January 15, 2006

The aunt and uncle factor …

Everything is relative :p As those reading these pages would know, I’ve been toying with the idea of publishing my book through Lulu or some other PoD (Print on Demand) outfit. After debating on this for weeks with myself, I finally decided to move on to the next step with Lulu – the one after creating a free account (and sitting on it for weeks :p) I decided to actually upload my book to Lulu and get moving on the publishing process.

This was where the relative factor came in. I had completed the final manuscript of my book according to publisher’s guidelines – it was formatted with the right margins, had the correct line spacing and had one of the approved fonts and font sizes. So, I had been thinking of my book as being 375 pages (or thereabouts). Then, Lulu says that I need to use their manuscript template to format the book and so I’m like, "OK, fine. Let’s do that!" It takes a while to get everything into the Lulu template (they provide a blank Word document which is formatted the way they want) but once I got everything set, I realize that my book had mysteriously shrunk down to 197 pages :p

I then get started on the actual process of setting everything up for publishing and making sure that the page layout is correct on the new document. One of the first things I did was remove the chapter breaks :p I had originally written the novel as an assortment of scenes and did not want them to be broken up into chapters. However, in converting over from my own editor (Aamanuensis) to Word for easier formatting, the scenes became chapters. I now decided to take the chapter breaks out and simply have scene separators. This ended up in further reducing the number of pages and the actual book now stands at less than 180 pages!

I had done all of my price calculations and comparisons of different PoD companies based on a page count of about 370 and now I find that I have a book which is half that size :p Looks as if I might have to put Lulu on the shelf for a bit and go out and check the PoD company price breakdowns again, factoring in the new page count :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:40 am  |  No Comments

January 4, 2006

Accepting Rejection

I’d been waiting for weeks and finally it arrived yesterday – the agent’s decision on my novel. I’d queried around 50-60 agents and out of that lot only 3 bothered to go even as far as further discussion. This agent was the only one who went the whole distance – they wanted to see the full manuscript. They’d been hanging on to the manuscript for about two months now and I was getting a bit impatient about the whole thing because I wanted to move on. So finally, I got what I wanted yesterday :p

It wasn’t all bad, but then again, it wasn’t good either – depending on where you stand 🙂 For me, it was mostly a relief (and no,this isn’t my version of sour grapes :p) I had wanted to proceed with the Print on Demand option since there seemed to be quite a few things going for it and I was getting tired of waiting on agents and wondering and wondering. I wanted to get this book done with and move on to the next one but me being me, I couldn’t do that till I saw this book laid to rest – completely :p Yes, I know the verdict … they loved my writing style and wanted to see any other book I wrote but didn’t feel they could represent this one because they felt that it was too complicated.

I agree with her (and Laurie :p) about the complexity. The story is in four threads and it has a veritable busload of characters. Problem is, I don’t know how to make it less complex. To me, the story would be bland and uninteresting if I took just one or two threads and told the story from that limited perspective. Am I making excuses for my book? Perhaps I am. But at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if everybody would think it was complicated or if people might actually enjoy the chance to read something complicated rather than a linear story which simply goes from point A to point B. This brings me back to Print on Demand 🙂

This might be the best opportunity to simply publish the book and find out where it goes. At the same time, it will free me up to pursue work on the next book – which is a bit more linear but is also more convoluted in that it launches three different threads via three different books. Yeah, I don’t like keeping it simple :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:22 am  |  No Comments

December 26, 2005

For want of an artist … (the book was lost?)

I’ve been considering Publish on Demand very seriously lately. I’m tired of waiting for agents to respond, the long delays, the lack of communication and the exclusivity that they all seem to require from you. Once an agent accepts your book to read, you can’t submit it to anybody else. Or, they phrase it as, "we’d prefer that you didn’t" or "we give more consideration to exclusive works". I’m sure there are plenty of people who go ahead and submit to multiple agents at the same time and even have a few agents/publishers reading their manuscript at the same time as well but it feels somewhat dishonest to say that somebody is exclusive and then do something else.

However, as I mentioned before, I’ve gotten tired of all the waiting. I’m a naturally impatient person and waiting without any updates makes me even more impatient. If somebody told me, "OK, we will be done by such and such a date and we’ll update you then", that works for me. But if somebody tells me that they’ll update me and then don’t, that makes me even more impatient. Yeah, it’s all my fault :p

The thing is, I’ve got six other books (at least) that I want to write. But I don’t want to proceed with them till I’ve figured out where the first one has gone or is going to go. The direction of the first book will to an extent decide how the others evolve. So, I’ve been impatiently waiting for something to develop with the first book and I’m tired of waiting any longer. Once I’d done the research on Lulu a couple of days ago, I was leaning more and more towards going with them and so putting the waiting to an end once and for all. Unfortunately, there is one thing stopping me – a good cover 🙂

I don’t want to slap any cover on my book and start publishing it – I want the right cover. I had looked around for artists and I had finally found somebody a few months back. He seemed perfect and I really liked his work. It turned out to be a bit of a struggle to find contact information for him but I was able to finally contact him and then it turned out that book covers weren’t cheap 🙁 This guy was a nice guy though and when I told him that I couldn’t pay him much since I didn’t have a book deal and might even have to self-publish, he said that he’d read the book and if he liked it, he’d do the cover and will wait for payment until such time as I could pay him or get a publisher. I sent him the manuscript but haven’t heard from him since then.

