Attack of the novel.

October 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm (Uncategorized)

So here it is. Six months behind schedule; six frustrating months of endless editing, battling with software, cajoling reluctant friends into helping me out, coming home from the day job to spend all night in front of the computer – it’s finally here. Scar, by Ryan Frawley, published October 6th 2011.

Once I accepted the final proof, the system kicked into gear by itself. The first outlet to stock it was the Createspace estore. I get the most money from this – 50% of the cover price – but who the hell goes shopping on createspace? Three days later, the book went live on amazon.com. Before the day was out, I’d registered my first sale, thanks to a facebook status update and a supportive cousin.

Since the book is only on amazon.com and not on any of its foreign sites, such as amazon.ca or amazon.co.uk, I was concerned that the shipping would be exorbitant should anyone from those countries want to buy it. After all, I’m an English writer living in Canada; I expect a lot of my potential readers to come from those places. However, when I went to my amazon page (http://www.amazon.com/Scar-Ryan-Frawley/dp/098690130X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319083183&sr=8-1), I tested a few addresses and found that, for $4.99, it can be shipped to Canada in 11 days or less. It’s only $3.99 to ship it to the UK, if you’re willing to wait a month. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

The struggle is far from over, of course. The book’s out there now, but no one really knows about it. Now the actual selling starts.

On a personal note; I’ve been dreaming of being a novelist for as long as I can remember. How does it feel to have finally (sort of) arrived? Honestly, it doesn’t feel like anything. I don’t want to be a downer, and I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from following their dreams – far from it – but this process has been such a hurdle-strewn hassle that it became just a job. A frustrating, non-paying job that consumed all my leisure time. And it’s not as though it’s in any way done now that the book’s out. Now I’m a novelist, but I have to become a salesman.

Enough complaining. I’ve published a novel at the age of 28. I’ll get happy, I’m sure, if I can get people reading it.

To that end: enter the ebook. More on that to follow….

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Createspace screws up a second time

October 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

It’s been a while since my last post, and there’s a couple of reasons for that. Tectonic shifts in my private life have kept me on the back foot for much of the summer. Also, proof reading took far longer than expected. Every time I thought I had the book exactly right, I’d send it off to Createspace; they’d send me another proof, and I’d find more mistakes. I went through four different proofs in this way. (The last error I found was a discrepancy in the reported ages of the main character and his father. I must have read this book fifteen times by now. Five other people have read it, including a professional editor, and no one spotted this. A lesson for writers: you can never read closely enough!)

Normally, when you receive a proof and it isn’t right, you go to your Createspace account and reject the proof. They will then ask a couple of questions as to why you don’t like the proof, essentially to make sure it’s not a printing error on their part. Then you upload a revised PDF, they process it and send you another proof, and the process starts again.
However, last time I rejected a proof, something strange happened. I got this message:

Congratulations on making “Scar” ( 3575000 ) available! All Content Creation products have been fulfilled and we would like to thank you for using our services. If you have not already, please follow the steps below to enable your title through our distribution channels.

I quickly emailed them back, explaining that I hadn’t accepted the proof, and that it wasn’t ready for publication. I got this message back:

In viewing the history of this title, I see that it has never gone available and that it is now currently in “Incomplete” status. The message you received seems to have been an error on our end and I sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding it may have caused.

Upon further review of your account, I was able to see that you successfully uploaded revisions on August 29; however, these files have not been submitted for our review process. To do so, please log in to your account, navigate to the “Complete Setup” step in the “Setup” phase, and select “Submit files for Review” at the bottom of the screen. We’ll then review your files and send you an e-mail notification outlining the results of your submission within 24 to 48 hours.

Once your files pass review, you will have the option to either order another proof copy of your title or skip the physical proof step and make your title immediately available.

So I did what they said. I submitted my files for review, and got this message:

The text overlaps on the PDF page 126. Please adjust the text in the native program and recreate the PDF for publishing.

That was too much for me. After the months of work I put into getting the book right, after getting four different proofs which all had the unusual text effects I wanted, I was in no mood to be told a second time that what I had fought to get wasn’t possible. I fired off a slightly nasty email, telling them that I knew that what I was asking could be done, but if they were unwilling to do it I’d find someone else who would. I got this back:

Our Technical Services team has confirmed that your files will be accepted as they are submitted in your account. We have set your title back to “In Process” and you should expect to receive a new review shortly. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Obviously, this was all a frustrating waste of time, but all’s well that ends well, no? They fixed my problem, once I got firm with them.
What irks me, though, is that without my consent, they moved me one step further along in the publishing process. By accepting a proof I told them to reject, they advanced me to the next stage in the process, and once you reach that stage, additional proofs cost additional money. I had to pay $12.99 for the proof I’m currently waiting on.
I understand that they’re a business. I got four proofs for free, and I would have no problem if after that, they decided to charge me. If they had just sent me a message saying, ‘we can’t keep sending you books for free. From now on, we’ll charge you for additional proofs’, I would have been fine with that. But instead, they made a ‘mistake’ that I now have to pay for. Not cool.

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