Friday, April 13, 2012
A Book is a Tool
A book is a tool for getting inside of someone's head. Unlike the scalpel, it is not invasive, and the seeds planted only grow over time--assuming they don't fall on barren ground. Taking into account the neuroplasticity of the brain, this only makes sense. That's why books are so important in school and in the learning process.
When I got my proof copy of 'On the Nature of the Gods,' I took it home and opened up the cardboard package. The 5 x 8" is a more desirable product than the 6 x 9" of 'Redemption,' that I produced last month. It's thicker, at about three-quarters of a inch, and it's much more my idea of what a paperback should be.
One of the nice things about working with a good cover image, is that it makes an amateur look good, and I'm pretty lucky to have found the image on Morguefile. Major publishers would overlook this source, as it's not an exclusive license. Any other person could use that image. What it is, is free, which is vital at this stage of the game.
At $10.99 cover plus an estimated $7.00 for shipping, we're looking at an $18.00 product, if a reader buys one online and is willing to wait for a week or ten days for the book. So far, I haven't really put a lot of thought into buying cases of print on demand books at a major discount, and flogging them at hobby festivals or at a flea market, but you never know! Crazy enough, it just might work...
To put it in perspective, the 4 x 7" of 'The Case of the Curious Killers' on Lulu.com goes for $13.99 and by the time it gets to the reader's house it's well over $20.00. That one came out at 435 pages, and 'On the Nature of the Gods' is 296, 'Redemption,' 216. When you think of how books are made, there are more machine operations and probably more waste in the smaller product.
Since books are produced from boxes of paper rather than rolls of newsprint, the logic of size and waste after trimming means that the 5 x 8 costs two dollars more than the 6 x 9. But to me, it's a much nicer product, and every decision we make, whether as writers or in daily life, involves some trade-offs and some compromise.
The plan is to publish either 'The Shape-Shifters,' or 'The Case of the Curious Killers' on the first of May, and then the other one on the first of June. At some point I'll make POD paperbacks of 'Heaven Is Too Far Away,' and other titles as the impulse drives me, or as seems logical. I only have so many left to do, which limits the choices. However, I would like to find a better image for 'The Paranoid Cat and other tales,' and if I had an absolute killer image for 'Heaven Is Too Far Away,' I might be a little more eager to do the PODs.
Also, I've been upgrading the cover images for the e-books as I go along, and now I design the image with a paperback's requirements in mind--I'm staying a half-inch back with the titles, etc. The process once learned, can be streamlined and improved, and new refinements become possible with knowledge and experience.
To make a long story short, I am 'changing my brain,' to use Dr. Daniel Amen's term, and at the same time, learning a valuable new skill. This is a very positive thing, and one I can thoroughly recommend. I've never actually read his book, but he was all over PBS and I used to watch the fund-raising telethons, where he was a favourite guest.