Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I think I might have a book out

Okay, it's a bit hopping around the time frame for all this, for which apologies, but as of tonight it's all got a bit vertiginous. Apparently my book is available online. No notification from Legends Press. No sign of my free copies. But it's up on Amazon with a delivery time of 3 weeks (!) so maybe it's not formally out quite yet, or as formally out as a POD can be. Nothing listed on Book Depository and Waterstones, the latter I'm not sure if it goes to, the former, well I was advised sometimes the feeds for titles to be added to lists can take a couple of weeks. Barnes & Noble have it as available within 24 hours, so maybe I'll crack America before home? Confused? Not as much as I am right now. New Generation Publishing, the partners in this enterprise with Legends Press, haven't even got it listed on their website as available to buy. Can't see the feed lag being an issue for them... Oh and the e-mail I fired to Tom Chalmers at Legends drew an "Out of the Office" reply... Not because it's just shy of midnight, but he's away until Monday, so this won't get cleared up anytime soon. It's not even worth asking a mate to order one from Amazon as a test run, since they wouldn't get it for 3 weeks. Singularly unimpressed. Mind you, the good news is that there is also one used copy for sale on Amazon. Impressive, unless it was a test copy, how can anyone have pre-owned it? I didn't look at the delivery time for that one.

While I've been networking like crazy and building the mythical platform, I could - potentially - also have been linking to the book. I'm not actually sure. It has been my greatest frustration even before tonight, to do so much marketing groundwork, but have to hold it back because there is no book, with no website links to attach to it. Right now I am holding back on firing off the e-mails to friends, colleagues and other biddable folk, as I don't know if those orders can be fulfilled. They were always going to represent the first wave, but now it looks like it's all concertinaing together with the second wave of marketing to strangers.

I decided from early on that I was going to be as businesslike and therefore emanate consummate professionalism throughout all my dealings with Legends Press. To my mind, that meant answering each email without delay, not bothering them unduly with lots of minor queries (finally collated into 1 e-mail last month, see below) and not really getting hung up on issues and making everything into a battle. The art of the possible has always been my motto. Two drafts of cover art, so be it. Another few weeks delay because of typesetting, well then I shouldn't have sent the original with all those typos then should I? That I never received a date for publication, must probably be because there is no formal release and the times vary when each online outlet has it up and listed. All I had was, an email affirming that it's gone off to the printers, which means the electronic version from which all POD copies will be cloned, plus my small order for 25 copies for touting around and marketing purposes. I just assumed the receipt of those would indicate that the book was 'out'. That I would get my copies before retail outlets listed it.

In retrospect, being professional might actually entail not conducting all our business by email alone. Plus making sure I got what I demanded from the business dealings, without being arsey about it of course.

Instead I restricted myself to an e-mail of minor clarification queries I had, reproduced below. As you can see, number 1 "When can I expect to start selling my book?" wasn't one of them.

Firstly, which online outlets will have the book so I can let people know? When do they start listing the book? - Amazon, B&N, you know the usual. each one varies when it updates its list for new titles.

When and how do I need to post the 100 word blurb for Amazon? The Printers send it on. You can change it and we'll pass it on to them to send out. To date, Amazon has no blurb, though Barnes & Noble does. Shame the book's themes are so damned British.

I had an email from New Generation encouraging me to get people to order through them. Should I direct people to them rather than Amazon or whoever else? Does it make a difference?
If you want, but makes no difference

Is it true that certain outlets may wait for 3 or 4 orders before requesting printing up to fill them? If so, I guess I may steer people to more instantaneous suppliers.
Never heard of it before and makes no economic sense. yet could this be the reason behind Amazon's current stated delivery time of 3 weeks? Doesn't strike me as a time period worthy of the term Print On Demand?

Is there an upper limit to POD copies (a virtual print run as it were?) Or is it continuous as long as there are sales and I pay the annual fee to keep it listed? Pay to play (my summary not his words)

Do I have to lodge copies with copyright libraries? Or does Legends do that? That's one of my free 10 copies accounted for. (I am already a writer with a MS in the British Library - of a performed play and after fobbing them off that I needed to rewrite it into the final script we performed from, I gave up and sent them an unworked script copy with slide on binding. Nightmarish visions of that being less Heath Robinson than the current enterprise).

