Sunday, November 24, 2013

The business side of writing - sticking to the plan

Earlier this month, I talked about my plan for publication.

The first step was oodles of research. I've done that.

The problem with research is that it can become an end in itself. Many people (myself included) don't want to make a major leap until we're good and ready. If we just do enough research and preparation we'll be better prepared to make it - whatever "it" is - a success. The problem is that there is never "enough" preparation you can do to really feel confident, so you can spend an eternity talking about it. and never actually doing it.

At some point, you have to accept that the leap still needs to be taken, and it will be uncomfortable.

So, the real first step was to look into publishing/distribution options, make a decision, and then determine the formatting requirements for the chosen outlets.

Notice the "decision" part? That is what turns this into a real step rather than simply more research.

Why start there?

Because until I decided where I was going to publish, I couldn't give a designer any meaningful instructions. There are several different e-book formats out there, and formatting for print is different from electronic distribution. Having a concrete target means you can talk about tangible products, so choosing outlets logically came ahead of talking to a book designer.

And the decision is...

There's probably all sorts of arguments one way or another, but to get me off the ground I've chosen Smashwords for the e-book format, and Lulu for print.

The big plus in both cases is that these are major and reputable publishing companies, and they make money from sales rather than upfront fees - that is a vital consideration. A secondary factor is that in both cases I can use my own ISBN. I decided that I want my stories to be associated with my own publishing "brand". In author circles, I've heard good things about both companies and no horror stories. Lulu even gets a "Recommended" on Preditors & Editors.

In both cases, I'm looking for simplicity and reach.

The main thing about Smashwords is that they automatically format for multiple e-book distributors, and the list is growing. This was the major attraction for me.

I've chosen to include Lulu purely for the print on demand capability and the fact that they distribute through Amazon. I've heard that their print costs are on the high side, i.e. I could get stuff printed for less, but I want the distribution to be handled for me.

Now I'm contacting local book designers to take the next step on the road...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Who buys the groceries in your house?

In our household, that would be me.

I went grocery shopping this morning, like I do every Saturday, to buy provisions for the week.

After a tiring week, things can sometimes go slightly awry...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I have a cunning plan

Writers talk endlessly about where they stand on the great plotters v. pantsers divide. I decided long ago that I'm neither, or rather, a bit of both. I've also realized that the same schizoid thinking pervades my world beyond the act of writing.

But that does not mean I flit randomly between planning and seat-of-the-pants actions. There is some structure there.

For starters, I tend to work in layers. No matter what the endeavor, I need to see the big picture, at least in outline. I need to see how the detail fits together. From there, how much I plan depends a lot on my level of confidence. The less familiar I am with the terrain, or the bigger the risk of something going horribly wrong, the more painstakingly I plan ahead.

When it comes to the business of publishing, I am on entirely unknown territory and the stakes (in my own mind, anyway) are high. So it's no surprise that I'm planning the heck out of this publishing lark like an assault on the Normandy beachhead.

Start off with lots of research: The legal aspects of running a business (like registration, tax and accounting), publishing and distribution channels, things other than the story itself that go into a book (like internal book design, formatting, cover art, ISBNs, CIP, and LCCN), marketing, website, etc.

From all of this murk an outline plan is emerging, driven largely by what obstacles stand in the way of completing any given task and working backwards from there.

  • Look into publishing/distribution options and decide how I'm actually going to publish this puppy.
  • Determine the formatting requirements for the chosen outlets.
  • Research and choose a book designer.
  • Set up business and tax registration.
This step is the psychological watershed, like Sam leaving the Shire. Everything up to now has just been an investment of my own time, but this where tangible expenses start to kick in. You'll notice that my natural caution in uncharted waters is showing here and I've left this as late as possible.
  • Work with book designer to sort out the required content, including book blurb, author photo, ISBN etc.
  • Create web site.
  • Publish.

Of course, each of these steps has lots more detail beneath it, but I'm happy now that I've planned out the big picture.

Sounds simple, no? What can possibly go wrong...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Minecraft battleship laid bare

Following on from an earlier post, as the hull rises above sea level, here is a bird's eye view of the main deck fully laid out and furnished.

This is the only level on the ship where you can walk from stem to stern under cover. Below here, shown in my previous post but now decked over, the ship is divided by transverse bulkheads into twelve separate compartments for machinery, magazines, and storage. Above, still to be built, the covered area will only extend from the bow to level with the funnel before breaking up into the aft superstructure.

This deck is the main living and working area of the ship. From the stern...
...the view is dominated by the aft 16" turret now sitting on top of its barbette. To the far left are the spacious admiral's quarters, then officers' accommodation.

The midships section contains the wardroom, sick bay, chapel, bakery, laundry room, washrooms, and offices.

The towers along either side are the 6" gun supports, which will be topped off by twin gun turrets. Then we come to the bow section mostly consisting of crew mess decks.

Again, everything is overshadowed by the massive three-gun turrets of the main armament.
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