don’t care. But if you’re concerned about accurate timing, be careful what date you enter the first time you create a file for your book on CreateSpace.
Overall, I’m happy with how things went for my paperback with CreateSpace. To be honest, this is mostly because I did much as I possibly could myself, without relying on the CreateSpace folks. I definitely recommend taking the bull by the horns with CreateSpace. Because when you do need their advice, guidance or expertise, it doesn’t always go smoothly. Once you engage the CreateSpace “team”, you discover that they don’t work so well together. Each individual, and each department, seems to know nothing about what the others do and this can cause problems. The “layout” people don’t deal with the “proofs” people, who don’t know anything about the “cover” people. In general, I’ve found the CreateSpace employees to be helpful until you mention a different department, at which point they become like Dr. Seuss’s aloof, snotty Star-Bellied and Plain-Bellied Sneetches.
In my experience, most of the CreateSpace employees don’t even know what’s written on their own site. They try to present this ignorance as some form of professional pride regarding their specialized area of expertise, which by the 6th phone call starts seeming incredibly sad. You wonder how much of their lives these folks spend in their cubicles, willfully ignorant of things that are not that complicated, convincing themselves that their ignorance somehow makes them more valuable. Despite the minor annoyances, at the end of the day, CreateSpace provides the tools with which a motivated, self-reliant author can get their book on the market in paperback form for a very low cost. It’s a wonderful thing – an immensely valuable tool in getting published the hard way – and for that I applaud them.
I always assumed that releasing the ebook version of my book would be easier than getting the paperback to market. I definitely believed that when I set out on this process, and as uninformed assumptions go, it still makes sense in a lot of ways. But this assumption could not have been more wrong. The ebook portion of this journey is where things get frustrating and difficult, at least for me.
The minor problems and hurdles of creating your paperback with CreateSpace are nothing compared to the KINDLE EXPERIENCE. This is the part where things get a little nuts. Stay tuned…
Once your manuscript has made it through the CreateSpace experience, you need to inspect your proofs. With CreateSpace, and probably most self-publishing platforms, there are digital proofs and physical proofs. The digital proofs are free, and they’re a quick, handy way to review the basic layout of your book. You download the proof in a pdf file, and then you can check out the cover and turn through every page to make sure it’s all copacetic. However, to really judge what your book will look like, in all its 3 dimensional glory, I recommend buying a copy of your physical proofs.
The subtle details of the reader’s experience are far better measured with the physical proof of your book. For instance, if your font looks okay on the monitor in the digital proof, it could still seem too small when the book is in your hands. This happened to me.
On my first set of proofs, it seemed like the print that was just a touch too small, and I was concerned that this would prevent the reader from fully sinking into the book. I compared the print on my pages with that on other books from my shelves. I slept on it, and decided that I wanted to re-do it. I changed it up, hoping to make reading my book to be a more effortless, less conscious experience for the reader. Basically, your first time out at self-publishing, you’re trying to make your book seem like the countless other books that you’ve seen. It’s like sending a kid to kindergarten, you want them to fit in. So I changed the font size, and made it work…which in turn changed the page count, so I needed to contact Huntley the graphic artist and re-size the cover again. But it turned out, in Huntley’s job as a graphic artist at a movie marketing firm, one of his poster designs had just been chosen to represent a movie at Cannes, so he needed to make 30 new, slightly different, versions of the poster, etc. etc. etc. Great for him, not so great for my book, which was now on hold until I get the cover fixed.
Time passed. The pages fell off the calendar like in an old Douglas Sirk movie…leaves blew past…tick tock. Okay, it had only been a week but it seems like forever when your book is on the hook. Ten days later, I got the new cover and I started the CreateSpace process again. You re-upload the new pdf of the manuscript, and the new pdf of the cover. Createspace puts together a mock-up of the book, more digital proofs, which you scrutinize like a nut until you decide that it’s fine. They put your book together and notify you when it’s ready. It usually takes about 24 hours to get the notification that you can look at your latest set of proofs. I actually did two more set of proofs in hopes of getting it just right. Finally, when you’re happy with your proofs, you click “approve” and then the CreateSpace elves take over again.
Your CreateSpace proofs shouldn’t be that expensive. The cost depends on your number of pages, but unless your book is the length of the Bible, your proofs will probably cost around 5 bucks. Where they get you is in the shipping costs. Now that you’re book is ready to go, you’re probably not going to want to wait over a week to see it. I sure as hell didn’t. There’s also the 3-day option, which costs around 11 bucks. Then there’s the 2-day option, which costs a lot more and only arrives 1 day sooner. Bottom line – each time I ordered proofs it cost about 17 bucks.
And now your proofs are set, which means…it’s time to PUBLISH!
As of today, you can enter to win 1 (that’s right, 1!) free copy of my book, KAFKA AT THE BEACH: A Layman’s Handbook for Those Falsely Accused of Felonies.
I recently discovered GoodReads.com, which is kind of like a massive online book club. It has 20+ million users so I suppose I’m a little late to the game here, but this site seems like a excellent resource for writers to tell people about their books. And for readers to share their opinions about books. So far, this site looks awesome and I’m all for it.
An ISBN is an “International Standard Book Number.” You need ISBNs to distribute and sell your book. The ISBN system was created back in the 1970s to develop a standardized global network to connect your books to the entire world. Having an ISBN is like having a book passport or social security number.
Your ISBN is a 10 or 13 digit number that is assigned to your book. Since 2007, the 13 digit format is the industry standard. This 13 digit code is broken down to categorize your book by different elements. Basically, it’s like plugging in your book to the giant worldwide book matrix.
You need to purchase your ISBNs from an authorized dealer, and various companies do this. I bought mine through a company called Bowker and I found them to be very straightforward.
You can buy 1 ISBN for $125 or buy a package of 10 for $275. The catch with ISBNs is that you need a new one for each different format of your book. If you create a paperback, that’s one ISBN. Then if you create a digital version of your book, that requires a separate ISBN. If you create any other versions of your book, or a digital version in a different format, you’ll need another ISBN. So you’re probably better off buying the bulk package of them. I did.
Your ISBN number identifies your book by title, publisher, edition, price, as well as physical properties such as trim size and page count. You have to fill in a lot of info on the Bowker site for each ISBN that you assign to your book, but then it’s on record and exists in a more official way than you just having it written down somewhere. It now exists in the mighty BOOK MATRIX!
You also need barcodes to accompany your ISBN. I don’t know why you need two different arbitrary codes attached to your book. You just do…but only for physical copies of your book, i.e. hard-covers and paperbacks. Barcodes are not required for digital books. You can usually buy your barcodes where you buy your ISBNs. I know Bowker sells both.
Be sure to leave a spot for both the barcode and ISBN when you design the back cover of your book.
If you publish your book on CreateSpace, you’ll also need to decide what you want to do about an imprint. Your book can say “published by CreateSpace” or you can create your own imprint. I chose to create my own imprint. I didn’t know enough about the implications of control and rights if CreateSpace is my publisher of record. I couldn’t find this clearly explained on their site either, so I created my own. It wasn’t very difficult. You create your own imprint via a DBA (“Doing Business As.”) It’s pretty simple and not very expensive.
For more on your Imprint, see the earlier post, Making Your Book a Reality:
You now are the owner of your very own publishing entity, with ISBNs in hand! You’re on record with your local government, and you officially “exist” according to the book matrix overlords. You’ve got your barcodes for the checkout line…so now it’s time to deal with proofs!