Publishing Minutiae

Busy this week, but nothing much exciting. Most of what I’ve done is the dull work of getting my book ready to publish. I still expect it to be a bit off, but things are coming together and I want to have everything ready to go. It would really suck if the writing itself was ready to go up only for me to find out that I overlooked some simple detail, like my product description.

I doubt many people will be interested in what is under the fold, so feel free to stop reading here. It’s mostly just going to be me talking about what I’ve worked on (very) recently.

Cover Art

This is the most interesting part, so I’ll start here. Been working with an amazing cover artist to get my book a decent cover. I’ll talk more about them and the cover itself in a future post (after everything is finished), but this is obviously a new process for me. There is a lot I’ve learned here, most notably how important it is to be on the ball with trying to find someone to do the art.

I’ve actually been looking for a while (I’ve had a pretty good idea of what I wanted for about a year now), but only seriously started looking a couple of months ago. Since I’ve never commissioned artwork before this was completely new territory for me and I was being very cautious. Not only did I want an artist who I thought would do the cover justice, I also wanted someone who was professional.

My main concern at the time was that I’d waited too long to commission the cover—I had no clue how long it would take the artist to make it. This is something I’m sure depends on the cover’s complexity, the skill of the artist, and so forth. No doubt I’ll start to have a better idea over time as I commission various artists to work on covers for me. I’ll leave things there for now so I have plenty to talk about when I’m finally done with this aspect and have the cover finished.

Front Matter

If you aren’t aware, a book’s Front Matter is everything that comes before the actual content: title page, copyright information, dedication, and table of contents. You may also have stuff like a foreword, acknowledgements, and the like too. This is something I’ve looked into for my book as well.

On the one hand this, for the most part, is something I can just do once and reuse over and over (with minor changes). I use Scrivener which handles a lot of the mess for me. My main concern is that this book will be going up on a number of e-book services. Ultimately this means I need to make sure that there isn’t any information those services want me to include.

Fortunately, it looks like only one service has very specific requirements. Mostly they want specific license notes to be included along with a couple other minor details. It isn’t that big of a deal, but it does mean I need to be careful with my file types when it comes to actually compile the e-books. Knowing me, I’ll come up with a checklist to make sure I don’t screw it up. I just find the added work annoying.

Back Matter

A book’s Back Matter is everything that comes after the main content. Stuff like a glossary, about the author, and all that. In my case this will be completely standardized between book versions with one exception: links to future books in the series.

Leaving aside the problem that the next book isn’t written yet, one important detail I need to wrestle with is that people who got my book off Amazon will probably want to buy the next book from there as well. The same goes for Smashwords, Kobo, and so forth. Otherwise the back matter will be (I believe) completely identical. It seems like a minor detail, but again it is something to make sure I get right with the different versions of the book.

Formatting Nonsense

Because I use Scrivener this is actually easier for me than it would be if I were using MSWord. I simply tell it what to do, hit compile, and get what I asked. This is great, but in some ways it makes me anxious as well. If formatting the e-book was a pain in the rear I would simply opt for the easiest format that didn’t look like complete garbage, however since I just need to enter a few details and hit a button there is no excuse for me to not experiment a little until I find what looks best.

I’ve already played around with this to some degree. It is impossible not to when I’ve sent things to beta readers to ask for feedback, but in those cases I used formatting options specifically intended to make the documents very easy to read and comment upon (double spaces, lack of special characters, and so forth). Now I seriously need to think about how I want everything to be presented. To a certain degree this is even more vital as what I pick for this book will need to carry over to the rest of the series.

Right now I feel like I’ve got a grasp of the basics, but again I have a number of lesser details to consider. What do I want for my fleurons? What order do I want my back matter to appear in? What is the best way to display my chapters? Ultimately, I think this will come down to just experimentation. No doubt I’ll get to it in earnest after Christmas.

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