Tuesday, June 26, 2012

POD Publishing with Lulu

I promised earlier I would talk a little about publishing with Lulu, the POD purveyor. No, I don't mean this kind of pod:

I mean POD as in "print on demand." Basically, you set up your book in Lulu's computer server somewhere in the Gobi Desert and every time you, or a customer, wants one, one gets printed up and shoots out the door. Even with the advance in technology, it's still pretty amazing that it can be done at a reasonable price. The current price (at Lulu) for the trade paperback edition of Tainted Souls is $10.47, and the regular, non-Lulu price would be $14.95, which is more or less what you'd pay for a mass-marketed book.

And it cost me nothing to do all this. Except that you are required to buy at least one copy of the book so you can check it before it gets distributed. Lulu takes a cut of $2.00 from the book, but I still don't see how they make money. I don't understand how Google or Facebook make money, either, so I suppose it has more to do with my ignorance than anything else.

It will cost you money if you use their services like formatting, or cover design or marketing or if you want distribution beyond Amazon. If you do everything yourself, though, it's a free ride. You even get a free ISBN.

It was easy. I downloaded a template from Lulu and stuck in my manuscript. I had to adjust a few things here and there (the first lines of each chapter, for example, are in small caps -- something I couldn't figure out how to do on the Kindle, since Kindle owners can change the size of font and thus the number of characters in a line) but no real sweat. If I'd wanted to put in the time, I could have mucked around with the justification and widow control, since Microsoft Word doesn't know how to use hyphens for the former, and gets around the latter by adding or subtracting lines on a page. I didn't bother, though, since for me, setting up for POD was more an ego trip than a serious attempt at book publishing.

I couldn't quite get the cover exactly right -- the print on the spine is a little too far to the left. I tried to fix it but couldn't. I think it has everything to do with Paint.net, which I used to make the cover, rather than Lulu. But again, I don't really care that much. I just did this to have a few copies of my own and so I could give a few copies away to select friends and family. I'm not expecting any orders from Amazon. Especially since the ebook's so much cheaper (as in, free).

So count me in as a big fan of POD. As vanity publishing goes, it sure beats the likes of Publish America, bete noire of the folks at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. No ponying up for big upfront printing costs. No boxes and boxes of unsold books in the garage. And if I seriously wanted to go on a road trip and sell the book, I could order up say, 50 and hit the highway and see how it goes, ordering more as needed. No huge out-of-pocket expenses.

There are other POD printers -- CreateSpace is one. Most charge a fee, though not a huge one. I'm too cheap for that, but if you're interested, be sure to check around before settling on a POD partner.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Now Free on Kindle - PODcast Later

I was going to write a bit today about publishing on demand through Lulu, but I noticed today that TAINTED SOULS was listed as free on Amazon (catching up to everywhere else) so I'll just mention that and write about Lulu later. Gotta take the daughter unit to the doctor this morning anyway, so I'm in kind of a rush as it is.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Apocrypha of the Novel

There's a story that James Joyce, nearly blind by the time, was dictating Finnegan's Wake to Samuel Beckett when there was a knock at the door. "Come in," Joyce said. Beckett, intently scribbling, dutifully wrote down this comment. Later, as Beckett read back what Joyce had dictated, Joyce asked where the errant "Come in" had come from. Beckett explained he must have written it down by mistake. "That's all right," Joyce allegedly said. "Leave it in." So, if you are of such mind to comb meticulously through the 800-plus pages of tiny print that make up Finnegan's Wake, you will eventually come upon a "Come in" that seems out of place.

Although in Finnegan's Wake it's rather hard to tell what's out of place.

I mention this because I was reading through the Lulu-printed copy of Tainted Souls that arrived in the mail yesterday. (A very nice job. I'll post more about this POD stuff next week.) In one chapter I came across an errant sentence that somehow survived multiple revisions of the manuscript only to live on, like the single bacterium that survives a blast of penicillin and goes on to found a whole race of superbugs.

The line is "He wiped his mouth with a napkin."

Originally the scene in which this line occurs took place in a restaurant, but I later moved it outdoors and shortened it considerably. Somehow, though, this line avoided my red pen. So now, completely out of context, a character named "Red Shoes" Mario suddenly pulls a napkin out of nowhere and wipes his mouth. The fact that he must have been eating must be inferred. Well, it could have been worse.

What about you? Did anything slip past you and into the final version or your story or book despite multiple revisions?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tainted Souls Now in Paperback

You can now get yourself a paperback edition of Tainted Souls here at Lulu.com, the print-on-demand publisher.

I found the whole process of publishing on Lulu to be fairly painless. The most difficult part, since I was doing my own cover, was dowloading Paint.net and GIMP -- since I needed to be able to creat a 300 dpi JPEG -- and figuring out how to use them. The Lulu cover looks somewhat different, though the theme (understandable if you've read the book -- you have, haven't you?) is the same:

I still don't quite see how POD publishers make money. I suppose a lot of it comes from selling services like help with formatting, cover design, etc. From the actual publishing, I don't know. Lulu takes a couple dollars from each book sold but even if everything's done by computer . . . well, it's hard to see how they make a buck off that.

I spent nothing, not including time. I did it not because I think anyone's going to suddenly start paying $10.47 -- current, discounted, Lulu-only price -- or $14.95 -- regular, to-come price -- when they can download an e-book version for free. I did it so I could have a few real book-form copies of my baby myself. Which makes Lulu the cheapest vanity publisher ever.

Which is not a bad thing.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Most Disappointing Books Ever

We've all had the experience, haven't we? Picking up an "all-time great" novel, diving right in, and coming up for air after a few pages, bored or appalled, plunging on through to the end thinking, This must get better, it's everyone's favorite, only to finish the thing, toss it aside and say to yourself, "That was a monumental waste of time," wondering what all the fuss was about.

That's how I feel about The Great Gatsby, touted as an American classicAs far as I'm concerned, the only thing great about Gatsby, which I have read three times in a brave attempt to understand why everyone else thinks it's such hot stuff, is that it's mercifully short. Having plowed through three times and seen the dull-as-dishwater movie with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, I'm still at a loss. I don't get it. I can barely remember what it's about. Jay. East Egg, West Egg. Some girl. Parties. Rich people. Boring, boring, boring.

What about you? What stupendous work of literature left you in a stupor?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tainted Souls Now Free for Nook

For a limited time, you can now download a free copy of Tainted Souls for your Nook at Barnes and Noble.

You can also continue to download it for free at Smashwords.

Meanwhile, click on the link if you want to listen to Gloria Jones' 1964 rendition of "Tainted Love."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Writing Tips From Barack Obama

Contained within David Maraniss' new biography "Barack Obama: The Story," are these writing tips from a young Obama, given to a friend who had sent him a manuscript. It's pretty good advice.

1) "Careful about too many adverbs, particularly describing how people speak (Paul asked disbelievingly, etc.). It can be cumbersome and a bit intrusive on the reader."
2) "Resist the temptation of easy satire. ... Good satire has to be a little muted. Should spill out from under a seemingly somber situation."
3) "Try to get the basic stats on the characters out of the way early {Paul was 24} so that you can spend the rest of the story revealing character."
4) "Think about the key moment(s) in the story, and build tension leading to those key moments."
5) "[W]rite outside your own experience. ... I find that this works the fictive imagination harder."

Don't forget that Tainted Souls is free for the asking at Smashwords, until I change my mind.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Get Yer Free Copy of Tainted Souls!

You can now download Tainted Souls for free at Smashwords. Don't dawdle. This is a limited-time offer and I don't know when my munificence and selflessness will wear off, but if history is any guide, it won't be too far off in the future.

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