I am writing from Kansas City, as I am here for my first in person convention since 2019.
Some of you may have noticed that the trade paperback edition of Hunter’s Redoubt is now available on Amazon & B&N. In theory, the hardcover should make its way out into the world in a similar fashion.
To be kind to booksellers, I don’t expect that the print editions will make their way out onto bookstore shelves – so walking into a bookstore to ask where the print version is will not make their jobs any easier. I do expect that you’ll be able to special order the book from various booksellers. This is pretty much how BakkaPhoenix handles self-published books. We carry very few as a matter of course, but will order them on request if they’re available from Ingram.
Our store will carry my books because I work there. I had assumed that we would – like any other bookseller – order copies if people ordered them through us. Becca (manager) had other ideas, and felt this plan was…not among my brightest. I imagine if I worked in All The Bookstores, they’d be carried more widely, but I don’t, and I honestly don’t expect it.
But — you knew there was a but, right? — I’m not entirely certain that we’ll have books in the store by the theoretical publication date of the 30th. They can be ordered, but that’s not quite the same thing as having them on-hand.
Michelle will now digress.
I have self-published stories before. It was my way of making them available when they were mostly in out of print anthologies. Some of those stories were West-universe related, and people wanted to read them but could no longer find them.
I have self-published one short story collection – the print version of the aforementioned stories. It was a long time ago, and things in print-on-demand were different. I went through lulu.com at the time, and reasonably expected that this would be of interest to few readers – but I wanted the book available to the readers who would care. I didn’t begin in the age of the internet; I didn’t begin in the age of ebooks. Many of my readers therefore didn’t start reading me during that time; they read print.
In both cases, these stories had already been edited, etc. I was taking finished text and putting it into a different container. The print version of the book required that I hire a typesetter, which I did. I required a second cover – the wrap-around for a print book.
When I found out that DAW would no longer publish the West novels, I felt – with some panic – that I could self-publish these books. I mean, I had to write them first, and there were bumps in that road, because my initial intention was predicated on DAW’s desire to have a series that could be approached by readers who had never read a West novel.
…I am not good at this.
[Shards of Glass, the upcoming Sagara novel (set in the Cast universe at the Academia) can be read that way – because the editor had never read any other Cast novel, and her queries and frustrations helped me see more clearly what wouldn’t be obvious to non-Cast readers. (The biggest one: Why does everyone assume that Barrani are deadly and political? I can’t find any mention of a reason in the text.)]
But I had to try. And when I no longer had to try, I found that the words I’d written no longer meshed with the new first chapters. So: bumps.
Of the 200k words that I’d written, there’s 1.5k that can be used — in The Wild Road. Book two.
So: I focused on writing. I approached writing the way I have always approached writing outside of constraints. I finished first draft of book. I sent it out to editors. I cried while revising and arguing. I sent it out to proofreaders, the second unintentional (my mother). And me. All of this was normal.
The not-normal things: I was the person who was responsible for scheduling the various elements. I was, in theory, the managing editor. If I had been working for a publisher, I would have faced firing squads >.<.
Cover art and cover design are absolutely necessary, but they’re not rooted in the actual text of the book the way editing/revision/copyediting are. Jody Lee got the first submission draft at the same time as the copy-editor.
Jody has painted all of my West covers but one — but we’re used to having Sheila as the bridge between us. So building a different bridge was required. Sheila knows how I work; Sheila knows how Jody works. Neither Jody nor I knew how each other work — and we have great respect for each other, so that was a bit of a dance.
She sent me the finished painting.
I sent the painting to the designer, and there was some back and forth with the designer (the first four rounds involved my back cover copy >.<. I did not mind this, and I think she was right).
And I got the copy-edits. And the copy-edits were late to arrive, and I had to go through them (and discuss them with copy-editor) before sending things to the proofreader and the audio narrator. The proofreader and the narrator had blocked time to do the work – but as the copy-edits missed the deadline, their schedule was wrecked, and they had to make time that they hadn’t planned on, which was not in any way their fault. But they did find the time.
The ebook was ready first. I knew how ebooks worked.
What I did not know in this modern age is the parameters of print. But also: I had sort of assumed that I would just let people know as things rolled out and became available, because that’s what I’d done every other time.
… this was not a good idea. I think I caused more anxiety than intended because people went to look for the book online and couldn’t find it at any retailers. This would be because I hadn’t put it up at retailers yet.
So: next time, I’m going to give myself a few more months to make sure that everything is working and ready; readers will know when the book will be available — and it will actually be available. At the moment, the book is theoretically available because it has finally passed all checks. But this was iterative, and there was some trial, error, and reaching out to people who actually knew how to work with, say, IngramSpark.
The audiobook passed its quality tests as of this afternoon, and is now headed out to various distributors, so it should be Available Soon.
I have, I think, learned many things about how to proceed going forward. The whole of my focus was on making certain that the book looked – to my bibliophile eyes – like a book. But it should have also been on the publishing paradigm itself, because had everything been in place, no one would have had to ask me questions about formats and availability; that information would be up at various retailers.
Most of my published novels go live at, say, Amazon or B&N before I’ve actually finished the manuscript. The two processes are separate. One is writing, one is publishing. Deadlines I’ve been given fall in line with publishing dates listed on Amazon, and I work towards those. People know that a new book is coming because the publisher (Mira, in this case) has that information at various retailers well in advance.
If I had been paying more attention to the actual publishing part of the process as a process, I could have in theory done this. I … didn’t really think about it. I thought about writing, revising, editing, and preparing the various elements that constitute a book. I didn’t think about getting the information to readers in the way a publisher does or is supposed to.
Lessons learned. Hopefully, they stick >.<