Distribution


The cost of printing

As I get ready for my weekend in Austin I would like to call your attention to this press release from earlier today:

The publishing house that brought you “Fifty Shades of Grey” announces better quality and lower priced books for loyal customers

To summarize, the per-book cost for print editions of Immortal and Hellenic Immortal is coming down.  Look for this price reduction (it is not, alas, retroactive, if you’ve already bought a copy) reflected first on the TWCS website starting in November, and eventually in the prices of copies sold by other vendors.  And soon, copies will be available in brick-and-mortar stores and all will be right in the world.

About Austin

I will be doing my best to keep updating everyone on my trip to Austin, but those updates will likely not be here, simply because I won’t have time to tap out a long blog entry.  What I will be updating regularly is Twitter (@genedoucette) and Tumblr (The Incredibly Unnecessary Gene Doucette Tumblr).  If you do not already follow me in those places and yet have Twitter and/or Tumblr accounts, I recommend you jump aboard.

And of course if you are going to be in Austin this weekend, look me up at the Writer’s Coffee Shop table, or otherwise wandering around the city looking confused and sunburned.

Paperback availability

It has been a tremendously successful several months for Immortal and Hellenic Immortal, with both books selling more copies, as ebooks, than I’m probably permitted to disclose.  (Let’s go with an awful lot of copies.)  Most of these sales have been for the Kindle, because Amazon, for all their faults, cross-promotes very, very well.

One of the surprises in all of this is that the book sales have come largely despite paperback availability.  I say largely because you could always buy a paperback edition of either book, but that purchase almost had to be made directly from the publisher.  You could also buy it through Amazon, but you would still be buying it from the publisher, only now you’d be paying more for the copy in order to make sure every company touching it got paid.

I’m happy to announce that this is no longer the case.  Copies of Immortal and Hellenic Immortal are now available in paperback form directly from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and whatever remaining online retailers I am unfamiliar with.

Immortal paperback on Amazon

Hellenic Immortal paperback on Amazon

Immortal paperback on B&N

Hellenic Immortal paperback on B&N

It has been a long three months

As you all know, Immortal initially debuted in October of 2010, with rollouts (ebook etc.) taking place over the subsequent month or two.  By this time last year the book sales were in full swing and I was setting up an April blog tour to promote it.

And then I changed publishers in preparation for the debut of the second book, Hellenic Immortal.  This meant pulling the book out of circulation first.  Immortal has not been for sale since January.

A small promotional rollout

I’m happy to say Immortal is again going to be for sale with a new cover and a new publisher, as of March 8th.  To celebrate, we’re having a mini-tour, consisting of a few stops with a couple of interviews and a reprint of one of my favorite reviews.  Today, I’m stopping over at Sue London’s blog for a chat about Immortal and Hellenic Immortal and what’s coming next.  Stop by Sue’s blog and say hello.  And if you can’t wait until Thursday for the book you can always preorder it!

New publisher

As I explained here, Immortal is changing publishing houses, and Hellenic Immortal is on board with the same publisher.  That publisher?  The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, henceforth known as TWCS because that’s a mouthful of a name.

I met some folks from TWCS at the Indie Book Event over the summer, and honestly I think the only reason it took this long to inquire about working with them was that I thought they only handled romance.

You will find that TWCS has a website!  And marketing!  And promotions!  And you will likely find that the least expensive place to buy their books is directly from their website, so keep that link on-hand.

Publishing dates

The new edition of Immortal will be available February 9, 2012.  This edition will have a new cover design (about which you will hear more about just as soon as we figure out what the hell the new cover should look like) and it will be marketed as having a bonus chapter/teaser for Hellenic Immortal.  I would LOVE it if you, a fan who has already read Immortal, picked up a new copy of the book.  But I’m going to be honest with you: the bonus chapter is the same thing I shared with you at the beginning of the summer.  You can read it for free right now here.

The publishing date for Hellenic Immortal is April 5, 2012.

Keep in mind these dates are written in very dark pencil, not ink.  Ahead still is: editing; cover design for both books; navigating the mayhem likely to ensue when attempting to issue a new edition of a book from a different publisher than the one who published the old edition, which is going to wreak havoc with online retailers.

Now then: anyone want to pitch a cover idea to me? I’m open to anything.

