Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making a dead tree book is fun!

Longterm stalkers readers will remember last August how I shared the exciting story of how I made an ebook. It was a thrilling tale of swearing and adorable tiger faces before I ultimately emerged victorious. And while the ebook remains available on Amazon for the princely sum of just 77p (a great value reduction from the previous 86p that I did not authorise but which I'm too lazy to do anything about), the story doesn't quite end there.

One Friday last November, you see, I woke up one morning and made the spontaneous decision that I desperately, desperately wanted a real physical version of my book. A dead tree edition, if you will. Because however great the ebook version is, and however much the great unwashed masses are embracing digital editions, I'm old school. I love real books that I can love and hold and call George.

So that day I rushed down to my computer and furiously started googling various ways of actually printing some books. I quickly came to the conclusion that the two best options were CreateSpace and Lulu. Years ago when I first started looking at print on demand publishing I came to the very same conclusion, and although I never actually did anything about it, I decided that if I were to publish something I'd go with CreateSpace because it was an Amazon company and I trusted them. And I'll be honest, I took against Lulu based purely on the fact that I have an irrational hatred of the singer Lulu.

Back to November. So I'm sitting there once again comparing CreateSpace and Lulu (the publishing website, not the singer) and it boils down to two things: book size and ease of service. Now, I won't lie to you: my book is pretty short, and CreateSpace's smallest book size is quite big, which basically meant that if I went with them my short book would've ended up being more of a pamphlet. Plus, I like small, stocky books; what ever happened to paperbacks you could shove in a pocket? Turns out that Lulu offer a nice small, pocketable book size, and they seemed to be getting a lot of love for ease of use so I decided to give it a go with them.

Now, I'm obviously writing this two months down the line and as we all know my brain is full of images of cats doing anarchic things and Erica Durance in a star-spangled bikini so complete recollection is nigh-on impossible, but I do recall that Lulu (the publishing website, not the singer) made self-publishing a lovely simple process: I downloaded a template for the book size I wanted, pasted my text into it, then uploaded it to them. Even the cover was pretty straightforward, which was remarkable because I was being all needy and wanted a cover design that wrapped around the front, spine, and back. All in all good times. It was done in just a couple of hours, and all that was left to do was order a proof copy so I could give it the once over before unleashing it upon the world. I hit BUY and I waited.

And I waited…

And I waited…

And I waited…

And basically Christmas came and went and even when you take the annual festive postal snafu into account I came to the conclusion that yeah, it'd gotten lost somewhere along the line.

So I emailed Lulu (the website, not the singer).

I got a response back pretty quickly. Usually around now I announce how I'm using a fake name for the person I ended up dealing with because that gives me the opportunity to be brutally honest about how appalling they were without them ever finding out. But I'm not going to do that here. The person I ended up dealing with was called Tracey, and I'm using her real name because she was utterly brilliant. Tracey agreed with my assumption that the book had gone AWOL and immediately put another copy on order for me. Not only that, but she also put it on express delivery at no additional cost to me. We exchanged a handful of emails over the course of a couple of days and Tracey provided what was without doubt the best customer service experience I've had in a good long while.

What I'm basically saying here is that if anyone from Lulu (the website, not the singer) is reading this, Tracey is a genuine star and you should give her a massive bonus. Or a car.

Anyway, just a few days later this turned up.

And that, my friends, is a real, honest-to-God book.
Nothing quite prepares you for actually holding your own book. I think we shared a special moment. What's particularly impressive is that it actually feels like a real book - I always had this little bit of doubt with print on demand services, like there would be something not quite right about it, but that's not the case; it honestly feels like it could've come from a real publisher.

Still, having had the opportunity to look it over, I decided there were some things I wanted to change - nothing major, mind, and certainly nothing to do with the story itself. I just wanted to add in a copyright page, add in a bit of blank space at the beginning of each chapter, fiddle around with the alignment of the words on the spine to appease my OCD tendencies and perhaps most importantly of all, give my cover designer the credit he so richly deserves, because I left his name off the ebook by mistake and have never been arsed to go back in and add it (shame face).

So there we have it. Making a dead tree book WAS fun. And now - shameless plug - you can grab yourself a copy RIGHT HERE. Admittedly it's a tad more expensive than the ebook version, but hey! You can lick this one.


Tara said...

I'd be psyched out of my mind if a story I created was sent to me in book form! Congratulations!! I don't have any devices that allow ebooks, so I'm so glad your book is available this way now, too. I'm going to order it.

Tim said...

Hurrah! I hope you like it. Wouldn't it be awful if you hated it after I've gone on about it for so long?

That said - honest opinion if you do buy it though!

Tara said...

I'm waiting for it to arrive, and will definitely give you my honest opinion! :)

I finally have a new blog post up, and I think you'll like it because a little bit is about "The Wrath of Khan". There's a website you can visit that lets you act out a few scenes from the movie!

Tim said...

Cool, I look forward to it!

Aaaaaand … heading over to your blog NOW!

Tara said...

Just got the book today! Time to read! :)