Yeah, I’ve been on one hell of a rollercoaster ride lately. I know a lot of folks have been through similar experiences, but I’m getting down to the wire on the publication, and things seem to be getting MORE frantic rather than less so. I guess I’m naive, but I really thought I’d have more time to work on the next story, but that’s not the way it’s working out. For that matter, I thought I’d already have had the %$!! thing published by now, but I run into a roadblock every time I turn around. Of course, most of that’s because I keep shooting myself in the foot, but it still gets frustrating.
First, I royally screwed up with the cover art. I commissioned a cover that was IMNSHO, absolutely fantastic. I got it right where I wanted it. I sent the final product to some folks who were familiar with the story, and they loved it. Unfortunately, none of them know any more about cover art than I do. So I posted on KB. Again, I got some pretty nice compliments (except for one guy who wanted me to hire him to do the work instead.) Got a couple of folks commenting that they liked it, and a couple of private messages. It was through one of those messages that I was made aware of my problem. I had a best-selling YA author telling me how much she loved the cover, and then found out that she had assumed it was for a YA vampire slayer novel.
So I sent to a few more folks & asked them what they thought the cover conveyed. Almost all thought it was YA, and a good percentage thought it was a vampire novel. Looking back, this is a perfectly logical mistake. After all, the cover showed a young girl, head down, weary looking, in the woods at night carrying a crossbow. NONE of them got post-apocalypse from the cover. My original group knew the story, knew the character that the cover represented, and so automatically recognized the scene. Without that background, folks immediately jumped to the YA conclusion.
I learned that I’d made a couple of serious mistakes.
- I commissioned a cover that represented a secondary character, not the primary.
- I viewed the cover as a stand-alone piece of art, not as a picture to tell the reader what the book is about.
- I’d inadvertently placed a young girl as the center piece of the cover, which is a common trait of YA covers.
So I got with the cover artist, stepped back, and punted. I now have a cover that immediately tells the reader what the book is about. I don’t like it as much as I do the first one, but when viewed as a business tool, the cover now does its job.
Now, I also spent most of a day getting the book ready for print on CreateSpace. First a couple of observations:
- 1. For the most part, CS has a great and intuitive interface. It’s laid out logically, in a step by step manner that guides you through the process, and is very user-friendly.
- By the time I was finished, I was ready to throw the freaking computer through the wall!!!! It was like the damned thing was playing with me!
I downloaded the pre-formatted template and spent several hours loading my ms into it, doing my best to get everything into it just right. Then, when I uploaded it to CS, it took nearly half an hour to convert. CS very helpfully suggested that I work on the cover using one of their cover templates while waiting on the conversion. That seemed like a great idea, so I went to work. I found a template that would allow me to load my original cover (since I’d already paid for the rights, I figured I could at least make an ARC version of the book), and fill in the text for blurb, bio, title, etc. I got a nice little cover created and saved.
Then I got notice that the ms conversion was completed, and that they had detected a problem with it. It seems that one of the fonts that was in their pre-formatted template, was unavailable during the conversion process. One of the fonts on THEIR template was unavailable! I also found some problems with pagination, so after about half an hour, I got the pagination fixed, and found that I would be able to ignore the font problem and allow CS to replace it with their “default font” (which looked suspiciously like the Times New Roman font I had started with). So then I got to upload the ms all over again.
After doing that, I got a message indicating that there was now a problem with my cover. It looked like the spine suddenly had the book title printed on it twice! I can only assume that the cover template was designed for a shorter length book, and maybe the length of mine (336 pages), somehow altered the spine. I don’t know why that would be. 336 pages isn’t excessive by any means, but it still happened. So I got to start over on the cover template. Still, no matter what I did, the spine wouldn’t work properly. I finally had to find a different template, one that would let me use my custom cover without overlaying more text (since my graphic already had the text built into it).
I finally got it done, put the book into review, and then had to wait for a day for the review process. Of course, after I got the book submitted for review, I realized I’d forgotten to mark the cover with the “Advance Reader’s Copy” notation, so I went back in to add it. Unfortunately, the review process locks the book where you can’t make any changes, so I had to wait for a day to make the changes. The next day, I was notified that the cover didn’t pass review, as the text was too close to the edge, and might end up being trimmed. So I went back in and altered it to where the text was further away from the edge and resubmitted. And about two seconds after resubmitting, I realized I had still forgotten to add the ARC notation. DOH!!
So after another day in review, I get the results, find that the cover is now acceptable, add the ARC notation, and resubmit for review. Yet another day lost. Oy! At any rate, I finally got the notification that the book was accepted, and managed to place my order for proof copies. I hope to get them later this week.
One final thing that I wasn’t aware of, and now it’s probably too late… it turns out that I can only order five of the “proof” copies, and I already ordered all five for ARCs once the review passed, and they don’t have the final cover on them – the one that will be on the “sale” version of the book. That means that the next go-round will have to be formatted more or less on faith.
Still, as frustrating as it’s been, it has been progress.
In the meantime, I’ve also gotten word that the ebook version is going to be released in the next few days. After months of waiting, everything seems to be moving suddenly at a break-neck pace. Part of me is elated, but I have to admit that there’s also a big part of me that’s terrified. This is laying a big piece of myself out there for everyone to see, and of course, for everyone to judge. Yeah, it’s a bit scary.
Wish me luck.