I have heard you

I’ve been getting a lot of very specific feedback from my Immortal readers along the lines of, “when is the sequel coming out?” and “that sequel, it’ll be coming out soon, right?” and the occasional, “where the fuck is the sequel?”

To which my answer has been: it’s finished.  And I don’t know when it’s coming out.

Oddly, this hasn’t placated anybody.

Hellenic Immortal

It is true that I finished the final rewrite of Hellenic Immortal back in May, and it is also true that it has not been published since that time (aside from this sample chapter.)  It is also true that it’s almost always a good idea to roll out a new book within a year of the prior book’s rollout or risk losing readers.

Now here is what I couldn’t explain before now.  I had an agreement in place with the publisher of Immortal to publish the second book as well.  But for a number of reasons I can’t go into here, I didn’t want them to publish it.  Which meant finding a new publisher, one that would be willing to take on the second book of a series without owning– and thereby reaping the benefits of the sales of– the first book.  (And the addendum to “publish your next book within a year of the last one” is, “the next book will help sell the last book”.)

Contract pending

As I write this, a contract for Hellenic Immortal is en route and ready to be signed.  I don’t have a release date yet for it, but it should be in the first quarter of 2012.  Between then and now the cover will need to be designed and prepublication blurbs will have to be obtained and so on.  I’m hoping that all of you who have patiently awaited this release can patiently wait a little longer.

Interestingly, one of the things that may hold up the release of Hellenic Immortal is the re-release of Immortal.

Second edition

And that’s the other big news of the day here.  Barring any significant reversals, the same publisher will be obtaining the rights to Immortal as well. This will mean a new edition with new cover art, new distribution channels, additional promotional opportunities and so on.  I am very excited about this, because as well as the book did in the past year (and it did very well) there is still much more that can be done to make people out there aware of it.

And finally

What this means for the future: as those of you who follow my Twitter feed know, I just finished work on a novel called Fixer.  This is a standalone novel about a man who can see a rolling five seconds into the future trying to stop a killer only he can see.  It’s (of course, because it’s me) a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and humor– much heavier on the horror and lighter on the humor than Immortal– that I’m nearly positive you’ll love.  (If there is enough demand, I may put up a sample chapter for you…)

If nothing else were on tap this book would be (possibly self-) published in the first quarter of 2012.  But with Hellenic on its way I’m afraid you may have to wait a little longer for it.

Meanwhile, I have to start work on the third Immortal book.  Believe it or not, it will be the first novel I’ve started from scratch in six years.  Wish me luck.

Blog tour!

I kind of buried the lede, but: I’m hosting my first official blog tour for Immortal!  And I need your help!  See the bottom for details. But first…

Planning the future

I had the opportunity on Saturday to sit down with a couple of New York-based editors.  I was at a convention called Boskone at the time, and the reason I was able to sit down with these editors was partly that nobody else was.  They had these things called “Kaffeklatch” at which one could sit down for a scheduled hour with a professional… something.  Mostly writers.  And since most of the people at the convention were there to meet writers, those were the Kaffeklatches that filled up.

I was there to meet writers too, but since I am a writer, my highest priority was to find readers and to network with people and maybe to see what a convention is actually like. (This was my first.)

So anyway. I sat down at a table with two editors, and they asked me what I wanted to talk about.  And the long and sordid tale of the life of Immortal came out, ending with the triumphant publication of said product.  None of which was a question: more like a speech.  The question, at the end of all that, was: “now what?”

Now what

The answer was: put together the positive reviews and blurbs– I have quite a lot– and show them to an agent or seventeen.  And then the agent–we’re assuming here that one signs me, which is a specious assumption but it’s where we are– can go out and hopefully sell the mass market edition.

I thought this was a stunning idea, largely because it never even occurred to me that the rights to the mass market edition of Immortal was something I could market.

I gave them my rough sales numbers, with a number of caveats (no distributor other than Amazon for the print edition, no ebooks before mid-December) and found that these weren’t actually bad numbers at all.

Then again…

Earlier this week, I traded some emails with an agent I knew before this mad scheme was cooked up, gave him the same information I gave to the kind editors at Boskone and heard something slightly different: the sales numbers need to be much higher, “and soon” for an agent (well, for him) to seriously consider it.  A figure was provided, and that figure was the same as the rough number I’d already sold, times ten.

Challenge Accepted!

