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Mar
31

THE BIG GIVEAWAY

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.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Kafka at the Beach by Steve Bevilacqua

Kafka at the Beach

by Steve Bevilacqua

Giveaway ends May 02, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Mar
19

PLUG INTO THE MATRIX

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.

ISBN on Wikipedia

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.

Bowker

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:

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!

Mar
04

KAFKA AT THE BEACH

3.2.14

Jan
30

SIZE MATTERS

I chose to publish the paperback version of my book with CreateSpace, and it’s gone well. I described the first stages in an earlier entry, and now we’re moving forward. There are many articles and material on the technical specs of CreateSpace, and almost all of them will be more informative than mine, so I’m just going to give you the highlights of my learning curve.

Here are some tips that can save you time and money:

1) Be sure to match the paper size to your trim before creating the pdf of the manuscript that you plan to upload to CreateSpace. If you’re new to self-publishing, this sentence probably just raised a lot of questions and you’re probably wondering what the hell it means.

Let’s start with “trim” which simply means the dimensions of the front of your book. Look here:

Wikipedia – Book Trim

CreateSpace – Trim Size & Page Count

I learned this part the hard way and it ate up a lot of time. Match the paper size with your trim before uploading the pdf file. If you don’t, the CreateSpace cyber-elves with adapt and re-scale it for you, and it can get a little wanky. Basically, if the trim of your book is 5 x 8, be sure you make that’s what you choose for the paper size of your file before you creating the pdf of your manuscript.

2) Be sure that your book cover fits your book properly. Every time you change something in your manuscript; font, font size, anything…it will change the page count of your book. This, in turn, changes the size that the spine of your book cover needs to be. Once the spine shifts, the front and back of your book cover shift as well.

If the page count changes by a large enough margin, your cover will need to be adjusted because the images and text on your cover will move, and this is annoying as hell. So every time I made adjustments that changed the page count by a noticeable degree, I needed young Huntley the graphic designer to adjust the spine size to conform to the new book length. My page count varied from 20 to 50 pages as we evolved from version to improved version, so each time, Huntley needed to work his magic, which slows down the process of getting your book on the market. It’s time well spent to get it right, but still, it can be frustrating. Huntley explained to me that it’s not a straightforward maneuver. While re-sizing the spine, the proportions of the book cover get weird due to inches being a random measurement without a basis in ten, so there were issues to figure out on his end too. I don’t understand the equation precisely, which is why I found an art director to handle it.

3) Don’t forget your copyright page. Assuming you have a copyright, which you should because your book needs a copyright, you need to create a copyright page. (If you don’t have a copyright, email me and I’ll explain, because that is an entirely separate matter.) At first, I made the mistake of assuming that the CreateSpace software automatically adds a copyright page and you simply fill in the pertinent details, but this is not the case. You need to manually create a copyright page in your manuscript.

There are many things that CreateSpace does for you, but this is not one of them. As I navigated the CreateSpace maze, I was expecting to find some template for the copyright page, but that never happened, and I forgot about it, until I looked at my digital proofs and realized that there was no copyright page, which also contains your ISBN number. Basically, you need to manually type the copyright page onto your manuscript before saving as a pdf because the CreateSpace pixies don’t do it for you. Lesson learned.

Okay, so…now your trim size and paper size are in sync. Your copyright page is in place, with your imprint listed on it. Soon, you’ll create a pdf of your manuscript, and you’re that much closer to holding your paperback in your hand and gazing upon it admiringly.

NEXT UP: ISBNs and uploading your cover and getting this bad boy all together…

Jan
24

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

Here’s my book at Small World Books here in Venice Beach! It’s right on the boardwalk by the skatepark. It’s a great bookstore. Check it out!
SmallWorld 2

Jan
10

TODAY’S MONDO FILM GUEST BLOGGER

I’m doing a little guest-blogging today on a film site. Check it out!

5 Films I First Watched in 2013

Dec
23

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM VENICE BEACH!

IMG_3213

Dec
18

MONDO RADIO!

These are the radio shows I’ve recently done to promote my book. And there are more coming up! (Doing one this afternoon, even…)

Keep hustling your book! Contact radio shows and talk your way on. It helps book sales immensely! Some shows help sales more than others, but the overall impact is pretty major. Look up radio shows, find their contact emails, and make as long a list as you can. Then write an email pitch that’s catchy and brief, and start emailing them like crazy!

Many of these shows put up a podcast online after the show has aired, which helps you reach an even wider audience. And almost everyone I’ve dealt with from these radio shows has been super-nice. I’ve met some really great people along the way.

