Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Putting the peas in a POD

I promised another post about my experiences with Create Space and why I made the decision to do more than a Kindle version of an out of print book. In my last blog, I mentioned getting started on the project and about some of the decisions that went into the re-writing.  It was the re-writing that prompted me to begin thinking about doing more than a Kindle Version. When this book was finished, it would not be the same book that was published years ago by Scholastic Canada when we lived up north. It had a whole new thread, and the story was thoroughly re-written. 

The second reason for deciding to do a POD hard copy had to do with the fact that I spend a certain amount of my "authoring" time sitting at events with my piles of books spread in front of me on a burgundy tablecloth with business cards and a little bowl of candy next to them. Why not have this book with me as well?  It would increase the odds, so to speak.  And I might as well be giving the readers another choice.

The final reason I opted for self-publishing was simple curiosity. The publishing world has changed vastly, and there are many over-the top successful "Independent" writers.  Some of them are publishing only electronically, some of them only in hard copies, or both.  For me, I wanted to see how the whole thing worked and to compare sales, marketing, and bottom line income. As they say in business, it's not what you make, it's what you keep. So after my up front expenses are met, will I need to buy pants with bigger pockets?

Those questions won't be answered for awhile. But here's where I'm at right now:

After starting in with Create Space with the intent of doing a Kindle Version, I began to read up on their other services for Print on Demand books. There were menus to choose from--everything from minimal to complete editing services, book cover designing, and interior design.  I opted for the Custom Interior Design only. My cousin, my husband, and I did the editing, and I feel like between us we covered all the bases.  (Appropriate for a baseball story.)

This is where my real learning curve started.  Create Space has a protocol for stepping through the process on their end.  I've probably taken three times longer than anyone else getting the hang of this.  Basically, they ask you to fill out some questionnaires, make a decision on cover size and download your word document.  After that, they do a mock-up and give you time to respond and give feedback.  You can take as long as you like with your feedback, but there is always a wait time of 5 to 10 days on their end until they can get back to you with their revisions.  

It took me three tries to get the mock-up to what I liked. Hindsight, being what it is, now that I know the kinds of things I can ask for, I could have had this done in only one or two steps, Some things we changed were: space between each line in the text, starting the chapter on contiguous pages, and number of lines per page....  

With that said, the design team did a wonderful job on the artistic elements and chapter heads. Warning: one thing the Create Space team DOES NOT do is read your book. I know, this is heartbreaking. But it means that being able to clearly communicate your vision is hugely important. The project is entirely in your hands.  This is both nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. The good thing is, when I made a suggestion, they listened! 

Also, the phone and email communication has been wonderful. I've used it frequently and always had timely responses. The phone support especially: real people and very little time on hold.  Amazing and refreshing.  

As I write this, I'm currently hovering over the heli-pad waiting to land. I've given my final approval on the mock-ups (they only do a few chapter on this at first) and will have a final proof to read in a couple of weeks.  At that point in time, I'll be able to make up to 200 free changes as long as they don't affect the page formatting.

Oh horrors.  I've been known to change the word "the" to "a" on a final line by line edit. Already I'm imagining myself making little tallies and agonizing over the two hundred and first change.  Is one comma worth the $199 charge?

I'll be sure to blog on the outcome.
Don't ask me why this is way down here, but this is a page from the mock-up.  You can see why it took me so long to figure out Create Space.