Updated: Feb 6, 2021
Well, after nine years (!) of writing and revising, we are in the final steps of getting the first of my novels, Plenum : The First Book of Deo, published. What follows will be a description that focuses a bit more on the transactional side of things than I usually do in these postings, but I believe it is both interesting to lay out the steps and also to identify the thinking behind some of the choices I (we) have made.
I say "we" because there is now an entire team of people working on different parts of the process. This is itself an extraordinary realization and one of the perks of working through a cooperative-type publisher. That happened when I was a scientist, too, but it feels more special and personal when it concerns my own fiction writing. Yesterday the team that is responsable for different aspects of the marketing met, and tomorrow I am meeting with the people responsable for book production. Since the book publishing effort is being carried out by the same team involved in the editing work I have been doing for Metapsychosis, I have been working with them for years for the most part, and months in some cases.
The book will be published both in print and in ebook formats. What this means today is that it will be printed via a Print-On-Demand (POD) arrangement and the digital file will be formatted and submitted to Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, etc. In the old days, you did a print run for a fixed number of books, usually a fairly high number, but with POD you only print the number you want. One of our editorial team prints her own books via Ingram Books, who offer a POD service. The publisher, however, is Untimely Books, which is an imprint of Infinite Conversations/Metapsychosis/Cosmos Cooperative. It's a bit complicated.
A cover image (see banner selection above) was developed some time ago by one of my artist collaborators, Jonathan Proulx-Guimond, but the book design has still to be done. I had some thoughts about that which I will be sharing with the production team tomorrow. The difference between the cover art and the book design is that the latter includes the typographical elements (titles, descriptive blurb, etc.), the positioning of the image on the cover, and any additional elements we might decide to include. It is apparent that the book design is not just a rubber stamping of the cover art. Sometimes the design stage can completely transform the look of the cover art, and take something that is traditional and turn it into something much edgier. So design is no minor step.
The digital marketplaces such as Amazon (80% of the ebook market), Apple Books (about 10%) and the others (Kobo, Google Play, etc.) all have their own systems for categorizing books and promoting them. One needs to understand each one to do this properly. Reedsy just published a free book (How To Market A Book : Overperform in a Crowded Market) that describes these things in detail, by one of their co-founders, Ricardo Fayet. I hired one of Reedsy's freelance editors to help me with an earlier version of Plenum, so they have been very useful to me. Most of the digital marketplaces use keywords to promote books, so selecting the right keywords is really important. Fayet's book gives a fantastic breakdown of the process of doing this. However, Fayet's book is written from the perspective of maximizing sales (to the point of analyzing where books are selling and writing books in popular niches), whereas our principle at Infinite Conversations, and one with which I wholeheartedly agree, is to develop and nurture readership. Often the two goals will coincide, since readership will generate book sales, but sometimes choices can be different. Fayet himself points out that for readership, publishing across different platforms is probably best, whereas for sales, Amazon offers lucrative deals which favour exclusively publishing with them.
Infinite Conversations/Metapsychosis is developing a page for Untimely Books and a 'landing page' for Plenum where one can pre-order or buy the book directly (along with a second book being launched by the collective simultaneously, by author Brian George). They will also be sending out a monthly newsletter to their mailing list of 1000+ to announce the books. I have also been organizing my own mailing list to send out announcements, and also to solicit reviewers for the book.
I have decided to separate off the Fashion Show event I had originally planned to do jointly with the Book Launch. They are really two different things. If we did the fashion show, it would have to be done virtual (or live streaming, which comes to the same thing), and that takes part of the interest away. Augmented reality is interesting because it mixes the real and the virtual. If the event is purely virtual, the punch is lost. So we are going to wait until we can do it in front of a live audience, and use it to promote the book a second time then. The Book Launch itself will be a virtual event, using Zoom in its Webinar mode, date still to be announced but tentatively the final week of March.
There are also a number of issues that arise because I am a Canadian publishing via an American imprint. There are tax considerations, copyright matters, issues around libraries, and so forth that need to be understood if not directly addressed.
Finally, a remark about my state of mind. I have become so excited about the launch, and so obsessed with the hundreds of details and decisions that have to be made, that I am often not sleeping well. My mind turns over the decisions, I wake up in the middle of the night with issues that need to be addressed, etc. It's a good time, but also a stressed time, although it is a joyful stress. I need to remind myself that the book will be out of my hands soon, and that it is in the long term, not the short term, that it may gain readers, since it is the first of a series of books. So what I do now will make a difference, but ultimately not so much in the longer view.