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Friday, 25 April 2014

Tracking the Wolf's Footprint by Susan Price

          The other day the Mighty Zon delivered the proof copy of the first actual, physical, self-published paper book of mine that I've done. Here it is: The Wolf's Footprint.


          It's already been published, by Hodder, and is available on Kindle, but it was quite a thrill to open the parcel and see my own publication, under the PriceClan imprint.
          Somehow - much as I love my Kindle and even prefer reading on it - a paper book that you can stand a coffee cup on, wedge under a wobbly table or force into an overcrowded bookcase, seems more of an achievement than successfully publishing an e-book.
         Perhaps I felt this way simply because I've mostly forgotten how difficult I found e-publishing at first, and the struggles with Createspace are fresher in my mind. Indeed, I'm still struggling, and the proof copy showed up some problems.
          I loved the cover design, by Andrew Price. It was me who suggested changing the lettering to bright red and when, with a few clicks of keys, he made it so, I bounced up and down and said, "Yes! Go with that!"
          On the computer screen, it looks wonderful. The letters go Zing! against the background and stand out.
          But when you hold the paper book in your hand, the lettering says something more like, 'Meh.'
          The paper book isn't back-lit and luminous.On paper, the red is too close in tone to the background and merges into it. The lettering also seems more squashed than it does on screen. So that will have to be changed.
          The book's interior is fine - except for two places where the book's title appears at the top of the page, when it appears nowhere else. (I would prefer indented paragraphs too, but I used a ready-made CreateSpace template, and wasn't prepared to fight the programming to get my indents.)
          I chose grey-scale for the pictures, and both Andrew and I are pleased with them. Andrew says he actually prefers the grey-scale. I don't, although I think they look very good, and, of course make the book cheaper. Still, I'm thinking of going back through the process and seeing what the price of a full colour book would be. In fact, I might make two available, one in grey-scale and one in colour.

 Illustrations copyright Andrew Price

           I asked advice from Authors Electric's own, our very own, Chris Longmuir, because she's been publishing paper books for a while, and on her advice, I paid £26 for a block of ISBN numbers, so that I could get copies printed locally. The ISBNs are supplied by Neilsens, who asked when the book was to be published. This was back in February, and I blithely said, "April," thinking that would give me plenty of time.
          Of course, come April, I'm nowhere near publication. What I hadn't foreseen is that I would be embroiled in trying to qualify as a Royal Literary Fund consultant. I'd thought this would mean a bit of polishing up of my lecturering skills - but since the RLF don't do things by halves, it turned out to be more like a teacher-training course condensed into six days, plus the creating and giving of an observed, three-hour work-shop. It's bin doin' me 'ed in.
          My CreateSpace project was pushed aside, and April came with nary a paper book in sight. What did arrive, though, were several orders from booksellers, passed on from Neilsen. This took me aback. I hadn't really expected to get any.
          I asked Chris Longmuir for more advice. Could I rush the book onto Amazon, and supply the booksellers via Mighty Zon? - Chris advised against it. The booksellers have their own order procedure and aren't geared up to accepting books from Amazon. So there was a danger the order would go astray.
         And if I had Amazon deliver books to me, and then sent them on to the booksellers, I'd be paying hefty postage twice. She also warned me about the discount booksellers expect. As she'd told me before, a much better idea would be to get a local printer to publish some, and supply them to booksellers.
          But I haven't even managed to get the book proofed and on sale on Amazon yet - though I will, I will. I had to contact the book-sellers and say that I couldn't supply their orders.
          Meanwhile I'm being told by local printers that 'perfect bind' - that is, the squared spine that you see on most professional paperback books - is 'very specialist, and even if you can find a local printer who can do it, it will be very expensive for small runs.' Yet Amazon's CreateSpace did it, using print-on-demand.

Stitch Binding
 So I'm offered stitch-binding. Maybe I'm snobbish, but I really don't want my books to look like superior parish magazines. I want the to look like a book. Like the CreateSpace one does.
          So I'm beginning to think that maybe I should stick to selling through Amazon, at least for now. What do others think?

          Meanwhile, I've just caught up with some of the reviews from Amazon, for which I am very grateful.

          Annelyse says, 'I am a 10 year old girl and my absouloute fav animal is a wolf. Oh and also they are the coolest things in the world, like me.' - Which is not exactly a review of my book, but I enjoyed it. Her declaration that wolves are not carnivores made me think. Has she let the wolves know? - But I agree about them being cool and fav, also fab. But Annelyse, I am the coolest wolf fan in the world, no question.
          Kelliot says, 'What a great little story. It's a bit creepy but my class loved this book and were very curious about when the children might turn back into humans.'
          Class 4DH, of Rosendale Primary School, say, "This dark tale is set in medieval times. The two main characters are Elka and Daw, poor children who are starving to death. Left in the woods to die by their desperate parents, they are saved by wolves. In an exciting and cool way, the children turn into the animals that saved them. This book is unpredictable, gory, and fantastic. You won't be able to put it down!"
          I like to be called 'cool', me. Thank you, all!

Susan Price is a Carnegie Medal winning author for children and young adults.
Her website is here -
All her e-books are to be found here.