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Saturday, December 31, 2005

On New Year's Eve: The Experiment, An Update



Last week, a couple of days before Christmas, I recieved my contract from Publish America. So I looked it over, Angel looked it over, we discussed it and decided we were satisfied.

I signed it and mailed it on December 23rd.

I am officially an author, slated to be published in the coming year.

I've had most of the week off, and with the marvellous Christmas Present from Angel of a new office chair (Which I love immensely), I have had my ass parked in front of the computer, dilligently pecking away at the "publishing rewrite" of The Unearthing.

At the same time, I've been mulling over several different plans for the marketing of my novel, some of which I will discuss here in greater detail in the future. My main goal is to raise money for the marketing venture in time to do this. In other words, if you've ever thought of donating to the K Space Universe, now would be the time.

I do have other sources of revenue to throw at this, though: My annual February bonus; my recently-acquired-and-coinciding-with-my-fifth-year-of-employment-with-the-company stock options (Which only pay out in December 2006) and my credit card, if I manage to get a sizeable chunk of that paid off.

Likewise, I have also decided that, as I am literally a month ahead of my delivery schedule, I'm going to take a couple of weeks to read over The Unearthing one last time before they send me a proof copy, in order to make sure that I've not left in any superfluous text, typos or punctuation errors.

However, before I do that, I need to take a break. This coming week I will be working on another couple of writing projects that were sidlined while I prioritized The Unearthing. Understand, if you would, that this is because I have been working on The Unearthing in one form or another, since 1997. That is eight years of my life. I don't think I've worked on anything else I've written as intensively or as constantly as I have this book.

And a lot's happened to good old Steve Karmazenuk in those eight years; Eight years is a life lived. I've been in two different relationships. I survived the Ice Storm. I lost some good friends, made others. My grandmother died. My god-daughter and one of my nieces was born. My friends Kevin and Tammie celebrated the births of two (or is it three--I can't keep track) beautiful children, increasing their brood to four offspring in total. I moved to Ottawa. I moved back to Montreal. My cousins got married. I started working in telecommunications. I got married. My wife's grandmother died. My uncle died. My cousins gave birth to two more beautiful babies. My parents' family dogs died. My parents moved into a new apartment and I wrote three other novels besides The Unearthing, including one that was briefly e-published at http://jumpgate.technomages.net

So as I look back, this early morning of December 31st 2005, I'm not only looking back on this last year. I'm looking back on these last eight years.

In July of 1997 I started with an idea for a story. Look how far I've travelled with just that one idea. Look how much farther I still have to go.

Never doubt the power of a single idea.
Never doubt the power of a single idea to change your life.
Never doubt the power of a single idea to change your life, if you only have the wisdom to follow it as it wends its way along the darkened path of the unknown future.

J Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5 and one of the men who gave me the inspiration to write again after having abandoned writing after college, said it best:

Write the story you want to read.
Live the life you want to live.
Do what gives you joy.
The rest will attend to itself.

JMS, thank you.

To everyone: Happy New Year.

These chronicles will continue in 2006.

Until then I remain your faithful narrator,

Steve Karmazenuk,
The Keeper of ){ Space.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

News From All Over



So I'm taking a break from my hectic schedule (re-formatting The Unearthing) to give a quick update. First, I have opened up a new dimension in K Space: the K Space Movie Reviews. I assume you're all astute enough to figure out what's going to happen over there...

And, the gossip mill at my office means that I'm a minor celebrity, or at least an idle curiosity; so far I'm averaging 3 people a day asking me about the book. My email campaign is progressing, and thanks to all my well-wishers for, well, wishing me...umm...well.

I'm also hapy to report that my publishers mailed out the written contract today, so I'll be signing that in a week or two. Likewise, they asked me to forward them some info on the local papers so that they could send out a press release about me signing--I get the impression this is standard protocol on their part, but it's thrilling nonetheless.

Okay...not much of a blog entry, and probably not that educational for you--but hey! At least it's writing-related!

I promise to have some more "content driven" posts in the near future...probably after the holiday madness dies down.

Friday, December 09, 2005

No need to report that until we have something to report


Once again, let me apologize for the long delay between posts. I have spent the last two weeks going through communications with my soon-to-be publishers, Publish America.

Mainly, because of some sort of email server issue for which of course my email provider, Bell Sympatico of course denies all responsibility. And we believe them, don't we boys and girls?

Anyway, I digress: I've completed an agreement in principle to publish my novel! My contact at Publish America had sent me a sample contract last monday, and that's when I started reviewing it and doing some research.

The first concern I had was with the seven year duration of the contract; seven years is as long as it took me to write the book. But my friends in Toronto Kevin and his wife Tammie did a little research and found out from people who work in publishing that 7 years is a pretty standard length of time.

TerishD who also publishes with Publish America told me I'd have input on the cover design, which was another concern of mine.

My friend Tom wanted me to find out about the ebook and audiobook rights, which I found out from Publish America I retain 100% full rights on.

The other concerns I had will be addressed at a later time, mainly because much will depend on the time it takes the book to be produced and the page count the finished book will have when produced.

So now I have until February 1st to reformat the book according to Publish America's requirements. When that's done I'll send it off to Publish America, and The Artifact, which will henceforth be known as The Unearthing. This last because there's already a number of titles published by PA that have the word "Artifact" in the title.

Either yesterday or on this coming Monday, a written contract will be in the mail for me to sign and return.

Now, as I still retain ebook and audio book rights, this is another means for me to make some money and spread the news about my book and I am already working on ideas on marketing and promotion.

How to describe how I feel? Happy, accomplished and already looking ahead. Because Publish America doesn't get much respect from the big bookstores, I'll have to fight an uphill battle for sales and recognition. I don't really care, though. I'm officially a published author, and my success is now up to me.

This chronicle will continue.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dear Sir or Madam, did you read my book / It took me years to write, will you take a look?



Hopefully, gentle reader, you'll have picked up on the reference to the Beatles' tune.

Yep...heard back from the publisher. The news is good, and yet I find that although I'm happy about it, it's nowhere near the emotional orgasm I'd expected. Don't get me wrong, I'm greatful as hell! But now I find that I have to start thinking about how to make this into the success I envisage, and although extremely highly motivated now, I find that my mindset is more calculating than extatic. Please don't hate me for overdosing on grim reality.

I've read their contract and I get the feeling it's the best offer I can expect--and it's pretty fair one at that. A couple of things I don't like, but that I can live with. I'm having it looked over by some people who are a little more savy in such matters than I, but once I have their approbation I will be signing the release and being, well, published.

They're looking at a "complete date" of January 2006, which I presume means that the 'script will go into production at that point. I imagine the finished product would be rolling off the presses four to six months later, from what I've heard from the person who turned me on to this publisher, the lovely and talented TerishD (whom I quoted in my post "Words of Wisdom".)

I'm still not naming names, because I have a few questions that I want to ask the publisher before I agree to sign on the proverbial dotted line; concerns like, how much the list price of the book will be, marketing strategies, etc.

This is the beginning of something.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The K Space Universe Expands!