I tried to contact him a couple of times but nothing. However, after I sent him off the second e-mail yesterday, I did something I should have done in the first place, I went to his site and took a look :p It appears that he has been pretty busy – gotten married, gone for big conference and so on. So that’s a lot of stuff to take up two months and might explain why I haven’t heard from him. However, since I haven’t heard a word from him at all, I have to conclude that perhaps he’s too busy (or too annoyed by my queries :p) to do anything about my cover. So I’m on the look out for another artist now … Anybody out there? Anybody at all?? :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:20 am  |  No Comments

December 24, 2005

To Publish and be Damned?

Nige mentioned Print on Demand (PoD) services a couple of days ago when we were discussing books and different publishing/distribution methods. I had briefly looked into PoD myself at several points but most of the operations I had come across had been mere scams and not really legitimate publishers. Nige had however, mentioned Xlibris and I went over there yesterday to see what the deal was.

I was impressed at first since they were billed as a strategic partner of Random House Ventures – that had to be legit, right? I then took a look at their prices and some of my enthusiasm ebbed. $500 for the lowest cost package and then prices going from $900 to $1600 to set up? That seemed a bit steep. So I went into the details for each package and checked to see what you’d get for such high prices. What stood out from the list of features for each package was not really a feature – at least, not as far as I was concerned. Royalties of 10% – 25%? Were they insane? I was supposed to pay $500 (at least) to setup a publishing deal with them, print my book through them and still only get 10% of the profit? (The 25% was if you did any direct sales and how many books do you think I was going to sell going door to door? :p) I said bugger that decided to look for other options at this point.

I spoke to Laurie about this and she mentioned Lulu. So today in the morning, I moseyed on over to their website and was much more impressed. They had no setup fees, they took 20% off your profits (or rather tacked on a bit to your profit to give them 20%) and they seemed to have a better community and support system set up to deal with all of this. Oh yeah, they even let you sell the electronic version of your book through their site for free whereas Xlibris wanted a slice of that action as well (or at least, that’s what it seemed like to me when I read their site). Actually, I have to revise that after having gone through Lulu’s FAQ’s again – they do want 20% off of all e-books sold on their site but still, that’s better than giving 90% to Xlibris :p

The catch? Well, I’m still trying to work out how book prices are set at Lulu. They say that it is cost of publishing + royalty + Lulu commission but they say the cost of publishing varies on the number of copies printed. Since this is print on demand, this would appear to mean that the cost of the book varies all the time! If somebody bought 1 copy of my book, they would end up paying around $13.50 if the book was about 350 pages and I added a mark up of about $1.50 as my profit. However, if somebody bought 100 copies and so placed a print order for 100 books, it would cost them only around $11.50 – it sounds a bit complicated and confusing. Maybe I’m getting things mixed up … I’ll have to do a little more research and also look at a few more PoD outfits 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 7:56 am  |  No Comments

December 17, 2005

Change is in the air …

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything with my sites (except to try to combat all the spam that is :p). I’ve been taking a break from the programming and have been working more on the writing end of things. And then work became a bit hectic and took over everything and so didn’t have time to do anything at all.

On the writing front, I finally found an agent who wanted to actually read my manuscript instead of simply saying "Not interested" after I queried them. However, the manuscript has been with them for about two months now and haven’t heard much from them 🙁 So, I’m a bit disheartened at the moment and wondering whether the whole thing is worth it.

On the other hand, I’ve also been reading about scammers on the Net who rip new writers off without any compunction. Not that the agent who has got my manuscript is one – I did check them out first :p Interestingly, I did get approached by a scammer at one point and had an interesting exchange of mails with them but don’t want to get into that in this post since that’s a whole new post by itself :p But what I did notice from my reading online was that these scammers can get pretty vindictive when they are called scammers – imagine that :p There were some pretty interesting (and horrifying) stories online but one of the most detailed (and engrossing) ones was this one. After reading that, I do have to wonder if it is even worth it going through all that hassle to get published …

You might have noticed that SM has now moved to be the main focus of my domain. This is in line with other changes that I’m contemplating. If the current agent that I’m corresponding with does not work out, I might try to simply publish my current novel (and the other six in the same cycle) online. My friend Nige has been prodding me to consider some sort of Net-based publishing mechanism like Cory Doctorow does and I might actually do that and be done with all this agent business …

So what does that mean for the software part of this site? Well, the software will still be there and I will continue to provide support as and when possible. I’m even working on a few apps which will help a writer keep track of submissions and story ideas and they will go up when I think the app is ready. However, coding will probably not be the main focus of this site any longer. The old Developer’s Corner content is still there and I will eventually add links from the main page to all that stuff but for the moment, it becomes just another historical layer to this site :p

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Posted by Fahim at 9:22 am  |  1 Comment

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