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Late innings

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by skip.knox, Jun 20, 2022 at 12:54 PM.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I feel like not enough is said to authors about what happens between finishing (that is, really finished, after the editing is done) and promoting the book. Since that's exactly where I am, I thought I'd make a few comments.

    Oh, all right, I'm bemoaning. (which now makes me imagine bees moaning)

    After editing comes proofreading. I was going to mark that as the end point, but nay 'tis far otherwise.

    This is sort of painfully obvious, but there's copy on your book cover, especially on the paperback. That needs as careful attention as any every place else on your project. I note as an aside that even a professional editor isn't going to do this sort of work. And that fiddling with that copy is a constant temptation.

    Front and Back Matter
    There's the dedication, the Table of Contents, maybe an introduction, all the stuff that happens before the story happens. Here again, no editor or proofreader is looking at this (typically). Are your chapter titles correct?

    Then there's back matter, which will mainly be the call to action (CTA). Here's where you thank the reader, ask for a review, and show your other work. In some publications they even put in a chapter of the next-in-series.

    My current bucket o' woe. No matter the software you use, there's typically this sequence: source document -> formatting tool -> publication tool. There might even be more steps. We want the finished product, the published document, to be perfect, but each step transmutes the document and can produce unexpected results.

    Examples, from my own experience: 1) the Back Matter got counted as a chapter and appears as if it's another chapter in the book; 2) the running head still had the current date, my bad; 3) ToC formatting was goofy in the print version though was fine for the ebook; 4) sub-titles showed up underlined; 5) hyperlinks showed with underlines in the print version.

    And so on. Scores of things. You'd think I'd catch them all in one review pass, but not I. And every time ... *every time* ... I have to return to the source document and go through all the exporting and transforming steps again, ending with the upload and Preview at Amazon. Slow. Also, I have learned to resist the temptation to fix the problem at the formatter. Go back to the source document. Otherwise you wind up with seven different versions of the exact same document, just with formatting twiddles.

    Print vs eBook
    There's actually both proofing and formatting, as indicated above, along the eBook path and along the Print path. Different decisions get made. These aren't typically huge decisions, but they do make a difference on how professional the finished product looks. And, of course, there's always the fun of checking the eBook in different readers. That's less nightmarish than it was five or ten years ago, but it still needs doing.

    And finally, you can't get the final version of your cover for the paperback until you have a final page count. And you won't have that until all the above is done. I've been finished with the novel for three weeks. It's not like I haven't been doing other things in the interval, but that novel still isn't actually published.

    Also, if you're publishing through Amazon KDP, there's a step on the paperback where it offers a way to download the pdf. Do that and review that. Sure, you *just now uploaded* a pdf file. But do it anyway. Nobody is going to see that version. They're only going to see the one that Amazon processed. It's the modern version of reviewing galley proofs.

    So, kiddo, you thought you were done?

    pmmg and Demesnedenoir like this.
  2. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    You know Skip, you really ought to preface this by saying that it applies almost entirely to those who self-publish. For those of us lucky enough to have publisher this gets taken care of. As I've said before, the publisher takes quite a large cut for several reasons. And those reasons include sorting out the cover, front and back matter, formatting, proof reading etc, as well as the legal side of things (like dealing with people who steal your work). It takes time, and if you're getting someone else to do this it costs money. And if you do it yourself it takes time - which is money, at least if you believe some people.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Consider it so prefaced. You're right, of course.

    The time formula isn't quite so straightforward. A publisher can take months or even years to get a book to market. Of course, when mine go to market they are in constant danger of vanishing entirely from view. But at my age I'd rather get the thing out, especially when there's a whole line of novels behind this one waiting for me to get on with it. <g>

    But yeah, these are from the pages of the never-to-be-published how-to book, Gripes from the Self-Published.
    pmmg likes this.
  4. Phietadix

    Phietadix Auror

    Then you start thinking abouy trying to convert it to an audio book. *Sigh*
    skip.knox likes this.
  5. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Inkling

    Yes, it's a hassle.

    On formatting though, once I learnt to work with Vellum, all these problems, including the ones you mentioned, disappeared. Now it's literally a few clicks, but I did have a learning curve at the beginning. Thankfully, it was shortish.

    Do you design your own covers?
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I'm on PC, so Vellum is out.

    I do not design my own covers. I hire that one out. Same for maps, though I've used those only in two of my books.
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Another update on this self-pub process.

    Once you get Amazon to accept both your manuscript and the cover (see, formatting woes), you then must decide on pricing, and then ... then! ... you say publish.

    Now, for the ebook, you might have chosen to allow pre-orders, and so you have some time to Think Things Over. Do you have all your marketing line up? Which means, booked, paid for, the copy written and ads designed? Do you know where you're going to announce? Are you looking for ARCs to garner early reviews? Those first days are crucial, or so all the marketing wonks say. As for paperback, there's just release and that's that.

    Both of which come down to the same choke point: choose the date. When *exactly* do you want this to go live? And specifically, when *exactly* do you want the Amazon algorithm to start taking notice and taking notes? Because it's going to start judging instantly.

    It's sort of terrifying if you think about it, which is why I didn't. At least not for the first four books. But now I'm about to launch a series and the first book is very important to gaining readers. What strikes me is that, once again, the advice books don't really say much about this. Many make it sound like there's this uploading process and you make a few choices and click Publish. VoilĂ ! This does get discussed on places like kBoards, but only the very determined (or the fortunate) will be able to dig the information from the vast landslide of posts.

    Anyway, hey ho. Now I'm waiting on Amazon to review my request for a pre-order date, and the paperback is waiting while I search the answer to this question: if I hit Publish, does that release the hounds at Amazon, or can I wait on that to coincide with the release date set for the ebook? Or do I make the paperback release a bit later?

    It's looking like this game might go extra innings.
  8. I think dates are overrated. Just pick one and call it a day. Same with price by the way. You can always change it with the click of a button if at some point you decide you need something different. But then again, I think book launches are overrated. Yes, Amazon gives you some love the first 30 or so days. But with the insane amounts of books published each day that love is very limited. And the shelflife of a book is endless. Those first 30 days matter as much as the next 30 and the 30 after that.

    Big asterix here. If you can manage to get enough attention to launch your book into the top 100 of a category then things change because your visibility skyrockets at that point.

    As for which date to pick. I've decided to go with the 15th of whatever month I'm publishing in. I send out a newsletter on the 1st of each month. So by going with the 15th I'm halfway between newsletters and can dedicate a special extra newsletter to the release.

    As for the paperback (and hardcover), you can't put them on pre-order. For whatever reason Amazon has decided to not allow dates in the future for physical books. So once you hit publish it's live and can be ordered (after Amazon approval...). The one way to get around this is to go through Ingram Spark. They do allow pre-orders, so you can set it up there and then later put the book live on amazon.
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I agree regarding specific dates. I was think more in terms of coordinating a release date across multiple considerations. For example, I might innocently have decided to publish both ebook and paperback, then ordered an author review copy of the paperback only to find there was something to correct. It takes a week or so to have the author review copy shipped, then there's time for the author to review and find that error, make the change and upload it, then request another review copy to ensure the correction didn't knock over some other domino. That's a couple of weeks.

    It would be easy enough for an advice book or article to say, once you think you're done, don't actually go to publication (leave the ppb in draft status) until you've reviewed an author copy. It's not a huge deal, but it's indicative of how such advice tends to ignore or skim lightly over what I'm calling the late innings.

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