Well, you probably noticed that the Blog name's changed from K Space: The Steve Karmazenuk Writing Universe to The K Space Universe

Well, that's not the only change; as promised, I've added the book review section, aptly titled K Space Book Reviews.

You'll find a whole heap of new links, links to books I've read and reccommend among them.

But, there's more! I'll not be the only person reviewing books; I've invited a select group of people to help review books they've enjoyed.

So be sure to check out K Space Book Reviews and keep coming back to the new and improved K Space Universe as things continue to grow.

Steve Karmazenuk,

The Keeper of ){ Space

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Experiment: Update To The Leap Of Faith



So after reviewing the website for the publisher I'd mentioned in my last entry, I decided to submit The Artifact to them, for review.

According to an email I recieved earlier this week (Okay, technically on Monday) they are going to review the material I sent, and get back to me within 2 weeks.

So, I am now waiting to hear what they say. If they accept my book, I'll ask to see their publishing agreement. After I go over it with a magnifying glass and with the help of my friends and loved ones (Many of whom, thankfully, have suspicious minds at worst, skeptical natures at best) I will decide whether the deal is good, bad, or too good to be true.

So now comes the waiting game.

And even if they agree to publish me and I agree to let them publish me, this is far from the end of my adventures.

As I said: this is a small publisher who will leave many if not most of the decisions up to me. That means that I will still ultimately have to take care of marketing and distribution of the book. I'll probably order an initial run of the book and start some small-scale marketing of my own (Including submitting the book for review to the local papers and a couple of SF websites/literary websites) while working on the "real" marketing campaign.

The process of formatting the book for print, cover design and the initial print run is going to take several months. In that time I'll have to review one or more "proof" copies of the material, while planning my marketing strategy--a large part of which will consist of figuring out how to PAY for all this. I assume that my annual bonus from the phone company, paid in February and usually in excess of $1500 CDN (before taxes of course) will go towards that end. Likewise, it helps that a friend of mine used to work for a media consultant firm.

And if I am declined by the publisher, or if I decline them, well, then it's back to square one, isn't it? Either way, this experiment is a long way from concluded.

And whatever happens, you, dear readers, will be the first to know. Well, you'll be the first to know after my wife, my friends in Ottawa, my friends in Toronto, my Mom, my coworkers, my downstairs neighbours, my psychologist...so, I guess technically you'll be the ninth or tenth to know. Twelfth or further, depending on the order in which you visit this blog.

I'll also be very soon adding a new feature to this blog: As a writer, I feel that it would be appropriate to create a book review section. Not to review MY writing, but to review books that I've liked. But, I don't want to be the only person reviewing books, so I'm going to be inviting some people to review books, as well. Right now this is all in the nebulous "inside my head" stage, but I'll keep you posted on THAT, as well.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Experiment: The Leap of Faith


I have applied to an independant publisher to print The Artifact.

This does not mean I've given up on self-publishing. In fact, the publisher I have applied to is more like full-service printer than a publisher; although they pay a royalty on sales, they do not charge for their services.

Most of the decision-making regarding the Artifact, if it is accepted for publishing, will be left up to me. And I will still be pretty much solely responsible for the distribution & marketing of the book.

So why have I chosen to go with an indie instead of doing it myself?

Well, the painful cost of the self-publishing, for one.

For another, the publisher in question comes highly recommended by someone whose opinion I trust.

Thirdly, the more money I have to put into the marketing campaign, the better I can make that campaign.

I'm still not 100% sure that I'm going to go with the publisher if I'm accepted. Why? Because I want to keep my options open as long as I can. So far, the next leading candidate in my quest to self publish is one that would still cost me upwards of $1500 USD. However, they would guarantee a 40% royalty, providing I sell my book at their suggested retail price (Unfortunately, their SRP for a book the size of The Artifact is quite high--perhaps even inaccessibly so).

The problem is one of self-doubt and second-guessing. I realize that whatever I decide will either make or break The Artifact. If I go with this publisher and it's a mistake, my book will tank. However, the same is true if I pick the wrong POD or full-service printer. And as marketing and distribution are going to be key to this project's success, if for whatever reason my printed / published book is not acceptible to the distributor, I'm fucked.

I've heard people talk about having a "What the fuck am I doing?" moment; skydivers when they're leaning halfway out the airplane door; bungee jumpers after leaping from the platform. Me, back when I did drugs, the first time I dosed on LSD.

It is a moment when a person is making a leap of faith: one that they cannot come back from. Whatever happens from that point on will happen solely because of that one act, that one decision. The parachute will open, or it will fail. The bungee cord will stretch, or it will snap. The drugs will stew your brain, or they won't. The Artifact will succeed, or it will fail.

Perhaps I should clarify my criteria for success: I want to sell enough books to establish myself as an author; to garner enough readers to create a demand for my works and to make back whatever money I invest in the project.

Anything above those three criteria will quite literally be more than I dare hope for.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Words of Wisdom


I started a thread on the Free Writers' Forum message boards about my ongoing hunt for a POD / DIY printer.

I feel that the following words of wisdom by TerishD, a FWF forum regular, should be shared with all my readers:

BEING PUBLISHED IS BEING PUBLISHED.

Ignore labels (self-published, vanity press, etc.), since most people (I mean 95%+) don't know the difference in any publisher. The only difference is whether or not you are on the store shelves (or listed in book clubs).

What you should care about:

1) Quality of printing. Buy some books from the company. Note that this will also tell you the quality of your fellow authors.

2) RETURN POLICY. If your publisher does not, they are behind the times.

3) Who does the cover. The cover of your book is important.

Factors to consider:

A) Discount to retailers (and yourself). A low discount does mean a low book price, but many retailers won't touch without AT LEAST 40%. That discount is how everyone else (besides the publisher) makes money (yes, you make a royalty, but you are really an expense to the publisher).

B) Quality of website. I am not talking about yours, but the publisher. Is this a site that will promote sales (yours and other authors)?

Yes, I know that it comes down to a coin toss (or die roll), but that is life.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Experiment 3: ALWAYS Read The Fine Print


I've been searching through lists of printers and POD printers, trying to find one that I feel comfortable entrusting The Artifact, and my hard-earned money with.

Although I am trying as much as possible to minimize my costs, it does seem likely that I will have to outlay some serious cash for the self-publishing quest to be successful. However, my objective is to spend as little money as possible on the actual printing/publishing as the book, so that I could spend more money on the marketing part of the equation; I feel very strongly that as important as a quality print run is going to be for the success of this project, that marketing the book, creating a buzz, a curiosity, a demand for the product is going to be at least as important, if not more so.

But the problem is, as I have posted previously, the expense of most POD printers/DIY publishers is, at least from my perspective, prohibitive: between $300 and $1500 USD. Well, having done my research a little more that figure should be revised upwards: the best services I've found would run me between $750 and $2000 USD.

Okay; this isn't going to be that big a deal. Yes, it means that I have to push back my schedule until I get my annual bonus from the phone company in February; it also means I have to really start chiselling down my credit card debt (because additional expenses are going to drive it back up there after). I mean, yeah, it's discouraging news. However, one of the things I've come to realize since deciding (long before now) to self-publish, is that the one, all-pervasive and overriding theme of self-publishing is HURRY UP AND WAIT.