If I keep promoting as I have been so far, and if nothing else changes, I’ll probably end up needing at least another 1,000 sales to get in the neighborhood of the right number.  Now, there are other factors that could play into this.  For instance: a distribution deal would make an enormous difference, but I don’t have any control over that; the e-book sales numbers from every resource other than the Kindle have not been reported yet; there are P.R. avenues that have not yet been explored by the publisher.

Still, 1,000 extra seems about right.  So how do I get those sales?

I HAVE NO IDEA.

However, since that doesn’t do me any good, I’m going to declare “challenge accepted!” anyway.

Oh; and throw together a blog tour.

BLOG TOUR!

I need 20-30 bloggers who are interested in hosting one or all of the following:

  • a summary of Immortal
  • an interview with me
  • an interview with my narrator, Adam
  • an interview of me interviewing Adam
  • an interview of Adam interviewing me
  • a book review
  • excerpts from other reviews
  • blurbs
  • excerpts from the novel

(Interviews would either involve questions from the blogger or a set of Q&A’s provided by me.  It’s up to the blogger.)

I’m planning for a 30 day tour.  If it goes well, I may be convinced to release a little treat: a chapter from Hellenic Immortal.

If you are interested

The best place to contact me if you are interested in participating is on Twitter, @genedoucette.  I’m also known to respond to emails, at GeneDoucette (at) me.com.

Barnes and Noble steps up to the plate

The eBook rollout proceeds apace, with Immortal now officially available on the Nook.

If you have an eBook reader, you are very nearly out of excuses not to pick up a copy.  All that’s left is Sony, which powers the Borders e-reader, and from what I’m hearing Borders might not be around long enough to get a chance to sell Immortal

Pick up your copy for the Nook here.

It has been quite a year

I have a bad habit of focusing on things that haven’t happened yet rather than stepping back and looking behind me at what has been accomplished.  This tunnel vision quality is sometimes very useful, such as when I’m writing a novel, but maybe less useful in other settings, such as networking events.

So rather than concentrate on what still needs to be done– and since Immortal isn’t in brick-and-mortar bookstores yet or on any electronic device other than the Kindle, there’s a pile of screenplay work needing doing and two other novels to edit, this is a long list– I’d like to take a minute to look back on where we started.

A year ago at this time

This time last year, I had a publisher who did not yet officially exist.  I had barely succeeded in wriggling out of another contract to publish Immortal with a klepto-publisher that is thankfully no longer an entity.

I was not on Twitter.  I was not on GoodReads.  This blog did not exist.  (I was on Facebook, but that’s legally mandated nowadays.)

I had no idea how to get reviews for Immortal much less who to talk to for blurbs.  I didn’t even know what genre it was.

In other words

So it’s been a pretty good year, really.  And my impatience with the fact that I am not yet a world-famous author with a movie deal and a yacht (okay, not a yacht) shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the person I was a year ago would be kicking the 2010 version of my ass for worrying about current sales and distribution outlets whether there is such a thing as too much promoting.

So HAPPY NEW YEAR

And may next year be as fruitful as this one was.

And hopefully more profitable.

(Okay, let me have THAT complaint at least.)

Ebook challenges part two

Yesterday I dove back into the Ebook fray for two reasons: Immortal was still not set up on the Kindle; and we’d gotten back feedback from Smashwords on the ebook version we’d uploaded that required addressing.

As you know, I had issues reformatting Immortal to accommodate the Smashwords Style Guide, but the outcome was supposed to produce something that could be uploaded to both Amazon and Smashwords as-was.  It nearly turned out that way.

Kindle folderol

The problem with the Kindle availability was that each time the file I sent to the publisher was uploaded to Amazon, the resulting file still looked like hell.  After fiddling with this for a while, the publisher sent me the link and suggested I try it.  When I did, it looked considerably better.  Possible explanation: my file, which was emailed and then opened in another version of Word before being uploaded, had been altered by the program, which thought it was helping.

One of the first things one has to do before reformatting a document for epublishing is turn off all of the things in MS Word that are there to “help” you.  Auto-formatting, for instance.

But it still looked kind of crappy.  So I spent a good hour making adjustments to my Word file, uploading it to see what it looked like on Amazon, then making additional adjustments, and so on.  When I was happy, I finished the publishing process.

And: it is available now, directly from Amazon.

