Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hello? Anyone out there??

If a blogger blogs in the woods and no one reads it, does it really exist?

I'm sure it does, even though I don't yet appear to have much of an audience. As it happens, blogging is rather a lower priority these days, behind editing my two completed novels, writing three new ones for Wooden Cat Books, and reviewing submisions for Nano Press. That's not counting the day job, caring for house, husband and pets, and getting ready for the holidays.

Not complaining. Just commenting.

The datebook is coming, the datebook is coming!

The Medical Haiku 2006 Date Book, which includes the entire 2006 Calendar of National Health Observances, will be available for shipping by December 20th. I just got word that it will be done at the printer by the end of this week.

Order here:

Shadow Publications

Monday, December 12, 2005

First Submission!

I received my very first, official submission.

It's really quite exciting.

At first glance, though, the formatting is really messed up. By that I mean there are three to five extra line breaks every few paragraphs; sometimes right in the middle of a line. No idea where they came from. The problem is that I'm the one who's going to have the main jobs of copyediting, proofreading, and then formatting the thing into a book. It wouldn't matter if the story were riveting, but I'm already struggling to stay interested after just a few pages. Because I promised a critique as part of a rejection, I'll skim the rest of the story (to see if it improves) and do the crit. But then I'm afraid I have to draft a rejection letter.

I want it to be a kick ass rejection letter, though. One that doesn't ruin someone's day. One that makes a writer feel they didn't waste their time sending me their work. Maybe one that can even make them chuckle a bit through the tears. How's that for ambitious!

Has anyone gotten any rejections like that? Letters that validate you as a person even when you're afraid they're really thinking you can't write your way out of a paper bag? Anyone want to share any phrases or pieces of those?? Thanks in advance for your help, all you faithful readers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The nibbles begin

So far I've posted notices about my new status as an actual, paying publishing market on the following sites:
  • Forward Motion
  • NaNoWriMo
  • Absolute Write

Any other suggestions about where to get the word out would be much appreciated. I'd love to get Miss Snark, Writer Beware, and POD-dy Mouth to link to me, partly because I adore those blogs but also because they get great traffic.

Remember, although for the moment I'm trying to generate manuscript submissions, the next inevitable step is going to be selling the books! The key to the marketing strategy is selling directly to writers by keeping cover prices low. That's why we're not going through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any of the "usual" outlets. But the trade-off for buying a Nano book is the knowledge that the author is getting royalties from the very first book sold, and that NaNoWriMo is getting a donation. And we all know what wonderful work they do with their donations!


Saturday, December 10, 2005

New Ventures

As you may have noticed, this blog has been quiescent of late. There are two reasons for this: first, I got busy with other random things like real life (tm) and my own writing (won NaNoWriMo!) Second: I decided to take the full-fledged plunge and begin soliciting manuscripts from other people. That's right; I'm expanding from self-publishing into the real thing.

Here are the links, which I'm also putting on my sidebar:

Shadow Publications
Nano Press
Wooden Cat Books (not yet as fully up and running as the others)

Please feel free to come check us out, and to link these to your blog. The key to this new marketing experiment is going to be word-of-blog, so come along with us.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Shadow Review: Lulu

Lulu gets mentioned a lot when the topic of self-publishing comes up. Here's the skinny:

What they say: "Lulu is a technology company, not a publisher."

What they really do: They will produce your book, CD, or DVD and make it available for purchase online. There is technically no charge for this, however there are a bunch of gotchas.

A "real" book needs an ISBN. Lulu will assign you an ISBN, but only in conjunction with the purchase of a "distribution package".

Their Basic Distribution package costs $34.95, which covers the ISBN, the barcode (a scannable image of the ISBN,) one year placement on Amazon's Marketplace (not much of a deal when you go through all their fine print), and a listing in Books in Print, which is essentially the list of real books.

For $149.95 you get the Global Distribution package, which includes all of the above (minus Amazon) plus a listing in Ingram, the largest US book wholesaler.

Details:

What kind of printing: digital

Whose ISBN: theirs. You do have the option to use your own if you have one, but then you can't use any of their distribution channels (ie, Ingram), which would be their only real advantage.

Costs: There's a very straightforward table with pricing information for making the books. Bottom line is generally $4.53 plus 2 cents per page. Decide how much you want to make per book (your royalty); Lulu adds 25% of that, and adds it to the production price to come up with the price of your book. If you don't want to make a profit (choose zero royalty), Lulu waives their commission. E-books are free.

There's also an extensive marketplace where you can purchase services like editing, proofreading, cover design, and marketing at prices that go up to four figures. The distribution packages (above) are additional.

Breaking out: Since it is POD, your book can qualify for a review on POD-dy Mouth. Theoretically it could generate enough buzz and word of mouth to create sales worthy of attention from the mainstream publishers, but I'm told the Lulu ISBN (like other POD ISBNs) is the "kiss of death" to them.

Redeeming features: Because set-up is free (and it should be, if you can generate a manuscript that looks like a book and not a word processor, and can create a PDF file of it, which can be done with admittedly expensive Adobe software) you can get away with little or no money up front to produce trade paperbacks that are relatively more expensive than bookstore books.

Bottom line: A viable option for producing (note: not "publishing") small quantities of books for non-commercial purposes. Once you get into their distribution packages, it's just a vanity press.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Shadow Review: iUniverse

Adventures in self-publishing should venture outward. Here's a basic review of iUniverse, which is pretty much a straight-up vanity press with few redeeming features.

The specifics:

What they say: "An innovative book publisher"

What they really do: Take your money; make your book; let you buy it; display it for sale online (they don't do any other marketing, though they'll sell you all kinds of marketing materials)

Details:

What kind of printing: Interestingly, they never come out and say. However there are several places where digital printing is implied. "Offset printing" is not mentioned on the site anywhere.

Whose ISBN: theirs (no option to use your own)

Costs: Packages run from $299 to $799. Includes things like cover design; marketing materials with the higher-priced ones. Not actual marketing, though. Just materials, templates, and "toolkits" to do your own.

Breaking out: (Opportunities for getting picked up by the "real world")
"Editor's choice": if their editors like it, it gets a special seal with enhanced placement on their website. You have to pay for the "editorial evaluation", though ($249)
"Reader's Choice": Editor's Choice plus sales of 250 books, at least half retail (ie, you can't just buy up 250 books yourself) gains you another seal and special website placement; plus publicity seminars, a newsletter, and a "free book on writing" (choice of 2.)
"Star Program": All of the above, but have to sell 500 (again, at least half retail). You also have to use one of the two highest priced packages initially. Gets you yet another special seal and website placement.

Redeeming features: Barnes & Noble contract; all it means is that your book can be special-ordered by someone walking into B&N.

Bottom line: Vanity press, pure and simple.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

I'm off

I started looking at iUniverse. It's pretty much what I remembered (straight-up vanity press), but in order to review it the way I want to it will take a little longer. So because i"ll be gone for a week, it won't be up until after sometime after that. Once I get back, though, Shadow Self-Publishing Reviews will be off and running.

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