Armed with this knowledge, I becan searching in earnest through my lists of POD printers and DIY publishers. One of the problems I came across in my search for a printer/publisher is book formatting. Obviously, the first thing you want is a printer that does perfect binding, and, where possible, offset printing. But another concern is the size of the book being printed.

Paperback format, the "pulp" format we're all used to picking up at the bookstores or from the local pharmacy book rack is 4" x 7" in size.

However, not a single POD printer or DIY publisher I came across offers this format.

The most common formats offered are 6" x 9" or 5.5" x 8.5" both of which are a little bit larger than the 5.25" x 8.25" trade paperback format.

The problem with 6" x 9" is that it is unwieldy; When Irvine Welsh's Glue came out a couple of years back, my wife got me a copy for Christmas. The odd size of the book made it very difficult to read, and sometimes made it distracting to the reading process.

5.5" x 8.5" and 5.25" x 8.25"trade paperback formats are easier to deal with and more common. Realistically, as 4" x 7" isn't commonly available from POD or DIY, the ideal is to aim for the trade paperback format.

I went to several different sites, and ordered information kits and cost quotes. Through the process I hit on what I thought was an ideal company: Xlibris Press. They offered not only POD printing of my book, but also a full range of services: they would format the book from my original Word files; they would acquire the barcode for me; they would help with the cover design, marketing and placing it not only with a distributor but onto Amazon.com.

I asked for a publishing kit. When it arrived and I read over the contract I was more than a little disappointed when I read the clauses concerning payment to the author and indemnity.

It seems that despite the fact that the author pays 100% of the cost of printing and marketing the book, he only gets 10% of the profits. And, the author indemnifies the publisher against any legal liability. So, basically I pay the full cost of printing, marketing and distributing the book, assume full liability, but Xlibris gets 90% of what my book earns.

Like the title says: always read the fine print.

So, needless to say I'm still shopping around for a printer. And a marketing service. And a distributor.

It's discouraging, to be honest. I thought I was closer to my goal than this; I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I can't get mired down; this is one setback, and I know I should expect many more before reaching my goal. So, I'm going to carry on, continue looking for the POD or DIY printer that I can work with. I still have a lot of info packs wending their way through the mail to me; I still have a requests for price quotes to come back to me.

I keep reminding myself that I want to do this right; that I want this book to be the start of something. I keep reminding myself that if I cut corners or look for the easy route it won't be.

Mind you, I wouldn't say "no" to a serious influx of cash.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

About Not Updating



One of the first rules of a successful weblog is to update often.

Obviously in the last two weeks I have not done so. First off to my readers, let me apologize. My time away from this place has not been deliberate, or what I wanted.

When I started this weblog, it was my intention to post between 2 and 3 times a week. While this seems reasonable and certainly seemed reasonable to me as well. However the reality is that time spent posting is time away from other things.

On average it takes me 60 minutes to compose my posts. While this certainly doesn't amount to a lot of time, I spend 8 hours a day at work, 2 hours a day in transit to and from the office, and somewhere in the rest of the time available to me, I have to find time to do my share of the housework, eat, shower, write, revise written projects and sleep.

I also choose to spend as much time as I can (without neglecting my other responsibilities) with my wife, because I am deeply in love with her, and value her above all things.

Basically One of the reasons I haven't posted is because it's been a juggling act and I finally dropped one or more of the flaming chainsaws I had up in the air.

However, I have also been sick for the last week and a half: a bad case of food poisoning/indigestion followed by the gift that keeps on giving, a chest cold. Being under the weather, I haven't had motivation to do much with my free time.

All that to say that I am back; despite the unforseen down-time, I have still been doing research for my self-publishing project, continuing in the vein of finding a printer/POD publisher I can work with. So, coming soon to ){ Space: The Experiment III: ALWAYS Read The Fine Print!

"How Soon?" You ask?

Soon.

I promise.

Steve Karmazenuk,

The ){eeper of ){ Space.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Experiment, Part Two: The Print On Demand Controversy


So while waiting for funding to come through on my purchase of a UPC code (and of course by "funding" I mean paying enough down on my credit card to actually have credit again) I have been researching Print On Demand (or POD) publishing.

POD publishing has a very bad rep, if you read a lot of the press that's out there. This is because so many vanity presses have set themselves up by using "POD technology" (a term that sounds suspiciously like a marketing ploy even if it is used by both opponents and proponents of the technique) to produce their work.

The thing is, you can usually spot the vanity press assholes by the simple fact that they, as their name implies, go out of their way to appeal to the vanity of their target market, unpublished (and naive) writers looking for a quick break into the "industry".

Vanity press outfits almost invariably pepper terms like "you deserve to be published" or "taking control of your destiny as an author" or "At last you will be published" and other ego-flattering catch-phrases into the lengthy blocks of texts that are plastered on virtually every page of their websites.

But what I don't understand is why every printer who offers writers the chance to use POD to produce copies of their work are hampered by the same blanket condemnation reserved for the vanity outfits.

So besides just compiling a list of POD printers and comparing the services and prices offered by the different companies, I also looked into the controversy surrounding POD and POD technology.

At the risk of sounding like some sort of radical, most of the bad press seems to be coming from "The Establishment"; IE, Publishers, and "recognized" authors (Anyone who's read by entry on the Author's Guild will know what I think of author "recognition).

Here's an example of the bad press, from one David Taylor. The article can be found in full, by clicking here

"...Why hasn't the potential and promise of print-on-demand technology been realized? It's not just POD's poorer quality (especially evident in images and covers) or cost (POD can be three or four times more expensive per unit)...Here's what POD publishers fail to arm their writers with and thus lead them to slaughter:

• Trade quality design. "Trade" refers to bookstores. And the author-chosen templates that Xlibris offers, for example, are instantly recognized by the trade and rejected because of their quality. Writers are not book designers, a fact which is evident in virtually every book it produces. There's a standard that must be met in order to get into bookstores, and few writers know enough about graphic design and book production to get there.

• An offset book. As a rule, bookstores and libraries do not accept POD books. Although the differences may not be immediately discernible to most customers, book professionals know instantly if a book was done on a souped-up Xerox copier (which is what POD publishers use) or if it was produced by offset lithography..."

The "bold" highlights are my own; I felt it necessary to point out both Mr Taylor's apparent bias against Xlibris, his disdain towards independent authors, and his lack of knowledge about the quality of POD publishing.

First off, while I neither support nor endorse Xlibris, it must be said that the full article in question seems to be more of a subtly directed attack against that company than an actual report into the POD industry. Taylor makes several references to Xlibris in his article, none of them very flattering.

Secondly, as to the quality of POD publishing, the American Council of Learned Societies, the London National Gallery, CAP Ventures (article), and the Bellagio Publishing Network, among many others all either endorse or use POD publishing. Likewise, there are colleges, universities and trade schools that offer courses on POD printing.

Thirdly, the condescending and insulting claim made by Taylor that POD publishing is done on "souped-up Xerox copiers" is obviously a dig at the fact that Xerox manufactures the offset printing machines that are used in POD printing. But Xerox is hardly the only company who makes the printers used in POD printing.

