Tag Archives: publishing

Brendan’s Way: the Cover

It seems like forever but it’s been less than a year since I announced the upcoming publication of my next novel, Brendan’s Way, with Bundoran Press.

A little bit of history: It was July, 2011. I was struck by an idea as I walked to lunch with my headphones on, listening to the song “Saint Brendan’s Way” by the Lowest of the Low. Space immigrants. One’s a country rube, one’s a deadly assassin. I sat down and got to work on an outline.

I finished the outline – 9,000 words of it – in two days. The third day I started writing, and I pounded out 1,000 to 2,000 words almost every day until I finished the thing in November. Just over five months to complete a 90,000-word book – the longest book I’d ever written, finished in the shortest time ever.

I went through the entire manuscript with my editing circle. I had multiple friends provide input. I rewrote and rewrote. I had a seminar at CanWrite! with Robert J. Sawyer that helped clarify some weaknesses. And in the fall of 2015 I submitted the finished manuscript to Bundoran Press – the first publisher I offered it to in its completed form.

They liked it.

They bought it.

So here, at last, is the cover for my soon-to-be-released novel, Brendan’s Way.

 

The Punk Book

punk-book-coverAs you might remember (or not), I’ve written the Toronto Novel Marathon charity event a number of times (three). Each time I finished a novel. The first one was my longest: The Punk Book, which is a fictionalized account of my early years in a punk band in Hamilton’s 1990s music scene.

Well, the time has come to put this one up on the shelf. So I’ve printed up a few dozen copies and I’m launching it on Saturday, November 19.

It’s a fun book, but it took me a long time to figure out how to write it. Many of the stories in the book are based on my own very memorable experiences; but fictionalizing one’s own life is a difficult process. It’s hard to make it about the people without making it a navel-gazing exercise. But I think I figured it out, and the result is this book. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Except for Larry, because screw that guy.

I’m lucky to be in a band with such great guys as Jonny Palmateer and Derek Fivehole. It’s really tough to write about this kind of thing without being arch, or cloying, or – much worse – boring. But according to Jon, it’s the best book ever written, so I figure I must have hit close to the mark.

What’s it about? Tom is a young guy who gets into punk music and tries out for a local band. He’s brought in as the bassist. The band gets a bit too big, a bit too fast. The band is run by a punk-savant songwriter and pathological liar named Larry. Tom has a thing for a girl in another band. He’s balancing the band and his job as a delivery guy for a Chinese restaurant. Almost all these things are true. (Especially about the pathological liar. Holy crap is that ever true.)

So why am I launching this particular book on Saturday? Mainly because of this:

The Stephen Stanley Band and The Goalies

Yes, my longtime punk band the Goalies has a rare opening spot for the Stephen Stanley band. (If you’re not familiar with that name, Stephen Stanley was the lead guitarist for the Lowest of the Low, which was a band I was fairly obsessed with in the crazy early-90s music scene.) It’s going to be a big, crazy show. And book launch.

In the end, I’m not trying to sell a million copies of this book. It’s punk: fun and crazy and who cares about rules. But I’m proud of the book, too, and I want to get it out there on this night of nights.

Because as I said at the start of the book:

This book was written as part of the 2014 Toronto Novel Marathon. It is therefore short, crude, and a lot more fun for the person yelling than for the audience.

And also the Author’s Note:

Absolutely nothing in this novel is true.

Which is definitely the case.

Except for the stuff about Larry. Because screw that guy.

Coming Very Soon – The Taste

thetaste-800I have spoken once or twice about writing my merry little novel marathons. (Hey! The next one is coming up in August! You can support me here!)

Last year, I went in with an idea of some bad things that could happen, and a couple of disturbing images in my head. By the end of the weekend I had the awful little novella you see here.

I’ve never written horror before – I’m not even much of a horror reader. I even got slightly uneasy making the fake blood you can see on the cover. But I like the book, and I hope others will like it too.

