Recently in indie books Category

Note: I lost the site from which this picture came, if it is yours comment or mail and I'll credit you properly

So far in books I have been blogging my latest project Love in the Time of Black Magic. A recent event has suddenly brought another project back into action though: The Thousand Mile Lake, a fantasy novella for younger readers. Preliminary points:

It's completely finished
It's a novella - 40 000 words or about 120 pages of a small paperback

The evolution of the project is quite interesting. I had never thought about "teen fiction" and would never dumb down or selectively write for younger readers in their teens - as opposed to early readers which is a whole different field. I have a regular private class of English language students who are very talented and creative and we always like to play Dungeons and Dragons the original table top role-playing game.
mathers golden dawn
Since I started on this project, to write and self publish a novel, I have been trying to find a good deal for getting it printed.

The considerations:

1) Must be done locally in Shanghai.
2) I only need 500 copies to start (a minimum run)
3) Offset printing
4) Computer to plate

Computer to plate is very important. It means the company can take a fully edited and formatted computer file and just make the printing plates from it directly. Cutting out the need for people without English as a first language to have to play with the text.

I have worked at schools who print text books here and have never come across a case where there was not mistakes. And I've never come across a case where they kept proofing and letting you check until it was perfect, for the same fee.

Maybe there is someone who can do it - but for now, I'll eliminate this possibility by going computer to plate. 

Anyway, here's the scoop. After Googling a bunch of companies based here who had English sites I found all their offers to be outrageous. Although 500 is a minimum run and will be more expensive for sure. 5000 is more usual. So finally, a friend came through with this offer from a contact he has:

600 rmb for the plates (which you keep and can re-use)
As low as 15-20 rmb per book.

It's a range as I couldn't give an exact page count.

So, 500 books would be, at the 15 rate, including the plates, 8 100 RMB.

Now, through the publishing house and mainstream booksellers model that is a loss as a novel sells for around 40-50 rmb here and the bookseller and publisher usually take a massive cut. However, using the indie model you keep 100% of sale so you'd only need to sell around 200 of them to make your money back.

The search continues.
Last Friday I had a meeting with Tom to check over the latest chapters of the book. It was an interesting gauge of the progress that I blogged here. Talking about how many words per session you need to be doing.

So, I meet with Tom for feedback every time I finish three chapters. In the post we looked at a model that had an average chapter at 5 000 words. That is shooting for a 250 page book. Mine is slightly shorter, an average chapter is between 3 000 and 3 500 words. 

So, I meet with someone to get feedback, revisit the writing and chat about the ideas therein about once every 10 000 words. 

I give Tom new material at every other meeting. So I suppose I'm writing this at a rate of 5000 words per week. I generally fit in three sessions a week, so between 1-2 000 per sit down. I'd prefer to be doubling that rate by one way or another ... but I'm closing in on 70% done, 12 out of 18 chapters. 

At the current rate I should be finished the full draft around 5th July 2010.
crowley hat
These book posts are coming out in no real order. Sorry about that.

Today: having someone check your work and feedback

*You want feedback at the draft stage
*You need a specific type only: personal response
*You need to find someone to do this

Part of the attraction of DIY book writing is that you can have complete control of your content. Various forms of checking and feedback are very useful and necessary but there is a definite culture of abuse in big publishing and pro journalism that we can happily avoid. I will write a separate post on that then come back and link it.

But but but. Especially for long form writing, you do want feedback. In our world though, you can choose to ignore it.

I use Shanghai based writer and musician Tom Mangione.

I try to do it once a week - especially since I'm trying to hit good quotas

Books: Love in the Time of Black Magic 2

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waddell violin
Welcome back to indie books. Before I go on I have to give a link and hat tip. A lot of my first ideas and current stats on book publishing come from a site called No Media Kings

It has a slightly different ideology to this site. Jim worked in publishing and noticed that if you are not a million selling super star author but one of the majority then it's better to self publish. Financially. 

Anyway, on to my novel. So, the first draft.

Everyone thinks of good ideas. Everyone. It's quite easy to think of a story or premise and even flesh it out a bit in your mind. We all have a take on the vampire genre after we watched whatever vampire movie, for example. It doesn't take too much effort to list some chapter headings or scene ideas either. I find reading around a topic or researching fun too. What's even better is editing and playing with a story. 

Alas, there's an annoying hard work part in the middle - the first time you have to sit down and write the whole thing out in long form. 

This is tough, every page you manage to write you want to be perfect or you change your mind about, you have to just suck it up and keep going no matter how much you want to edit and play but it's so hard. You get writer's block, you get distracted, you give up or forget about it. But have no fear, the way through is to have some awareness of the numbers before you go in.

Books: Love in the Time of Black Magic 1

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leila waddell
This is the first project in books. I have recently made some breakthroughs with full length novel writing. I have chosen one to go with and self-publish for the experience.

It is called Love in the Time of Black Magic

Here is the overview of this project in it's crudest form:

1) write the book
2) have a cover designed with ISBN and barcode
3) have it typeset and formatted
4) have 500 copies made via proper offset printing and 'perfect' binding
5) hold events, flog them via indie shops/cafes and send them to reviewers etc etc

I won't need anyone's blessing for this, every stage of the process can be accomplished by paying for a service, including getting an ISBN and bar-code (you just buy them).

Stage one is by far the hardest part and the lion's share of the work, but more on that in upcoming posts. At the time of this post i'm half way through the second draft and the whole thing will be about 80 000 words (200 pages paperback). I'm using fellow writer and confident Tom Mangione for feedback and comments.

By the end of the project we should have a bunch of posts detailing all the stages. Wish me luck.

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