It’s go time

By on August 5th, 2011
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(Read that title in the voice of an ironically written CIA agent character.)

The next month is going to be nuts. I’m shooting to get my book to the printers by the last week of August or first week of September, which leaves me feeling like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland … can’t stop, can’t stop, I’m going to be late, going to be late!

So, yes, I’ve decided to end my search for a publisher. I evaluated three last options then called it quits. The acquisition editor of the press that almost picked me up (see previous blog entry) offered to let me use her as a reference to get in with another press. And she recommended three presses that she was connected to personally. I evaluated these presses: their websites, their books on Amazon (how many reviews, style and subject matter), and, finally, I reviewed their contracts/author policies. I also spoke with an author who had been published by one of the presses, the one that looked the most promising of the three. My conclusion was that they would do almost nothing for me that I couldn’t do myself and would take most of the profits. They offer authors 10% of cover price, and they insist on design control of the cover as well as interior. I would have been comfortable with a collaboration, but the upfront “we control it” attitude put into writing left a bad taste in my mouth. Worse, the straw that really sucked the interest out of me was when I learned from the published author that he had actually been required to buy copies of his own book from the publisher in order to mail them himself to reviewers. Screw that.

So where things stand: I’ve been a bit delayed in the design of my book because my book designer broke his right forearm in a moped accident. He’s lucky to have survived the hit and run. Poor guy, I do love him, but why wasn’t he wearing a goddamn helmet? But we’re back on track now. I got a bid for cover art from a painter I met at the last Comicon in Chicago but decided to have my book designer do the cover art in addition to the interior design. That way, the design will be integrated with the cover text. $300 for cover art, btw.

Other actions I’ve taken so far: I purchased a set of 10 ISBN numbers and barcodes ($250), Library of Congress Number (free), and requested quotes from 10 printers. I’ve been sorting through the responses and am collecting the best bids. It’s going to be pretty expensive because I’m committed to using 100% recycled paper. But I’m willing to invest the extra money in order to feel better about stamping ink on 384,000 pages of paper. (That’s another reason not to use a small press–almost all of them do Print on Demand now, and most POD printers like Createspace or Lulu do not have a 100% recycled paper option.)

Still left to do: Create the CIP data—that’s the cataloguing data for libraries. It’s actually quite complicated, and I’ve visited two libraries so far and the reference librarians were not helpful. Any librarians out there want to help me??? I’m in the process of collecting potential reviewer names and websites. Need to find a distributor. Create some postcards. Collect a list of all bookstores in Chicago and other indie bookstores around the country. Setup PayPal and Google checkout accounts so people can buy copies directly from my website and prepare the updates for my site when the book launches. Prepare an ebook. Continue recording my audio book version. Set up a book release party. And so many more little things…I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.

Next blog entry: A taste of the pre-release promotional blurbs I’ve already lined up for the book.


My book is going nowhere, and I like it

By on May 10th, 2010
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Book ‘im, Danno. Book that guy because his book isn’t going anywhere. But before you do, tell me what the heck kind of name is Danno, anyway? Is that really a name for a grownup? Let’s not dwell on it. And also, don’t dwell on your novel when you are playing The Waiting Game. (It’s like The Crying Game except with more crying.) I’m being obtuse so permit me to be a(bit)cute instead.

My second novel is at a standstill because I’ve handed it off to two of my friends to read. Cheers to friends! As I’ve said in several previous posts, whether you’re trying to land a publisher or you’re self-publishing, getting outside feedback before you submit is essential. I spent six years in my own head—now I want to see how my head bounces off some other folks in case it bounces a little wonky here or there. Is that metaphor strained? So is my neck. Several bits may have been left in my brainstem instead of on the page.

I will probably have all notes back from my wrecking—I mean writing—crew by the end of May. So far, the one I’ll call my first friend merely because it’s convenient to number him as first (who is a writer and literary critic) has provided me fifty pages, and he’s got another fifty or so waiting for me to snatch and grab. My second friend (who is a writer and editor) read the entire book through without making notes and is now going back a second time. He sent me a wonderful email as follows:

I didn’t get as much done while in Iowa as I’d planned, but I did get the whole thing read through once. It’s REALLY great–I like it a LOT. Just some really beautiful stuff in there. So now I need to go through it and mark my thoughts, reactions, editing stuff…But first reaction is WELL DONE!

So, yay to that! What am I doing in the meantime? How should one fill up the Waiting Room of Eternal Writerly Frustration? Here’s the advice: don’t let the dust settle, work on your next book. Whether you have submitted 20 query letters and have to wait six months for a reply, or you have your book with a proofreader for two weeks…wherever it is in limbo-land, don’t stop writing. Move on to your next piece, which might be even better than the one you just completed. I’m currently working on a children’s book with two collaborators—an art director and an animator. And I’m nearly done writing it, too, while waiting. It’s actually going to be an interactive children’s book. We’re going to build a demo of a couple sections of it and then pitch it to publishers. My advice, keep writing. I’m always pullin’ shapes, you dig?


Where am I write now?

By on December 6th, 2009
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I am write, my friends. I am write.

1) I’ve completed my first final draft! ?!?! (See 3 below)

2) I am waiting on my illustrator. One scene in my book is fully illustrated (without text), and I’ve reviewed about 90% of the sketches so far and received about 2/3 of the final ink drawings.*

3) I will be soliciting some feedback (as well as submitting it to a professional proofreader to help catch any typos–it’s so easy to read your own material a hundred times and miss something because what it’s supposed to say is actually more in your head than on paper) and then making revisions as I see fit. After feedback revisions, I will have my second (and hopefully final) final draft. I like to name these drafts because when a process takes six years to complete (as this one has), counting drafts has allowed me to feel like I’ve made some progress. It’s an affirmation. After a few years of writing story material without needing to shape it, I went through eleven drafts to get where I am

I believe it’s important to solicit feedback, especially as a self-published author. I’m quite happy with the book as it is … actually I love it … but I would like to get reactions from a handful of other writers and friends before I start sending out query letters to publishers. I will consider all feedback (What is confusing? What did they love? How did they interpret/misinterpret some parts of it? etc.) and decide what, if anything, I want to change from there. I am comfortable with quite a level of misinterpretation of my themes and visions, but there may be certain things (wait…I didn’t want anyone to think that) that I want to revise. This feedback will be limited but useful as a sounding board.

4) I am waiting for a friend of mine to build a single-page mini-website for me (based on my design) that will function to play a song that I composed with a sound engineer and three musicians. This is the last piece of my book puzzle. There is a scene in my book where several characters play instruments together … a web address is mentioned indirectly, and if you visit the website, you will hear the music that the characters are performing.

5) After completing the next draft, and adding the illustrations and posting the song, I will write query letters to publishers and literary agent and pursue the self-publishing process simultaneously. Onward, ho! (And stop calling me a ho.)

* I essentially worked with the illustrator as a writer of a comic book might: I wrote a description of every image in detail and even took photographs of friends posing in every position I wanted represented. Then I worked with the illustrator for about a month to get the character sketches to a place that captured my vision. She has sent me pencil sketches of each frame, and I commented on them before she did the final ink drawers. They have actually come out quite beautifully!