Going Hard

So, much earlier than I expected to, I'm making Falling a hard copy paperback. The inciting incident was the editor of The Australian I talked about in the last post, which I was surprised about because I remember very well from my days writing about books for newspaper arts sections that they tend to be pretty snooty about self-published projects (and with good reason – have you seen many self published books?).

So at the prospect of having a review in a national newspaper, it was time to make a hard copy. Amazon makes it fairly easy to assemble and produce a paperback version of your book and I looked at a couple of other POD services, but for better or worse there's really no competition – I can get a single copy one at a time from the Kindle store for about US$10.

As any graphic designer knows, one of the most expensive and time consuming parts of any book publishing project is presenting the actual text rather than making it look like someone uploaded a file straight from Microsoft Word, which most self publishing projects seem to be.

So it was actually quite enjoyable to revisit all the old tricks in InDesign for making an entire book for a week or so, although I'm enbarrassed to say it's been so long I had to look plenty of them up online. I did a more print-friendly publishing details page, assigned a new ISBN, did a style for all the chapter headings, had to resave all the section graphics in high res, etc.

After a few whip throughs to check there were no errant widows or orhpans and I hadn't missed applying the style to any chapter headings (which I had), all you have to do is upload a PDF of the whole thing and a separate PDF of the cover to the Kndle account and you're away.

The only potential snag is their system automatically puts a barcode on it and wraps it from the front to the back across the spine, which looks ugly as a hatful of proverbial. And there's no provision I can see to design the back cover or spine, which will be considerable on a printed copy of Falling – the final page count is 774. But their tech support email help has been very responsive to my other questions so I've fired off another query to ask.

The other upside is that you have your paperback copy ready for when you want to make it available for public sale - if you want a review or proof copy you just order it from that same assembly.

At first I thought I'd just get proof copies to send to reviewers, but as it's all the same process I asked myself why not make it available for sale in paperback at the same time? The retail price is only going to be US$17, and at the very least I'll be able to order one myself and have something I've been dreaming about since I was 13 – a book on my shelf written by me with my name on it.