Thursday, February 22, 2007

(Self-)published at last!

Ahem. Let me be factual first. Remember my 3-day novel entry, the one that was shortlisted? I thought it would be fun to have a few copies printed and bound as a souvenir for myself and gifts to a few friends.
Lulu is generally considered to be the place to go for this, or else your local copy-shop (which saves on shipping). Lulu's website has a friendly tutorial (insert Don't Panic reference here) that makes things look simple enough for the technologically-ungifted like me. Amazingly this turned out to be an accurate representation. Uploading the text was dead simple.
I ran into problems working out the cover, partly because I wavered between the cover I'd designed (a brilliant use of actual, physically crumpled paper!) and a picture from the lulu gallery showing paper being folded and trimmed, which would have been at least as relevant. When my picture stalled in uploading--time went backwards, right there on the little indicator, time went backwards--I tried to cancel my upload and choose the lulu picture. There doesn't seem to be a cancel button on the screen, unless I missed it. For a while the program was trying to load two things at once, I suspect, and it didn't go well. This used up half an hour or so. Possibly more, what with time running backwards.
Somewhere in my to-ing and forth-ing, my specs shifted from Creative Commons to Standard Copyright, which is a bit annoying, though since I'm not making the story generally available, it's not particularly relevant. Lulu has something called Direct Access, where the work isn't findable by searching on lulu, only through someone clicking on the url of the work itself. So I can give particular people the url, and they can order or download, but random strangers won't be coming across it--not that I expect huge interest from random strangers, nor do I fear plagiarism.
The story strikes me as not an easy one to sell, even to Tiny Canadian Presses. Eventually I'll expand it and start submitting to Tiny Canadian Presses, who won't like it because it doesn't have Canadian flavour or a Canadian setting. It is about Survival, kind of, but it's not about Survival in the Wilderness or the Downtown Eastside.
I'm hoping to order my copies tonight. The website warns to order a single copy first, to make sure it all works, but the pdf looks fine, so I'm a bit impatient. Since I'm not selling the books, I've set no royalties and no cost for download.

Done with the sober factual part.
Perhaps I've spent too much time hanging around writing/reading boards, and too much time observing the manoeuvring of the self-published self-promoting. Over on the AbeBooks forum, we regularly get sockpuppets popping up to promote mysterious books they've read and loved, but no one else has heard of. Sometimes the publisher/author himself is honest enough to come forward as himself. Sometimes not. Some do drive-by spammings and never come back, which is just as well because they're either ignored or have holes poked in them by the more cynical forum members. Some hang about for a while and argue. They're more fun.
What, are you thinking I'm one of the more cynical members? For shame! Just because the first thing I do is to check who the publisher is.
Now I am a self-published author myself! Except for the part about making the book public, which I can't say I've really done. But I am self-published enough to feel the infection working in me, squirming through my veins and bones, mutating....
(pause to fall on floor off-camera, writhe, and rise again, fearsomely altered)
I feel the urge to self-promote, to post spammy messages on book fora, to pretend to be a casual reader who simply must share the news about this brilliant book (ordering information below).
I want to argue bitterly about how the publishing industry is broken, how new writers don't stand a chance and how self-publishing and internet promotion is the Way of the Future. Scoff now, but in five years you'll be following my tracks!
Where's my Dread Legion of Sockpuppets? To your keyboards, gentlemen!
The trouble is, I don't seem to have the knack (although I have made and used real cloth-type sockpuppets, including a rather charming dragon from a green hand-towel) of posting with the combination of aggressive enthusiasm and utter lack of detail that characterises your dyed-in-the-wool sock. This was my best effort, posted to the Furtive Scribblers, and you'll agree it falls short:

Does anyone know anything about a new writer called BML Gordon? I just read an amazing book called Fold by her or him and I want to read more!!!! My friend got Fold from and I picked it up at his place and couldn't put it down! It's hearbreaking and griping! Evyerone should read it! and give it to their friends!

Zolah replied with a far better example:

OMG!!! Ive just finished rseding this totally awsome books its the best thing i've read eva!!! I was like, totally hooked from the ferist page and i good not put it down it is about this amazing adventure and i wnat to read more who is this writer???/!!1? i'm a totlayly changed person since reading this everyone should read this wow!!!1

Printed here with her permission and the following acknowledgement:
(I'd like to thank my mum, my dad, my dog, my stylist and all the wonderful little people who work behind the scenes. Also Jesus.)

And Emil followed up with a dandy pastiche of several recent spammings:

Hey I just found a great new book! Fold by BML Gordon. I got it off Its really a thriling story and is printed on high quality. About God's plan for Shiloh dog breeding. BML Gordon must be a really spiritual and insightfull writer to write such a great value book LOL!. (Only $3.33.) I like Dan Brown, Harry Potter ect. and this is great, its a new twist on the classic good/evil conflict, it really stands out! Don't listen to the bashers they are jealous.

You'll note that he was the one to remember to include the vital ordering information. Zo hit the tone of illiterate enthusiasm.
Further contributions to the Spam Buffet are welcomed. Remember, actual knowledge of the book is not required. If you mention anything about the story itself, some Eval Plaguerist may steal it.
My bad angel is further urging me to collect samples (spamples?) from the ABE boards and post some here, as exempla, purely for teaching purposes of course, and stripped of identifying features. Hm.


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batgirl said...

It sounds like fun, but I can't find it! Neither the url nor googling.