12.17.13 – Overnight America with Jon Grayson – Nationally Syndicated

12.15.13 – Bob Salter – WFAN 66AM/101.9FM – New York

12.8.13 – Jim Brown’s Common Sense Radio Program – Clear Channel Radio

12.6.13 – Sergio Sanchez – 710 KURV – Dallas, TX

12.5.13 – The Schilling Show with Rob Schilling – 1070 WINA – Charlottesville, VA

12.5.13 – The Frankie Boyer Show – Syndicated

12.4.13 – The Ed Tyll Show – New York – online

12.3.13 – The Bev Smith Show – American Urban Radio Networks – Nationally Syndicated

11.27.13 – America Now with Andy Dean – Nationally Syndicated

11.26.13 – America Tonight w/ Kate Delaney – Nationally Syndicated

11.25.13 – The Brett Winterble Show – SiriusXM Satellite

11.24.13 – Peter Solomon – WIP 94FM/610AM – Philadelphia, PA

10.17.13 – Adam Montiel “Up and Adam in the Morning – Q104.5 FM – Central Coast, CA

10.8.13 – Warren Lawrence – WKNY 1490 AM – Kingston, NY

9.30.13 – 98.1FM The Rude Awakening Show with Bulldog – Ocean City, MD

9.26.13 – 1380 The Woman – St. Louis, MO

9.23.13 – The Thom Hartmann Program – Nationally Syndicated

8.26.13 – The Rusty Humphries Show – Nationally Syndicated

8.12.13 – LifeBites with Nina Boski – Los Angeles/Podcast

Dec
04

PUTTING IT TOGETHER…

There are several tasks that you must tackle before you can self-publish your book. One of these things is creating your BOOK COVER. This part can get expensive if you need to pay CreateSpace or some other cover-creating service to do this for you. I don’t usually trust anonymous strangers or web applications to oversee design elements like that for me, so I decided to commandeer the creation of the book cover myself.

I have a neighbor here in Venice Beach named Randall, who’s a very cool guy and an extremely talented painter. Randall moved in around the time our baby was born. He likes to restore the local wall murals that have been defaced by graffiti, which I think is awesome. Randall’s pad, in an old Venice house, is far too small for his easel, so he sets up his big canvas out on our corner, and that is where he paints. Randall is very tall and thin, so this dude hanging out on the corner with an 8-foot canvas, painting away, could only go unnoticed by me for so long. We chatted every time I walked past, and he’d always say hi to the baby. Randall invited me and the baby to his first art show here in the neighborhood, and his work was very impressive. Now Randall and I are pals, and I move his car for him on street cleaning days when he’s out of town with his other art shows and endeavors.

I told Randall a little about the story of my book, and gave him a very bad stick drawing of what I was imagining for the cover. A week later, Randall had created something incredible for the cover of my book. I handed him some cash and excitedly went to digitize the artwork for my cover. I’m not very good at Photoshop, so I soon was right back at Randall’s place and he digitized the art for me.

And we’re off!

Now, I need to find someone to take the artwork and design the cover. This person will also hopefully handle the technical specifications of the cover. And I think I know just the person. He’s a young fella named Huntley Woods. We’re related but I’m not sure exactly how. He’s my sister’s husband’s sister’s son, so he’s my sister’s nephew and I’m not sure what that makes him to me. But he’s a great guy and when he moved to L.A. a few years ago, I advised him a little on what to do and where to hang out. Now he works at a marketing firm as a junior designer, helping to create movie posters and billboards. I ask Huntley if he’ll design my book cover and he’s thrilled…but he’s swamped with work. This isn’t a huge problem. I give him a few weeks. Fortunately, I’m not shy with this kid since I taught him how to correctly pronounce “Sepulveda” and “La Cienega” and I after a few weeks, I start bugging him.

So Huntley finally gets to designing the cover. I had sent him the text for the back cover and the page count so he’ll know how wide to make the spine. There’s a specific formula for calculating the spine width of your book. People who design book covers know it. I don’t, but that’s just another reason why God made the Internet, so I could look it up.

Eventually, I get the book cover from Huntley. I suddenly seize up. I’m really nervous to even open the file and look at it. 1) Because this is my book cover…THE ACTUAL COVER FOR MY BOOK!!! (Well, hopefully, anyway.) 2) Because if I don’t like it, I’m in a bit of a situation. Because I’ll have to tell Huntley that I’m not using it, or tell him how to change it. I told him in my emails to try anything and be as creative and crazy as he wanted. But now, standing on the threshold of discovering what I’m stuck with…yeesh.

Well, “distant family” is a street that runs both ways. Just like I’m not shy about pestering him to do it, if I don’t like it, I still might have to use it, because the kid is my second-cousin-in-law or something. So, cringing with awkward anticipation, I open the pdf…and jump to the ceiling…

It’s EXCELLENT!!! It’s not at all what I expected, and I love that! Thank god.