There is no question that POD-printed books are of lesser quality than offset litho books. However, the consensus seems to be the opposite of Taylor's claims. I quote below from Forner Books, on POD versus Offset Printing:

"...If you're publishing a full color cook book, there's just no way you can do it with print on demand at this point. The cost is too high and the quality isn't there...On the other hand, for a novel or a nonfiction book with limited black and white illustrations, print on demand quality is good enough. Print on demand printing is actually cheaper than a short run of offset...

Printing Offset
High quality from a good printer
Low unit cost if printing in large quantity - F.O.B.
Tremendous flexibility in cut size, paper weight and color
High storage cost
High distribution cost
High initial investment
High prepress cost, errors extremely expensive

Print on Demand
Low quality relative to offset printing
Uniform unit cost at all quantities
Limited flexibility in cut size and paper
No storage cost
Low/No distribution cost
Low initial investment
Low prepress cost, errors easily corrected..."

So it looks as though POD is a viable option for self-published authors. So what's the problem? Well, one thing that opponents of POD and its proponents can agree on is that all a POD printer does is print up books to order and specification. The author is responsible for everything else.

That means the onus is on the author to have the book proofread and copy edited. Likewise, cover design, marketing and distribution are all problems the author must overcome:

Distribution isn't a problem; you don't go to your local bookstore and try and get them to sell your books on consignment. There are numerous legitimate book distributors out there who will work with you. The more helpful ones will even give you tips and advice you'll need to consider before going to press. Granted, you have to shop around first, find a distributor who is both above board and right for your needs, but they are not as closed a circle as Mr Taylor's article implies.

The great thing about small business, though, is that small businesses tend to encourage other small businesses. Chances are you can find a journalism student at your local college to proof and edit your copy; chances are they won't charge you the small fortune that "professionals" do. Granted, you have more of a guarantee of quality with the pros, but odds are good that you don't have the capital to hire them.

Unfortunately, book jacket design isn't as simple as going to Chapters or Barnes & Noble and studying the books on the shelves of the genre section you're trying to break into. But again, there's a good chance that a graphic design student that'll be willing to help for cheap if you can't afford a professional's services.

The same goes for marketing. If you do have a decent budget for your publishing project, my honest suggestion is that you invest it here. You'll need a consultant and a campaign. You won't sell unless you can generate demand; you won't generate demand unless you create a buzz. Unfortunately, putting a URL in your email sig and in your sig line on message boards won't suffice. Yes, I know; it's ironic that I've been doing just that, along with this weblog. However, the small things are necessary steps, but the big things, like a marketing strategy are essential steps.

And as this experiment continues to go forward, I will look at all of these issues (and more) in future weblog updates.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Experiment, APPENDIX TO PART ONE: Acquiring a Barcode


So this week I've been digging a little deeper into the whole barcode issue. Once again, my friend Tom was indispensible (although he did it out of his own sense of curiosity and not because I'd asked him to). Tom found out that an ISSN isn't necessary, as it only applies to periodical publications.

Armed with this knowledge, I proceeded to the Bookland EAN page to get my free barcode. Here is where I balked; the Bookland EANs are not guaranteed:


ISBN bar codes are provided here WITHOUT WARRANTY. The program that generates the bar codes is free software and has not been shown to comply with any set of bar code specifications...You must verify the bar code before going to press.
It's best to use a professional bar code verifier...Going to press with a bad ISBN bar code can be costly. If you can't afford this risk, please contact one of our sponsors for a professionally generated bar code.

As a small self-publisher, or more precicely as a soon-to-be self-published author, I do not feel I can afford the risk of a barcode that could be invalid. Another problem is that it is entirely possible that the barcode may already be assigned to another book or product. Worst of all, as an unguaranteed barcode, the barcode isn't registered. This means that I could slap this barcode on the back of my book and later on the barcode could be registered to another book or product at a later date. As the barcode would THEN be registered to that particular product, and I would have to get a new barcode for my book.

This isn't a risk I can afford to take. This isn't a risk I feel that anyone in this particular situation can afford to take. As a self-publisher, I cannot afford any damage to my credibility. If the book isn't properly printed and bound, if there is anything that can adversely effect the distribution, sale or shipping of the book it can destroy my reputation, and my ability to print, distribute and sell anything else.

At the outset of this experiment I said that good, bad or indifferent I was going to put down everything I experienced and everything I discovered while trying to self-publish. That includes my mistakes. The goal is to learn how to self-publish without getting burned, and in the process, maybe some other authors will learn how to self publish as well.

I am a little frustrated and quite a bit disappointed that my plans have been frustrated. However, by doing all my homework and not leaping in with both feet, I saved myself from making a terrible mistake.

However, the difference between making a mistake and failure is that failure comes from not learning from one's mistakes; failure is in not moving forward.

So, I did more research; obviously a free barcode isn't a viable alternative. But neither is paying $120.00 USD for one. So I did some digging, and found the site for Barcode Graphics. They offer single barcode purchases for $10.00 USD by credit card.

Unfortunately, this means that I need to put enough money on my credit card to actually be able to BUY a barcode, but it'll be worth it. That'll mean a bit of a long wait as my card is maxed out.

The wait is also going to afford me more time to research Print On Demand publishers, and to contact book distributors and find one who will work with me.

More will be reported, soon.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Experiment, Part One: Acquiring a Barcode



My initial phase of research (Called asking my friend Tom, who is, I am sometimes convinced, the physical embodiment of Google, much the same way as Locutus was the physical embodiment of the Borg) into getting a UPC code for my novel, The Artifact yielded rather disappointing results. Tom has, for his own business, contacted Eric at BuyABarCode.com and was quoted what I have to agree are very reasonable prices. If you intend on buying one or more bar codes for whatever product your small business intends on selling, I recommend them.

However, the prices quoted (I refuse to offer too much free advertizing for a company I'm not doing business with, but you can get a single bar code for less than $120.00) were out of MY particular price range, which is to say, I wanted it for FREE.

I figure that considering the National Archives of Canada provided me with a free ISBN number, why shouldn't I get a free UPC code, as well?

So I did some research, and I discovered that through Archives Canada, I can get an International Standard Serial Number for The Artifact, apparently for as little (nothing) as I paid for the ISBN!

While this is good news for me and for my fellow Canadians, I realize that this might not be of any value to my US or UK readers.

GS1 (Formerly the Uniform Code Council) handles the issuing of UPC codes in the United States.

In the UK, there are apparently different agencies that will issue UPC codes for your book. Actually, for the United Kingdom you can find several resources from the Book Industry Communication website.

All of the above links, by the way, can be found in my links section. If they aren't there yet, it's probably because I'm in the process of updating the page. My God, you got here fast! Keep hitting your browser's "refresh" button until the links appear.

Anyway, getting an ISBN and an ISSN is only PART of the battle. I STILL need a bar-code to be able to affix to the back of the book!

Well, that's when my searches led me to Barcodes For Books, an article on PublishingCentral tells me how I can get a Bookland Ean barcode (Although the link is to a pretty sloppy looking website it is legit) once I have the aforementioned ISBN and ISSN.

