CreateSpace – Part III of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback

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Construct paperback

It’s heeee-re! It’s really here!

I’m as proud as George McFly when HE opened his box in 1985;

A Match made in space

(George McFly is a fictional character and wannabe author who was featured in ‘Back to The Future’ in case you don’t remember the 1980′s)

I can report several parallels with George’s story…we’d both been writing since we were at school, we’d both suffered similar abuse from our peers and we’ve both been accosted by time-travelling versions of our own sons. Except that mine hasn’t happened yet…but I’m sure it will. :) It’s bound to. That’s how time-travel works, right?

Ahem.

Anyway, back to the main event – the paperbacks. Actually, they were so large, I thought CreateSapce had accidentally sent me hardbacks. At 500 pages long, ‘Construct’ is no lightweight – but it would have weighed in at 700 pages if I hadn’t made the decision to lose the last three chapters from the original draft and recycle that ending into the (proposed) third book.

I can report that the print quality is top-notch. The cover is of good quality, printed on at least 200gsm card – possibly thicker.

(You’ll guess from the above that I’m not an expert in this field!)

However, it feels as good as any ‘real’ paperback and doesn’t feel as if it’s going to disassemble itself the first time it’s opened. Quite how they put such a small number of books together so well, I’m uncertain. I imagine that there is a large workshop beneath one of Amazon’s warehouse, complete with chutes and steam-driven conveyor belts manned by elves who sing jolly tunes as they lovingly construct the books.

Perhaps I’m wrong – but can anybody prove it?  :)

When I was populating the CreateSpace template with my MS, I went for a 6×9 layout, black text of cream paper and a size 11 font – Book Antiqua – which was the default font of the template. This resulted in a pleasant and easily readable text.

Even the image file that CreateSpace  flagged up as too low-resolution (less than 300 dpi) turned out to be fine. Since it was only an image of a character’s shaky handwriting, it didn’t concern me. I’d have shows it to you, but it’s a major spoiler. I imagine that a photograph of a similar resolution might have turned out poorly, but as someone commented recently on a previous post, ‘if it looks fine on the screen, it’ll probably be fine in the book.’

A quick flick through the book revealed that all was well, although one of those irritating spaces had managed to make an appearance at the bottom of one of the pages. *Fumes quietly to self at having missed it.*  I also felt that having chapters begin on the left-hand rather than the right-hand  page looked wrong. Unfortunately, this was the way that the text fell, so I will have to make some changes in that department.

My bio, now that I see it in print, reveals more about me than I’m comfortable with, so I’ll be trimming it slightly. Once I’ve had a chance to read the rest of the book, I may find other aspects that I’d prefer to adjust, but that’s something for another day.

So, a few minor tweaks required, but not a disaster by any means, but this all goes to prove that it was a wise move to follow CreateSpace’s advice and order proof copies and not just trust that I had everything right first time.

If you’re thinking of using CreateSpace, I’d be happy to report that it’s been a straightforward, happy experience – aside from my shenanigans with the formatting, although that is an issue with Word and may possibly have been a left-over from using Word to assemble my story in the first place. Those wise writers who utilise Scrivener may not have this problem.

So…off I go to a dark corner where I can read my 500 pages without interruption.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen! :D

.

In the meantime, whether you prefer pixels or pages,

Write On!

signature plus n270 

What’s it all about…Author?

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Image courtesy of mattox at Stock Xchng

Since ‘A Construct of Angels’ was published as an Amazon Kindle eBook, I have been asked this question many, many times.   And if I’m honest,  I haven’t always answered it well.  But if you plan to publish in the future (or indeed, you have already) then you should spend a few moments rehearsing your reply.

A verbal synopsis can be as important as the written one, so it’s worth getting it right.

Nothing puts off a prospective buyer more than;

‘Er…um…well…it’s kind of…’

If you, the author, can’t even verbalise a quick synopsis, how can you expect to transmit your enthusiasm to a potential buyer?

The answer that I have found to be very effective is to immediately compare ‘Construct’ to an existing…nay, a household name – Twilight.

Yes, I know it’s a bit cliched and it’s just one of soooo many vampire stories in a super-saturated market…but consider this;

Who HASN’T heard of it?

So if you’ve just written a political thriller , don’t be afraid to say ‘It’s a lot like Tom Clancy / John Grisham / John LeCarre.’

Your rip-roaring sci-fi adventure could do a lot worse than be compared to the huge success of Star Wars.

Even if they forget about your book, the next time they see whatever you’ve compared your work to, they could very well be reminded to browse for your story.

Try ‘You’ve heard of……. right?  Well, this is similar, except….’

And once you’ve established your genre, you can then go on to qualify your comparison, by adding something like; ‘It’s similar to Star Wars, but without the Wookies’ or ‘but Tom Clancy never went where my story goes..right into the corrupted heart of the DEA.’

The verbal synopsis of ‘Construct’ has evolved into something like this;

‘You’ve heard of Twilight and all the other vampire books?’

They nod.

‘This is similar, but with no vampires or werewolves allowed.’

‘Okay…’ they say, wondering what IS allowed.

‘It’s based in York.’

That gets their attention – it’s somewhere local (to us).

‘A paramedic who works there goes to the mortuary because she thinks her dead brother has just been found.’

Awww…the sympathy expression.

‘But while she’s there – she accidentally pulls down an angel into one of the bodies.’

‘Ooh?’  is the usual surprised reaction.  ‘How could this be?’ they may wonder.

‘It turns out that this angel has only six days to save the world, otherwise Hell will take over and civilisation is finished.’

‘Six days?’

‘Yep.  The clock is ticking.  Six days – and everything goes to Hell.’

After that, they usually begin to ask questions about the story and how long it took to write, and the synopsis is no longer in the spotlight.  Job done.

So, my advice is to Compare, then Qualify and finally Expand.

Give it a try when you’re in a quiet place (a railway platform or a bookshop is probably not the best venue).

Imagine that you’ve finally landed that longed-for radio interview.  Millions are listening with baited breath (don’t worry, they can’t see your reclusive yet artistic face) to hear what your book is about – and you have between fifteen and twenty seconds to sum it up.

Go for four sentences.  Short and snappy.  Get their interest.  Compare, Qualify, then Expand.

In closing, I should tell you this;

My worst ever answer?

‘So what’s your (High Fantasy) book about?’

‘It’s…er…it’s complicated.’

The curious party walked away, none the wiser.  Don’t send potential buyers away with no desire to check out your book.

Write on!

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