Spent this morning putting The Midnight Hare up on my WooCommerce site. The book I bought was actually useful, I followed the instructions, and all seems to be working. Fingers crossed. My fruitless attempts at trying to put my book up on Amazon, and the less than helpful responses from their “help-desk” I have expressed on my other site, caralockhartsmith.wordpress, as I didn’t want to sully this particular site with my frustration. The last two days have been hard work, but interesting, and I feel something has been achieved. All things I should have done months ago. Hey ho. I also prefer the layout that Woocommerce has created for my site, it reads better. So OK so far.
Sat down just before our evening meal to do something that fills me with trepidation, that is I decided to upload a system to sell on-line. Much to my amazement, after leaving the computer on and eating the meal, cooked as always on Saturday night by my husband, I return and find the program seems to have inserted itself OK, so now the task for tomorrow is to upload some substance; starting, of course, with The Midnight Hare, but then adding other books that I have either written and illustrated, or just illustrated, which were published by Serafina Books (have of course okayed this with the owner of Serafina Press, editor and also author, Jennifer Doherty); and to add to the jollity, will have some of my Northern Alphabet Postcards and Berwick Bear cards on offer. It will take me a day or two to work out the manner in which I should do this, and I shall intersperse my efforts with feeding the birds and playing solitaire and picking sweet peas… la la la, what a nice life I lead… I would love to get someone else to do all the IT stuff, but one of the reasons I started this project was to LEARN.
There are hosts and hosts of things I should have been dong months ago, including publicity and setting up e-commerce, but I was so involved in finishing the book and getting it to the printers intact, I disregarded these other matters, and am now at somewhat out of sync. But never mind, the printers, Martins in Spittal, just over the water from the main town of Berwick upon Tweed, have done a really nice job with the printing, without bankrupting me, and the fact that I like the look and feel of the book as an object is one of the most important things of all.
Had some good days vis-vis The Midnight Hare – a friend wrote and said she liked it more than anything else that I had done; and this morning I went into Kelso and saw a gallery-owner friend, Tony, who offered to sell the book in the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery (process already started apparently), and has put quite a reasonable picture of me holding the book on the gallery Facebook page. And one of my first young readers, aged three, apparently wanted the book read again immediately (which I am told is unusual for him); and was very taken with the giraffes.
Picked up two boxes of the actual book, and another 35 boxes arriving on Monday. Sat with it in the back of the car all the way back from Martins the Printers in Berwick, then pulled the tape of the top box and riffled through the book. The printers have done a good job. Phew! Now for hard work of a different ilk. The little image underneath is a card which I am sending out to various bookshops, and to people I know to accompany either the book or the information sheet. This has been an interesting project so far, I have no regrets about doing the book myself, and am glad that the gilt hasn’t been rubbed off the gingerbread by trailing it around various publishers beforehand. This always had the feeling of a self-publishing project.
I thought of printing out this information sheet on nice cream paper, but it would have changed the colours of the imagery; and besides, nice cream paper is very expensive and maybe a tad too aren’t we refined. 100gsm white will do OK, and the envelopes are nice and thick. The books, all 3000, have been printed, and are waiting for me up at the printers, the first batch this Wednesday, and then the rest of them we will carry off to Coldstream in the small car over the next four weeks. They will be stored for a month on a pallet at the printers. 37 boxes of books is a whole lot of books in boxes.
To go with this A4 information sheet will be an order form, with more info, and also a card that I have had printed which is a small replica of the cover. Spent yesterday looking up bookshops. I already have several local outlets. The publication date has been changed to July.
Really a lot of things should have been sorted months ago, according to what I have read, but this is only one 32-page picture book, it doesn’t have to have a fanfare; and I wanted to have the actual book before I started doing the publicity/marketing.
People have been asking kindly after The Midnight Hare ….. When I first started selling my work to bookshops and cardshops I was rather amazed when the reaction was so friendly and positive; also the same experience when I had a stall at Berwick Farmers’ Market. I realise that I don’t mind selling at all, if someone doesn’t want something, fine, it’s nice to meet people anyway whether they buy or not.
Happy today, as I got the new set of digital proofs from Martins the Printers in Berwick upon Tweed and they look fine and dandy, so all systems go now, I should be able to pick up the copies within the next fortnight. Carrier was going to cost £100, so instead we will make two or three car journeys to pick up copies from the printers 14 miles away (we only have a smallish car). I have a place to store the books that isn’t an outhouse, as damp does awful things to paper and card. Have spent the morning reading about the publicity that I should have started to engender months ago, but I didn’t want to do anything until I had the actual copies – publication date is now officially June 21st. Shall leave WooCommerce for the meantime, while I concentrate on local outlets, and try setting up the book on Amazon. Any copies sold through either of my websites will be the old bucket and spade method of cheques through the post. I am setting up a separate page for this on both my websites. Signed copies and dedicated copies will be available at no extra cost, and the postage and packing charges will be modest.