So, assuming that my ISSN application is approved as quickly as my ISBN application was, I will soon be moving onto the next phase of my operation, finding a Print On Demand publisher. Again, Tom has provided me with a good lead, which I will be soon investigating.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Experiment



Over the coming weeks, I will begin research for my latest writing project. As I research things, I will also be moving forward, step by step, with said same project.

I have recently acquired an ISBN for The Artifact. The ISBN was provided free of charge by the National Library of Canada. With the acquisition of an ISBN, The Artifact now has its own unique identifier, recognized in over 160 countries all over the world. The story was copyrighted years ago, and although I have recently hosted it on ourmedia.org (where it will remain) I have decided to begin a print run of the story.

I will chronicle the experiences here in ){-space. This way, instead of relaying information to you in a "theoretical" format, I will actually take you, step-by-step through the process of printing, distributing and marketing The Artifact.

Some things I need to consider:

--Finding an affordable Print on Demand publisher.

--Manuscript formatting

--Acquiring a UPC code for the book

--Getting distribution

--Marketing and selling enough copies of the book to break even.

Of course these are just the issues I can think of, off the top of my head. As I move forward with the experiment, I will, of course, undoubtedly discover more problems, issues, and disasters-in-waiting.

All of them will be posted as they happen, here.

What I want to accomplish in this, besides selling The Artifact, is to establish myself as an independant author. Most importantly, I hope to lead by example, start a movement: I hope to show you how it can be done; I hope to start a movement that will change the way publishing is done.

I hope that other writers languishing in obscurity will take control of their fates, write what they want to write, publish what they have written and show the supposed literati that success comes not from appealing to the lowest common denominator, but by producing quality storytelling.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Search and Rescue : An op-ed piece from the New York Times



Link to the article in its original context here or through the thread title.

By TIM O'REILLY
Published: September 28, 2005

Sebastopol, Calif.
AUTHORS struggle, mostly in vain, against their fated obscurity. According to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks sales from major booksellers, only 2 percent of the 1.2 million unique titles sold in 2004 had sales of more than 5,000 copies. Against this backdrop, the recent Authors Guild suit against the Google Library Project is poignantly wrongheaded.

The Authors Guild claims that Google's plan to make the collections of five major libraries searchable online violates copyright law and thus harms authors' interests. As both an author and publisher, I find the Guild's position to be exactly backward. Google Library promises to be a boon to authors, publishers and readers if Google sticks to its stated goal of creating a tool that helps people discover (and potentially pay for) copyrighted works. (Disclosure: I am a member of the publisher advisory board for Google Print. As the name implies, it is simply an advisory group, and Google can take or leave its suggestions.)

What's causing all the fuss? Google has partnered with the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. Google will scan and index their library collections, so that when a reader searches Google Print for, say, "author's rights," the results point to books that contain that term. In a format that resembles its current Web search results, Google will show snippets (typically, fewer than three sentences of text from each page of each book) that include the search term, plus information about the book and where to find it.

Google asserts that displaying this limited amount of content is protected by the "fair use" doctrine under United States copyright law; the Authors Guild claims that it is infringement, because the underlying search technology requires a digitized copy of the entire work.

I'm with Google on this one. It would certainly be considered fair use, if, for example, I circulated a catalog of my favorite books, including a handful of quotations from each book that helps people to decide whether to buy a copy. In my mind, providing such snippets algorithmically on demand, as Google does, doesn't change that dynamic. Google allows click-through to the entire book only if the book is in the public domain or if publishers have opted in to the program. If it's unclear who owns the rights to a book, only the snippets are displayed.

A search engine for books will be revolutionary in its benefits. Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors than copyright infringement, or even outright piracy. While publishers invest in each of their books, they depend on bestsellers to keep afloat. They typically throw their products into the market to see what sticks and cease supporting what doesn't, so an author has had just one chance to reach readers. Until now.

Google promises an alternative to the obscurity imposed on most books. It makes that great corpus of less-than-bestsellers accessible to all. By pointing to a huge body of print works online, Google will offer a way to promote books that publishers have thrown away, creating an opportunity for readers to track them down and buy them. Even online sellers like Amazon offer only a small fraction of the university libraries' titles. While there are many unanswered questions about how businesses will help consumers buy the books they've found through a search engine for printed materials that is as powerful as Google's current Web search, there's great likelihood that Google Print's Library Project will create new markets for forgotten content. In one bold stroke, Google will give new value to millions of orphaned works.

I'm sorry to see authors buy into the old-school protectionism of the Authors Guild, not realizing they're acting against their own self-interest. Their resistance can come only from a failure to understand the nature of the program. Google Library is intended to help readers discover copyrighted works, not to give copies away. It's a tremendous service to authors that will help them beat the dismal odds of publishing as usual.

Tim O'Reilly, a publisher of computer books, is the co-producer of theWeb 2.0 conference.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A message from Google Print

Many thanks to those of you who took the time to write notes of
support about Google Print. There have been some incorrect
characterizations about this program in the press, and we want to
be sure you have a clear understanding of the program, and of your
options relating to it.

The goal of the Google Print Library Project is to create an
electronic, full-text card catalog of books (just as we've done with
web pages). Our goal is to help people discover books online, not
read them online; a user who finds a copyrighted books that was
scanned through the Library Project can't view even a single page
from this book, unless the copyright holder has given us explicit
permission through the Publisher Program to show more. At most
we show three examples of where the user's search term appears in
the text, along with basic bibliographic info and links to online
booksellers and libraries.

Here's what an in-copyright book scanned from a library looks like
on Google Print:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/uploaded_images/LibraryProject_screenshot-745613.JPG

It's also important to bear in mind that, just like web search, any
copyright holder can ask to have their books excluded from the
Library Project by following these instructions:
http://print.google.com/googleprint/publisher_library.html#options3

We realize that you may have more questions about the Library
Project, and we're always happy to answer them. You can read
more about our thoughts on our blog:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/google-print-and-authors-guild.html
or can check out what other folks are saying about
Google Print: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/buzz-about-google-print-and-lawsuit.html.

Feel free to email us at print-support@google.com.
Once again, thanks for writing. We hope and expect that continued
dialogue with the publishing community will help us build a
program that benefits everyone.
Sincerely,

The Google Print Team

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Copyrights: What (I think) You Need To Know



So today I am at last posting about copyrights. Here's the thing: Copyrights law can be quite convoluted, copyright disputes can be quite lengthy, and theft of an improperly copyrighted work can fuck you, the writer, royally. Copyright-related issues are very complicated. But registering for copyright and therefore protecting your work as a writer is so ridiculously simple you shouldn't even have to think about doing it.

I think as writers we all know how important it is to register for copyright of our work. Granted, most copyright law states that the instant you as a writer create an original work that it is yours, we also know--sadly, many of us from experience--that this is not enough protection for a work we create.

A lot of you out there probably believe that the "poor man's copyright" is as good as registering for copyright. Well, it isn't. You can't smugly walk into a courtroom holding your sealed enveloppe marked "Exhibit A", hand it to the judge and walk out with a million dollar settlement. In fact, you might even get laughed out of court doing that. In my opinion the best protection is a combination of copyright registration, and getting a "poor man's copyright".

