Archive for April, 2009

Print on demand (just give us 2 weeks)

I’ve been meaning to try out the print on demand process, to see what it’s like (not for self-publication, but for an idea I have as part of my marketing plan).

Anyway, two weeks ago, I discovered a genuine excuse to try it out. I have a couple of beta readers lined up to gauge opinion on a novel. I planned on giving typescripts, but having given one out before, I know how cumbersome a ream of printouts can be for a casual reader. I also feel that casual readers would treat the manuscript more honestly as a book for review if it is actually presented to them as a book.

Aha! Now that’s a use for print on demand!

One reader was heading on holidays soon, so giving him a “holiday read” copy would be ideal (it’s probably the only time he’d find time to read it anyway!) So I chose Lulu because they can do private projects (where only the author can see and purchase them, and author retains all copyright). For safety, I retired the project after shipment. I’m sure publishers might balk at this behaviour, but – hey – I ain’t got that problem yet! This is my solution to ARCs for the unpublished! The trim sizes are a little limited, but I picked a suitably bookish one. For the cover, I left it all black with no title, no text .. nothing. I figure he’d love the kudos of reading an all-black mystery book in the airport lounge. A copyright notice figures prominently too, in case he leaves it there (that’s the disadvantage of giving less cumbersome review copies – maybe too portable!)

I can see why so many frustrated authors get sucked into POD vanity publication. It so damned seductive. Shiny black novel arrived this morning. Now, getting it to market – that’s not so easy, and not “on demand”! As a way of generating review copies though, it’s perfect, and seeing one copy in print might be a good catharsis to keep the impatient author submitting to agents just that bit longer.

A triumphant success. Just one problem – my reader left for holidays three days ago.

Yet again, “on demand” it ain’t. It takes up to five days to print, as I learned, and then there’s delivery time after that.

Oh well, maybe next holiday …

In the meantime, I’ve got a copy of my very own novel on my desk … to keep me going that bit longer.

Add comment April 21st, 2009

The other side

Look at the jibberish I just wrote in my day job:

public void doTransform(ITransformer Transformer) throws ParseException{

  if(_join != null) _join.doTransform(Transformer);
  if(_condition != null)

That’s the other side of what I do. Is it any wonder that I retreat to writing stories after hours? Makes me feel human again.

Actually, it’s not really jibberish. It’s just a language, called ‘Java’ instead of ‘English’. Its syntax and grammar are suited to communicating with a machine, rather than a person. I used to think that machines were less forgiving than people about incorrect syntax and grammar, but after hearing opinions on writing from beta readers, editors, and authors, it’s clear they can get more heated about grammar than a machine can.

Machines tell you where to get of if they don’t understand the meaning. And even if they do it, and get it wrong, they resort to the child-like refrain of “I only did what you told me to!”

With writers (and readers) it can be less clear what’s acceptable. For people it becomes about a third, softer issue called style. Sometimes those opinions become personal doctrines: “Though shalt remove all adverbs and adjectives.”

Programmers too can get doctrinal about choices in writing code. The bits that the machine really doesn’t care about become grounds for many a heated debate about coding style and readability: “Thou shalt have a comment line for every procedure.”

Languages differ, but people remain the same in any profession – the same in that they differ. The trick is to always look at it from the other side too. The other persons view. You don’t have to agree with them, but as a writer you are obliged to understand them. Surely no one would argue with that!

I think I need to sit down in a darkened room this weekend and write some prose for a while!

Add comment April 17th, 2009

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