Sunday, August 30, 2009
Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Seven - Downloading, Proof, Acceptance, Publication
I’d set up the publishing company, registered at Lightning Source, finished my edits, gotten a cover together, set up a home for Choice One Publishing Company, and much more. I still had changes and decisions to make. They pertained to the part of the book my readers would spend the most time with – the print pages, also known as the book block.
My manuscript was double spaced, as many are, with one inch margins all around, designed for an 8 ½ by 11 inch paper. Not only did I need to reformat the page to the dimensions of my chosen size, 5 by 8, I needed to single space it, and decide on a font. Although many trade paperbacks used smaller fonts, I chose Times New Roman 12 for the same reason I’d chosen the crème paper – it seemed easier on the eyes.
I also needed to design headers. They weren’t the kind I was used to. These had to alternate, with the even numbers containing my name, the odds, the book title. Fortunately my Word program had templates I could use. The margins also needed to be wide enough, so none of the letters would be cut off in the printing process. That wasn’t all. The fonts had to be embedded, which meant saving the book in PDFX1a 2001 format. My Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, with what was called an add-in for Word 2007, achieved that result.
These rules and others were contained in a manual from the Lightning Source website, which I’d printed out and carried back and forth in my tote bag to work every day, so I could refer to it on the train and on my breaks.
Then, following the website’s guidelines, I set up my title, deciding where and when my book would be published, its price and discount rate. I couldn’t afford to be greedy or I wouldn’t make sales. I had to stay competitive, yet make some kind of profit, so I chose $13.95 with a 50% discount for booksellers.
When the book was all set to go, I proceeded to the downloading phase – first the book block, then the cover. I chose the option for a proof, since I wanted to look it all over before everything was finalized.
Although I couldn’t tell the difference, something was off with the colors and I was contacted by my representative. They looked fine on the computer, but wouldn’t print correctly. Fortunately, the color technician took pity on me and made the changes, which I gratefully approved.
When the proof arrived via overnight mail, instead of looking like a galley, it looked exactly like a real book. That was a pleasant surprise.
The colors on the front and back of the cover looked rich and beautiful, Rascal looked cute as my little mascot on the logo, but what about the interior? I proceeded to read, with my eyes open for mistakes. What I thought was perfect, wasn’t exactly right. I couldn’t allow it to go to press. I made the corrections online and waited for another proof. When I got that one, again I discovered a mistake. I’d forgotten to justify the paragraphs, so I re-sent for another proof.
It cost me $40 for each revision, plus $30 for each proof, but I was determined my book would be as perfect as I could make it. I had to convince people that my self-published book could stand up to the competition of small press and traditional press books. Finally I was satisfied with the result. I pressed the acceptance button. I placed my order.
I waited, but not long. In less than a week, the books arrived on my brother’s front porch. My husband, nieces, and nephews all helped carry the boxes out to the van. Once they sat safely in my dining room, I opened each and every one, checking to make sure I hadn’t received someone else’s books. Of course, I took pictures.
The cover looked beautiful. The pages seemed easy to read. The story was all there. Still, I felt nervous. Now that my book was published, would people like it?
So far, they have. Maybe you’d like to judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of Killer Career:
Julie McGuire gazed intently from her table in the filled-to-capacity dining room of the Wyndham Hotel. The Love To Murder Mystery Conference had saved the best for last. New York Times bestselling author, Tyler Jensen, now approached the podium.
His entire bearing commanded attention, from his shoulder length wavy chestnut hair pushed back behind his ears, to his sexy sideburns and piercing hazel eyes. She guessed him to be thirty-five, about five years older than she. Clever, rich, tall, and handsome, Tyler Jensen looked the embodiment of any woman’s fantasy.
“Many of you have killed,” Tyler said, pointing to his audience of two hundred plus.
Julie stared. What did he mean?
“Yes, you’ve slaughtered your creativity. You’ve squashed your dreams in favor of immediate gratification.”
My God, he knew. She ignored the tinkling sound, as a waitress placed a carafe of ice water on the table.
Julie stared, transfixed, at Jensen. His every word spoke to her. She’d taken the easy way out and become a lawyer instead of following her heart’s desire to be an author. The decision ate at her. After six years in the practice, she’d saved enough money to get by. She badly wanted to claim her dream and step forward into the world he described.
All too soon, he’d finished his speech. “Any questions?”
Julie shot up her hand. Jensen’s knowing hazel eyes fastened on her, as if assessing her straight blonde hair and tall, slight frame.
He nodded. “Yes, second table.”
On suddenly stiff legs, she rose. “What makes you write mysteries?”
“I have an urge to voyeuristically experience atrocities. I’ve no idea where the fascination comes from. Perhaps I was a criminal in a former life,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh.
Julie swallowed. His answer filled her with a vague uneasiness, but she didn’t know why.
“I hope I’ve satisfactorily answered your question.”
“Yes, uh, thank you.” She straightened her skirt and seated herself.
Even as she sat gathering her thoughts, she felt the pull of his charisma. Every word and gesture hinted at a barely contained power, strong enough to transform the sturdiest dissenter into a willing robot. His rakish looks dared her to ignore her orderly upbringing. Inwardly smiling, Julie guesstimated at how many other women in the massive banquet hall were as enthralled by the man’s knowledgeable gaze. Did their blood pulse as fast as hers?
The only man who’d ever tweaked her interest to such a degree was her partner, “Dangerous Dade.” He was the one who’d convinced her to become a lawyer, saying it was the best way to escape the poverty of their blighted neighborhood. He was her standard for comparing other men.
More than one female client had cited Dade as a good catch. Julie had to admit they were right. It wasn’t only because he was six feet tall, with wide shoulders and a determined air. Dade also had a special knack for putting clients at ease with his genuine interest in their problems, as he competently protected their interests. He was a sweet guy and would make some lucky woman a great husband. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be her. From the start of their partnership, they’d agreed not to mix business with pleasure, a decision she sometimes regretted.
Jensen’s charisma proved strong enough to break through her long-held barriers of comparison. Was it her imagination, or did he glance at her table more than the others? Was the strange feeling inside of her obvious or even more absurd, could it be mutual?
For such a levelheaded attorney, she’d certainly flipped. It had to be technique. Tyler Jensen was an excellent speaker, adept at eye contact.
“How does writing from a criminal’s point-of-view make you feel,” a woman at a table across the room asked.
An excellent query. Julie leaned forward to hear the reply. In his books, Jensen delved at length into the villain’s viewpoint, as if entering the criminal’s mind. The effect was chilling, but compelling.
She held her breath for the answer.
Jensen stared at Julie instead of the questioner, as if sensing her enthrallment. “I am the villain. I completely lose myself. The animal inside of me rules. I get away with anything and everything.” A tight smile curved his sensuous lips. “You know what they say. The forbidden carries allure. Anyway, when my sanity returns, I’m sated. I’ve undergone a complete catharsis. There’s no experience like it.”
Julie sat rooted, feeling another trickle of uneasiness.
If you’d like to read more, it’s available at favorite bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, at Amazon.com, Bn.com, Mobipocket.com, Booksamillion.com and will soon come to Kindle.
Thanks for letting me share my self-publishing adventure with you. If you'd like to keep up with my self-publishing exploits and more, you're welcome to stop by my personal blog at http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
You can find a short Book Trailer I just put together on YouTube at