Oh, for those who don't know, a "poor man's copyright" is putting a copy of your work in a sealed enveloppe and mailing it registered letter to yourself.

Obviously as a Canadian writer I can only speak about Canadian copyright law. Recently the Copyright Act was changed in Canada to "simplify" the process. Basically when registering for copyright, you no longer have to give a short description of your work. I find this is actually detrimental, because it reduces copyright to essentially trademark registration. All the government has a record of is that you, the author, have copyrighted a work by a certain name. In a legal dispute, believe it or not, this might actually NOT be enough to cover your ass.

My reccomendation is that when you register for copyright, you also mail by registered mail a copy of your work to yourself, including any notes, drafts, and media (Discs CDR CDRW) you used in the process. If you have the "quirk" of writing your first draft by longhand, even better. You mail the longhand first draft along with notes, media, etc. at the same time you register for copyright. It's not necessarily 100% bullet-proof (Where there's enough money there's a lawyer who can fuck you), but it is the best protection you can afford yourself.

Now, when you recieve your copyright registration certificate and your sealed enveloppe, the best thing you can do is put them in a bank safe deposit box. Rent is cheap--or, at least inexpensive--on safe deposit boxes, and it protects your work against fire, flood, or loss.

If you don't want to get a safe deposit box, or if you can't justify the cost of one, then keep it in a home safe, metal lock box (preferably fireproof) or large plastic container somewhere cool, dry and dark.

I've provided a link to the Canadian Intellectual Propery Office, the US Copyright Office and the UK Patent Office and I've just added the Australian Copyright Council. If anyone needs copyright info for another country, please contact me and I'll add the appropriate link.

The reason I mention these links, is because any additional information you need is probably going to be best coming from the Horse's Mouth, as it were. What I've told you is the basics, which is pretty much all you need when applying for copyright. If you're anal retentive you'll probably contact your copyright office to find out the nitty gritty anyway.

Obviously, if you are lucky enough to sell something either to a publisher or a magazine, you will be required to sign over certain rights to the publishing party. At this stage of the game, before you sign anything you will want to talk either to a lawyer or a literary agent (If you can actually get one on the fucking phone).

If you self-publish or publish online, you retain 100% of the copyright, but you also become 100% responsible for watching out for the interests of your work. We'll look at some of the issues involved later on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The (Un)American Author's Guild


I had been planning to make this post about copyright and related issues that Writers need to be aware of before self-publishing. However, there are things going on in the world of writing and online publishing that I feel need to be addressed.

I'm talking about the lawsuit filed against Google by the Author's Guild of America. (link) Google is trying to put several library collections online. In so doing, the Guild feels they are in violation of various aspects of the Copyright Act, and violating Author's rights in the process.

This, despite the fact that authors who do not want to be included in the collection are free to contact Google and opt out. This is, according to the Author's Guild, too much burden to put on the backs of the Author. Apparently one may be brilliant enough to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, but still be too obtuse to click on an opt-out box on a web-site.

What Google is proposing is to only post small portions of the books in question, unless the content owner gives permission to show more. They're not reprinting entire works for free. At least, not without the Author's permission.

Having once been involved in a copyright dispute myself and having also seen certain concepts and story sequences I'd developped "expropriated" by others, I'm a very strong supporter of a Writer's rights to his or her work. However, the Authors' Guild is not the advocacy group it claims to be.

Yes, many established, best-selling and famous authors are members of the Guild. However in my opinion this organization is essentially a league of 500-lb gorillas looking out for their own enlightened self-interest.

The Author's Guild is not an advocacy group for the rights of anyone that doesn't meet their stringent standards. Elegibility for membership in the Author's Guild (link), you see, is incumbent on being :


"…published by an established American publisher. Freelance writers must have published three works, fiction or non-fiction, by a periodical of general circulation within the last eighteen months."

In their own words, Authors with a small publisher, self-published and E-published authors need not apply:


"…A contract with a vanity press does not qualify for membership in the Guild."

Doesn't it seem odd that a Guild whose mission is supposedly to represent the interests of authors would make it that much harder for new and untested authors to gain recognition, acceptance and most importantly, legitimacy? Because despite the legitimacy that book distributors and online book sellers are giving by recognizing the self published, it is somehow beneath the Author's Guild to do the same.

We already know that unpublished writers have a piddling-to-nil chance of getting published by what the Author's Guild so pompously refers to as "an established American publisher". As they are not part of the solution for the Unpublished Voices, they must, therefore be part of the problem, helping to perpetuate a cycle that locks the New and the Unknown writer out of the field. Google's plan could potentially increase recognition for Self-Published Authors and E-Published Authors by including us in their online catalogue. So why does the Author's Guild oppose this?

The Authors' Guild Mission Statement says, in part

“The Authors Guild is the professional organization for every published writer Today's Guild is industrious, dynamic and works exclusively for our benefit...From 1919 on, the Guild has worked on behalf of its members to lobby for free speech, copyrights and other issues of concern to authors and bring authors the latest news in the publishing industry..."

And yet, the Authors' Guild feels that these rights and interests should only belong to those published with an "established American publisher". They do nothing to work for the rights of Unpublished Voices. Why should they?

Well, when you consider the entreprenneurial spirit upon which the United States of America was founded, doesn't it seem somehow un-American to refuse to recognize ambitious Self-Publishers who are following their dreams and ambitions by the only means available to them? Doesn't it seem to run contrary to the goal of working for Authors' rights do deny these literary pioneers the legitimacy they are working for?

The problem is, the fallacy that "If you haven't been published by a REAL publisher you're not good enough" is far too prevalent. But though a thousand men may repeat a lie, it will not make that lie into the truth.

What is needed is an advocacy group to look after Self-Published Authors, and the Unpublished Voices that are still struggling to be recognized. If we will not be given recognition, if we will not be given legitimacy, perhaps we should take it for ourselves.

UPDATE!

Please check my Weblogs section and read the Google! blog, for their official response to the legal action sought against them by the Author's Guild of America

The direct link to their response can be found here

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Online Publishing


Today, I want to talk about Online Publishing, and how it can help those of us numbered among the Unpublished Masses to expose and sell our work.

Again, the advice I give is not the advice of a professional, but of someone not published and exploring the alternatives to "traditional" publishing. Am I an amateur? No; I've studied the so-called literary market for years, which is pretty much why I chose to abandon attempting to publish by "normal" means.

Often, online--or electronic--publishing is applied to journalistic websites. For example, the Online Publishers Association says in their mission statement that they are

"...dedicated to representing high-quality online content providers before the advertising community, the press, the government and the public..."

Online publishing also applies to hosting multimedia works of social, cultural, artistic , audio, educational, or historical interest. Likewise if you operate an online journal, weblog or post regularly to one or more discussion boards, you're already part of the fast-paced and exciting world of online publishing.

For our purposes, online publishing is all about finding a server, site or archive that will host our work.

So, what is the difference between self-publishing and online publishing? Well, my research--and my opinion--is that there's not one hell of a lot of difference between the two. Unfortunately, that also means there's not much difference between online publishing and vanity publishing.