Sorry to ask again, but if I could have the cover art so I can begin work on the press release and the credits for the video readings. This has been sent, but only the front cover and I would like both. The back cover is more striking (note to self, this may also have been a tactical error)

Is there anything else I either ought to consider or actually be doing? see below.

At no time have Legends or New Generation asked me for my marketing ideas. Their response to the last question was "Will have a think of anything you could immediately be doing." They must still be thinking. Possibly even sat on a beach somewhere. I think at this point I can safely advise any would-be UK self-published writer, to ask to be walked through the process from top to toe. Face to face meeting might be an added advantage.

So there you have it - which is more than I can say for myself or the book. I did kind of blunder into this whole process, but had felt I'd made great strides towards making my target achievable. Right now it's merely a bit of a false start, but what damage really has been done? It's been up on Amazon a few days/weeks and no one's bought a copy that's all. Yes there are still issues I need addressing, but I haven't initiated any of my staged sales drives.

Some of the pitfalls and pratfalls I've encountered may just be avoidable if you're reading this and trying to weigh up going down the self/indie/POD process. In the next post I'll give you the pros and cons of self/indie/POD as I've elicited the arguments from both sides from a combing of the web for people's views on the issue. Oh and I did say I'd tell you what I'd settled on for describing exactly what way I'm being published. I'm plumping for independently published. While it does still contain a suggestion of a small independent publisher having chosen me, rather than vice versa, I like the associations with the punk rock DIY ethic from the late 1970's. POD is factual and uninvolving as a description, while self-publishing conjures up to my mind me sat there in my bedroom desktop and binding glue to hand. More fanzine than printed book, so I guess I can only take the punk rock DIY ethos so far. But for all this, I think it quite indicative that the expansion of self-publishing hasn't really afforded time to give itself a proper name.

Final newsflash. The other Marc Nash, the lower League professional footballer, has according to reports on the Internet, had to retire from his chosen career through injury. The way should be clear for me to ascend up the search engine listings now. I just hope I'm not permanently crocked so as to have to give up my dream vocation like him.


  1. This sounds so much like my experience when I published with YouWriteOn. My main problem was that although the publication date was December 2008, it was a long time before the cover was displayed on Amazon and some sites even had someone else cover. So I delayed my marketing campaign for something like a couple of months. Nothing lost though- I used the time to increase and tweak myh web presence- putting chapters onto YouTube, writing ezine articles etc.
    The marketing side of things is pretty time consuming, but it's a very interesting and exciting learning curve and you meet a lot of like-minded people on the way.
    If you want to feel a little less lonely in your pursuit of the market, just take a look at my blog posts from about this time last year, and I think you will probably find a very recognisable pattern.

  2. Thanks Alan, like you I am not letting the grass grow under my feet, but launching full tilt into social networking and marketing. I have never written so much in so short a sapce of time in my life - and very little of it fiction!

  3. The empirical question is, then, would you have more information and a less frustrating experience with a big-boy publisher (if you name isn't Dan Brown)?

    As my grandmother used to say, you get what you pay for. There's no doubt that Legends is unprofessional. They know the market; and the desperation of writers fed up with the big-boy system. They, like any market-based enterprise, can take advantage and do a half-assed job.



  4. Whatever shortfalls Legends Press have built into their service, are dwarfed by some of my own ill-informed decisions. However, the decision to publish myself after 10 years of concussion from beating my head against the brick wall of publishing houses, is not one of them.

    Is there a raging hunger to be published that such outlets feed? Undoubtedly.

  5. Hi, I've nominated you in my blog for a sort of blogging ponzi scheme: see

    (All publicity is good publicity, no?)

  6. Just one correction to your post: under the Legal Deposit scheme the publisher is obliged to supply at least one copy to the Legal Deposit office (within a month of publication, I think) but can be asked for a further five copies if the LDO requests them. Which might make a bit more of a dent in your ten free copies, I'm afraid.

    Good luck with your book. I hope it goes well for you.

  7. Thank you very much Lexi. Most appreciated.

    And thank you Jane, salutary lesson number er 26?

  8. Interesting posts. I published with YWO last year and had the similar problems, but I'm *still* interested in this new "enhanced publishing system funded by the Arts Council" - the other wasn't funded by the AC.
    I've lost all interest in packaging up my novels to send to agents, waiting around, and then being rejected (if they can be bothered to reply at all!).

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