Shmashing

The Smashwords problem was much, much dumber.  In the style guide, it is “recommended” that specific language be included in the copyright information.  This “recommended” text is not “required” but “MIGHT” make it more difficult for the manuscript to be approved for their premium catalog.  

I didn’t include it.  And the premium catalog is what releases the book to all of the third party retailers, like Apple and Barnes & Noble.

So I had to fix that and send it back through their conversion meatgrinder, and wait for all of the War & Peace sized novels ahead of it in line to get done.  It’s available– again? Still?– from Smashwords.  And hopefully by the end of the month in a whole lot of other places.

The lesson. Don’t fuck with the Smashwords Style Guide or their abuse of the word “recommended.”

The important news first

You can now purchase Immortal as an eBook in any format your heart desires thanks to the folks over at Smashwords.  Go there now to buy your copy: Immortal eBook.

EBook formatting is hell

The book was actually “available” on Kindle at the beginning of November, for about half a day.  What happened was, the publisher opened up the Amazon account, read the documentation, and foolishly assumed that the assurances Amazon posted about the quality of the product after conversion were modestly accurate.  And of course it isn’t.

At the very moment I heard it was available on the Kindle I happened to be near son Tim.  It was his birthday and I was driving him to Rhode Island to get a tattoo.  No, I did not make that up.  Tim has an iPad with a Kindle app, so while on the road I had him download a copy of the book and take a look at it.

It looked awful.  All of the headers and the footers were mashed into the text, the page numbers– which shouldn’t have been there– were mashed in with them, the title pages ran together with the chapters, which were in a funky upper-case-lower-case stew.

So, from the lobby of a tattoo parlor in another state, I emailed, texted, voice-mailed and carrier-pigeoned a message back to the publisher: “take the book down, before someone gets hurt.”

Smashwords

We looked into hiring someone to format it for us, but then there was the question of how to format it for other devices, and after lengthy back-and-forthing the question was posed to me by some Twitter friends, “why aren’t you using Smashwords?”

Why not indeed?  So an account was opened, and everything was right in the world.

Except the book still had to be formatted.

Hard returns and section breaks and bears. Oh my.

The absolute final proof version of Immortal was in PDF.  Here are the steps I had to take to get that file into something an ebook reader wouldn’t spit out distastefully:

1: Convert the pdf file to a doc file using one of the approximately twenty free sites online that do just this function.  They probably keep everything they convert on some file somewhere for a secret government plan, but whatever;

2: Look at the Smashwords Style Guide.  Look at the doc file.  Look at the style guide.  Look at the doc file.  Cry.

3: The converted file has frames and page breaks and sections breaks.  I do what the style guide says I have to do to get rid of the frames, but the breaks cannot be deleted.  I look at five pages of google search results on “how to remove breaks in MS Word”.  None of the suggestions work.

4: I choose the “nuclear option” from the style guide which means I convert the doc file to an rtf file and then back to a doc file again.  This works: the breaks are gone.  However, so is all the italicization and bold-face, nothing that should be centered is centered, and every single line of text has a hard return symbol at the end of it.

5: Cry.

6: Go through the entire document line-by-line, adding space where it needs to be added, deleting the hard returns for every line ending that isn’t a paragraph break, deleting the manual indents, adding italics and boldface and centering what needs to be centered.

7: Curse my Word program for crashing regularly while I’m formatting.

8: Cry some more.  Formatting takes five days and all of the time I would otherwise have spent polishing up Hellenic Immortal.

9: Once it’s done, email it to the publisher to be sent to Amazon and Smashwords.  I cannot check to see if the formatting looks good because to do so I have to download MobiPocket Creator and MobiPocket Reader, neither of which are available on a Mac.

10: Pray that the eBook look okay.

And?

It looks okay.  I expect tweaks will be uploaded periodically– for instance right now the legal text says the book was “printed in the United States” which is an unnecessary line for an ebook to have– but the downloadable manuscript is basically all set.  The Kindle version from Smashwords, incidentally, might be better looking than the one that will soon be available on Amazon.  I eventually used daughter Becky‘s PC while she was home for Thanksgiving to test the doc file in MobiPocket, and while the result was perfectly readable, it was missing some of the spacing between sections that make it a slightly easier read.  Those spaces are intact in the Smashwords copy.

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