There are a couple of things that distinguish self and online publishing from one another. First and foremost, of course, is the media. Instead of being printed, of course, it is hosted online, either as an HTML page or pages, or in one of any number of text formats: *.pdf, *.txt, *.doc, *.rtf.

Likewise, with online publishing you have a little bit more control over the style and format of the document. You control layout, font, graphics, pretty much all design aspects, really.

Unlike self-publishing, if you publish online, it's a little harder to make money with your work. Essentially, publishing online means you're giving it away for free.

My personal recommendation is that if you go with online publishing, you should publish in *.pdf format. Adobe Acrobat Writer allows you to embed all kinds of protection into your document, making it quite securely read-only.

Adobe offers a downloadable "trial" version of Writer, but in my opinion, the full version of Acrobat Writer is--at $299.00 USD--a sound investment whether you intent to publish online, or to self-publish.

Mac users are fond of reminding me that they have the ability to save their word processing documents in *.pdf format because Apple Computers and Adobe have certain licensing agreements that Microsoft doesn't enjoy. So if you own a Mac, once again the advantage is yours.

Anyway, back on-topic.

Online publishing is dangerously close to vanity publishing; much closer in fact than it is to true self-publishing. Because once again, it is the author who is responsible for the quality of the content.

This means if you're a JRR Tolkein who doesn't believe your work needs to be edited down to be readable, it means your work won't be edited down against your wishes.

Sadly, it also means that like Tolkein, you can end up with a lot of totally superfluous and redundant words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and volumes in your work.

(That's right: I spit on the sacrosanct Lord of the Rings story cycle: the goddamn thing had so many irrelevant subplots and extraneous details it makes it a plodding, pendantic read!)

It also means that a truly awful story can be hosted just as easily as the Great American Novel.

Let's assume you've got a good work written; one that you can deservedly be proud of. You can't afford to self-publish, but you still desperately want to expose your story. What are the options?

The first option is to set up your own website. While most internet service providers allow you a certain amount of "free space" on their server for a web page, it's usually so miniscule an amount of space and bandwidth as to be completely useless.

Likewise, the free web page services offered by sites like GeoCities or Yahoo! or MSN aren't generally reccommended for a plethora of reasons.

That means you need to register your own domain name, and find a web-host. If you enjoy doing HTML you can handle the website design yourself, but chances are you'd want to either pay for website design or get a hosting package that comes with design assistance.

There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to having your own personal web space; the benefits usually being the amount of control you have over the management of your page, the content and the marketing; the disadvantage being the expense, the maintenence, etc.

The second option is to host your work, either from a paid service or a free service, and then link to your story from other sites. This is what I've done with The Artifact. Because I keep this weblog as well as one on LiveJournal, and because I post regularly to the Free Writers' Forum and to other discussion boards, I am gambling that my existing presence on the Internet, as well as word-of-mouth will be enough to get exposure for the story. While my cost outlay is essentially nil, it also means I am limited in my ability to market the story.

Once a story is posted in full to an internet archive, file host or to a personal web page, it is no longer going to be considered "publishable" by conventional means. The "first rights" to the story have been destroyed. It is now online, archived, downloaded and distributed in such a way that no publisher will touch it. Why?

Well, suppose Dan Brown had decided to put The DaVinci Code online, before it got sold to St Martin's Press. So, after selling it, DaVinci Code becomes the insanely huge success that it has been. When everyone who hasn't bought a copy discovers that all they have to do is download it from the Web, sales of the book could potentially plummet, and Brown could be sued by his publisher for having falsely sold them the first rights to a book already available online.

While Online Publishing or Electronic Publishing is a means of getting your work out there, you have to be very sure you know what you're doing. You have to consider issues like copyright, libel, licensing and subsidiary rights. You have to know exactly where you stand, and what risks you are taking. This is likewise true of self-publishing.

I'll be looking at the importance of registering for the copyright, licensing and subsidiary rights, as well as issues such as libel, fair use of another's work in relation to yours and related problems in future articles, so stay tuned.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Vanity And Self-Publishing


For the past couple of days I’ve been doing research on self-publishing and online publishing. In my last post I mentioned how the Unpublished Masses are often seen as not being good enough by virtue of the fact that they aren’t published by “real publishers”. Well, I know when to call bullshit “bullshit”, and anyone who feeds you that line is full of it. I concede that, yes, many if not most would-be authors are amateurs whose dreams outstrip their talent. However, the minority among the Unpublished Masses who have talent, who have skills, who have honed their craft and their writing to the Nth degree is not as insignificant as the less than one percent of all Unknowns who are likely to get published by “legitimate” means in any given calendar year. As more and more of us realize this, more and more of us are turning to vanity publishing and self-publishing.

Of course, a lot of us are afraid to go this route, because of the perceived stigma attached to self-publishing. So, let’s be clear: the stigma is attached not to self-publishers, but to vanity publishing. Vanity publishing and self-publishing are often confused with one another, because they are so similar. A writer decides to put his or her work into print. The writer pays a printer or a publishing company to print up copies of the book.

Where one differs from the other is that vanity publishers often try and pass themselves off as a “small” publishing houses that will enter into a “cooperative” venture with the writer. They may even claim that a writer must “submit” the book for approval, when the fact of the matter is, every book submitted will be “approved” for publication. For this reason, neither book sellers nor reviewers will take this type of publisher seriously; often your book won’t be listed for sale anywhere other than the publisher’s website.

You as the author will be solely responsible for ensuring the editing, proof reading, fact-checking and in many cases book formatting are done properly. You have few rights to the actual book printed, as they remain the property of the printer until sold. The production quality of the book is often very poor; they are more interested in selling publishing than they are of selling books. A good example of a vanity press outfit can be found at http://www.writers-exchange.com/ Educate yourself; take the time to read what they offer, what they want in return, and the amount of hype they use to sell their “services”. Then look at their online catalogue, from the quality of the cover art to the quantity of genres covered. The website’s design and layout and the book excerpts speak for themselves.

Self publishing is vastly different. There are two routes to go: First, the DIY route, where the only thing you pay for is the printing and binding. You take care of editing the book, proofing it, etc. and then hire a printer to format, print and bind the book. You handle acquiring an ISBN (More on International Standard Book Numbers later), the marketing, sale and distribution of the book yourself. This method is often seen as being a form of vanity publishing, and while the writer retains far more control over the product the disadvantage is that it is often more difficult to get a book distributed and sold.

The second method of self publishing involves working in conjunction with a publishing service provider that offers not just publishing services, but copyediting services, marketing services and who will acquire an ISBN for your work. They do not seek any rights of ownership or exclusivity to the work’s publication. While you will retain the rights to your work, you will also be solely liable for its content. A good publishing service provider will be able to list your book with the online stores, (Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com) etc. as well as listing you with book distributors, who are the ones who sell books to retailers.

The drawback, of course, is cost. Self publishing can be prohibitively expensive; on average, the fees for service range from $300 USD to $1500 USD, depending on the company and the service level being purchased. It isn’t necessarily cheaper to use the first method to produce your self-published work. A lot of printers charge exorbitant rates, considering all they are doing is printing and binding your work.

