Archive for August, 2009

Lulu in London, self-publishing a children’s book in the UK, the BookSurge stage

August 30, 2009

It struck me the other day that coming up with a new book idea is rather like saying to your pals ‘Hey, let’s all run up this down escalator!’.   In the  moment you come up with your great idea there’s a  flurry of excitement and a run for the stairs – you get  the credit for your wacky good (at the time) notion.  All good fun so far.  However as you turn the idea into reality things change.  Your leg muscles burn in the fight against gravity and the original appeal of the idea evaporates along with the sweat on your brow.  How nice it would be just the let the escalator carry you back to where you started and you can forget the whole thing.  To save face you could say ‘Hey, better idea!  why don’t we all slide down the bannister like those teenagers are doing? Cool!”

For me that’s what book ideas feel like.  When a book is failing to catch publishers’ or agents’ eyes there is a temptation to blame the idea.  And to get excited about the next idea and the one after that.  But here’s when you have to hold your nerve.  I have worked in creative industries long enough to know that good ideas often get rejected.  I have read enough kids’ books to know that bad ones get published.  Beatrix Potter didn’t say “Oh you don’t like the rabbit, no worries, how about these badgers?    I have a great badger book.  Or voles, wanna hear my vole idea?”   Of course new ideas are great but not when they are an excuse for neglecting a good old idea.

Personally,  I love that phase when I am telling my pals the plot for a new book. I get a kick out of describing the character’s situation and having people urgently ask ‘And then what happened?  How did she get out of that?’  I am getting far less of a kick out of my current phase of trying to heave the book up onto Amazon.

When I published my book with Lulu I kind of assumed that it was already for sale on Amazon.  Not so.  Now I have bought  a distribution package from BookSurge to rectify the situation.  The BookSurge people are emailing me about LCCN numbers. taxation forms and Lord knows what else.  I fobbed off the nice man who phoned to check if I’d read my emails.  I asked him about the location of the BookSurge offices.  I enquired about the weather in Charleston.  But it’s inevitable.  I will have to do all the tedious tax office whatevers.   Yaaaaawn.

And the worst thing is  I have nothing to say when people ask “How is your book going?’  They want to hear that Oprah Winfrey loves it and that Sasha Obama is a fan.   i want to be in lively negotaitions with Beyoncé about her role in the sequel.   Well, some day that might be true but not unless I get my W8-BEN form sorted out.

Lulu in London – self-publishing a children’s book in the UK.

August 25, 2009

Now as someone who wants to be a writer I suppose I should put some effort into using beautiful prose for this blog. If you don’t mind, I won’t. I’m here to talk about my Lulu experience for anyone else who might want to publish their own book. Lulu, in case you don’t know is a POD site, That means publish on demand. So if your book is on Lulu people can go in, buy one copy and go away without you, the author, having to fill your spare bedroom with boxes full of mildewed paper. Who designs the book? You do it yourself. Or in my case I got my very talented and generous sister to do it. The Lulu printing is fab and i love my book.

So what next? Selling it. Here’s where I got confused so I’ll go through how it is working for me so far. And I’ll explain a little setback that you might avoid. To publish on Lulu you have to use certain sizes, numbers of pages, an ISBN number etc etc. My sister and I spent months studying the specs and it was a great day when the book turned up on the Lulu site. The first glitch is that the book is expensive. A Fairy in the Family is well over a tenner but you can’t chase every hare in the field so that is just that for now.

The next phase was to get the book listed on Amazon. And here is where it got interesting. About six weeks after opting into Amazon my book appeared. I ordered one straightaway. A few weeks later I got a message from Amazon saying they did not have the book and it was ‘Discontinued’. Lulu offered to make it available in the UK if I bought a distribution package for around £40. Ok.

Meanwhile Amazon.com was claiming my book was ‘Out of Print’. However, a company called BookSurge offered to make it available if I bought a distribution package for $299. So two packages to buy. But – the glitch. It turned out the book was the wrong size for the UK Lulu distribution package. They asked if I could redesign it. As if! Who’s gonna pay for that? While I fizzed with rage they gave me back my money and apologised profusely. Just one of those things. Lulu has been great, personal emails and genuine concern.

Meanwhile at home the book is being translated into Irish. (I got some funding to distribute it to the bilingual schools.) Coincidentally the translator made a good argument for redesigning the book in a different shape. Something to do with small kids needing to learn to go left to right. So the redesign is looking inevitable.

Tomorrow I will try the BookSurge people. Will I ever sell a book for actual real money?? I’ll tell you when I do.

Hello world!

August 25, 2009

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