(Quick sidebar – If someone is designing your cover for you, make sure they leave room on the back cover for your ISBN and barcode – more on this later…)

Ah, progress! So…when first setting out to get published, I met “Simon” who is a pretty high-ranking executive at a major publishing house. Simon is hilarious and cool as hell. We’ve become very good friends, and we get drunk together whenever we’re in the same city. He has been my secret informant all along as I’ve clawed my way up this mountain. (See the previous posts about that – the tags with “Simon”…)

Within minutes of seeing the cover, I send it to Simon to find out what he thinks. Simon and I haven’t spoken in a month or so, and we’re way overdue to discuss things we hate. Simon call back that night, and he loves the cover! And then we talk about things we hate this week, which for Simon is one bunch of his annoying Hamptons friends. And we discuss things we oddly love this week, which for me is the TV show Enlightened, which is brilliant if you give it time to get under your skin, and which all of you should watch.

Simon has some suggestions regarding the cover. He says they’re based entirely on his own strange “cover issues,” but he’s a pro and he knows what he’s talking about. Simon thinks my bright cover should be more somber, because he likes depressing colors. “But that’s just me,” he says, “You know me…” And Simon does like depressing colors. It seems that almost the entire, self-serious, publishing industry does. I think that’s because it makes the book seem smarter and more serious…and hence, more important. I talk to Randall the painter and Huntley, along with my wife. They all like Huntley’s mega-fiery cover. I sleep on it, and then decide that Simon is right, but only partly so.

Huntley and I come up with a compromise, incorporating more somber, gloomy colors toward the center and keeping a fiery sunset behind the title. Huntley spends a week playing with it and then shows it to me. I love it. Everybody, even Simon, loves this new cover.

Now that my cover is done, and it’s damn good…Here’s how I think you should approach creating a cover for your book. I recommend taking control of this process yourself. As always, the best approach is to ask around and keep asking until you find people who know how to do each separate task that you need done. If you’re persistent, you can probably find someone who knows every skill that is required along the way. This way, you’ll keep control of the look, receive lots of input along the way, and keep costs to a minimum. It is entirely possible to accomplish all of this yourself, if you keep at it.

And now, with the cover finished, we’re moving even further forward! YEE-HA!!!

Oct
21

MAKING YOUR BOOK A REALITY

Amazon’s self-publishing service is called CreateSpace. CreateSpace achieves the somewhat miraculous feat of taking your digital manuscript and turning it into a genuine, 3-dimensional trade paperback. Most of how this is accomplished is a complete mystery to me. But that’s okay. I don’t know how the TV works, but I do know how to operate it. And that’s all you need to bring your book to life.

There are fees for this magic, but I somehow managed to avoid almost all of the CreateSpace charges in my bumbling, novice ways. So even now, after having completed it, I have no firm handle on how much money this process can cost. I only know how much it cost me, and how you can dodge most of the costs. Basically, there are the parts of this process that are reasonably expensive and other parts that are free.

I was very surprised when I realized that I had unwittingly handled all of the costly parts on my own. In the end, the only costs I incurred were to buy my own physical proofs, which I recommend doing (and most of that money actually went to shipping, which seems to be the most unavoidable expense here.) But we’ll get to that part later.

Before you even get there, you need an “imprint” for your book. Unless you want CreateSpace to be the publisher of record for your book (which I did not), you need to create your own imprint, or publishing entity. This isn’t very hard or expensive. You have to file some paperwork with the state or county, and then post your DBA announcement in a newspaper. I chose the local Venice Beach paper The Argonaut, and met some very cool people who work there. (Actually “worked” – I recently heard from one of these folks about a mass exodus due to layoffs. I fear for the future of the Argonaut, because it’s been a cool little local paper for decades.)

Okay, digressing, sorry…Back on track, the aforementioned “DBA” is a “Doing Business As” announcement. You run an announcement 4 times in the classified section of a newspaper and then you are official. Filing with the county costs $27.75 and the announcements cost $75.00 total. That $75 is how much it costs to do it at the Argonaut. If you do this same thing at the L.A. Times, it costs a few hundred dollars, so I suggest finding a smaller local paper to do this for you, because it will probably cost less. Joy, the super-nice person who works at the Argonaut, even offered to file my paperwork with the county when she made her weekly trip there to do it. However, I wanted to do it myself, mostly for the experience, and I’m glad I did. I always love doing things for the first time, and usually I love trips to civic buildings. (Someday I’ll tell you about my field trip to the City Morgue with my pal Liz, but I’ve digressed enough.) Joy gave me tips about the best times to go to the appropriate County Building in a strange industrial region near the airport, where I once had to go for jury duty (a funny story, especially if you know what my book is about, but I’ll tell you how to get an entire jury pool dismissed some other time. Again, digression…)

Another quick thing you must do before publishing your book is get a copyright. If you haven’t copyrighted your manuscript, do it now. Go to: http://www.copyright.gov/

And there you have it. You’ve got all the initial proto-publishing stuff out of the way. Any questions about the copyright, the DBA, or the imprint, email me.

Now you’re ready to start putting your book together, so that the world can read it…

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