Changes in the printing industry means Publish On Demand or Print On Demand publishing has become increasingly popular. In many cases you may still have to pay for the printing of a “minimum” number of books, but be careful when it comes to that minimum. If they’re all printed at once, you may be charged a warehousing fee, whereas if they are truly printed “on demand” then you’ve simply paid in advance for the printing of N number of books.

A good example of a Publishing service provider is Xlibris, who are affiliated with Random House Ventures. Their website is at http://www2.xlibris.com/index.asp

Finally, about ISBNs: An International Standard Book Number is a “fingerprint” assigned to published books, software and other print media. It is a serial number recognized in over 160 countries which instantly identifies a published book.

AN ISBN IS NOT A COPYRIGHT. Because copyright law varies from country to country, before you even BEGIN to look at publishing or self-publishing a book, read up on your country’s copyright law and apply for a copyright of the material as soon as your work is complete!

Regarding ISBNs, avoid an ISBN “broker” wherever possible. These people are charging you to fill out the application forms for you. The International ISBN Agency, at http://www.isbn-international.org/index.html is the authority on all things ISBN. They offer a complete list of the national agencies for each charter country.

For the US, Canada and Great Britain, the information is as follows:

In the United States:
R.R. Bowker Co., LLCAtt. Ms. Doreen GravesandeSenior Director ISBN/SAN/PAD630 Central Ave.New Providence, NJ 07974
Tel: Toll Free/United States: 877-310-7333

In Canada:
Canadian ISBN AgencyLibrary and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives CanadaAttn.: Mr Jean-Eudes BériaultDirector, Acquisitions Directorate395 Wellington StreetOttawa, Ontario K1A 0N4
Tel: (+1 819) 994 68 72 or (+1 866) 578 77 77 toll free) (select 1+5+1+3)

In the UK:
ISBN AgencyAttn: Mr Julian Sowa 3rd Floor Midas House62 Goldsworth RoadWoking Surrey GU21 6LQ
Tel: (+ 44 (0) 870) 777 8712

If you found this article of value, please feel free to comment on it, or email me. Likewise, if you have questions or comments, or want to further discuss anything in the article, I would like to hear from you.

Friday, September 09, 2005

My Name Is Steve Karmazenuk And I Am A Writer

Today, I'd like to take the time to tell you a little more about me, and about my reasons for starting this Weblog.

I've been writing for more than twenty years. It's scary to think about how long I've been at this; two-thirds of my life thusfar! Writing has always been my passion, my pleasure, my obsession. Over the years I have not only practiced the art, but I have also studied it in order to hone my skills.

I've had some successes, many failures; I've written things that are almost embarrassing to read over when I open the Storage Drawer in my desk. I've written other things that I'm quite proud of, too. Mostly, I'm happy with what I've done.

I've written poetry and op-ed pieces, articles and reviews that have been published on a local level. In the last ten years of "serious" writing that I've done, I've written six novels, one of which was actually published online a few years ago on a web portal called Jumpgate. You can link to the web portal (but not the novel--long story) from WTL's Weblog in my "links" section.

So, why have I decided to expose my writing here instead of getting published by a "real" publisher?

The fact of the matter is, traditional publishing is no longer about literature--if it ever was. It's about the bottom line.

Mass market publishers want to make as much money as they can, printing and selling books that are geared to the lowest common deonominator. This is why only a handful of new writers are seen every year, and it is also why a majority of the bestsellers are written by authors hung up on formulaic writing. As much as I enjoy Dan Brown or John Grisham, Nelson DeMille or Greg Iles, their books are essentially all interchangable:

Ordinary Man becomes Reluctant Hero placed in Extraordinary Situation. Bystander Woman gets swept up as Events Unfold, Casting Her Lot in with Ordinary Man. Shocking Plot Twists make Ordinary Man and Bystander Woman question Who They Can Trust. Last Minute Race To The Finish makes for Reader Excitement. Book Ends with Ordinary Man and Bystander Woman either Getting Married or Getting Laid.

Small and Mid market publishers only print a few titles a year, so simply can't afford to take chances with new authors if they are to ensure their survival. While often far more original and innovative in their storytelling, their authors tend to be less accessible to the most readers.

Yes, there are exceptions to both of these cases. But even the Great New Voices of writing have to play by the rules.

Canadian SF Author Robert J Sawyer states things a little more clearly: Less than 1% of all new writers will ever get published.

Does that mean that the 99% of new writers out there don't DESERVE to get published? Does that mean that if you don't get published you're just not GOOD ENOUGH?

Fuck, no.

I've come across too many unpublished gems in my time on sites like the Free Writer's Forum (see my links) and other places to know that this is not the case.

Again, Robert J Sawyer states the following:

"Online publishing" is an oxymoron; don't do it. If you can't make it in print, you're not yet good enough. Become a better writer, and continue to try to crack the print markets.

But you know what? He's wrong; dead wrong. Like I said above, "Traditional" publishers either don't give a fuck about new voices or new works or they just can't afford to gamble on something that hasn't got a proven Marketability.

I don't think I'm the first to turn to Online Publishing, and I won't be the last. I don't give a good Goddamn if I'm able to make a career out of this or not. I am here because I want people to read my writing. I want people to discover the stories I have to tell.

Anything more than that is gravy.

My name is Steve Karmazenuk, and I am a Writer.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Beginning

Hello and welcome to K Space.

K Space is my corner of the Universe; a place where my creations can and will be found; a place where you will be able to read those creations, and comment on them.

While K Space may seem at first glance to be quite sparsely populated, rest assured it isn't. You will soon find many different things going on here.

Thanks for coming, and enjoy your stay. Bookmark, comment, and come back often!

Regards,

Steve Karmazenuk
Keeper of K Space

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Chronicles of an Independent Author

001---My name is Steve Karmazenuk and I am a writer
002---Vanity and Self-Publishing
003---Online Publishing
004---Copyrights : What [I think] You Need To Know
005---The Experiment
006---The Experiment: Acquiring a Barcode (Part One)
007---The Experiment: Acquiring a Barcode (Part Deux)
008---The Experiment : The Print On Demand Controversy
009---The Experiment : The Leap of Faith
010---Words of Wisdom
012---The Experiment : The Leap of Faith (An Update)
013---Dear Sir or Madam, did you read my book?
014---The Experiment : ALWAYS Read the Fine Print
015---No need to report that until we have something to report
016---The Experiment : Update on New Year's Eve 2005
017---The Experiment : The Work Isn't Over When The Writing is Done
018---A Great Big Post About a Lot of Different Stuff
019---Stressssssssssss
020---But Other Than That, I'm Having A GOOD Day.
021---Realizing How Fucked I Am Now...
022---Bookmarks, Coffee and MySpace Bring Success
023---YESSSS!
024---The Experiment : The Coundown Begins
025---Launch Date Confirmed...
026---And We Are in Operation...sort of...
027---Launch of the Official Site for "The Unearthing"
028---The Experiment : Advice on Publish America
029---The Unearthing? Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind
030---Ongoing Attempts to Raise My Visibility
031---The Unearthing Now Available As A Free Ebook Download
032---Why E-publish? Why not!
033--430 Strong, and Growing
034--Always Another Way

More to come...