After a long time, and many hesitations, (including a typo that had wormed its way somehow between one moment and another on to the back cover – a typo luckily put right in an instant by the printers) The Midnight Hare is entered officially on Nielsen, is ready to print, and has a publication date of June 21st. I am ordering a little greetings card A6 size consisting of the back and front cover, which will be sent out with publicity material. I only put the book on Nielsen a month before publication date, but this does not worry me too much, as although it is late, I suspect my early sales will be local, as the book has a Borders setting; and there are quite a few people who have stocked my books and before. One of the reasons for doing this book myself was to keep this connection with the people who buy; and to know what is going on with the book. I need to sell about 650 copies at wholesale price to get my actual printing expenses back, and am not in that much of a rush. The book is a story I like, and it will find its own level. There is plenty of work to do in the marketing department, but I have found in the past that people are very pleasant to deal with, and are usually happy to look at new work, so this is hard work but not too daunting.
The scans are finished, and to help the printers I am sending off this mock-up of the book, just to help set up the pages, and in case there is a muddle with the scans which I am sending over the internet. The notebook has the rubber band round it because the images I stuck on with Pritt have filled up the book so that it is gaping at the edges. The other good reason for doing a mock-up like this is it helps to see misprints, punctuation, continuity. You’d think with a scant 500/600 words there was not that much room for error, especially taking into account how many times I have looked at the text; but they still occur, from those slippery typos, to the sudden understanding of how ridiculous a sentence sounds, ie. “Leave my hare alone.” Maybe one of my rare visits to the hairdressers made me notice this. Anyway, now off with the motley and on with the donkey work.
It is really strange to feel that, after a long time, the scans are almost ready to be sent to the printer, all done over the Internet, how different from the way things used to be. The text is now set up. I have small alterations to make to the front cover scan, and then need to do some serious proof-reading. One thinks that after so many versions enough combing of the text has gone on, but just this afternoon I noticed that I had typed MOONWUZO PRESS (an earlier version) instead of MOONWUZO BOOKS on the copyright page; and this could have gone off to the printers so easily, and even into the book. Making changes after the proofs are returned, that is changes due to one’s own errors, is an expensive business.
Tomorrow I will continue to print out copies of each page and mount them in a handsome hardback ring-bound sketchbook that I bought ages ago, more or less for this purpose. This will be sent snail-mail to the printers (just to give them something to check against when they are setting-up the book), the day before I send the scans. Then that is it, as far as the making the book goes; in spite of quite a bit of research into process of selling, in a practical sense I have almost been totally remiss so far about publicity, as I found it necessary to concentrate on one thing at a time.
In a way I have been putting off thinking about the next part of the process; out of nervousness, perhaps. But once the printed books arrive, I shall certainly be motivated to start getting them out there into the world. Once I get going on this, I should be OK, I got over any qualms about selling my work a long time ago, it is actually quite interesting. Selling locally, which I will probably do before an official publication date, is fine; and I have quite a few contacts.
I do like the story, which helps. It has been such a luxury to have had the time to do it the way I wanted, the time to experiment, re-do pages if necessary. The Midnight Hare has probably taken me rather too long; but maybe it just took as long as it needed.
The colour proofs have come back from the printer, they were sent over the Internet and returned by snail mail, and look fine. Painting on coloured ground with gouache has surprisingly produced far less problems than painting on white with water-colour. The grain in the paper does not interfere too much, as I have got rid of it on Photoshop in the places where it was creating a stripy effect on the protagonists which I did not like, and in the sky, where it looked all wrong; but the breaking up of the colour in the rest of the background feels mostly OK. This image above is the last page of the book.
Now the colour proofs are done, I shall put the text on to the scans. I note that in the above text there should be a comma after “lane” – I was setting this up temporarily from memory rather than the actual text. I also had a line in a pivotal point in the story: “LEAVE MY HARE ALONE!” but suddenly realised that, read out loud, this sounded a bit ridiculous, especially from a boy for whom the comb is obviously not felt to be much of a necessity.
Now I am going to have to put my mind on to practical elements. Meanwhile another story is brewing in the background. There is an Owl. And a Heroine. I think.