It releases on Friday, April 29, coinciding with my appearances at the Ad Astra convention. If you’re there, come say hi. And feel free to buy the book

  • On Kobo
  • On Amazon
  • On Barnes and Noble, Apple iBookstore, And whatever other purveyor of fine e-books you tend to shop at. (If you don’t find it at your favourite ebookstore, let me know so I can get it up there!)

Oh, and by the way, if you sponsored me for the Toronto Novel Marathon in the past, I will gladly send you a copy of The Taste absolutely free. Just contact me and I’ll get you a copy in the format of your choosing.

Smashwords

I recently converted my first published novel, LMF, to e-book format. My idea was to put it out there on the Amazon e-publishing site, to make it available to Kindle readers. I’m not expecting a lot of interest or sales or anything, but it’s nice to have the book out there somewhere. The publisher, Little Green Tree, did absolutely zero promotion, but maintained that distribution wasn’t necessary to get the book out there either. Thus I have a couple of boxes of books in my basement and I’m not going to do the work I did in the first couple of years to try to promote it.

So I completed all the steps to create the e-book in the required format, got the cover image all tarted up, everything that Amazon wanted me to do, and submitted it. I got an e-mail back saying that they were really overloaded but would get back to me in a couple of days.

That was three weeks ago.

As it happened, around the same day I came across a blog post about thriller writer J.A. Konrath. I probably came across it on Reddit’s writers group, but I can’t seem to find it now. No matter. Anyhow, while Konrath isn’t a writer I’ve read, and while he’s a little too… intense, let’s say, to keep me reading his blog regularly, he’s a master of self-promotion, and his books sell well because of it.

He was saying on this post that his e-book sales on a site called Smashwords were starting to amount to some real cash — as in, he pays his mortgage each month with his Smashwords income. Compelling! I thought I’d take a look at Smashwords, since my book was already set up for e-book sales.

Smashwords is an awesome name for a site, I think, and although it’s not the prettiest site out there, it’s easy enough to use. I got the book up on the site in an hour or so. And that’s when I hit a slight roadblock.

Their site provides “preferred” status to books that are formatted correctly, have professional-looking titles, and so on. And after fixing a couple of formatting glitches for my book, I submitted it for approval for preferred status, and was rejected. The rejection said “There is a white border around the cover image for the book, which needs to be fixed.”

Now, this white border was actually a major design element in the paper copy of the book. It really stands out because of it. (I still like the cover design of LMF, which is more than I can say for the job Little Green Tree did on the inside). So I sent a message back, explaining that that was how the cover was set up originally, and although I did understand that there are differences between paper and e-publishing design, would they reconsider? If not, I would change the image and use it without the border.

I got an e-mail back from the guy who had originally assessed the book. He said that his concern was that the book would look weird with the white border — it might just look like we had screwed up the image somehow, to someone looking at it. And he attached an image without the border, and said if I wanted to use that one, it would be fine. So he went as far as to do the work I needed to do, just to give me a hand and speed up the process.

Within a few minutes, I got a second e-mail, from someone else at Smashwords. This second guy said that he actually really liked the cover, and suggested that maybe I should add a thin border around the cover with the white space around the image, to indicate that the white space wasn’t a mistake. That would satisfy everyone.

So not only were they willing to do the work that was really mine to do — fiddling with the cover image to make it work for their site — they were also interested in finding a solution that would work for me, and were willing to engage in discussion about the solutions that were available.

Well, that sold me. I uploaded the cover modification the first guy sent me, and thanked them both for their time and thoughts. And now LMF is available on Smashwords for all.

This is what I love to see: a company that actually puts in a little time and effort to help its clients get what they need from the site. Most companies don’t have the resources, time, or commitment to make it happen for their clients. But Smashwords, a little e-book company, makes it happen.

Oh, and I still haven’t heard back from the Amazon site. And I don’t really care. Smashwords is the company I want to deal with, and I would suggest that anyone with a self-published or micro-published book should do the same.